RECORDING DISCUSSIONS

DUET Recently published
Paperback,
314 Pages 

Price: $12.50
Prints in 3-5 business days
Duet, the autobiography of famous British duettists, Webster Booth and Anne
Ziegler, was originally published by Stanley Paul in 1951. Sixty-five years
later I have digitised the book and made it available as a paperback, epub and
pdf book. My sincere thanks to John Marwood who proofread the book most
painstakingly for me. Webster and Anne tell the exciting story of their rise to
fame, and their sensational romance. After Webster’s divorce from Paddy Prior,
his second wife, he and Anne married and became the most popular duettists of
their day, earning them the deserved title of Sweethearts of Song.



The book is also available as an ebook at My Duettist’s Bookstore
RECORDING DISCUSSIONS
Top of Form

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were versatile singers so it is difficult to
name just one duet or solo as an all-time favourite. Webster recorded far more
solo recordings than he did duets with Anne, although he is largely remembered
today because of the duets.

In Webster’s case there are light songs with British Dance Bands led by
Jack Hylton, Carroll Gibbons, Debroy Somers, Ray Noble, as the anonymous “with
vocal refrain” with the accordion band of Carlos Santana (one of the many
pseudonyms adopted by the equally versatile musician, Harry Bidgood), and the
popular Fred Hartley’s Quintet or Sextet. He also sang in medleys, sometimes on
his own or with singers like Janet Lind, Garda Hall, Magda Neeld, Marjorie
Stedeford, Stuart Robertson, Sam Costa, Olive Groves, and Nora Savage.

As his singing career progressed he began recording more serious songs,
and arias from opera and oratorio. In operatic ensembles he was partnered with
singers like Norman Walker, Dennis Noble, Joan Hammond, Joan Cross, Noel Eadie,
Nancy Evans, Arnold Matters and Edith Coates. Conductors of these recordings
included Warwick Braithwaite, Laurance Collingwood and Malcolm Sargent, and
accompanists included Gerald Moore, Herbert Dawson (organ), and John Cockerill
(harp).

The duets recordings were generally of musical comedy, operetta and
popular songs of the day arranged as duets such as Dearest
of all
 by Vernon Latham Sharp and Too
tired to sleep
 by Alan Murray. There were also duet
arrangements of instrumental pieces by Chopin and Liszt, and a charming duet of
Mendelssohn’s lied “On Wings of Song”.

Which ones are my favourites ? Why does the God of Israel sleep? from
the oratorio, Samson by Handel is one of my favourites. It
illustrates Webster’s amazing vocal technique and dramatic power. He was a
prolific recording solo artist and a highly regarded oratorio soloist.

 

Excerpt from an Australian newspaper – March 11 1950

 


Shortly after Webster began recording for HMV in 1929, critics in Gramophone magazine
praised his voice but thought he should be singing songs more worthy of
it. In April 1937, a critic wrote, “Gradually Webster Booth is finding his
rightful place as a member of the solo quartet in our concert halls, when the
choral masterpieces are given. Only the other day a severe critic of
English singing singled out Mr Booth as one of the very few elect.

Most people remember Webster Booth  for the romantic duets he sang
with Anne Ziegler on record, stage, screen and radio but several
derogatory comments have been made about his duet partnership with Anne, most
people claiming that he would be better regarded as a serious singer today had
he not formed the Variety Act with Anne in 1940.  Anne was the first to
admit that she had a “ten-a-penny” soprano voice while his voice was in a
different category from hers. She was aware that many people thought she had
“brought.him down”.

They went into variety because it paid far better than more serious
forms of entertainment and they had expensive family financial commitments.
Within a very short time they became very popular with those who enjoyed
hearing operetta and musical comedy duets sung by a very handsome and charming
couple. Anne and Webster were a romantic pair and their variety act took the
public’s mind off the daily grind of war for an hour or two. While Anne’s voice
might not have been in the same class as Webster’s, one cannot deny that they
sang the duets musically and their voices complemented one another. 

Webster did not drop his oratorio singing and it was while he and Anne were
singing in Variety and Harold Fielding concerts that he made some of his finest
serious oratorio recordings. 
He was one of Sir Malcolm Sargent’s favourite tenors and was chosen by
Sir Malcolm to sing at his sixtieth birthday celebration concert in 1955.

Webster was a lyric tenor with excellent diction and a wide vocal range.
Although his voice was light it filled the Albert Hall, a hall with a
notoriously difficult acoustic for singers. He had a pleasing baritonal quality
in the lower range of his voice and, in later years, fulfilled a long-held
ambition to sing the baritone solos in a performance of Elijah in Knysna, South
Africa.

If one listens to his recordings of Mozart operatic arias and the
operatic duets with baritone, Dennis Noble  in Puccini’s La
Bohème 
and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and
the extracts from Bizet’s Carmen with Dennis Noble, Nancy
Evans, Noel Eadie and the Sadlers Wells chorus, he more than held his own among
the foremost operatic singers of the day. Perhaps he would not have managed
heavier operatic roles on stage but he had a voice ideal for Mozart, Rossini,
Gounod, and Handel.

At that time it was the convention to record everything in English on
the HMV plum label, but I have a recording of him singing in an Italian which
sounds quite acceptable to me, so I don’t think singing in a foreign language
would have presented a problem to him. He was also a highly competent musician,
so he would have had no difficulty learning an operatic role. As a young man he
was keen to sing in opera, but opera did not pay as well as lighter forms of
entertainment. In 1926 Sir Malcolm Sargent told him that if he did not have a
private income he should leave opera alone. Webster’s older sister, Doris
(known as Nellie) was very disappointed that he did not make a career in opera.

I have an LP called Famous British Tenors in my
collection. Webster sings the rather obscure aria, O,
Vision Entrancing
 
from Esmeralda by Goring
Thomas, while his peers are heard in more popular arias. Despite this he still
sounds very much better than most of those who are spoken off in hallowed
tones, while Webster is dismissed as a light-weight, a mere romantic duettist!

Webster managed to set the appropriate mood for each song he sang,
whether it was a light ballad or a profound aria. One only has to
contrast Total Eclipse from Handel’s Samson with
Percy French’s Phil the Fluter’s Ball to see a
complete change of mood. He certainly was a versatile singer, but far from
being “A jack of all trades, master of none,” I suggest that he was a master in
command of every song he sang.

 


Once Anne and Webster’s
recording contract with HMV was cancelled in 1951 they made a few recordings
for Decca and gradually their 78s were deleted from the record
catalogues. 

But in the late
fifties several long playing records were issued, comprising their popular duet
recordings. 
Love Duets from Theatreland was issued by EMI in the UK, while, in South Africa, a similar
record, entitled 
Sweethearts of Song was issued, with sleeve notes by their friend, Leslie Green.

 

In 1959 they made an LP of their popular duets. The words had been
translated into Afrikaans and, instead of the orchestral accompaniment on the
78s, there was organ and piano accompaniment by Jack Dowle and John Massey.
This record was entitled 
Net Maar ‘n Roos (Only a Rose).


In 1963 they
made 
Nursery School Sing-Along (No 2). This time Heinz Alexander was the accompanist and
the Nazareth House Children’s Chorus was conducted by my piano teacher, Sylvia
Sullivan. Webster thought highly of Mrs Sullivan’s conducting and insisted that
she conducted all the songs for the record.

 

A recording of
Webster’s was included in 
Famous British Tenors issued in 1972.  Webster sings the rather obscure aria, O,
Vision Entrancing
 
from Esmeralda by Goring
Thomas, while his peers are heard in more popular arias. He was rather put
out about this as he thought the powers-that-be might have chosen a more
popular aria for his recording. Perhaps recording techniques had not been very
advanced for some of the other tenors on the recording sound rather thin.
Webster’s recording sounds very much better than most of the other
recordings by those who are spoken off in hallowed tones, while Webster is so
often dismissed as a light-weight, a mere romantic duettist!




Meanwhile, a solo recording called simply Webster Booth was issued by Rococo, Canada in
the late sixties. All the recordings had been taken from the collection of
Scott Sheldon. Webster played me this record when I visited the Booth home in
Knysna in 1973 and I was delighted to hear some songs I had not heard
before. 


He told me that EMI
would never issue an LP of his more serious work until he was dead, but in
1977, just such a recording was issued. He was very pleased that he was alive
to see it, but was rather put out because it was recommended that the record
should be filed under the historical section of the catalogue!

 

The Booths returned to England in 1978 and EMI issued two duet LPs in the late seventies and early
eighties. 
Sweethearts in Song included the same recordings as those from the late fifties, while
the other, 
Music for Romance was a more interesting collection of their lesser-known
duets.
 

Webster Booth died on Anne Ziegler’s birthday, 21 June 1984 in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales. A year or so later EMI issued The Golden Age of Webster Booth. 

 

 At about the same time the LP entitled The Golden Age of Ballads and Parlour
Songs
, featuring Webster and some of his contemporaries was issued. Webster
sang Tosti’s 
Parted on this LP.

 

 He was also featured in the Irving Berlin Centenary Celebration  by the  great British dance bands, singing two songs in a Waltz Medley, with Ray Noble conducting the New Mayfair Orchestra.

 

By 1989 Webster’s earlier recordings were coming out of their fifty-year copyright and solo and duet CD
compilations were issued by EMI and independent companies during the nineties.
Because these recordings were out of copyright, Anne did not receive any royalties from their sale.


Jeannie C
2010

Rehearsing for a broadcast with Sydney Jerome (1938)

AZ/WB RECORDINGS ON YOUTUBE

Most of the videos featuring Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth have been
uploaded by me. My channel is at http://www.youtube.com/duettists

I was interested to see the BBC4 archive on Desert Island Discs. Webster Booth was a
castaway on 3 April 1953. Unfortunately this episode is not yet available
as a podcast, but I am hoping that it might be added some time. Webster’s
choice of discs were, as follows:

 

Jean Sibelius: Finlandia, Philharmonia Orchestra

Irving Berlin: You Can’t Get A Man With A Gun (Annie
get your gun), Ethel Merman

Franz Liszt: Liebesträum
No. 3 in A flat major
: vocal version sung by Tito Schipa

 Charles N. Daniels: Chloe (Song of the Swamp):Spike Jones and His City Slickers

Frances Allitsen: The Lute Player, Harold Williams (baritone)


Gilbert and Sullivan: The Yeoman of the Guard, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Orchestra Conductor: Malcolm Sargent

 George Frederic Handel: Ombra mai fu (Largo) (from Xerxes): Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)London Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Malcolm Sargent

George Frederic Handel: Comfort ye my people (from Messiah) Webster Booth,
London Philharmonic Orchestra


Luxury item: ivory pig


The Tito Schipa recording of Liebestraum was
the same arrangement as Webster himself had recorded. 


Webster considered Australian baritone, Harold Williams to
be one of the finest singers of the role of Elijah in
Mendelssohn’s oratorio of the same name.

 

     Kathleen Ferrier lived opposite the Booths in Frognal, Hampstead. Webster and Anne often visited her when she was
confined to her bed due to illness. Webster had admired her voice greatly and had been looking forward to singing a Messiah with her as
contralto soloist. Sadly she had to cancel this engagement due to ill health and she died less than seven months after this broadcast, on 8 October 1953. 

 


At that time the copyright on Gilbert’s words was still in place, so it would only have been possible to play the overture of The
Yeomen of the Guard
.

  

 The BBC website lists the soloist in Comfort ye/Ev’ry Valley as Walter Booth rather than Webster Booth!

  

   A number of the recordings Webster chose were conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. Sargent was Webster’s champion and chose him for many oratorio performances. In 1955, on the occasion of Sir Malcolm’s sixtieth birthday, he personally requested that Webster should be the soloist at the concert to commemorate this event.

Castaways who chose recordings by Anne Ziegler and/or Webster Booth. Click on the Castaway’s name to listen to the broadcast (if available)

David Croft (writer) 14 March 1993: When
We are Married
 from The Belle of New York (Kerker)


Miriam Rothschild (Conservationist, biologist) 23
April 1989: 



Right Honourable Lord Denning (Master of the Rolls, Politician,
Lawyer) 17 May 1980: 
 Roses of Picardy (Haydn
Wood) With Fred Hartley and his Quintet




Rosina Harrison (Lady Astor’s lady’s maid, writer) 20 March 1976:  BLESS
THIS HOUSE: BRAHE


Noel Streatfeild (Writer) 17 January 1976: The Faery Song from The
Immortal Hour
 (Rutland ghton)


 

Percy Press (Punch and Judy man, puppeteer) 28 December 1974: 

BarryHumphries (Comedian) 24 November
1973: 


Bill Shankly (Manager Liverpool FC, athlete, football manager) 26 April
1965: 

 
Percy Merriman (Musician,
Concert Performer, Roosters Concert Party) 17 August 1964: 
Roses of Picardy (Haydn Wood) With Fred Hartley and his Quintet

Lord George Sanger (Circus, circus proprietor) 22 December
1962: I’ll see you again  from Bitter
Sweet 
(Noel Coward)

Ursula Bloom (Novelist, writer, journalist)
 14 November 1960: 

WEBSTER BOOTH: HOMING (DEL RIEGO)

 

Dr W.E Shewell-Cooper (Horticulturalist) 10 April 1965: Passing by (Purcell)



*Dennis Noble (Baritone) 19 November
1956: The Long Day Closes (Sullivan) by Tommy
Handley Memorial choir, which included Webster Booth


*R.C. Sherriff (Playwright and writer) 23 August
1955: Miserere from Il Trovatore (Verdi) with
Joan Cross, Webster Booth




*Fred Perry (Tennis
player, athlete) 8 July 1952: WEBSTER BOOTH: THE LOST CHORD

 

 


*Leslie Henson (Comedy actor) 18 July
1951: Olive Gilbert, Peter Graves, Webster Booth, Helen Hill

NOVELLO MEDLEY


*Anona Winn (actress and singer) 4 April 1951:MADAM BUTTERFLY: LOVE DUET

There was a break in broadcasting Desert Island Discs between 1946 and 1951


*Signalman Henry Wheeler (soldier, navy signalman) 24 November 1945: If You Were the Only Girl in the World

*Joan Edgar (Light Programme announcer) 1 September 1945: 
MADAM BUTTERFLY: LOVE DUET


*Ralph Reader (Theatre director) 12 February 1944: 
BLESSTHIS HOUSE: BRAHE

*Alan Dent (Drama critic) 8 January 1944:WEBSTER BOOTH: WHERE E’RE YOU WALK
(HANDEL)

                                                                   
Barrington Dalby (Boxing referee, Athlete) 20 August 1942: WEBSTER BOOTH: THE ENGLISH ROSE (GERMAN) 


Nathaniel Gubbins
(Norman Gubbins)
by Howard Coster
half-plate film negative, 1940
NPG x19712
© National Portrait Gallery, London 
Nathaniel Gubbins (Humorous writer) 6 August  1942: The Faery Song from The Immortal Hour by Rutland Boughton

 


*Beatrice Lillie(Actress and revue star) 9 July 1942: The Lord’s Prayer (Malotte)
*Arthur Askey (Comedian) 2 April 1942: Serenade (Schubert)


*Pat Kirkwood (Actress) 

26 February 1942: Serenade (Schubert)

*Desert Island Discs marked with an asterisk do not have podcasts available in the BBC4 Archives search. 

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Recordings not in my collection
Someone asked me the other day how many Booth-Ziegler recordings I had in my
collection. Rather than count them up, I compiled a list of those which are not
in my collection. If anyone has any of these recordings, I would be delighted
to receive an MP3 of it and will gladly send them an MP3 of one of mine in
exchange. 


Decca F9921
Sanctuary of the Heart/Ketelby; He Bought My Heart At Calvary/Hamblen with
choir of St Stephen’s Church Dulwich, Fela Sowande (organ) June 1952


Test recording
Serenata, Macushla Reginald Paul, C Studio, Small Queens Hall, London, 20
November 1929

Recently acquired: Love Passes By and As I sit here

B8476 I’m all alone/May; I’ll wait for you/ Feiner, September 1936

B9030 When You Wish Upon a Star/Pinocchio/ Harline; Rosita/Kennedy/Carr, 1939

B9271 Will You Go with Me?/Brandon-Park/Murray,Gerald Moore 1942

JG282 Songs our boys sang/National savings sing-song/Sydney Burchall, Clarence Wright, Webster Booth

B9502 All Soul’s Day/ Richard Strauss; Memory Island/ Harrison/ Gerald Moore, September 1946

C2814 Neapolitan Nights, Light Opera Company with Webster Booth

C2827 Memories of Tosti/La Scala Singers with Webster Booth

Ave Maria/Schubert, Ernest Lush (unpublished) – Also recorded on 11 August 1939

Here Comes the Bride Selection/Schwartz/Light Opera Company with Alice Moxon, Stuart
Robertson, Webster Booth, George Baker/Ray Noble/Studio C, Small Queens Hall,
London/Cc18897-4, 25 March 1930 (Number unknown)



 

Bibliography

Collen, J.
(Compiler)
 Webster Booth
and Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from Gramophone and Discography
 MY LULU
STOREFRONT

Plomley, R (with Derek Drescher) Desert
Island Lists
, Hutchinson, 1984


Most of the recordings on clypit.com were restored by Mike Taylor.

Join: The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

 


Jean Collen

Updated: 16 January 2017.



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ANNE ZIEGLER (22nd June 1910 – 13th October 2003)

On the occasion of the thirteenth anniversary of the death of Anne Ziegler (Tuesday 13 October 2003) I am posting a picture of her posing as Mrs Siddons in the famous Gainsborough painting. This photograph first appeared in The Star (Johannesburg) in 1962.

Hear Anne singing in Noel Coward Vocal Gems (1947)

 

 

Anne as principal boy in panto.

13 OCTOBER is the anniversary of the death of Anne Ziegler in Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, North Wales. It seems no time since I received the sad phone call from her friend, Sally Rayner to let me know that Anne had passed away. Anne had a bad fall in her home in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales on 8 August 2003 and spent the last few months of her life in  hospital. She died on 13 October, 2003, at the age of 93.

I am posting this beautiful photograph of Anne dressed in a rose-trimmed crinoline. During Anne’s singing career in the UK in the days of fame and glory during the forties and early fifties, Anne was noted for the beautiful crinolines she wore in the Variety act with her husband, the renowned British tenor, Webster Booth, and in stage and film performances. The gown in this photograph is an excellent example and the roses allude to Anne and Webster’s signature tune, Only a Rose from The Vagabond King. The couple starred in a revival of this Rudolf Friml musical at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1943.

While the generation who remembers Anne and Webster from those far-off days is growing smaller with the passing years, I hope new generations will discover them by listening to their recordings, many of which are available on CD. I have uploaded a number of rare 78 rpm recordings by Anne and Webster on YOU TUBE, and you may listen to these by clicking on the links to the right, or go directly to Duettist’s YouTube channel. Anne did not make many solo recordings, but Webster made recordings of oratorio, opera, ballads, musicals and art songs as well as medleys and duets with other singers as well as numerous duet recordings with Anne.

There is a group on Facebook dedicated to the lives, recordings, photos and careers of Anne and Webster. Many of their 78rpm recordings have been perfectly restored by Mike Taylor, the co-administrator of the group. We have 83 members at present and would welcome anyone who is interested in the couple. Click on the link below to join our group.

The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends

Jean Collen – 12th October 2016.

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

https://clyp.it/rbifk0dz/widget

Click on the above link to hear a recording of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler singing one of their most popular duets, Will You Remember? (Sigmund Romberg)
I have digitised Duet, the autobiography of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, published by Stanley Paul in 1951. It is available as a paperback and an epub book at: My Lulu bookstore

db432-2016-03-18_103821

The introduction to the book reads as follows:

England’s most popular duettists, who have sung in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and America, and are loved by millions of radio fans, have written their love-story together.

The provincial choirboy and the little Liverpool pianist have come a long way. Webster Booth ran away from an accountant’s stool to tour England at £4 a week and sing on the piers. Anne Ziegler’s father was ruined on the cotton market, so she sang in restaurant cabaret. They met playing the lovers in “Faust” – and fell in love. But he was married already.

Concert-party struggles, pantomime rivalries, fun and peril in early films, adventures at Savoy Hill and parts in stage “flops” were followed by great successes. She was hailed as “Radio’s Nightingale”, and as a leading lady in New York and London, a film star and BBC favourite. He sang at the Albert Hall and Covent Garden, starred in the West End and on films and radio. They went half round the world together, singing.

There are two-fisted criticisms and fascinating glimpses behind the scenes in film-land, stage-land and the mad and magic world of music. The authors laugh at themselves, each other and the world as they take you with them – this boy and girl who made good in one of real life’s most moving romances.

The links are as follows:

Paperback:

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

 

E-book (Epub)

DUET by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler.

John Marwood, a member of The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends group on Facebook wrote the following interesting review of the book:

I’ve just read Duet, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s autobiography, published by Stanley Paul & Co. in 1951.

My plan was to read it over several days, but once I’d started, I could not put it down.

In the opening chapter Webster says that ‘Someone must begin even a duet. The die is cast and I am the victim – though, no doubt, the ladies will have the last word!’

The first chapter and all subsequent odd numbers are simply headed ’Webster’; and all the even ones are headed ‘Anne’.

The last chapter of the 25 is headed ‘Webster and Anne’; and so the autobiography ends neatly with a joint effort – a duet.

The remark by Webster about ladies sets the tone. It is light, witty and amusing. There is no chapter without entertaining anecdotes.

Apparently the book was ghost-written by the late Frank S. Stuart [Frank Stanley Stuart]. Frank was adept at presenting amusing tales that were based on factual events. Mention is made of precise events in diaries, so I imagine both characters lent their diaries to the writer and spent many hours relating tales, adventures and anecdotes about the past. The two personae sound entirely plausible.

I was surprised by the strong anti-war remarks in the book; and it seems the ghost-writer was a pacifist. Apparently Webster and Anne were not happy with these remarks, and it seems surprising that the publisher allowed them to remain. Only 6 years after the end of the terrible world conflagration many readers must have felt uncomfortable about some of these remarks.

The book was published 5 years before the couple left for South Africa. It is pity we never get to hear them speaking about their years there, but perhaps 1951 was when they were at the peak of their fame. We read of the couple’s delight to be told that Queen Mary had herself picked out their act as a favourite one which she wished to hear at a Gala Variety to mark her eightieth birthday. We read of other encounters with the royal family.

It is a tale of fun and glamour, tails and crinolines, a most entertaining story – a must-read for everyone who remembers the couple, or for anyone who has just discovered them recently.

John Marwood

I might add that John Marwood proofread the digitised copy most meticulously. I am very grateful to him for his help.

Here is a short review of the book, published in The Age, an Australian newspaper, on 16 February 1952.

16 February 1952 - The New Age

Review of “Duet” (1952)

Review by Fiona Compton: 

By Fiona Compton
May 31, 2016
I read this book many years ago and am delighted that it has been digitised and once again available to those who are interested in reading about the illustrious careers of tenor Webster Booth and soprano Anne Ziegler. Although the book was written by a ghost-writer, the tone of the alternate chapters written in turn by Anne and Webster captures the personalities of both writers – Webster’s writing is more measured and thoughtful than Anne’s enthusiastic, spontaneous writing. Webster Booth had one of the finest British tenor voices of the twentieth century and had a distinguished career in oratorio and recording in his own right. Anne Ziegler had a pleasant light soprano voice and a charming personality, but she was never in the same vocal class as her husband. This book is entitled “Duet”, so the emphasis of the book is on the work the couple did together as duettists on the concert and variety stage. I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I would have liked to have heard more about Webster’s distinguished solo singing career. No doubt this book was responsible for giving people the idea that Webster was merely a romantic duettist in partnership with his wife, doing nothing more than singing light songs together with her. Despite this reservation, the book moves at lightning pace and is most enjoyable. I recommend it highly.

 

 

Jean Collen

5 May 2016.

 

 

 

DuetDuet by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler were my singing teachers in Johannesburg. While I was studying with them I acted as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne (who usually played the piano for students) had other engagements. We became good friends, a friendship which lasted until they died – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003.

I first read “Duet” when Webster brought it into the studio and gave it to me to read. I was fascinated by the lively story of their rise to fame, their romance which was fraught with difficulties because Webster was married to Paddy Prior already, and their popularity as duettists during the forties and early fifties.

This book was written when they were at the height of their fame, some years before they had income tax difficulties and eventually moved to South Africa in 1956. Perhaps it was as well that the book ended before they experienced any hardship.

I have always tried to keep Anne and Webster’s singing and illustrious careers before the public. I am sure that anyone who reads their autobiography will get a good idea of their charming personalities from reading this fascinating book. Several people who have read it recently, have described it as “unputdownable”. I hope whoever reads this review and is tempted to read the book will share that opinion of it!

View all my reviews

MABEL FENNEY (later PERKIN) née Greenwood

Mabel Fenney (1960) later Perkin, nee
 Greenwood
 
 
When I was in my final year at Jeppe High School for Girls in 1960, the permanent music mistress, Miss Diane Heller, went on long leave, and Mrs Mabel Fenney took her place for a term. Mabel was born Mabel Greenwood on Shakespeare’s birthday in Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire in 1919. Her mother was a true contralto and had sung in several professional productions. The Greenwoods moved to East London in the Eastern Cape, South Africa when Mabel and her sister were children.
 
Mabel showed singing talent from an early age and did her initial singing diplomas in East London, trained by a gentleman she referred to as “Pop Lee”, and sang and acted in many local musicals, plays and recitals. Her favourite role was as Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard. She married fellow Lancastrian, Eric Fenney, and instead of pursuing a singing career, she helped him run his plumbing business in East London. 
 
Mabel Fenney (centre) as Elsie Maynard, Jimmy Nicholas (Jack Point) Joy Huggett (extreme left) as Phoebe.
East London (South Africa) production of Yeomen of the Guard. Thanks to Julian Nicholas for this photograph.
 
The following year the society put on The Gondoliers and she was less than pleased to play the thankless role of Casilda in that production. She also broadcast for the SABC from their studios in Grahamstown.
 
When the Dramatic Society of East London invited Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler to star in the 1958 production of Merrie England, she and Eric stood surety for their salaries.  It was in this production where she first met them, playing their roles of Bessie Throckmorton and Sir Walter Raleigh. She played the part of Jill-All-Alone in the production. The following year the society put on Waltz Time, again with Anne and Webster in the leading roles, but, for some reason, she did not take part in this production. Instead she went to Johannesburg to have lessons with Anne and Webster in preparation for several advanced diploma singing examinations. By the time she arrived at Jeppe High School for Girls she had already won the University of South Africa’s overseas teaching bursary and was due to leave for Berlin to study at the Hochschule there for two years.
 
We schoolgirls looked on Mabel as a very glamorous figure in comparison with some of our staid academic teachers. She was lively and enthusiastic and took us on various outings to the opera. Most teachers had written off one of the naughtiest classes in the school as impossible to teach, but Mabel developed a good relationship with the girls in that class. She taught them to sing Brother James’ Air, which they performed creditably at the final assembly of the term, giving staff and pupils a pleasant surprise.
 
Towards the end of her term at Jeppe, Mabel gave a memorable recital in the school hall one afternoon. The event had not been widely publicised, so there were not many people present, but I was there with singing school friends, Margaret Plevin (née Masterton) and Valerie Vogt (née Figgins). We were impressed by her performance. The Booths had decided that she was a mezzo soprano rather than soprano, so she had sung a mezzo repertoire for her diploma exams. I will always remember her singing of the Habanera and Seguidilla from Carmen. At the end of one of the arias she threw a rose coquettishly to her schoolgirl audience. We were completely captivated. Someone asked me recently whether I went to study with Anne and Webster because of their duet singing, but it had nothing to do with that at all. It was entirely due to Mabel that decided me  to study singing with Anne and Webster and to make music my career.
 
The cast of Merrie England (1958) Anne and Webster (centre), Mabel Fenney (extreme left), Jimmy Nicholas and Pam Emslie (extreme right). 
 
 
 
In 1963 I sang my Trinity College Associate diploma, with Guy McGrath as examiner and Anne as my accompanist. It went well. After the exam, I went with Anne in her pale blue Anglia to Macey’s, a store in the city, where she bought a new carpet sweeper. On the way there she told me that she thought I was going to be another Mabel Fenney. I felt that she had paid me a great compliment in comparing me to Mabel. By this time Mabel had passed her final exam at the Hochschule, although her Professor had disagreed with the Booths’ assessment of her voice and made her revert to her original soprano.
 
She met her second husband, Maurice Perkin, originally from Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire while she was abroad, and after her divorce from Eric Fenney and remarriage to Maurice, she lived and worked in London for a number of years before returning to South Africa with Maurice. During her time there she sang the role of Susannah in a semi-professional production of The Marriage of Figaro.
 
I met her again when she was living in Florida (South Africa) in 1976 and we became good friends, visiting each other nearly every week. We also sang duets together at a number of concerts until she and Maurice retired to Uvongo on the South Coast of Natal in the early nineties.
 
We wrote regularly and I spent a happy holiday with them in Uvongo in the late 1990s. Mabel – or Maimie, as we called her – always said that she had so many interests other than singing and these had prevented her from having the driving ambition to establish herself as a professional singer. She read widely, loved animals, was a keen gardener and an authority on herbs, and took great interest in history. She and Maurice made frequent trips to the Kruger National Park, where she was as interested in the birds they spotted there as in the big five group of animals.
 
When Anne and Webster returned to the UK and did a series of programmes on the BBC called Only a Rose, they singled her out as one of their most talented and hard-working students.
 
Yesterday I was saddened to learn of her sudden death on 6 March 2011, just over a month short of her ninety-second birthday. She will be sadly missed, but ever remembered by me.
 
Jeannie C ©
24 March 2011
Reblogged: 25 April 2016.
 
 
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Welcome to “The Drawing Room”.

 

 Webster Booth, seated left, Peggy Haddon and Anna Bender (at piano), Gé Korsten and Jean Gluckman (singers), Kathleen Alister (harp) and studio audience.

 

Nearly fifty-four years ago, in April 1962, Webster Booth presented a short series of drawing room concerts on the English Service of the SABC before an invited studio audience. He and
Anne sang solos and duets in several programmes, and a number of guest
artistes took part. Webster also sang duets with bass, Graham Burns.
Among the guest artistes were Doris Brasch and Rita Roberts (sopranos)
Gert Potgieter and Gé Korsten (tenors), Graham Burns (bass) Jean
Gluckman (contralto), Kathleen Allister (harp), Maisie Flinck and Peggy
Haddon (pianos) and Walter Mony (violin). A trumpeter also appeared in
one of the programmes, but I do not remember his name after all this
time. The accompanist was Anna Bender, the official accompanist at the SABC.

 The idea was to create the atmosphere of a polite middle-class Victorian or Edwardian
drawing room concert, where singers and instrumentalists performed their
party pieces such as In a Monastery Garden, The Maiden’s Prayer, O Dry Those Tears and
the like. Sounds of polite conversation and laughter between the items,
with restrained applause for the musical offerings were required, so a
studio audience was invited to provide these “noises off”.

Shortly before this programme started, Webster wrote an article for the SABC Bulletin on
17 March 1962.

A Nostalgic Half-hour of Memories by Webster Booth

“Do you remember those Drawing-room concerts our Grandparents used to hold in the afternoons and evenings way back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s? There were of course, the Society At Homes. These were rather serious affairs, when artistes of repute were engaged. Such artistes as Ben Davis, Madame Patti, Charles Santley and even Madame Melba were paid huge sums of money to entertain the guests.

However, in this new series, to be called Drawing-Room, we want to concentrate on the homely atmosphere, with those lovely old ballads, such as Parted, Little Grey Home in the West, The Rosary, Tosti’s Goodbye, Friend o’ Mine, A Perfect Day, etc., together with those grand pianoforte solos which were all in the Star Folios, and without which no one was considered a pianist. Items like The Maiden’s Prayer, Destiny Waltz, In a Monastery Garden etc. Then the fiddle solos and fiddle obbligatos, vocal duets such as Watchman, What of the Night? Moonlight and Roses and Battle Eve. I so well remember my father, who was Barber-Surgeon to the Royal Staffordshire Regiment, dressing up in his red and gold uniform and singing The Veteran’s Song, and I would be induced to sing in my treble voice, songs like Valé and The Song of Hope, while my mother and sisters had a wonderful evening crying their eyes out. Those were the days when composers wrote songs for the voice, and singers learned to sing ballads. Believe me, those songs needed singing.  They had a story to tell, usually in three verses, all different tempos, portraying passion, joy and tears, and finishing up on a hefty top note.

We intend to invite a small studio audience to help to catch the atmosphere of the drawing-room, and to have well known South African artistes, both vocal and instrumental, to sing and play to us. This  programme will, I am sure, bring to the older listeners a glorious nostalgic half-hour of memories, and will let the younger generations realise there was real music in the home before the advent of the Cinema, Radio and the gramophone. Do tune in to the English programme at 8.30 pm on Wednesday evenings and join us in our Drawing-room. I shall be in charge of the entertainment and Miss Anna
Bender will be our Hostess at the pianoforte.”

For the first recording, Webster invited pupils and friends to form part of the Drawing Room in one of the smaller recording studios at Broadcasting House, Commissioner Street. I was very excited when he asked if I would like to attend the recording. My great friend and fellow pupil of Anne and Webster’s, Ruth Ormond, and I were there with our parents and we noticed Lucille Ackerman, another pupil,  accompanied by a large family contingent.

2011-08-13_205936AW

Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1963)

 

Anne and Webster looked particularly glamorous for the occasion. Anne was wearing a beautiful evening gown, a mink stole – not yet a politically incorrect item of dress  – her fair hair in a chignon, while Webster was in full evening dress, all set to act as compère for the evening and to sing some drawing room ballads into the bargain. The accompanist for the series was Anna Bender, the official accompanist for the SABC. Anne and Webster received their guests graciously. Anne told Ruth and me to save her a seat in the front row, where she sat between us and played her full part in chatting to us between the items on the programme to evoke the atmosphere of a drawing room at the beginning of the twentieth
century.

My dear friend, Ruth Ormond, 1963

Ruth Ormond and me (below).

Photo Album

 I’m afraid that this was not the atmosphere conveyed to those listening in to these broadcasts. The polite studio audience applauded vigorously, suggesting the city hall rather than a drawing room. Fifty-four years later I still remember Miss Rita Roberts (soprano) singing Christina’s Lament to the tune of Dvorak’s Humoresque, Mr Walter Mony (violin), Miss Anna Bender (accompanist) and finally Webster himself, aged sixty and still in fine voice, singing The Kashmiri Song, The Sweetest flower that Blows, Parted, O Dry Those Tears and finally If You Had But Known with violin obbligato by the excellent Mr Mony, a French Canadian, who became a professor and head of the music department at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ruth and I were entranced to have spent such a happy evening and to see and hear Webster singing only a few feet away from where we were sitting. As we were leaving I told Anne breathlessly that Webster’s singing was wonderful and she replied, “Yes, we’re both very proud of him, aren’t we, darling?” which made me feel rather naïve and childish although I was all of eighteen at the time.

The Drawing Room series was recorded over a number of weeks and we attended another recording when Anne, in a sleeveless black evening dress, sang If No One Ever Marries Me, The Little Damozel and a Handel aria from the opera Xerses, He’ll Say That For My Love. Anne had sung the last song at her Wigmore Hall recital in 1933. Later in that programme she and Webster sang duets together: Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes and The Second Minuet.

One evening Ruth and I were at a choir practice with the SABC choir and she decided that during our interval, we should go to the Drawing Room studio to say hello to Webster during the break in his recording session. The first programme was not quite finished so we slipped into the studio quietly and listened to Kathleen Alister playing two solos on her harp.

Webster came out of the studio after the recording and appeared delighted to see us and kissed us both in greeting. He asked what we were doing there, and then said, “Oh, of course, you’re working aren’t you? It’s a pity you can’t stay for the next recording to hear the wonderful trumpeter.”

We were both so excited at meeting Webster (not entirely unexpectedly) and being kissed into the bargain, that Ruth walked into the men’s cloakroom instead of the women’s, only to have him politely point her in the right direction. We were both blood red with embarrassment by the time we got back to our seats at our now rather tame choir practice.

I thought Drawing Room was a lovely programme, but the critics had their misgivings about it, saying that the atmosphere created was not quite right, so it was taken off the air after a relatively short time. I once made enquiries at the SABC as to whether any of the programmes existed in their archives, but apparently they had not been kept. I had recorded several programmes via a microphone on my newly-acquired reel-to-reel tape recorder. The sound quality of these recordings is not very good, but when I listen to them all these years later, I am transformed into an excited and optimistic teenager, back in that SABC studio with Ruth and Anne, completely entranced with the music of the Drawing Room.

Sadly, it has occurred to me that most of the people mentioned in this article are now dead and gone, but the memory of that happy time remains vividly in my mind.

Here are links to some of the songs Webster sang on that programme.

Click on the links to hear him.

Friend o’ Mine (Restored by Mike Taylor) https://clyp.it/2hupnyrm

Parted (Tosti) https://clyp.it/qriewsgs

O, Dry Those Tears (del Riego) https://clyp.it/llblyizd

The Sweetest Flower that Blows https://clyp.it/0iftdnlr

Jean Collen –  April 2016

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Paddy Prior – Webster Booth’s Second Wife.

 

Paddy Prior in Newquay

Paddy Prior at the Old Vicarage, Newquay after World War 2

Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name Paddy Prior) on 10 October 1932 at the Fulham Registry Office. He had married Winifred Keey there eight years earlier but had divorced her in 1931 after she deserted him and their small son, Keith, several years before.

Marriage Henderson Prior

Marriage certificate of Hubert Edward Prior and Annie Jane Henderson on 25 October 1902.

Paddy Prior, was born in December 1904, the daughter of Fulham ironmonger, Hubert and his wife, Annie Henderson. Paddy began her professional stage career while still a teenager. She was a talented soubrette, comedienne and dancer, and possessed a pleasant mezzo soprano voice into the bargain.

Paddy’s parents lived at Disbrowe Road when they were first married.

Disbrowe Road

Disbrowe Road, Fulham (today)

Paddy’s birthplace in Fulham. Her baptism on 29 January 1905 at St Peter, Fulham.

Baptismal certificate.

Baptismal certificate – Dorothy Annie Alice Prior.

 

1911 Census

1911 census Paddy Prior

1911 census

George William Henderson was a relative of Annie Jane Prior (nee Henderson).

In 1924, at the age of nineteen, Paddy spent nearly a year as a member of the travelling Rogues concert party from April to January 1925. In various reviews Paddy was praised for her comedy talent and her speciality dancing with comedian Fred Roper. They were appearing at Leas Pavilion, Folkestone in January 1925, but by the 5 February Paddy had left the Rogues to join the Gamblers and Their Tipster concert party at the same venue. This party also toured extensively, so before she was twenty-one, Paddy had seen much of the country and gained valuable professional experience into the bargain.

Whitehall Court

Whitehall Court, Fulham

Whitehall Court, Fulham – Paddy’s home in the 1920s.

In November 1925 Paddy appeared at the Taunton Lyceum in Little Miss Muffet as Dolly Dimple. The pantomime toured various towns until early 1926.

Little Miss Muffet (1925)

Little Miss Muffet – Paddy played Little Dolly Dimple.

By April Paddy was out of work and obliged to put an advertisement in The Stage as follows:

8 April 1926 PADDY PRIOR, SOUBRETTE AND DANCER, VACANT: First class offers for CP, Revue, and Musical Comedy. PA 37 Arundel Mansions, Fulham SW6

By July Paddy was working again, this time with Leslie Fuller’s Whitby Pedlars, and a review pointed out that, “Paddy Prior is a charming and dainty soubrette, who uses her mezzo voice effectively.”

The pattern of Paddy’s stage career was set: concert party, after-dinner entertainment, pantomime and musical comedy. Towards the end of the twenties she was also on television at Daventry, first in De Courville’s Hour in 1929.

Albert de Courville.

Albert de Courville

then in the early thirties in Philip Ridgeway’s series entitled The Ridgeway Parade, which included Janet Lind, Dorothy Dampier and Hermione Gingold in the cast. She starred in the Cicely Courtneidge role on a Scottish tour of Lido Lady in 1929.

31 January 1929 – Advertisement in The Stage. PADDY PRIOR – Playing Lead LIDO LADY Co. This week, Theatre Royal, Inverness, next His Majesty’s, Aberdeen

Selection from LIDO LADY

Stage adverts

Stage adverts

Cast of Ridgeway ParadeDress Rehearsal

The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 7 October 1931 21.15 (New Series. No. I) Sweep Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN
Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY
FRED CURTIS , BERTHA WILLMOTT, IRENE VERE, HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, SINCLAIR COLE, BERT MEREDITH, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, JACK HODGES, JOHN CHARLTON, PADDY PRIOR, ARTHUR JAY, WALLACE NORFORD. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA. PHILIP RIDGEWAY.

THE FIRST OF THE NEW SERIES OF RIDGEWAY PARADES – National Programme Daventry, 9 October 1931 20.00 SWEEP NIGHT – A song and dance show, written by Holt Marvell and Philip Ridgeway. Musical arrangements by Dorothy Hogben. Devised and produced by Philip Ridgeway. Fred Curtis, Bertha Wilmott, Irene Vere, Hermione Gingold, Gerald Osborne, Dorothy Dampier, Anna Day, Sinclair Cole, Bert Meredith, Douglas Pemberton, Lola Gordon, Beatrice Galleway, Jack Hodges, John Charlton, Paddy Prior, Arthur Jay, Wallace Norford, Dorothy Hogben and her Orchestra. Philip Ridgeway.

Singing, dancing, burlesque-and Mr. Ridgeway. The producer is the life and soul of his own shows. It is Philip Ridgeway who designed costumes for his Paraders to wear in the Studio, who makes his whole company dance furiously for a minute before the red light goes on in order that they should start their broadcast warmed up, who created and impersonated Joe Ramsbotham of Rawthenstall, of the unsteady Lancashire accent. These Parades, of which the present series is the third, are among the most generally popular light entertainments ever broadcast. They may lack the subtlety and satire of the revues of Gordon McConnel, John Watt, Denis Freeman; their aim is otherwise—broad humour, popular songs, vitality, rather than finesse. Many of the members of former Parade companies are taking part in the present series. Mr. Ridgeway’s musical director, Dorothy Hogben, is again in charge of the orchestra. Philip Ridgeway is well qualified to possess an acquaintance with the popular taste in entertainment. Still in his thirties, he has been connected with the theatre since he was a boy, as actor, author, producer and manager in turn. It is typical of his lively versatility that the two most widely acclaimed achievements of his career have been his introduction of Chekhov to London, at the Barnes Theatre, several years ago, and the invention last autumn of the Ridgeway Parades. Tonight he will be beside the microphone as usual, the inevitable flower in his buttonhole, waving his company on, a cross between Sir Henry Wood, Francois Descamps and Grock. So on with the show. We’re a lot of little songs to chase the blues, Dancing shoes to amuse. We’re the lightest and the brightest of revues, We’re the Ridgeway Parade.

The Ridgeway Parade – National Programme Daventry, 22 October 1931 20.00 (New Series-No. II) Sweetheart Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY. DOROTHY DAMPIER, HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, FRED CURTIS, SINCLAIR COLE, BERT MEREDITH, LOLA GORDON, JOHN CHARLTON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES , DORIS YORKE, ALEXANDER HENDERSON, WALLACE MORFORD, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA.  PHILIP RIDGEWAY

The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 4 November 1931 20.30 (New Series-No. Ill) – Old Soldiers’ Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY. HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON, FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES, WALLACE MORFORD, DORIS YORKE, ALEXANDER HENDERSON, BEATRICE GALLEWAY.BL_0000381_19321224_010_0001

Ridgeway Parade2

Ridgeway Parade

The Ridgeway Parade— V Regional Programme London, 2 December 1931 20.00 (New Series) Typists’, Brunettes’, and Dukes’ Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP Ridgeway.  HERMIONEGINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON, FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, BEATRlCE GALLEWAY,  ALEXANDER HENDERSON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES, WALLACE MORFORD, DORIS YORKE. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA, PHILIP RIDGEWAY.

The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 16 December 1931 20.00 (New Series-No. VI) HAPPY NIGHT. A SONG AND DANCE SHOW Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY.  HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON. FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, ALEXANDER HENDERSON , DORIS YORKE, WALLACE MORFORD, JACK HODGES, PADDY PRIOR, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, LOLA GORDON, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA. PHILIP RIDGEWAY

MURRAY ASHFORD’S ENTERTAINERS – Regional Programme Midland, 17 June 1932 18.30 From THE PAVILION, JEPHSON GARDENS, LEAMINGTON SPA. WINIFRED SCOTT-BAXTER (Soprano), EDWARD WARD, (Baritone), CLIFFORD WARREN (Entertainer), PADDY PRIOR (Soubrette), MARIE GROS (Comedienne), DOROTHY BRADSHAW (at the Piano), FRANK RYDON (Light Comedian), WILBY LUNN and CONNIE HART (Living Marionettes).

MANY interesting personalities are associated with Murray Ashford’s Entertainers. Paddy Prior is familiar to admirers of the Ridgeway Parade, Marie Gros is the niece of the late Marie Lloyd and sings many of her songs, while Edward Ward has appeared in several Drury Lane successes.

Webster Booth divorced his first wife, Winifred Keey, in 1931.

 

February 1931 – IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE PROBATE DIVORCE AND ADMIRALTY DIVISION (DIVORCE)

Between Leslie Webster Booth (Petitioner) and Winifred Dorothy Booth (Respondent) and Trevor Davey (Co-respondent)

TAKE NOTICE that a Petition has been filed in this Division endorsed with Notice to you to appear and answer the charges in the Petition of Leslie Webster Booth of 151 Biggin Hill, Upper Norwood, in the County of London, praying for a dissolution of marriage. In default of your so appearing, you will not be allowed to address the Court, and the Court will proceed and hear the said Petition proved and pronounce sentence. AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE THAT for the purpose of the aforesaid within one month after the date of this Publication an appearance must be entered at the Divorce Registry, Somerset in respect thereof AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE THAT House, Strand, London. W INDERWICK, Registrar, Solicitors for the Petitioner:-W H Speed & Co., 18 Sackville Street, London, W1

Like Webster, Paddy was a member of the Concert Artistes’ Association, and it was there that she first heard Webster sing. In an interview with W.S. Meadmore in Gramophone in November 1935, Webster described his meeting with Paddy. He was singing One Alone from The Desert Song when his attention was drawn to her seated in the audience, obviously enjoying his singing. They were introduced after the concert and married on 10 October 1932.  They spent their honeymoon in Newquay, Cornwall.

10 October 1932 – Marriage. Webster married Dorothy Annie Alice Prior on 10 October 1932 at Fulham Registry Office, the same registry office where he had married Winifred Keey in 1924.

While married to Dorothy (Paddy) Prior, the couple lived at 5 Crescent Court, Golders Green Crescent, NW11. They were listed separately in the telephone book as Webster Booth, tenor, Speedwell 6608; and Paddy Prior, soubrette-entertainer, Speedwell 6608

Although Webster was living with Anne at her flat in Lauderdale Mansions in 1937, Paddy and Webster remained listed in the telephone book at the same address until their divorce was made final in October 1938.

13 October 1932 – Wedding Bells. Paddy Prior and Webster Booth were married at the Fulham Register Office last Monday. A reception followed before the bride and bridegroom left for a honeymoon at Newquay, and several professional friends were in attendance to toast the happy couple.

One Alone

5 Crescent Court

5 Crescent Court, Golders Green Crescent, Golders Green

Paddy and Webster lived at Crescent Court, Golders Green Crescent, Golders Green during their marriage (pictured above).

May 1933 – Piccadilly Revels. Murray Ashford and Wilby Lunn’s Piccadilly Revels will open a fortnight’s engagement at the Pavilion, Bournemouth, next Monday, with a visit to the Argyle, Birkenhead, to follow. The company will start their long resident season at the Floral Hall, Scarborough, on Whit Saturday. The Western Brothers, Ena Broughton, Webster Booth, Paddy Prior, Vilet Stevens, Edgar Sawyer, Andrée Conti, Isolde, Alexis and Carlo, and the Euphan Maclaren Girls form the cast.

Piccadilly Revels, Scarborough 1933

1933 Piccadilly Revelsa

Piccadilly Revels scan0004

Piccadilly Revels. Webster is seated in middle row with Paddy to the left.

Paddy Prior (middle row left), Webster Booth (seated next to her)

In 1934 they were members of Powis Pinder’s Sunshine concert party at the Sunshine Theatre, Shanklin. Arthur Askey and Bernard Lee were also in this company.

Paddy Prior (extreme left) Webster Booth (standing behind Arthur Askey) Sunshine Concert Party, Shanklin 1934

Sunshine Shanklin 03

Sunshine, Shanklin.

At the end of 1934 Webster was chosen to play Faust in the film, The Faust Fantasy and Anne Ziegler was chosen to play Marguerite. Filming began in December and, according to Anne and Webster’s joint autobiography Duet, they fell in love almost at first sight. Paddy’s marriage to Webster was about to end before it had properly begun.

Filming Faust (1934/1935)

2014-12-23_232120

Webster and Anne meet during the filming of Faust

1935 – Fred Hartley’s wedding. Mrs Webster Booth (Paddy) is mentioned as being one of the wedding guests present.

https://clyp.it/ovf2ai2i Roses of Picardy. Click on the link and listen to Webster singing this song with Fred Hartley’s quintet.

Fred Hartley's wedding 1935Mention of Mrs Webster Booth as one of the guests at the wedding.

In May 1935 Webster and Paddy did an extensive broadcast from Daventry entitled A Musical Comedy Pot-Pourri. Harry Bidgood and Sydney Jerome accompanied them on two pianos and played several piano duets. Paddy and Webster sang several duets together.

Webster Booth and Paddy Prior Daventry broadcast

Webster Booth and Paddy Prior Daventry broadcast – May 1935

So this is love

So this is love – Paddy and Webster sang Just Suppose as their first duet.

Two of the duets which Webster and Paddy sang in the broadcast were: Fancy Me Meeting You (Hit the Deck by Yeomans) sung here by Binnie Hale. Click on the link to listen.

Who? (Sunny by Jerome Kern) sung here by Binnie Hale and Jack Buchanan. Click on the link to listen.


As Binnie Hale is the archetypal soubrette, I dare say that Paddy’s mezzo soprano voice was similar to Binnie’s.

In October of the same year Webster sang in an early broadcast with Anne Ziegler, several years before Paddy divorced him – the programme was called Musical Comedy Moments.

Broadcast from Daventry - Webster and Anne Ziegler

Broadcast from Daventry – Webster and Anne Ziegler

Webster and Paddy continued to work together for several years after his meeting with Anne. Their last  professional appearance was on 30 April 1936 when they performed together at the City Musical Union’s 84th Annual Dinner at the Holborn Restaurant. At the end of May they were guests at the wedding of their friends, Violet Stevens and Bryan Courage.

30 May 1936 Hastings and St Leonards pp

Special Concert in 1936

But in July 1937 Anne and Webster sailed for New York together, where Anne had been engaged to play in the musical, Virginia at the Center Theater. She had changed her name to Anne Booth for this production, after being advised that Americans disliked German-sounding names at that time also anticipating her eventual marriage to Webster. Webster returned to Southampton onboard the MV Georgic and gave his address as 74 Lauderdale Mansions, Maida Vale (Anne’s flat), although he was still listed in the telephone directory as living in Crescent Court, Golders Green, where he and Paddy had spent their short married life.

From the beginning of 1938 Anne and Webster began taking engagements together, while Paddy filed for divorce on 29 March 1938 “on the grounds of his adultery in April 1937, with Miss Irene Eastwood, otherwise Miss Anne Zeigler (sic), singer…”

29 March 1938 Decree nisi (1)

Decree nisi March 1938

In September 1938 before Webster’s divorce from Paddy had been finalised, Anne was featured on the cover of Radio Pictorial sporting an opulent diamond solitaire engagement ring:

Radio Pictorial

and on 7 October 1938 the absolute decree was granted to Paddy Prior against Webster Booth. Anne was named as the co-respondent in the divorce.

After the divorce Paddy moved to 14 Muswell Hill Road, sharing her new home with a young Welsh singer, Bettie Bucknelle, who had sung on the radio show, Band Waggon, which starred Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. In January 1939 Bettie was featured in a show with Charlie Kunz and Denny Dennis.

Bettie Bucknelle

Bettie Bucknelle was singing with Denny Denis in a Charlie Kunz show on Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandy in early 1939.

Bettie Bucknelle at Newquay

Bettie Bucknelle after World War 2

Anne and Webster were married on 5 November 1938 and went on to even greater success as romantic duettists on the variety stage during the war. I always felt very sorry for Paddy having to watch Anne and Webster obtaining great fame in the theatre while she never achieved great fame despite being a talented and hard working performer.

Witcock and Rutherford’s WEST-END VANITIES  – Regional Programme London, 21 December 1938 16.30 Helen Hill, Paddy Prior, Jean Forbes-Macintyre, Lucas Bassett, Bradley Harris, Derek Moreland, Frank Wilcock, Tubby Harold . Introduced by Harry S. Pepper.

Paddy Prior (2)

The Folkestone Bouquets. Paddy Prior, middle row (extreme right) 1939.

Bouquets' concert party Paddy Prior

ROUND THE CONCERT PARTIES, No. – Regional Programme London, 28 July 1939 20.30 A composite programme of excerpts from three concert parties –DAZZLE Presented by Eric Ross from Pierrot Land, Bognor Regis – Ida Williams, John Lovering, Barbara Wells, Fred Gibson, Eric Ross, Ted Andrews, The Dazzle Girls, Joan Pendleton, Violet Shute, Beryl Pryer and Phyllis Revell.

SUMMER FOLLIES Presented by Will Catlin, Devised and produced by Harry Bright from the Arcadia Theatre, Llandudno. Phil Strickland, The Carlyle Cousins, Terry and Doris Kendall, Ross Eaves, Marion Francis, Sydney Snape, Vera Kitchen, Leslie Moorhouse, Joan Cowley, The Mayfair Dancers,Wagstaff’s Zelo Orchestra.

1939 FOLKESTONE BOUQUETS Presented by Wilby Lunn from the Marine Gardens Pavilion, Folkestone. Betty Pugh Bruce Clark, Dorothy Bradshaw, Harold Stead, Paddy Prior, Stock Wynn, George Carden, The Mariajanos, Marguerite Lome, Eileen Lome, Hylda Burdon, Ruby Savage, Wilby Lunn and Connie Hart.  The programme presented by Harry S. Pepper

A show in 1941.

1941 show

23 August 1941 Hastings1jpg

Variety concert (1941)

Paddy continued with her theatrical career and when war broke out she joined ENSA. Here is a photograph of Paddy entertaining the troops during World War 2.

Paddy Prior (2)

Paddy entertaining the troops during World War 2

Signatures of Paddy and other members of ENSA after entertaining at

Clare Hall, South Mimms in 1943.ENSA Canadian Legion, Bolton Camp

Ensa signatures

ENSA signatures

7 November 1946 PPBB

bettie-bucknelle

So Deep is the Night, with Bettie Bucknelle’s photo on the cover

November 1946.

She and Bettie Bucknelle entertained British forces in the Middle East, and returned to England in 1946. In 1947 she did a summer season with the Oval Entertainers, Margate, where a reviewer described her as “a gay young lady with a sparkling sense of humour as fresh as Margate’s famous sea breezes.”.

1947 2012.04.16_22h35m44s_043

Bettie Bucnelle and Paddy Prior at Newquay

Bettie Bucknelle and Paddy Prior at the Old Vicarage, Newquay, Cornwall

Paddy Prior at the Old Vicarage, Newquay, Cornwall shortly after the war. She and Webster had spent their honeymoon in Newquay in October 1932.

On 22 April 1948 she and Bettie Bucknelle sailed for Australia, where they intended to make a new life. Paddy’s brother had settled there some time earlier. It must have been upsetting for Paddy to see Webster and Anne as established stars while, despite her considerable talent, she had not made a big and lasting name for herself.

Extract from passenger list to Australia.

Dorothy Prior Betty bucknell

Passenger list to Australia – April 1948. Bucknell and Booth

25-may-1948-paddy-bettie

A  newspaper photo regarding their arrival in Australia in 1948.

Later that year Anne and Webster made an extensive and triumphant concert tour of New Zealand and Australia. They heard that Paddy and Bettie had booked seats in the front row for one of their concerts in Sydney. Webster feared that they might be planning an unpleasant demonstration against them at this concert. He was asked whether he could recommend Paddy as understudy to Cicely Courtneidge in the play, Under the Counter, which meant she would have to leave for New Zealand to rehearse the understudy role. Paddy had played the lead in a Scottish tour of Lido Lady in the late twenties, the same role in which Cicely had starred in London a few years earlier. He had no hesitation in making this recommendation, so Paddy was not able to attend the concert as she had to go to New Zealand right away to begin understudy rehearsals.

There is evidence of Bettie Bucknelle singing in a number of broadcasts, including broadcasts with the famous band leader Jay Wilbur, but I could not find out anything about Paddy’s Australian theatrical career. In a 1949 electoral register, she is listed as a housewife!

20-february-1949-bettie-bucknelle

Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the UK from South Africa in 1978, a letter arrived for Webster from Paddy who was still living in Australia. She said he would be welcome to visit her if he ever decided to go out there. Anne did not show this letter to Webster!

I was pleased to hear from Paddy’s niece, Beverley June McLachlan (née Prior) and her daughter, Paddy’s great-niece, Cheryl Willits recently. Paddy married Harold Bradshaw and the couple lived in Hobart, Tasmania where Paddy continued to entertain at their bowling club, singing and doing comedy skits. Cheryl mentioned that Paddy had sung on the radio with Ross Higgins,

Ross Higgins

Ross Higgins

the well-known Australian actor and entertainer who died at the age of 86 in October 2016. I am happy to know that Paddy’s subsequent life in Australia was a happy one.

Jean Collen

April, 2016.

Updated 20 January 2017

THE GOLDEN AGE OF WEBSTER BOOTH-ANNE ZIEGLER AND FRIENDS

 

Recently I closed the Booth-Ziegler Yahoo Group. I created a group on FACEBOOK to replace the defunct Yahoo group. If you belong to Facebook, click on the following link and request to join:

THE GOLDEN AGE OF WEBSTER BOOTH-ANNE ZIEGLER AND FRIENDS

Here is some information about the group. I hope you will be tempted to join!

Welcome to this group for admirers of the singing and the careers of British duettists Webster Booth (1902 -1984) and Anne Ziegler (1910 – 2003) and related artists. We will add duets and solos by Anne and Webster and related artists, share photos, links to related sites, and information about them.
Please feel free to post, start discussions, add videos, recordings and ephemera featuring Anne and Webster and related artists, comment, ask questions – and answer them if you can.
I began my singing studies with Webster and Anne at their studio in Johannesburg at the end of 1960 when I was 17 years old. Early in 1963 they asked me if I would accompany for Webster in their studio when Anne was unavailable to do this. That was certainly one of the most fulfilling and life-changing experiences of my life. I did my associate and licentiate diplomas with them and we remained close friends until their deaths – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003. They played a very important part in my life and I will always remember them with love.
Anne and Webster were an unassuming couple who did not boast about their achievements. I found out much more about these when I began researching their careers after Anne’s death in 2003 and published my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. All my books about Anne and Webster may be seen at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/duettists
I started this group hoping to keep the memory of their lives, voices and careers alive and have gladly shared recordings, photos and other ephemera here and I hope that the group will continue long after I am dead and gone. I have bequeathed my collection to the Museum of English Literature in Grahamstown, South Africa.
Mike Taylor, the other administrator of the group, has shared his restored collection of 78rpms. We are very lucky to have these restorations in our collection. You will be able to hear many rare recordings featuring Anne, Webster, and artists with whom they were friendly or with whom they worked. If you look at the group photos many have links to these recordings, which may be downloaded for your own pleasure (and NOT for commercial usage).
RULES
There are many recordings, photographs and articles here. You may download these for your own pleasure, but they may not be used for commercial purposes.
Do not post adverts unrelated to the group. If anyone posts an advert he/she will be given a warning and the advert will be removed. If the person posts a subsequent advert he/she will be removed and blocked from the group.
If you wish to publicize a concert or event in which you are taking part, please ask the administrators for permission first.
Please limit your posts about related artists to a maximum of two a day otherwise Anne and Webster’s contribution will be swamped.
Please make sure that the recordings you post actually have some connection to Anne and Webster’s work – either by the music with which they were associated, the artists they knew and admired, with whom they worked, or who were working in the same musical sphere at the same time.
Please treat fellow members with courtesy, and do not blaspheme.
If you wish to contact me off-line, my email is: booth-ziegler@outlook.com
RELATED ARTISTS:
Essie Ackland,  Arthur Askey, Isobel Baillie, Owen Brannigan,  George Baker, Basil Cameron,  Alfredo Campoli, Gwen Catley, Noel Coward,  Joan Cross, Harry Parr Davies, Bebe Daniels,  Peter Dawson, Mary Ellis, Nancy Evans, Kathleen Ferrier,  Flotsam and Jetsam/ Malcolm McEachern, Will Fyffe, Gert and Daisy,  Olive Gilbert,  Leon Goosens, Harry Gordon, Martyn Green, Frederick Grinke, Herbert Greenslade, Olive Groves, Garda Hall, Joan Hammond, Tommy Handley, Fred Hartley, Stanley Holloway, Tom Howell,  Winifred Lawson, Evelyn Laye, Janet Lind, David Lloyd, Mark Lubbock, Ernest Lush, Ben Lyon,  George Melachrino, Gerald Moore, Elsie Morrison, Alice Moxon, Heddle Nash, Oscar Natzke, Robert Naylor,  Dennis Noble, Ray Noble (pre USA), Ivor Novello, Derek Oldham, Geoffrey Parsons,  Rawicz and Landauer, Gladys Ripley, Stuart Robertson, Eric Robinson, Stanford Robinson, Albert Sandler, Malcolm Sargent, Elsie Suddaby, Richard Tauber, Inia te Wiata,  Tommy Trinder, Jack Warner, Harry Welchman, Harold Williams.
Other artists from the same period, but not necessarily related to Anne and Webster in any way: Jack Buchanan, Gracie Fields, Layton and Johnstone,  Melville Gideon, Jessie Matthews, Gladys Moncrieff,  Anna Neagle.

 

Webster and Anne on the Russell Harty TV show (1981)

 

Webster on Saturday Night Revue (1937)

 

Webster and Anne in The Faust Fantasy (1935

 

 

 

Jean Collen – October 2015.


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A MEMORY OF DAWSON’S HOTEL, JOHANNESBURG

Webster and me. Photo taken in the early 1960s.

Webster and me. Photo taken in the early 1960s.

Dawson’s Hotel in Johannesburg was once an establishment of importance in the life of the city and remains one filled with wonderful memories for me. In its heyday, it was one of the city’s best hotels, with perhaps only the Carlton and Langham Hotels being grander. In 1956 the British singing duo, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, moved to South Africa. They spent their first three months in Johannesburg living at Dawson’s Hotel while they looked around for suitable permanent accommodation.

It was in April 1963 that I first acted as Webster’s accompanist in their singing studio on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Bulding at the corner of Eloff and Pritchard Streets.

Polliack's is the building on the right with the balconies.

Polliack’s is the building on the right with the balconies.

At the time, Anne was away on a trip with broadcaster Leslie Green and I had been delighted and honoured when they asked me to take her place as studio accompanist. During some free time in the studio, Webster asked me if I would like to have lunch with him at Dawson’s. In turn, he accepted my invitation for him to have dinner with me and my parents at our home after we finished our work in the evening.

Blue plaque at entrance to Dawson's Hotel.

Blue plaque at entrance to Dawson’s Hotel.

Tuesday was the red-letter day when Webster took me to lunch at Dawson’s Hotel. After the final morning student lesson was over, Webster announced for the world to hear that “Jean and I are going to blow the family savings today. I’m taking her to Dawson’s.” The poor student looked envious and said, “Oh, I wish I was coming with you.  I have to go back to the office on an apple!”

As Dawson’s Hotel was just around the corner from the studio, we walked there. On our walk to the hotel, Webster seemed oblivious of the curious glances of the lunchtime throng doing double-takes as they recognised his famous face. We were ushered into the sumptuous Edwardian dining room, called the Gold Room Restaurant, on the first floor as though we were royalty. We were greeted by the head waiter who hovered around Webster and then directed us to the best table at the window.

Naturally Webster was at home in this setting. After all, he had frequented the grandest hotels of Europe, the Antipodes and Britain and was used to being fussed over. I, on the other hand, a teenager in a bottle green velvet dress, felt gauche and young, as indeed I was at that time. After studying the menu, Webster ordered grilled trout and I ordered a fish dish also. He had a gin before lunch and was quite disappointed when I refused anything alcoholic. At that stage of my life, the only time I had drunk an aperitif was when my father poured me a thimbleful of sherry on special occasions.

Dawson's Hotel entrance with Blue Plaque.

Dawson’s Hotel entrance with Blue Plaque.

During our meal Webster told me how he and Anne had lived at Dawson’s until they found their flat at Waverley, Highland’s North. Sadly, he also told about several members of the hotel management, who had theatrical connections, who for unknown reasons had seemingly turned against them.

Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1956)

Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (1956) outside their flat at Waverley, Highlands North.

I enjoyed my fish dish very much and felt very much the grand lady having lunch with a world famous singer in that wonderful dining room. Later, over coffee, we had petits fours. Webster insisted I should eat as many as I wanted. I found out later that they were soaked in brandy, so I did not go entirely without alcohol that day.

I remember coming out of that wonderful hotel into the afternoon sunshine and sauntering back to the studio. Fortunately, there was only one pupil due that afternoon. As we waited, Webster soon fell asleep on the couch while I sat in a chair a fair distance away reading Duet, their autobiography, which he had brought in for me to read the week before.

"Duet" by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, published 1951.

“Duet” by Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, published 1951.

When Webster woke up, he put on one of the reel-to-reel tapes containing his sacred and oratorio recordings. I remember listening to How Lovely Art Thy Dwellings, The Lost Chord, Abide With Me, and Sound an Alarm. I was entranced and sometimes near to tears by the beauty of his singing.

Recently I heard from Nick Thompson-Wood, who was manager of Dawson’s Hotel from 1964 – 1969. He is now living in Canada. He sent me a photograph of the staff of Dawson’s taken in the Gold Room Restaurant in 1966. Nick, as general manager, is seated in the middle of the front row.

Staff of Dawson's Hotel (1966) Thanks for this photo to Nick Thompson-Wood, General Manager (1964 -1969)

Staff of Dawson’s Hotel (1966) Thanks for this photo to Nick Thompson-Wood, General Manager (1964 -1969)

Over the years, whenever I went back to Dawson’s Hotel with others, I could not help but recall my first visit with Webster and remember our lunch. Unfortunately, because of the high crime rate in central Johannesburg today, I have avoided going into the city for the past ten years. Imagine my sadness when I found Dawson’s hotel on a Google Street map recently and learned that it is no longer occupied. The building is now but a shadow of its former self. It has been abandoned and is dirty and in a state of abject decay. I suspect that it has now become home to squatters and serves merely as a place of shelter from the elements. What a sad end to an elegant hotel, which I will always remember for the happy time I spent there with Webster as a teenager.

Label for Dawson's Hotel.

Label for Dawson’s Hotel.

Dawson's as it is today - no longer a hotel and pretty dilapidated.

Dawson’s as it is today – no longer a hotel and pretty dilapidated. The Edwardian Restaurant was on the first floor.

Jean Collen

Updated 24 November 2015.

A PERSONAL MEMOIR OF ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH – FINAL PODCAST

A stitch of photos!

A stitch of photos!

A PERSONAL MEMOIR OF ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH – FINAL PODCAST

This is the last episode in a series which concentrated on the lives and careers of famous British duettists, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, and of my association with them. It was based on my book, “Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth” available with my other books at http://www.lulu.com/duettists

I can hardly believe that it is thirty years since a friend phoned to tell me that she had heard of Webster’s death on “News About Britain” on BBC World Service. I had known that he was ill, but it still came as a shock to hear that my beloved friend had died in Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno at the age of 82. I think this is a fitting day on which to present my final podcast in this series.

These podcasts have largely been created for members of my Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Yahoo group, the 78rpm Community, and the Anne Ziegler-Webster Booth fan pages on Facebook, but I am very glad that they have reached a wider audience who enjoy their singing and the performance of other artistes of their generation.

In this episode you will hear the voices of Anne and Webster, and some of Webster’s favourites – Dundee pianist, Fred Hartley, Australian bass baritone Peter Dawson, Australian baritone, Harold Williams, soprano Isobel Baillie and his favourite tenor, Jussi Bjorling.

Read more about Anne and Webster: http://ziegler-booth.blogspot.com

I have created a blog about Webster Booth as a solo artist. It includes information about his life, videos, recordings and podcasts. http://websterbooth.blogspot.com

You can see complete playlists of all my podcasts; listen to all my podcasts and recordings, and see selected YouTube videos related to Anne and Webster at:

http://ziegler-booth-radio.blogspot.com

Listen to many of Webster and Anne’s solo and duet recordings on my You Tube channel at:http://www.youtube.com/duettists

Listen to Webster’s solo recordings (as videos) on the Daily Motion site at:http://www.dailymotion.com/user/duettists1/1

You can also find pages devoted to them on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/BoothZiegler
for Anne and Webster as duettists,

and

https://www.facebook.com/lwb2371
for Webster as a solo performer.

The more people who “like” and join these links, the more I will be inclined to continue posting details about their lives and careers.

WEBSTER BOOTH TIMELINE – 1902 -1939.

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21 January 1902 Birth.

Leslie Webster Booth was the youngest of six children born to Edwin Booth and his wife Sarah (neé Webster) at 157 Soho Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire. Above – 157 Soho Road today.
Photo: Leslie Webster Booth was born at 157 Soho Road, Birmingham on 21 January 1902.

Soho Road in the early 1900s.

Accepted as a chorister at Lincoln Cathedral

1911 in Lincoln Cathedral Official Page
Webster Booth spent four years as a chorister at Lincoln until his voice broke in 1915.
Photo

 

His voice breaks so he returns home.

1915 in Birmingham, United Kingdom
His parents send him to do a commercial course at Aston Commercial School. The headmaster there is Edgar Keey. Later he married Edgar Keey’s daughter, Winifred.
Photo

Leaves School

1918 in Birmingham, United Kingdom
After Webster left school he began working in an accounting office in Birmingham. At the same time he took singing lessons with Dr Richard Wassall, choirmaster at St Martin’s, Birmingham and singing teacher at the Midland Institute.
Photo

First professional engagement

9 September 1923 in Theatre Royal Brighton
Webster Booth was accepted into the chorus of D’Oyly Carte Opera and made his stage debut as a yeoman in “Yeomen of the Guard”. He remained with the company for four and a half years, singing in the chorus, playing small parts and understudying the leading tenor roles. He was known in the company as Leslie Booth. He did not use the name Webster Booth until he left the company in 1927.
Photo

 

Marriage

June 1924 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his first wife, Winifred Dorothy Keey in the second quarter of 1924 at Fulham Registry Office.

Photo

Birth of Keith Leslie Booth

Birth of his son, Keith Leslie Booth. Mother: Winifred Dorothy Booth (nee Keey)

D’Oyly Carte Opera tour of Canada

24 December 1926 in SS Metagama, Liverpool
Webster Booth went to Canada as a member of the chorus of D’Oyly Carte for the tour of Canada aboard the SS Metagama. The tour opened in Montreal on 4 January 1927.
Photo

Singing in Lyons’ Cafés and Restaurants

May 1928 in Popular & Strand Lyons’ Cafés, Holborn Restaurant
Webster Booth, still known as Leslie Webster Booth, was eking out a living singing in various Lyons’ cafés and at Masonic dinners, as well as performing in panto and singing with the Opieros. The photo shows the Holborn Restaurant, a popular venue for staff dinners.
Photo

Recording contract with HMV

1929 in His Master’s Voice Records
Webster Booth made his first recording with HMV in 1929. He continued recording with the company until his contract was cancelled in 1951. The first recording was A Brown Bird Singing and I Love the Moon.
Photo

“The Three Musketeers” (Friml)

Webster Booth made his debut as the Duke of Buckingham in “The Three Musketeers”. Denis King played D’Artagnan. Others in the cast included Adrienne Brune and Lillian Davies.
Photo

Divorce from Winifred Booth (nee Keey)

Winifred Booth deserted Webster and his young son in 1927. Webster tried to find her for many years but she had vanished. In October 1931, he sued for divorce, naming Trevor Davey as co-respondent.
Photo

Marriage to Dorothy Annie Alice Prior

10 October 1932 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name: Paddy Prior). Paddy was a soubrette, dancer and light comedienne.
Photo

Piccadilly Revels

Webster Booth, Paddy Prior, Violet Stevens, George & Kenneth Western and Edgar Sawyer starred in Murray Evans and Wilby Lunn’s summer show. Paddy Prior is seated to the left of Webster Booth in the middle row.

Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior. — in Scarborough, United Kingdom.
Photo: Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior.
Photo
·

The Faust Fantasy

December 1934 in Bushy Heath
Webster Booth was chosen to play the part of Faust in this film. During the filming he met Anne Ziegler played the part of Marguerite. Unfortunately their meeting spelt the end of his marriage to Paddy Prior before it had really begun.
Photo

A Kingdom for a Cow (Kurt Weill)

Webster Booth starred as Juan, with Jacqueline Francell as Juanita. The show included George Gee, Bobby Comber and Hay Petrie. Muir Matheson conducted the orchestra. The show received good notices but was not a success with the public. It closed after three weeks.
Photo

The Robber Symphony (film)

Webster Booth sang several songs in this film. The film was directed by Friedrich Feher, who also wrote the script and the music. His wife was the heroine of the film.
Photo
Carols and other Christmas music (1936) — at Royal Albert Hall
Photo: Carols and other Christmas music (1936)

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast

  1. Webster Booth’s first appearance in Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Conducted by Malcolm Sargent. He sang the role of the Monk on 7 & 10 June, and Chihiabos on 18 June.
    Photo
  2. Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of “Hiawatha” held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.
    Photo: Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of "Hiawatha" held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.

    Der Rosenkavalier, The Magic Flute

    Webster Booth sang the role of Octavian in “Der Rosenkavalier” and took a small role in “Magic Flute”.
    Photo

Third Marriage

5 November 1938 in Paddington Registry office, Paddington, London
Webster Booth’s divorce from Paddy Prior came through in October. He married Anne Ziegler (Irené Frances Eastwood) the following month – first at the Paddington Registry Office, followed by a blessing of the marriage at St Ethelburga’s Church in Bishopsgate.
Photo

 Messiah

17 December 1938 in Queen’s Hall, London
Webster Booth, Joan Hammond, Muriel Brunskill, Norman Walker with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera Choir, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.
Photo
Members of the Concert Artistes’ Association gave their annual concert in aid of their Benevolent Fund. Webster Booth & other artistes performed. The receipts totalled £427 – a record for these affairs!
Photo

Joins staff of variety department of the BBC

Webster Booth had been appointed to the staff of the BBC Variety department at the outbreak of war. Others included Tommy Handley, Sam Costa, Charles Shadwell, Betty Huntley-Wright and Leonard Henry.
Photo
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21 January 1902 Birth.

Leslie Webster Booth was the youngest of six children born to Edwin Booth and his wife Sarah (neé Webster) at 157 Soho Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire. Above – 157 Soho Road today.
Photo: Leslie Webster Booth was born at 157 Soho Road, Birmingham on 21 January 1902.

Soho Road in the early 1900s.

Accepted as a chorister at Lincoln Cathedral

Webster Booth spent four years as a chorister at Lincoln until his voice broke in 1915.
Photo

His voice breaks so he returns home.

His parents send him to do a commercial course at Aston Commercial School. The headmaster there is Edgar Keey. Later he married Edgar Keey’s daughter, Winifred.
Photo

Leaves School

After Webster left school he began working in an accounting office in Birmingham. At the same time he took singing lessons with Dr Richard Wassall, choirmaster at St Martin’s, Birmingham and singing teacher at the Midland Institute.
Photo

First professional engagement

Webster Booth was accepted into the chorus of D’Oyly Carte Opera and made his stage debut as a yeoman in “Yeomen of the Guard”. He remained with the company for four and a half years, singing in the chorus, playing small parts and understudying the leading tenor roles. He was known in the company as Leslie Booth. He did not use the name Webster Booth until he left the company in 1927.
Photo

Marriage

June 1924 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his first wife, Winifred Dorothy Keey in the second quarter of 1924 at Fulham Registry Office.

Photo

Birth of Keith Leslie Booth

Birth of his son, Keith Leslie Booth. Mother: Winifred Dorothy Booth (nee Keey)

D’Oyly Carte Opera tour of Canada

24 December 1926 in SS Metagama, Liverpool
Webster Booth went to Canada as a member of the chorus of D’Oyly Carte for the tour of Canada aboard the SS Metagama. The tour opened in Montreal on 4 January 1927.
Photo

Singing in Lyons’ Cafés and Restaurants

May 1928 in Popular & Strand Lyons’ Cafés, Holborn Restaurant
Webster Booth, still known as Leslie Webster Booth, was eking out a living singing in various Lyons’ cafés and at Masonic dinners, as well as performing in panto and singing with the Opieros. The photo shows the Holborn Restaurant, a popular venue for staff dinners.
Photo

Recording contract with HMV

1929 in His Master’s Voice Records
Webster Booth made his first recording with HMV in 1929. He continued recording with the company until his contract was cancelled in 1951. The first recording was A Brown Bird Singing and I Love the Moon.
Photo

“The Three Musketeers” (Friml)

Webster Booth made his debut as the Duke of Buckingham in “The Three Musketeers”. Denis King played D’Artagnan. Others in the cast included Adrienne Brune and Lillian Davies.
Photo

Divorce from Winifred Booth (nee Keey)

Winifred Booth deserted Webster and his young son in 1927. Webster tried to find her for many years but she had vanished. In October 1931, he sued for divorce, naming Trevor Davey as co-respondent.
Photo

Marriage to Dorothy Annie Alice Prior

10 October 1932 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name: Paddy Prior). Paddy was a soubrette, dancer and light comedienne.
Photo

Piccadilly Revels

Webster Booth, Paddy Prior, Violet Stevens, George & Kenneth Western and Edgar Sawyer starred in Murray Evans and Wilby Lunn’s summer show. Paddy Prior is seated to the left of Webster Booth in the middle row.

Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior. — in Scarborough, United Kingdom.
Photo: Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior.
Photo
·

The Faust Fantasy

December 1934 in Bushy Heath
Webster Booth was chosen to play the part of Faust in this film. During the filming he met Anne Ziegler played the part of Marguerite. Unfortunately their meeting spelt the end of his marriage to Paddy Prior before it had really begun.
Photo

A Kingdom for a Cow (Kurt Weill)

Webster Booth starred as Juan, with Jacqueline Francell as Juanita. The show included George Gee, Bobby Comber and Hay Petrie. Muir Matheson conducted the orchestra. The show received good notices but was not a success with the public. It closed after three weeks.
Photo

The Robber Symphony (film)

Webster Booth sang several songs in this film. The film was directed by Friedrich Feher, who also wrote the script and the music. His wife was the heroine of the film.
Photo
Carols and other Christmas music (1936) — at Royal Albert Hall
Photo: Carols and other Christmas music (1936)

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast

  1. Webster Booth’s first appearance in Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Conducted by Malcolm Sargent. He sang the role of the Monk on 7 & 10 June, and Chihiabos on 18 June.
    Photo
  2. Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of “Hiawatha” held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.
    Photo: Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of "Hiawatha" held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.

    Der Rosenkavalier, The Magic Flute

    Webster Booth sang the role of Octavian in “Der Rosenkavalier” and took a small role in “Magic Flute”.
    Photo

Third Marriage

5 November 1938 in Paddington Registry office, Paddington, London
Webster Booth’s divorce from Paddy Prior came through in October. He married Anne Ziegler (Irené Frances Eastwood) the following month – first at the Paddington Registry Office, followed by a blessing of the marriage at St Ethelburga’s Church in Bishopsgate.
Photo

 Messiah

17 December 1938 in Queen’s Hall, London
Webster Booth, Joan Hammond, Muriel Brunskill, Norman Walker with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera Choir, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.
Photo
Members of the Concert Artistes’ Association gave their annual concert in aid of their Benevolent Fund. Webster Booth & other artistes performed. The receipts totalled £427 – a record for these affairs!
Photo

Joins staff of variety department of the BBC

Webster Booth had been appointed to the staff of the BBC Variety department at the outbreak of war. Others included Tommy Handley, Sam Costa, Charles Shadwell, Betty Huntley-Wright and Leonard Henry.
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Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

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