Like many people of my generation, I was hooked on TV at a very young age. This medium would hold major memories for me as I grew older. I may have forgotten most of my school days and classmates but I can vividly remember all sorts of TV trivia. Theme tunes, cartoons, dramas and actors' credits easily spring to mind. Most memorable of all were character actresses like Queenie Watts, Claire Davenport, Peggy Mount, Edie Martin, Esma Cannon, Violet Carson and Margaret Rutherford. One lady in particular stood out more than any other, her name was Rita Webb!The lack of available information about her life and career started a quest for information, the result of which is this website.
The weather was wet and dreary the day I walked down Chepstow Road, and as I came to number 66 my heart sank at the sight before my eyes. Was this really the house Rita and Jeffie called their home for more than 40 years?
As I walked up the steps and peered through the letter box into the run-down site that stood before me, I wondered what Rita and Jeffie would have thought of what became of their wonderful home!
The weather matched my mood as I tried to force the door open, thinking that the house was derelict.
It would not budge and I began to walk down the stairs when a man walked towards the basement. "Excuse me" I asked " do you live here?" "No" he replied. There was another man who came to greet him at the foot of the basement and he was the owner of the house. I inquired about Rita and Jeffie and a few words were exchanged before the two men disappeared inside, uninterested in my quest. Deflated, I walked away from the house.
Up to this point in my research I had found no trace of Rita's family. I was told a niece emigrated to Australia, as for the rest of the family I had no idea what had happened to them.
I finally tracked down Rita's agent Peter Campbell. He had moved to Spain some years ago.He was very kind and helpful and gave me the last known address of Louise Webb, Rita's niece in Australia. I wrote to the address in the hope that something would turn up.
Eventually I had a reply from the present owner of the house. She had no knowledge of Louise Webb. I tried to trace Rita's brother Henry Webb also to no avail.
I began to gather as much information as I could. Regular trips to the Family record centre, BBC written archives and BFI library were fruitful.
But it was the final step through the age of internet technology that was to be the most rewarding!
It took many months to desifer Rita's mother's maiden name on Rita's birth certificate. After this had happened it was only a matter of time before everything would fall into place.
Kyezor was the maiden name of Rita's mother and on a whim I did a search with Rita's mother's full name and came upon a family tree. Rita's Mother and Father were listed but no one else on that side of the family. Rose had married previously to a man named Samuel Durlacher and he in turn married again and it was to this family that the tree swayed. Rose's twin sons Leslie and Gordon were the next surprise, "Rita had two more brothers!"
I contacted Merav, the owner of the family tree site in Israel who put me in contact with relatives in Australia.
Keira Lockyer was the first to reply. She had been researching her "Kyezor" family tree for sometime and had not known the connection of "Rita Webb" to her family tree.
Merav also sent my email on to Allan and Marg Dale (the Durlacher side of the family) "Rita's cousins!" but they were away on holiday when the message was sent.
Keira and I corresponded for a few days while waiting for the Dales to contact us. In the meantime Keira sent me a photograph of Rita's grandmother Julia Kyezor and also Rita's mother Rose and the Twins Leslie and Gordon.
Finnally Allan and Marg Dale contacted me. They were surprised to find that Allan had an extended family. And even more surprised that they were somewhere in Australia.
I gave Marg details of Louise Webb (thankfully for us she had not changed her surname). Marg tracked her down and contacted her by phone in Sydney. At last this family was coming back together!
Soon after Marg had contact with "The Webbs", Rita's niece Geraldine contacted me along with her sister Louise, brother Richard and mum Joan. They were all extremely helpful towards my goal in getting "Rita's Bleedin' Webbsite" on-line.
The family had a reunion in Sydney in the summer of 2002.
Finnally the Webb/Durlacher/Kyezor connections are back together and the rest as they say is "History" and the story continues....Sometime back I had an email from Judith Howard who turned out to be Rita's half niece! With Judiths help and kindness i've managed to fill in many missing gaps in the life of Rita Webb and her family, amazingly Judith had a photograph of Rita's Father and his Mother and Father and Siblings taken circa 1896, this was truely an amazing find, along with the many other interesting items Judith has on the family (some of which can be seen on this site) and so the research continues....!
Aaron Smith 19th October 2002
Reunion 2002 L to R- Richard Webb, Geraldine Lewis, Allan Dale, Louise Webb, Leslie Dale and insert Keira Lockyer
Aaron Smith and J. Antonio Minana-Fons, New Years Eve 2007 in London with Judith, Alvin and Charlotte Howard, Happy New Year!
With Louise Webb at Highgate Cemetery 2017