Bill Campbell was the son of J R Campbell, an iconic figure in the British Communist Party.
As a teenager at the height of the depression, Bill Campbell left Britain and took a boat to Leningrad in search of work.
Quickly finding a job in a factory and performing to his workmates, he discovered his vocation as an entertainer. Soon, he was singing and playing in a popular jazz orchestra, toured the USSR. He finally joined the Soviet circus as Villi the clown. He used the name Villi Karlin. Some film parts followed, notably in `Jolly Comrades’. He also widely performed on stage with his second wife, Elena. He became a radio announcer after the second world war.
In 1977, he returned to his homeland and published his life story, “Villi the Clown”, with Faber and Faber in 1981. This extraordinary and lively account is full of anecdotes.