Circus impresario Gerry Cottle has died aged 75 after contracting Covid-19.
A press statement released by Borkowski PR confirmed that Cottle died with coronavirus in Bath Hospital on January 13.
Cottle found fame in the 1970s with the Gerry Cottle Circus, and also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus and produced several high-profile circus productions across the world. He also pioneered animal-free circuses later on in his career.
The statement said: “Gerry Cottle was the man behind decades of big top circus acts and the UK first no-animal circus. […] Gerry saw Jack Hilton’s Circus at Earl’s Court in 1953 at the age of eight when his parents took him along to the show, and from that day on he was biding his time until, at 15, he ditched his O levels and ran away from his middle-class Surrey stockbroker upbringing to join the circus.”
It added: “Steeped in circus lore and history, Gerry faced the creative challenge that has preoccupied the latter part of his career – of reinventing circus for contemporary audiences, without animals. He started with a Rainbow Circus that saw his three daughters – the Cottle Sisters – in the ring for the first time, followed by a Rock’n’Roll Circus and a Shark Show.
“Employing top stunt acts, acrobats, magicians and clowns, Gerry set out on a Far East tour that proved immensely lucrative. Flush with cash, he returned home and became the impresario who presented both the Moscow Circus and the Chinese State Circus in Britain and the groundbreaking Circus of Horrors, further boosting his fortune.”
Cottle retired from the big-top circus scene in 2003 and bought cave and attractions complex Wookey Hole in Somerset.
“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,” the statement added.
On Twitter, Cottle’s former publicist and friend Mark Borkowski paid tribute to Cottle as “the last of the great circus showmen” and said he would “never forget all the mad adventures [they] shared”.