Circus veteran Gerry Cottle dies at 75 after catching Covid-19… just a week before he was due to be vaccinated
- Circuis legend Gerry Cottle has died aged 75 after contracting Covid
- He died at a Bath hospital just a week before he was due to be vaccinated
- Mr Cottle found fame in the 1970s when his Gerry Cottle Circus toured the UK
Circus legend Gerry Cottle has died at 75 after contracting Covid – just a week before he was due to be vaccinated.
He found fame in the 1970s when his Gerry Cottle Circus toured the country. He also presented the Moscow State Circus and the Chinese State Circus.
The son of a stockbroker, he was born in Carshalton, Surrey, but ran away to join the circus at 14 after being impressed by a show he had seen at Earl’s Court, west London.
He died at a hospital in Bath yesterday afternoon after earlier showing signs of improvement.
His friend John Haze said: ‘It only happened two hours ago, it’s a real shock.
Circus legend Gerry Cottle has died at 75 after contracting Covid – just a week before he was due to be vaccinated. Pictured at his funfair at Smuggler’s Way, Wandsworth
Gerry Cottle waves a top hat while displaying some of the circus fancy dress costumes which are to be auctioned at Bonhams, in London during 1994
‘I spoke to him last week and he didn’t sound good and then he rang me on Monday and he seemed miles better. Then he just died.
‘It was a complete shock. It’s so fresh. He was going for the vaccine next week I believe.
‘How tragic is that? Just two weeks away and you get all these idiots saying don’t get the vaccine and ignore Covid, it’s driving me mad.
‘It’s just horrible. I wish people would just take it seriously.’
Mr Haze told how Mr Cottle’s love of the circus began at an early age, adding: ‘Every time the circus came round he would go and see them. Eventually he ran away and joined the circus against his parents’ wishes.
‘They accepted it afterwards, but at the time they didn’t think it was a good career move.
Gerry Cottle on his 72nd birthday in April 2017 with his WOW Circus troupe
‘He learned to juggle and perform a bit and continued to do that right up until yesterday. He really was the greatest showman. There’s no doubt about it.’
Cottle’s circus career began as ‘Gerry Melville the Teenage Juggler’, but by the mid-1970s his Gerry Cottle Circus was touring Britain with three shows.
Later he married Betty Fossett who came from one of the oldest circus families in the UK going back two centuries.
The circus legend, who previously suffered from prostate cancer and had an earlier addiction to cocaine, was able to see most of his family in hospital before passing away and spoke to his son Gerry Jnr who lives in the US.
In 2003 he auctioned off much of his circus paraphernalia in order to concentrate on running Wookey Hole Caves, a tourist attraction he bought in Somerset.
Cottle leaves four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.