Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Site

I am removing all posts concerning Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler from this site to my new site about Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler

It will probably take me some time to do this. Please bear with me!

3ae79-durban2b1957

Recollections of Paddy O’Byrne who died on 3 December 2013

On 4 December 2013 I heard the sad news that Paddy O’Byrne had died the previous night, shortly before his eighty-fourth birthday. People on social media and on radio remembered the man and his broadcasting skills with great affection, just as I do myself.

The Voice of South Africa competition 

I first heard of Paddy during the Voice of South Africa competition organised by the SABC in 1961. My parents and I sat in the lounge at 21 Juno Street, Kensington, in front of our large valve radio with the green cat’s eye tuner, listening to the weekly competition with interest. Paddy won that competition, with Michael Todd second, and Dr Tony Venniker in third place. Paddy was Irish, Michael Todd English, and Dr Tony Venniker was South African!

Paddy’s father was a high court judge in Eire and Paddy himself had studied law and was working for an insurance company in the city, but when he won the competition he began his broadcasting career on the English service. Michael Todd became a newsreader with the SABC, while Dr Tony continued practising medicine but made frequent broadcasts in an excellent series called Medical File with fellow medics, Professors Harry Seftel and Peter Cleaton-Jones. Sadly, Dr Tony died of advanced prostate cancer in 1989, and Michael Todd also died many years ago.

Paddy O’Byrne was a fine broadcaster. He had a beautiful speaking voice, a beguiling personality and had a wide musical knowledge. He and his wife, Vicky, who had a charming singing voice, had appeared in a pantomime with the Hungarian/South African singer, Eve Boswell, before coming to South Africa.

Gilbert and Sullivan series presented by Webster Booth – 1962 

The first connection between Paddy and Webster Booth began in 1962. Webster was presenting a Gilbert and Sullivan series of programmes when the copyright on Gilbert’s words was lifted. Unfortunately he was taken very ill during that year and spent some time in the fever hospital in Braamfontein with a mysterious virus which gave him myocarditis and threatened his life. He was away from the singing studio and unable to record the Gilbert and Sullivan programmes for some time. It fell to Paddy O’Byrne to read Webster’s scripts for several of these programmes, and he made a very good job of this assignment.

Sunday at Home – 1963 

In 1963 Paddy presented a series on the English Service called Sunday at Home. He visited the homes of different celebrities to interview them. On one particular Sunday, Anne and Webster entertained a young Paddy in their home at 121 Buckingham Avenue, Craighall Park. It was a charming, informal interview and I liked it so much that I ordered a tape of it from SABC Enterprises some years later.

To the UK and back to South Africa 

I went to the UK in 1966 for several years, and some time later Paddy and his family went to live in Croydon in the UK. During that time Paddy worked at the BBC as a broadcaster on Radio 2. The family returned to South Africa in 1980 when Paddy launched a new radio station, Channel 702, which initially had a licence to broadcast from the South African “homeland” of Bophuthatswana.

Shortly after the launch, Paddy returned to the SABC, succeeding Peter Broomfield and Ken Marshall in a weekday morning programme called Top of the Morning with Paddy O’Byrne. On this programme he chatted to listeners about a variety of topics which interested him, played a wide selection of music and the occasional request from listeners, and also interviewed guests. I particularly remember him interviewing John Robbie, the Irish rugby player, who is a long-established talk show host on what is now called Talk Radio 702, broadcasting from studios in Sandton.

By this time I had been married for ten years and had two children. Anne and Webster returned to the UK in 1978 and, for a time, established a third career on stage and radio. Webster was not in the best of health and his voice was a shadow of what it had once been, so it was very sad that he had to get up on the stage and sing in public. The only news I had of them in 1983 was a comment from Paddy on his programme to say that he had heard that neither of them was very well and “needed looking after”. I wrote to Paddy asking for further news as I was worried that I had not heard from them for so long. No doubt he thought I was some loony fan for he did not reply to my letter! Later that year I had a letter from Anne telling me that Webster was very ill and was now in a nursing home in North Wales and unlikely to return home. He died on 21 June 1984.

 I Bless the Day (De Jongh)and Brian Morris 

Paddy O’Byrne continued his regular morning programme on the English Service and I listened to it regularly. One day, he had a request from Brian Morris, a former student of Anne and Webster’s. When I was Webster’s studio accompanist I had often played for Brian at his lessons. He had a very good baritone voice, reminiscent of Peter Dawson’s.

Brian asked for Webster’s recording of I Bless the Day by De Jongh. The SABC in Johannesburg had got rid of its collection of 78rpm records years before, so there were few of Anne and Webster’s recordings in the SABC library at that time. I had the recording Brian had requested on a Canadian Rococo LP, and also I Leave My Heart in an English Garden by Harry Parr-Davies, which was on the flipside of the original 78rpm. I wrote to Paddy, offering to lend him my precious recordings so that he could play the song Brian had requested. This time he did get in touch with me. His daughter, Jane, who lived near us, collected the records and Paddy duly played Brian’s request and some other recordings from my LPs over several days.

I was rather worried when Paddy didn’t return my records so eventually I phoned his home. Paddy was out, but I spoke to his wife, Vicky. She was charming and realised that I was concerned about my records and said she would make sure that he returned them very soon. Paddy called at our home unexpectedly one Saturday morning to return my records and was fascinated by the photographs of Anne and Webster which adorned my music room. I had a duplicate copy of the LP The Golden Age of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth and gave it to him so that he could play a wider selection if listeners requested one of Anne and Webster’s recordings. Because of Brian Morris’s request for I Bless the Day Paddy and his wife, Vicky, became personal friends of Brian and his wife, Denise. Someone contacted me on my blog a few years ago to tell me the sad news that Brian had died.

Paddy was writing articles about music and broadcasting, so after our initial meeting he often phoned me if he needed to verify information about Anne and Webster. He was always charming and friendly, and I enjoyed our chats together.

He continued as a broadcaster with the SABC, and in 1995 he did a combined afternoon programme with Vuyo Mbuli. I think this was the first time Vuyo had done any broadcasting. Sadly he died suddenly a few years ago, still only in his forties. By that time he was a top TV presenter and very popular with the South African public. Their musical taste differed widely, so it was often a case of hearing Thomas Hampson one minute, and Michael Jackson the next!

After Paddy retired from the SABC he joined the community radio station of 1485 Radio Today and was as popular with listeners as ever. Return to Ireland He and his family returned to their native Ireland towards the end of the last century. His beloved wife, Vicky, died some time ago, and in June this year Paddy came to South Africa to attend a Requiem Mass for her at the Catholic Church in Rosebank where they had worshipped while living here. He and Peter Lotis were guests on Clare Marshall’s programme Morning Star on 1485 Radio Today, which broadcasts from a beautiful plant nursery in Jan Smuts Avenue. It was good to hear his voice once again, although I could hear that he was not very well.

My sincere condolences to his family and friends. He will be sadly missed, but very fondly remembered by everyone who knew him and enjoyed listening to him on the radio.

Subscribe to booth-ziegler

Powered by uk.groups.yahoo.com

Share/Bookmark

FACEBOOK MANNERS

I wrote the bulk of this note some years ago on Facebook. I think it applies just as much today as it did two years ago. I will add a few more observations about Facebook here. Comments are welcome and if I have offended you by this post, feel free to unfriend me on Facebook!

I have made about 150 friends on Facebook. Some I actually know; others I have not met before, but we seem to have the same interests, and there is a certain amount of communication between us, even if it amounts to nothing more than liking each other’s posts, wishing each other a happy birthday and passing the occasional comment on something that might interest us.

I have always expressed my sympathy to Facebook friends who are going through some kind of disaster in their lives, such as bereavement, loss of a job, or a relationship breaking down. Recently we had some bad luck of our own when my son-in-law lost his job because of his company being placed under provisional liquidation. He and 7000 other workers were left without a penny – no payment for the time they had worked in July, no retrenchment money, and still no sign of the eight years of pension money.

To compound the problem is the fact that there is a huge number of unemployed in South Africa and the strict Black Empowerment policy which means that white males are at the bottom of the list as far as finding new employment is concerned. My husband and I have managed to help them financially at the end of July, but we are both semi-retired, so I’m not sure how long we will be able to go on doing this. Some of my Facebook friends were kind and supportive. One kind friend even offered to send some money, which we would never dream of accepting, but we did appreciate her kind offer!

It is very true that you find out who your friends are when you have a setback like that. I’m afraid I unfriended one of our relatives who blithely continued posting junk on her wall without as much as a “sorry”!

Other “friends” ignore me –  perhaps for reasons of their own –  but why did they befriend me in the first place? Just to add to my name to the hundreds of other Facebook friends on their list?  Surely they have the strength to click the “like” button if I wish them happy birthday, or even make a very occasional comment so that I know they are still there? In this category I include some “friends” I have known personally for years. Do they look at my posts with a superior sneer and conclude that I am silly for posting them on Facebook?

March 2011 was a bad month for birthday greetings and March 2013 has not been any better. Very few of the March birthday boys and girls liked or thanked me for wishing them happy birthday. How rude is that? They obviously don’t think my well-meant birthday greetings are worth the bother of a collective “thank you” or even a “like”. The occasional “like” or “thank you” would not go amiss. At least I would not have the feeling that I’m communicating with the ether.

I share recordings, news and blog posts about my former teachers and life-long friends, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler. I also have pages for them on Facebook and I run the <a>Booth-Ziegler Yahoo Group</a> (with only 34 members!) Anne and Webster meant a great deal to me and my intention was to keep their names alive, but this is a losing battle. I realise that their recordings are not to everyone’s taste as one of my Facebook friends told me recently – at least he was honest!  Other friends who knew them very well – two are even related to them – ignore these posts.  Just as I could always sense whether an audience was enjoying my stage performance or thinking it  pretty awful, I have the same sense on Facebook, apart from a few obvious exceptions – I would have given up a long time ago without them! My one consolation is that my recordings of Webster and Anne’s solo and duet recordings on <a>YouTube</a> are warmly received, often by people who had never heard of them before.

On the plus side, I have made some interesting new friends, followed some fascinating pages, and rediscovered some old friends who do keep in touch with me on Facebook. I hope you are in this last category!

Jean Campbell Collen – original post written in 2011/updated 7 August 2013.

 

MORNING STAR on Radio Today 1485 and other PODCASTS

Since writing this post I have added several more podcasts and they may all be heard at the same place. The series: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth tells of their lives and careers and my association with them from 1960 to 2003, the year of Anne’s death.

Photo taken in the early 1960s.

Webster Booth and Jean Collen. Photo taken in the early 1960s.

I am also doing a separate series about the more serious work of Webster Booth. These podcasts ar called On Wings of Song – Webster Booth as Soloist. Both series of podcasts may be heard at the following link, where there is one featured podcast, with links to the other podcasts to the right of the page:

MY PODCASTS

I have also created a new blog called ZIEGLER-BOOTH RADIO where my own podcasts, the Morning Star podcast originally broadcast on Radio Today on 28 April 2013, and some of my YOU TUBE videos are embedded. My Soundcloud recordings are also included there.

Please let me know what you think of everything if you listen to them.

1940 AW

I have added a podcast at the following link:  A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth – Episode 1

This is the first in a series of podcasts about the lives and careers of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth and my association with them.

The link to the Morning Star podcast on Radio Today 1485 on 28 April 2013 is: Morning Star presented by Clare Marshall with guest, Jean Collen

On Thursday 25 April 2013 I went to the beautiful studios of Radio Today 1485

Radio Today 1485 studios, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg.

Radio Today 1485 studios, Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg. Photo: Gaynor Paynter.

The beautiful studios are situated in the middle of a plant nursery in Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg. Clare Marshall, who presents the lovely programme Morning Star on Sunday morning had read my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth asked me into the studios to talk to her about my close relationship with Anne and Webster. I began studying singing with them when I left school at the end of 1960 in their studios on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Corner, Johannesburg.

School of Singing and Stagecraft, Eighth Floor, 69 Pritchard Street, Johannesburg

School of Singing and Stagecraft, Eighth Floor, 69 Pritchard Street, Johannesburg – the building with balconies to the right.

Later I acted as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne had other engagements. I remained friends with them until their deaths. Webster died in June 1984 and Anne died in October 2003.

I retired as Musical Director at St Andrew’s Church, Kensington at the end of 2005 after thirteen years, and stopped teaching classical singing and piano at the end of 2007, so I thought that talking to Clare on air might be rather daunting, but she was quite charming and soon put me at my ease. What I imagined might be an ordeal proved to be a really enjoyable experience. Clare’s Morning Star programme is on at 8.30 am (South African time) on Sunday mornings. I have listened to it for many years and can recommend it to anyone who enjoys hearing a variety of beautiful music presented by someone with a pristine radio voice.

One of the songs which will be featured on the programme on Sunday morning: http://youtu.be/if-EZpO-e9s

Anne and Webster

Anne and Webster

The programme was aired yesterday (28 April 2013)  on Radio Today Johannesburg 1485 – RADIO THAT DELIVERS One of the songs played was:

THE MERRY WIDOW WALTZ: Franz Léhar

  Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, is available online at my book store on Lulu

Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

A Personal Memoir

 

I have had some copies of this book printed locally in wire binding and it is  available to South African readers only at the very reasonable price of R140 (including postage). If you would like a copy of this book, please contact me at: duettists@gmail.com and I’ll give you further details about it.

Jeannie C 29 April 2013.

Subscribe to booth-ziegler

Share/Bookmark

A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler – compiled and edited by Jean Collen

         

By Jean Collen View this Author’s Spotlight

I have updated and enlarged my book, A Scattered Garland. It is available in print and as an ebook at Lulu.

I am offering a 10% discount on all my books for a limited period.

 2012-06-24_154311

 

Anne and Webster in a full page advert for Skol beer (1961)                                                                                           Advertising Skol beer in a full-page newspaper advertisement (1961)

The book is a compilation of newspaper snippets, articles and criticisms, taken from a wide variety of sources, interspersed with my own comments expanding on particular events.

Although the book is primarily an informal reference work rather than a story or biography, it shows the progress of Anne and Webster’s careers. It gives an interesting picture of the early career of Webster Booth after he left the D’Oyly Carte Company before he was firmly established on the road to success.

 Author of "A Scattered Garland".

Author of “A Scattered Garland”.

Jean Collen – author and compiler.

Leslie Webster Booth was born on 21 January 1902, the youngest son of Edwin and Sarah Booth (née Webster) of 157 Soho Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire. His father was a ladies’ hairdresser and his mother, born in Chilvers Coton in the Nuneaton district, was the daughter of John and Hannah Webster, silk weavers,who later became school teachers when the silk trade collapsed.

Birthplace of Webster Booth.

Birthplace of Webster Booth.

157 Soho Road, Handsworth as it is today. The family lived in the two upper storeys above the hairdressing shop.

Leslie Webster Booth as a young manWebster Booth as a young man

.













Leslie Webster Booth as a young man in the Buster Keaton film, The Invader.

In the Buster Keaton film, "The Invader" (1934)

In the Buster Keaton film, “The Invader” (1934)

 

Webster Booth's home in 1927. Photo: Mike Collen

Webster Booth’s home in 1927. Photo: Mike Collen

43 Prospect Road, Moseley (Photo: Mike Collen) The home of Webster Booth in 1927.

 

The Opieros before Webster Booth joined them in 1927/

The Opieros before Webster Booth joined them in 1927/

The Opieros with Welsh baritone Tom Howell in the middle of the group. Anita Edwards (soprano) is top right. This photo was taken before Webster Booth joined the Opieros in 1927.

 

Anne Ziegler

Irené Frances Eastwood (Anne Ziegler) was born on 22 June 1910, the youngest child of Ernest and Eliza Frances Eastwood (née Doyle) of 13 Marmion Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool. Her father was a cotton broker, and her mother, born in Bootle, was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Doyle. James was an architect, who designed the Grand Hotel, Llandudno.

Irené’s father lost most of his money during the cotton slump of the early thirties so Irené went to London to find theatrical work to support herself and help her struggling family. She took “Anne Ziegler” as a stage name when she signed a contract to appear in the musical play, By Appointment.

Marmion Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool as it is today.

Anne Ziegler's childhood home in Liverpool

Anne Ziegler’s childhood home in Liverpool

                                                                            Anne Ziegler as a young woman.



The book also lists a variety of engagements of his second wife, Paddy Prior, who went on the stage as a dancer, comedienne and soubrette while still in her teens. When she and Webster married they undertook a number of joint engagements, but these ceased towards the end of 1936 when their marriage broke down because of his relationship with Anne Ziegler.

Paddy Prior and Webster Booth in 1933 - Scarborough

Paddy Prior and Webster Booth in 1933 – Scarborough

Paddy Prior and Webster Booth (1933)

Stage advert (1920s)

Stage advert (1920s)

Webster and Anne went on to attain international fame, while Paddy’s career remained static. She was a competent and talented performer and was rarely out of work, but she did not progress beyond after-dinner engagements, musicals, pantomime, concert party and occasional radio and television broadcasts.


Webster was not eligible for military service during the war. He and Anne reached the height of their fame during the war on the Variety Circuit and in several lavish musicals and films, while Paddy worked for ENSA and entertained at home and in the Middle East. She and her friend, Bettie Bucknelle left for Australia in 1948. Paddy’s brother Hubert had settled in Sydney, so presumably she went to Australia to join him. Although Bettie Bucknelle sang on Australian radio and was a regular vocalist with Jay Wilbur’s band, I have been unable to find any details of Paddy Prior’s work in Australia.


The compilation covers Anne and Webster’s musical and theatrical ventures from Webster’s first professional engagement with D’Oyly Carte in the early nineteen-twenties to Anne’s final broadcast towards the end of the century. The book is over 400 pages in length and is liberally illustrated.

Compiled and edited by Jean Collen

Compiled and edited by Jean Collen

 Buy a print copy of the book for £14.00 (less 10% discount) at the following link: Print copy:  A Scattered Garland

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

EBook version of this book.

EBook version of this book.

Download the EBook for £6.00 at the following link:

EBook copy of A Scattered Garland

 

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler: Current news items

Jean’s Amazon

“Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth?” by Pamela Davies and Jean Collen

Jean Collen (author)

‘Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth” by Jean Collen

Webster Booth page on Amazon 

This page includes my biography of Webster Booth from Soundunwound.

Webster Booth in his Knysna garden. Late sixties. Photo: Dudley Holmes.

CD featuring Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

How Ivor Novello’s songs may become old friends to new listeners – Telegraph.

Image

Ivor Novello

A concert featuring the music of Ivor Novello will be held at this year’s series of Promenade Concerts. Perhaps the concert will revive interest in his music and the recordings of his music by Anne Ziegler and  Webster Booth.

Image

Collage featuring Anne and Webster.

Ivor Novello Vocal Gems.

Ivor Novello Memorial, Cardiff. Photographs and collage by Charles S. P. Jenkins. I am grateful to him for allowing me to use these photographs in this post.

Ivor Novello memorial, Cardiff.

Ivor Novello Memorial, Cardiff

Ivor Novello Memorial, Cardiff

Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler.

All things connected with Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler on Pinterest.Image
ANNE ZIEGLER-Light Operatic Duettist With Husband Webster Booth. | eBay

This item was on auction on EBay. The note certainly demonstrates that at the height of their fame they were polite enough to respond to fans with a personally written note. I wonder how many of today’s stars do the same?

This very charming signed photograph of Anne Ziegler was on auction on EBay.

Image

ANNE ZIEGLER Hand-signed late 1930s 5.5” x 3.5” portrait | eBay.

Image

Luton Hoo reverts to Merrie England with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr – Nostalgia – Bedford Today.

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler starred in this sumptuous production of Merrie England at Luton Hoo to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second in 1953. They are pictured in this small photograph.

Luton Hoo, now a luxury hotel.

Image

BBC – Desert Island Discs – Castaway : Webster Booth.

Webster Booth appeared on “Desert Island Discs” in April 1953. You can see the records he chose on this link. Sadly there is no recording of the programme in the BBC archives.

D-Day remembered during airfield event | This is Cornwall.

This article mentions that Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth entertained there during the war. A photo of Anne and Webster in a still from the wartime movie, ‘Demobbed”.

Anne and Webster in a still from the film “Demobbed” (1944)

.

Image

Image

Duettist’s You Tube Channel on this site


 

The Queen Mother Opens Wheathampstead Secondary School (1967)


I taught music and drama at Wheathampstead Secondary School, Herts from 1966 to 1968 and have fond memories of the children I taught.  My colleague, Vera Brunskill was a flautist and had a recorder group.  She and I taught ourselves the guitar and worked with groups of children who were keen to learn the instrument in the days when the Beatles were all the rage.  I have a recording of a number of the children who were keen enough to give up their break to come in to the music room to work at their singing.   In particular I remember Reginald Dyke and Denis Andrews, who sang duets together, Sheila Faulkner, Mary Rose, Simon Hedley, and Jeanette Wright. I wonder where they are now!

Wheathampstead Secondary School library. Mrs Vera Brunskill (flute), Jean Campbell (Collen) (guitar) and children playing and singing Cheelo, Cheelo.
 
       I directed several plays at the school and enjoyed the improvised drama classes, where everyone let their imaginations run wild, although imagination was often tempered with TV series of the time, notably Till Death Us Do Part!
From the Herts Advertister.
         During the time I was there the school was officially opened by the Queen Mother. We all spent a great deal of time practicing our curtsies for the moment when the headmaster, Mr JD Thomas would present us to the Queen Mother.  Her private secretary came to the school several months before her visit to ascertain what she would discuss with each person being presented to her.
        Although I am British by birth, I had lived in South Africa and had studied singing with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, who were living in Johannesburg at that time. I was told that the Queen Mother would discuss South Africa and my association with Anne and Webster, whose singing she had always enjoyed.
     The day of the visit was very exciting for staff and students alike. The music pupils and I played and sang Cheelo Cheelo, a South African folk song made popular by Miriam Makeba, for the Queen Mother in the school library.  I still have several photographs of us in that performance, and being presented to her afterwards.  She was very charming and I’m sure everyone who was present will remember that memorable day thirty-six years ago.
Me, Mrs Covey-Crump (in background) Queen Mother, Mr J.D. Thomas, Vera Brunskill.

I returned to South Africa in 1968, where I met my husband and married in 1970.  I kept in touch with some of the children for a while, and with Vera Brunskill until the early 1990s.  I was sorry to hear that the school in Butterfield Road is no longer there, and that it closed in 1987 under controversial circumstances,  as it began with great promise and had so many wonderful open-hearted children and staff. 

Book Taster: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth

If you are interested in buying this book, see further information at: “Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth” by Jean Collen

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

THE EAST LONDON PRODUCTION OF THE MIKADO

Webster is in the foreground, watching proceedings on the stage.

Although Anne had told me to write to let them know how I was getting on in England, she had never replied to any of my letters, but Webster and I had corresponded regularly via Poste Restante while they were in Jo’burg. After they moved to Knysna in the middle of 1967 there were no more letters from Webster.

On my return to Johannesburg in August of 1968, Margaret Masterton and I spent an evening at Martin Croesser and Natie Weinstein’s’ Hillbrow flat with Dudley. Dudley had recently been on a visit to Knysna and told me that when he and Webster were in the kitchen washing the dishes, Webster had asked him if he had any recent news of me. He wondered if I was still in England or whether I had returned to South Africa. At least he had not forgotten me.

My friend Pearl Hodgman, was living with her Mother on their farm just outside of East London on the Eastern Cape coast. I had met her on board the SA Oranje, and while she was living in Johannesburg she introduced me to her cousin Errol Collen. Pearl was the first person I had met since Ruth’s death with whom I developed a comfortable and close friendship. Errol and I were married in 1970, and in 1973 we moved from Johannesburg to East London, where I had obtained a music teaching post at Selborne College.

Whilst we were still in Johannesburg, Pearl wrote to tell me that Webster was to produce The Mikado at the Guild Theatre for The East London Light Operatic Society and the Hebrew Order of David.

Webster had held auditions for principal parts towards the end of 1972 and one of his decisions caused some commotion before the production even went into rehearsal.

Pam Emslie had appeared in earlier East London productions in which they had starred in the nineteen-fifties, but she had laryngitis at the time of the auditions and could not sing. On the strength of what he remembered of her singing he gave her the part of Yum Yum in preference to those who sang at the audition. A local East London singing teacher and some of her pupils had taken umbrage at this decision and refused to play any further part in the show.

I had worked in professional theatre in Johannesburg and the UK, but I was very keen to take part in this show because of Webster’s involvement in it. Pearl spoke on my behalf to the musical director Jean Fowler, who had taught her piano when she was a child. Mrs Fowler agreed that I could join the chorus, provided I learnt all the music before I arrived.

After my first rehearsal Mrs Fowler asked me to sing soprano, although I was far from being one, because the soprano chorus line was rather weak – so much for learning all the alto lines by heart! I had over a month of singing rehearsals before Webster flew down from Knysna to produce the show. I did not tell anyone in the show that I had known him, nor what I had been doing in Johannesburg and the UK. I was not quite sure what Webster’s reaction to me might be.

I had not seen Webster for seven years and at the age of twenty-nine, seven years is a long time and I had seen many changes in my own life. But when he appeared at his first production rehearsal he looked much as I remembered him. At the time he was seventy-one, a few months older than my father.

After the rehearsal I joined a sizeable queue of people eager to talk to him. When it came to my turn I stood in front of him without saying anything, realising that I had probably changed more than he had done in those seven years. Perhaps he might not even recognise me! I was thinner, and my teased manicured coiffure of the mid-sixties had given way to a mane of long dark hair. He looked at me silently for a long time, peeling away the years like layers of onion skin. To everyone’s surprise he kissed me warmly and said, “Bless your face.”

He was staying at the King’s Hotel on the beach front and he invited me to tea the following afternoon. I felt rather shy at seeing him on his own, but it did not take long before we were getting on as well as we had ever done, filling in the gaps of the years since our last meeting, when I had bade him a tearful farewell before leaving for the UK.

Jean Collen in “The Mikado”, Guild Theatre, East London, 1973

He told me about being the musical director for the panto Anne had produced in Port Elizabeth the previous December, and how he had opted for a small ensemble with an organ, rather than an orchestra to accompany the singers. He confessed that he was rather nervous about producing The Mikado on his own as this would be the first show he had produced without Anne being there to assist him. After the production Anne was going to England for five weeks to do a TV show in London, and to spend some time with her friend Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) – first in Portugal and then in Colwyn Bay and London.

He told me that their life in Knysna had degenerated into a constant round of housekeeping, party-going and dog-walking. They had hoped to move to Port Elizabeth but so far they had been unable to sell their house.

He also told me about their trip to England in 1969. The Inland Revenue had not flung them into jail the moment they stepped on to British soil as they had once feared. It looked as though the tax they owed had been written off, and they might be able to return to the UK if they could afford the cost of living there. His sisters were old-age pensioners now, struggling to make ends meet on their meagre pensions.

The Mikado rehearsals continued. There were some competent performers amongst the principals. I was particularly impressed with Jimmy Nicholas as Ko Ko, Irené McCarthy as Katisha and Bernie Lee as Pooh Bah. I became friendly with June Evans, Rose Atherton, Brenda Robinson, Louise Forrester, Zena Wolk and Cecile Sole. One of my matric music students from Selborne College, Stephen Smith, was playing the oboe in the orchestra, along with Commandant Hugh Hewartson, my music teaching colleague, on the clarinet.

I was used to the tight discipline of professional productions, so the laissez-faire attitude of some of the chorus surprised me. I was also accustomed to being shouted at; being manhandled by irate producers; and working till all hours of the morning to get some small detail absolutely right. But people in this show took offence at Webster’s mildest reprimand.

There was some tension between Jean Fowler and Webster. On one occasion he suggested that the tempo of a piece could be taken at a slightly faster pace. In front of the entire company she shouted, “Mind your own business. I’m the musical director and I’ll be the one to decide what tempo to use.”

At one particular rehearsal he lost his temper completely and shouted at the top of his voice, bringing all his vocal technique into play. When he drove me home after this stormy rehearsal he apologised for his bad mood, but told me that their attitude made him sick to the stomach, and he was in despair about the entire production. I was sad that at an age when most other people were taking things easy, he had to suffer such anguish and be treated with such disrespect by people who could never hope to achieve a fraction of what he had achieved in his own career.

Between rehearsals Webster was in a more relaxed mood when we met for tea, or for lunch in the Red Rooster Restaurant in the basement of the King’s Hotel, or for drinks with Errol one evening.

On several occasions we went to Marina Glen across the road from the beachfront, where we had tea and homemade cream scones. On the day after Noel Coward died we sat at Marina Glen, watching the ships sailing to and from East London harbour, while he reminisced about various meetings with Noel Coward, and the Noel Coward duets he and Anne had sung over the years.

Errol and I had been in the UK during December where I had found a book called The Wireless Stars, which included photographs of people they had worked with at the BBC, and a photograph of Anne and Webster themselves leaning over the railing of the ship as she set sail for South Africa. He was fascinated with my book, but alarmed to realise how few people they had known in those days were still alive. Apart from them, Arthur Askey, Elsie and Doris Waters and Jack Warner, everyone else was dead.

During one of our meetings he told me that they had written to Hugo Rignold when he came out to South Africa to conduct and had been hurt not to receive a reply. In the days before Hugo Rignold became a famous conductor, he had played the violin in the Fred Hartley Quintet. Webster had broadcast regularly with the Quintet in the nineteen-thirties and had been great friends with Hugo Rignold. He was convinced that Hugo would have contacted them had he actually seen the letter and wondered whether it had been kept from him.

Anne came to East London for the last week of production. She had driven herself and Silva, their Cairn terrier, from Knysna in the Vauxhall Viva station wagon. The car broke down in Humansdorp and she had to wait for several hours to have the car fixed. She was eager to reach East London before dark and consequently received a speeding ticket for R19 (nineteen rands) on her way through Grahamstown.

I felt rather apprehensive about meeting her again, but I need not have worried. She kissed me warmly when I met her at her first rehearsal. Although she looked a bit older she was as sweet to me as when I had first met her.

Silva, the little Cairn terrier pup Anne had brought to our house in 1963 at the time of their Silver Wedding, was ten years old now, and was delighted to see me also. Anne told everyone in the cast how I had been the first person to see Silva – or Squillie – as they called her. She told me of the recent death of Lemon, their beloved Maltese, and how Webster had been in tears for days after Lemmy died. Lemon had always adored him and had followed him everywhere.

There was more trouble over the production. The stage manager cancelled one of the principal rehearsals without any notice, saying he could not work on the sets unless he had the theatre entirely free. Webster had been furious and walked out in disgust. I told Anne that I would not have blamed him had he walked out ages before, for some people in the company had treated him very badly.

The animosity against them both was almost palpable. At one rehearsal I sat next to Anne, fondling Silva. When things went wrong on stage she made disgusted comments to me under her breath. She turned to Webster and told him to write down all the mistakes so that he could point them out after the rehearsal. For some reason he did not want to do this, so she said, “All right then; bugger it all up.”

By this time everyone knew that I was friendly with Anne and Webster and some took pleasure in making disparaging remarks about them to me. I suggested that the show might improve if they actually listened to what he had to say. When I went to fetch water for Squillie, people were even criticising the poor dog, saying that she was far too fat!

But, as the opening night approached, the atmosphere seemed to lighten. Webster was more relaxed – or resigned – about the show. At the dress rehearsal he appeared onstage just before the girls’ chorus of Braid the Raven Hair in Act II. He stopped, looked into my eyes for a moment, and put his fist on my nose in a playful gesture.

At the end of the dress rehearsal Anne told everyone encouragingly that the show was going well. She had written to Freda Boyce in Knysna on 30 March:

“The show is not nearly as bad as Leslie thinks – the costumes are lovely – the sets are appalling – but are being completely repainted by a new crew! So I think if they can remember their dialogue it will be a very good show. Yum Yum is very good and so is Nanki-Poo – in fact they are all very competent.”

At the opening night Webster wore his evening suit and Anne looked as beautiful as always in her red evening dress and mink stole. At interval Webster came backstage and patted my face, saying that the show was going very smoothly.

After the finalé Webster came on stage to make his witty producer’s speech to great audience applause and laughter. I had to steel myself not to weep. Despite the rows and ructions between Webster and some of the company, it had been lovely to see them. I would miss them when they returned to Knysna.

When the curtain came down, some of the cast, earlier differences forgotten for a moment, went forward to shake hands with him and congratulate him on the production. When I appeared he took hold of my hand, kissed me and told me to phone them in Knysna.

On my way out they were standing together, ready to leave for the party with the powers-that-be and the principals, to which the chorus was not invited. Anne called me over to kiss me goodbye. I told her how lovely it had been to have seen her again, and that I hoped we would meet at some future date. Webster took my hand and kissed me yet again, saying, “Goodbye, darling. Take care.”

There had been a suggestion that Webster might return for the last-night party, to which the chorus had been invited, but he did not appear. Instead, a gentleman, whose name I cannot remember, made a speech about how wonderful the show had been apart from being marred by “professional tantrums”. A token gift of a pen, embossed with the title and date of the show, was given to each member of the chorus, but I was so incensed by this slur that I refused to collect my pen when my name was called.

There had been more backbiting in this show than I had ever encountered on the professional stage, but it had been worth putting up with the drama to spend some time with Anne and Webster.
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Books about Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

Books about Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

Services offered

Copy for websites and blogs

Typing of hand-written and typed manuscripts to Word documents (for example books, articles, short stories)

Posts for social media such as Facebook or Twitter

Reports

Letters

Manuscripts, such as books and short stories

Articles

Minutes of meetings

Theses, dissertations, assignments

Assessment of unpublished articles, stories and novels

Editing

Editing should be done before the document is proofread as it might be necessary to revise sentence construction, change a word for a more suitable one, and sometimes omit repetitive words and sentences in order to make the document suitable for publication.

Proofreading

This is the last stage of preparing a document for submission or publication. It involves close reading in order to correct mistakes in spelling, punctuation, consistency of style, and consistency of the lay-out of headings, paragraphs, margins, fonts and font size. These mistakes may have been missed during the editing process.

Writing

I could write an article for you if you send me a rough draft of it. I would hone this draft into something suitable for submission and publication.  I do NOT, however, write and research essays or books for you to present as your own work. I merely embellish your draft so that it is written in a professional manner.

Assessment of work

If you ask friends to read your short story, article or novel, and ask them to tell you honestly what they think of it, they are usually too polite to criticise it for fear of losing your friendship forever!

I offer you an impartial assessment of your writing, which would include comments on style, grammar spelling and construction. I would tell you whether the piece held my interest and whether I think it would be worth submitting it to a publisher.  

Please contact me for a free quotation:

Write to me at jean2371@hotmail.co.za

Telephone: South Africa (011)615-5569 (land-line)

Cell/Mobile: South Africa 083-741-6142

Jean Collen: writer, editor and proof-reader

Although I spent most of my life as a musician and teacher of classical singing and piano, I have always enjoyed writing. After reading a book by E. M. Delafield, entitled Diary of a Provincial Lady I began keeping a diary in the same style when I was in Form 4 (Grade 11) at Jeppe High School for Girls, Kensington, Johannesburg, aged about 15.

In the 1970’s I did a BA degree, majoring in History and History of Music, and obtained a distinction in the latter course.  I completed a BA (Honours) in History in 1982. In the early nineties I decided to do a third major in English. All these qualifications were obtained at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

After the death of Anne Ziegler in 2003, I wrote a book about my association with her and Webster Booth, entitled Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

I retired from my position as Musical Director at St Andrew’s Church, Kensington in 2005 and recently retired from teaching singing and piano, which gave me more time to concentrate on writing, proof-reading and editing.

I live in Johannesburg with my husband, Errol Collen, a writer, translator (English/Afrikaans), editor and proof-reader who holds an MA degree (cum laude) in linguistics from UNISA (1980).   He has had nearly forty years of experience as a language practitioner.   See his website at: ERROL COLLEN – TRANSLATOR  

On Facebook:  ERROL COLLEN – TRANSLATOR            

Errol Collen  

Writer, translator, editor, proof-reader

We accept International payments  via PayPal and and South African payments by bank transfer.

This blog  also advertises  books I have written and published on http://www.lulu.com/duettists If you live in South Africa I can supply these books in ring-binding at cheaper price.

I began my singing studies with famous British duettists Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, when I was seventeen. Two years later they asked me to act as studio accompanist for Webster, when Anne – who usually accompanied the students – had other commitments. I completed the ATCL and LTCL singing diplomas with Anne and Webster and remained friends with them until their deaths.

When I was living in the UK I completed the LTCL diploma in piano at Trinity College in 1968.

I appeared in concerts, musicals and operas in South Africa and the UK and have taught singing and piano for many years. I recently retired as musical director at a local Anglican Church after thirteen years.

Currently I am retired from teaching singing and piano but I continue to write. I have done my best to promote the names and voices of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth on the internet. Read more about the lives and careers of Anne and Webster on my blog:

http://ziegler-booth.blogspot.com

Look and listen to my uploaded videos featuring Anne and Webster on my Duettists Channel at

http://www.youtube.com/duettists
.

Previous Older Entries

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.

View all my reviews

Daily Motion Videos

Errol Collen (translator)

Blogs I Follow

Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler

The Golden Age of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler

themarcistagenda

my creative adventure

notewords

handwork, writing, life, music, books

Semi-Partisan Politics

A semi-biased commentary on British and American politics, culture and current affairs

Music Hall Alice

All things Music Hall...

Glasgow Dog Training By Dog Behaviourist John McGuigan

Promoting non aversive dog training & puppy training classes

Post a Book

We post stories. You enjoy them.

FIONA COMPTON'S FICTION

This blog has been created to promote Fiona Compton's fiction. All her books are available at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fiona_compton

Footlight Notes

Celebrities of popular entertainment, 1850s - 1920s

britishmusichallsociety

Just another WordPress.com site

TIME

Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Save our iMfolozi Wilderness

HELP SAVE the iMfolozi Wilderness Area by saying NO to the Fuleni Coal Mine and YES to keeping Wilderness Areas sacred.

Johannesburg 1912 - Suburb by suburb research

"What is fashionable now is despised by the next generation, thought quaint by the following and revered by the one thereafter"

Slipped Disc

Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds

WAR HISTORY ONLINE

THE PLACE FOR MILITARY HISTORY NEWS AND VIEWS

My Grilling Life - Jani Allan

Sautéing and Satire. Blue Jasmine story about someone who was a household name in South Africa who becomes a waitress in New Jersey.

Marc Latilla

"The best thing is surprising people, knowing that tomorrow it will all be forgotten" Regine Zylberberg

helencareybooks

A site for readers and writers

Bowlly Radio

Writer, Editor, Proof-reader, Musician

%d bloggers like this: