EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES. January to December 1960

7 January 1960 – Today Gillian McDade (last year’s head girl at Jeppe) phones me and I congratulate her on her first class matric pass. She promises to sell me her Ridout English textbook and asks me to usher with her at the Reps theatre (later the Alexander) for The Glass Slipper and I accept with thanks.december 1959 glass slipper3

I meet her on the tram and she tells me about her holiday with Margaret Robson. We get to the Reps and see Miss Jacobson with her nephew. We usher the audience to their seats. The house is full so we sit on the carpeted steps of the side aisle to watch the play which is really marvellous. Anne Ziegler as the Fairy Godmother is my favourite, and boy, has she got a voice!

1959 glass slipper3

24 April 1960 – Have a quiet morning and finish knitting my new pullover which is a fair success. In the afternoon I go with dad and the dog, Shandy to his work for him to check up on something and then we go for a run to Alberton and Germiston.

Listen to Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in the last programme of the series Do You Remember? on Springbok Radio. They say they have a tiny cottage in Craighall Park, and are sorry to end their programme because they have been happy to share their reminiscences with everyone. As George Moore says afterwards, we seem to be saying goodbye to everybody today. All the things that we know and love are taken away and replaced by something new, but we will always feel nostalgia for what has gone.

26 May 1960 (Ascension Day) – Have a quiet day but have calls from Mr Moody and Mrs McDonald-Rouse asking us to go to a Caledonian concert on Saturday night. It’s going to be a very busy weekend for Friday night is our church Variety concert with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

27 May 1960 – Go to confirmation class but only Ann Stratton, Rosemary Nixon and I arrive so we don’t have it. I have my autograph book handy and learn that Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth have to leave straight after the first half of the show, so Ann promises that she will come with me backstage. The harmonica band and the accordion band are excellent. Dawn Berrange, the girl ventriloquist is really talented and witty.

27 may 1960 kensington methodist church 1960 concert-03 - copy27 may 1960 variety concert

Then came Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, and I promise you, they are fabulous. She wears a gorgeous tangerine sheath dress with sequins, very low cut with a wide panel at the back. Her hands are very long and slim and she wears a large diamond ring. He wears tails and seems to be growing a moustache. Their turn was honestly wonderful and they sang terrific songs, including Ivor Novello’s My Dearest Dear, I Can Give You the Starlight, Fold your Wings – all the songs I try to sing but the notes are too high for me. They fool about a bit and she is very piquant and fun. They may be losing their voices, as everyone tells me, but certainly not their charm.

27 may 1960 concert autographs

As soon as their performance is over Ann and I rush out and wait by the vestry to catch them as they leave, but eventually Ann leaves me alone to go and serve tea. Anne comes out first and I ask for her autograph. She says, “Why certainly,” and proceeds to sign my book. She is very nice and not at all standoffish. He comes along after her and says that we had better go into the vestry so that he can sign my book. By this stage, I was in such a flap that I am going to let him go into the vestry before me, but he stood behind like a gentleman and ushered me into the vestry where he signed my book. After this, they were ushered out through the church. They are fabulous!

It was a great concert and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was such a lovely day: Cookie Matthews back at the ice rink, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth…

5 October. Picture of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth together with David Davies advertising their Afrikaans LP in paper at night. 

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l0 October See Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s long: player in one of the shops. Looks quite nice but how does one sing We’ll Gather Lilacs in Afrikaans?  I write to them at night to ask about a place in their singing school. Here’s hopin’!

l7 October. Swot in afternoon and read the paper at night. There is a photo of Rosalind Fuller in it, looking charming. Also there is a rather strange article about Webster Booth. Evidently he went to a talent show incognito as Charlie Eastwood. He sang, and then the audience was told who he was! Incidentally “Eastwood” is his wife”s maiden name. Her stage name is Anne Ziegler. Very strange this!

1960 charlie eastwood

4 December. Come home with Wendy Scott-Hayward, feeling rather sad about leaving school.

When I arrive, Mum phones and tells me she phoned Anne Ziegler! Says that Anne was charming and I have to go to see her on Thursday evening. I am thrilled. Mum says she has an English accent and is sweet.

Mummy says that Anne Ziegler was very friendly and conversation went more or less like this:

M. I understand, you run a school of Singing and Stagecraft. My daughter is interested in doing drama.

A. Oh yes, speech training. How old is she?

M. 17.

A. Oh lovely. What’s her name?

M. Jean Campbell.

A. Oh, what a lovely Scots name!

They go on to make an appointment. I have to go at 5.30 to the studio on Thursday. I’m so nervous!

Anne

8 December 1960 Johannesburg.

I meet Mum in the Capinero restaurant and we have something to eat which I can hardly digest owing to extreme excitement, and then we proceed to Polliacks building and go up to the eighth floor on a horrifying lift. When we arrive outside the studio we can hear a girl singing so we wait till the singing stops before we knock. Anne comes to the door herself and is very bright with gingery-blonde hair, big blue-green eyes with lots of eye make-up on, wearing a striped dress. She is taller than I imagined her to be and she says, “Oh, please take a seat in there,” pointing to a kitchenette with a washbasin. “I”ll be with you in a minute.” We sit in kitchenette and listen to her teaching the girl to sing. Anne has a strong, purposeful voice with a touch of English accent. She’s from Liverpool originally but it doesn’t sound as though she has any traces of a Liverpool accent.
After fifteen minutes the girl leaves and Anne takes us into her large studio which has a grand piano at one end, a big mirror at the other and a divan (converted into a studio couch) against the wall. On the wall behind the studio couch are a whole lot of photographs of her and Webster in different shows, featured with various celebrities, and an excellent cartoon of him. She apologises for keeping us and says that her husband is in Port Elizabeth at the moment, so she has to cope alone. She says, “He’s singing Messiah tonight and it will be broadcast on the English programme”.
She asks what I want to do and I tell her “Drama,” and she asks, “Will I have to get rid of a dreadful South African accent?” I say that I am from Scotland and she says, “Yes, I think you have more of a Scottish accent than a South African one. You have a really good Scottish background.” We discuss suitable times for lessons and she says, “Next week I”ll be rehearsing like mad for my play at the Playhouse and I don’t want to mess you around, so can you start the week before Christmas?” I say yes, any time, then she looks up her appointment book and asks if Thursday 22nd would suit. “Yes, certainly.” She says that she finds it difficult to get S Africans to sound “h” as in hark and also the vowel sounds are difficult. She tells me that singing is merely an advanced form of talking – merely!
Anne Ziegler studio fees
We get up to depart and she says to me suddenly, “You’ve got a lovely face.” I nearly faint on the spot. Mum says archly, “She doesn’t think so.” Anne stares at me and says, “0h, but she has, and a lovely smile too. Make the most of it!” Oh, brother! She apologises again for keeping us waiting and wishes us goodbye. She’s a honey!
I’ve never met or spoken to anyone as famous as that before and I thought I should be frightfully nervous and that she would be snooty and standoffish, but truly, I felt at home with her. My heart didn’t jump wildly in my mouth as it has done for lesser people. I’m sure I shall get on very well with her. She tells me to bring a Shakespeare and poetry, so here’s hoping. Perhaps this is the start of something new. All I can say is, that Anne Ziegler is a regular honey.

22 December 1960. Go into town in the morning and get Gill Mc D on the tram and it feels like old times – drama groups etc. We talk of the theatre. She tells me that Percy Tucker says that people with clean minds book for Jack and the Beanstalk whereas the dirty-minded book for Lock Up Your Daughters!

Go up to Polliacks eighth floor (trying to tell this impartially) – knock at the door about a dozen, times but there is no answer: Begin to feel furious and ready to scream with wrath when suddenly Webster appears, armed with briefcase. He looks at me quizzically and I say to him that I am meant to be having a lesson. He is mystified but quite charming. He takes me in and apologises for being late – traffic was so bad. He then goes into the little office and looks up his appointment book and comes out looking a bit frustrated and tells me that my lesson is down with his wife and she didn’t come in this morning.

I look at him rather coldly and he tells me that she’s in a play, you know, yes I do. Well, last night it went very badly and she is in a real fandangle about it and has to go to an extra rehearsal in the afternoon and is most upset. She did mean to come into the Studio in the morning but because of the rehearsal in the afternoon she didn’t. He will phone her.

I hear him talking to the maid, “Hilda, is the madam in?”

Evidently the madam is not in so after great confusion over finding telephone numbers, he phones Heather McDonald-Rouse and says, “Oh, Heather, is Anne there?”

Anne is there for they have a conversation and he does not seem exactly pleased with her. He comes out and says, “Anne just doesn’t know what to say, she’s so ashamed!” He asks if I could come next week and says, “I’ll make a big cross next to your name for next time.” Naturally, I have to agree and he asks if I came from far. I say, “Not particularly,” rather dryly. He apologises once again – more apologetically than ever – and says that he would take me himself but he is frightened that Anne would not approve of what he might give me. He is, on the whole, quite charming and genuinely upset about his wife’s behaviour, but I am very disappointed. I can’t help it – I just never believed that she would forget!  

However, I have met Webster so that’s something. He is very nice, with rather a red face, and his speaking voice is beautiful – just as it is when he speaks over the radio.

29 December 1960 – Go for a lesson today with Anne. When I go up to the studio I hear rather good piano playing which is either him or her because Anne answers the door and he is in the studio. She apologises for last week and I say that it was quite all right. The Press, in the form of a girl reporter and male photographer, arrive so I retire to kitchenette till they leave. They ask her whether she would like to go back to Britain and she says she would like to see her friends again, and the snow. Says that she thinks that theatre audiences here could be more spontaneous and not so complacent. She talks a bit more about the theatre and reporter asks if she has any vices. She says, “Well I don”t smoke and I drink very moderately,” and interview ends.

anne december 1960

Anne calls me in and is hang of a sweet, tells me to relax and read She Walks in Beauty. I do this with her sitting next to me, making me feel a wee bit nervous.

She says it is fairly good and she will record my voice so that I’ll be able to hear my mistakes. When one goes on the stage one must not give a hint as to where one comes from. She was born and bred in Lancashire but she hopes she doesn’t sound like a Lancastrian on stage. Webster was born in Birmingham and only when he is in a paddy does he reveal his accent. She doesn’t want to kill my Scots accent but on the stage..

Anne makes me read She Walks in Beauty on the tape and I hear it played; she points out faults in my vowels and then she reads it – really beautifully – and makes me read it again and says it is an improvement. Webster says that he thinks my diction is very good and looks impressed. She says that I must use my face for expression and goes over the poem again, bringing out the meaning in the words.

She says that I must learn to breathe properly. She puts her hands on my ribs and tells me to take a deep breath. I do this and then she tells me to put my hands on her ribs to feel how deep a breath she takes. Honestly! Her ribs expand like anything! No wonder she has a beautiful voice. She makes me do it again so that the upper part of my chest does not move and says that I shall have to practise in front of a mirror in the morning – naked to see that I only move ribs out to the side!

She says I must learn the poem by heart and gives me an exercise to improve breathing which requires the use of vocal cords! Webster says, “Surely she is good enough not to need that exercise,” but Anne says, “It will do her good to improve her breathing.” She thinks I am going to get on well and comes with me to the door and wishes me a happy New Year. I say, “The same to you,” and depart happy.

She is very vivacious and completely natural. I have to go for a lesson next Tuesday at 11.30 – as if I could forget. She has had her hair rinsed and it is now auburn, but she is very beautiful still with utterly gorgeous blue eyes. Webster is nice too of course, but he does not have half the vivacity she possesses. She is adorable.

I will not describe my future lessons full, but I thought I’d include this extract as it was my very first lesson with the Booths.

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