Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Flexmore, Richard

FLEXMORE, RICHARD (1824–1860), pantomimist, whose real name was Richard Flexmore Geatter, son of Richard Flexmore Geatter, a well-known dancer, who died at an early age, was born at Kennington, London, 15 Sept. 1824. At the age of eight he commenced his theatrical career at the Victoria Theatre, where his juvenile drollery soon attracted attention. In 1835 he appeared at a small theatre which then existed in Chelsea in a fantastic piece called ‘The Man in the Moon,’ and danced very effectively a burlesque shadow dance. He subsequently became a pupil of Mr. Frampton, and showed great aptitude for stage business in his own peculiar line. As a grotesque dancer his services soon became in request at various theatres, and in 1844 he appeared as clown at the Grecian Saloon. The winter following he made his first great hit when taking the part of clown at the Olympic Theatre, which was then under the management of T. D. Davenport. His wonderful activity and abundant flow of animal spirits became quickly recognised, and he was then engaged for the Princess's Theatre, where he remained for several seasons. On 28 July 1849 he married, at St. Mary's parish church, Lambeth, Francisca Christophosa, daughter of Jean Baptiste Auriol, the famous French clown, and with her acted with great success in the chief cities of the continent. He afterwards appeared at the Strand, the Adelphi, and Covent Garden theatres, and more recently at Drury Lane, where he performed in the pantomime ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ at Christmas 1859. He was especially noted for his close and natural imitation of the leading dancers of the day, such as Perrot, Carlotta Grisi, Taglioni, Cerito, and others; but although chiefly known as a dancing clown, he could when required also take the part of clown à la Grimaldi in a very efficient manner, and was one of the most diverting pantomimists who ever delighted a holiday audience. His physical strength and activity were remarkable; but he overtaxed his powers to obtain the applause of the public, and brought on a consumption, of which he died at 66 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, London, 20 Aug. 1860, and was buried at Kensal Green on 27 Aug. His widow, who married her cousin, Monsieur Auriol, died in Paris 3 Sept. 1862. His mother, Ann Flexmore Geatter, whom he had supported for many years, died 26 Dec. 1869, aged 88.

[Gent. Mag., October 1860, p. 440; Times, 23 Aug. 1860, p. 8; Era, 26 Aug. 1860, p. 10, 2 Sept. p. 10; Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 19 Dec. 1874, p. 268 (portrait), 18 Dec. 1875, p. 294; Mrs. Evans Bell's A First Appearance, 1872, i. 129–33, iii. 195–7.]

G. C. B.