Arthur was a comedian and entertainer born in Liverpool, England in 1900. His catchphrases included "Where's me washboard?", "Hello playmates!", and "Before your very eyes". He recorded a number of popular songs of the day and appeared on early BBC television. After some years of enjoying mixed success on the stage and screen, and a period of ill-health in which he found it difficult to perform, he used his household name and showbusiness connections to establish his eponymous talent agency for comedians and other entertainers. The agency went to specialise in providing large commercial clients with jokers and impersonators to provide their staff with light lunchtime relief (a kind of modern "court fool"). Arthur died in 1982 but his company went on great success, until a series of sad events culminated with its closure under dark skies in 2002.
A number of the agency's impersonators and entertainers who had been placed with the Enron corporation suffered a group hallucination in which they believed they were a team of real professional advisors and auditors. Events conspired against them as Enron's internal controls failed, leading senior executives to buy into this episode and take a series of disastrous decisions. The wipe-out of Enron and devastating impact on employees and the wider economy (including a number of tragic suicides) cast a pall over Arthur's name. Although a judge later went on to clear the agency of major blame ("only an idiot would have taken those fools seriously"), the tragedy tarnished the name and pushed a number of the agency's key talent in the clowning division (renowned for their inner turmoil) into permanent states of clinical depression.
Most of the talent switched to such agencies as Entertaining Yodellers, PollywollyClowning, International Bawdiness and Mischiefmakers, Accordians & Cornetists Network (which began as a musical off-shoot of Arthur's agency), and of course Deloitte Consulting (now the largest and best-known group of professional fools worldwide).