Circus star Gerry Cottle dies aged 75 after contracting coronavirus

PAP 20 17.11.94. LONDON. The big top comes to Bonhams salerooms in Chelsea today (Thursday),  as circus owner Gerry Cottle wa
PAP 20 17.11.94. LONDON. The big top comes to Bonhams salerooms in Chelsea today (Thursday), as circus owner Gerry Cottle waves a top hat while displaying some of the circus fancy dress costumes which are to be auctioned on Wednesday 23 of November. PA News, Diane Potter. /PJ.

Circus star Gerry Cottle has died aged 75 after contracting coronavirus, his agent has said.

He found fame during the 1970s with the touring Gerry Cottle Circus, while he also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus in Britain.

Cottle, who was born in 1945, died in hospital in Bath.

Performers from Gerry Cottle's Circus
Performers from Gerry Cottle’s Circus (PA)

His agent Mark Borkowski said in a statement: “Gerry was a loving family man who is survived by his wife Betty and three daughters and a son, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”

He added on Twitter: “RIP Gerry Cottle the last of the great circus showmen.

“In a fraction of a second the bastard virus ripped your life away. I shall never forget all the mad adventures we shared.”

Cottle planned to enter the circus trade after he saw a performance in Earl’s Court, London, at the age of eight, according to Borkowski.

When he was 15 he ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circus.

He put on the first circus show of his own in the summer of 1970 in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, with just five performers including himself.

Discussing the performance, he told The Telegraph last year: “It was a terrible show, we did eight weeks and took no money, so we closed.”

Cottle’s performance was staged inside a second-hand tent that used to be used to sell flowers.

By that time he had learnt juggling, stilt walking, acrobatics, clowning and bareback horse riding.

Later in his career Cottle helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990s.

He retired from the circus in 2003 and bought Wookey Hole, a museum and amusement attraction in Somerset.

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