Obituary: Ron Melia
Obituary: Ron Melia
We are sad to report the death on 11 March of Ron Melia. He was very well known as a professional entertainer, and his death was met with media coverage on television, radio and in the press. Throughout his years of entertaining people, he always linked this concern for bringing happiness into people’s lives to the struggle to end the organised misery of the profit system. He was an active member of the Socialist Party for many years, and his death was a loss to the movement.
As a dancer, comedian and all-round entertainer under his stage name of Ronnie Ross, he performed in most of the better known music-halls in the post-war years. With the closing down of such venues by the 60s and 70s, however, Ron took his act out to people as a street entertainer. He had a regular and, eventually, famous spot in London’s Leicester Square, where thousands of cinema-goers over the years had their wait in the queues filled with Ron’s sparky visual humour. The police made life difficult for the buskers and Ron found it easier in later years to continue his act in Paris and elsewhere in Europe. Even in his seventies he was a familiar sight, bringing smiles to the faces of people sitting outside the “Deux Magots” at Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He was engaged as a choreographer by the National Theatre in recent years and also appeared in Dennis Potter’s TV series Pennies from Heaven, which was repeated just before his death. Throughout his years of busking his wife Peg, also a Socialist Party member, was always with Ron as his assistant and “bottler” collecting the donations.
Ron became a socialist during the war years and joined the Socialist Party in the 40s. At different times since then he and Peg had been members of Bloomsbury, Westminster and Islington branches. In recent years Ron often spoke at meetings at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, in London in a gusty fashion which was straight to the point and uncompromising in style as well as content. Likewise, many of the debates which have taken place at Islington branch in recent years were helped along by Ron’s inimitable contributions often acerbic in their wit (and fortunately captured on tape). Ron’s passion for advocating socialism at every opportunity continued to the very end.
When travelling across Europe he and Peg made contacts, generating interest in socialist ideas, as they worked from country to country. In Denmark, for example, one group they met developed a keen interest in socialist ideas, and in Paris in 1981 they were present at the first Socialist Party public meeting conducted in French there.
There is no doubt about the epitaph Ron would have wanted—that the struggle for socialism must go on with increased vigour until we achieve our objective. Our best wishes go to Peg and also to their sons, Chris and Phil, both also Socialist Party members.