AUSTRALIAN TOUR – 1948

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth were received in Australia with just as much enthusiasm as in New Zealand. Clarence Black, the Australian pianist from Adelaide remained their accompanist for the tour in Australia. They were guests of honour at countless civic and mayoral receptions throughout the country and Tasmania.  Most of the photos here are taken from contemporary newspapers so are of a poor quality.

While most Australian critics agreed that their concerts were well-received and every auditorium was filled to capacity with delighted audiences, they felt that the lighter show music was more suitable to their light voices than the operatic excerpts and solos.

On 4th August Anne showed some of her wardrobe to the press:

CONCERT OF SHY KISSES, RAPT GAZES – Sydney critic
Love was comprehensively examined in the second programme given by the English singers, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, at the Town Hall on Saturday night. It was a programme of pretty bon-bons, the musical equivalents of pink ribbons and silver paper and St Valentine cards.

     The audience was delighted. One difference between this sort of concert and a concert of serious music is that the audience listening to serious music is always deep in frowns and scowls and anguish of soul. The audience for these singers is all smiles – dreamy smiles, sentimental smiles, bitter-sweet smiles, nostalgic smiles. The singers make love sound as if it is made up entirely of honey and roses.

Mr Booth and Miss Ziegler, in their duets, gazed raptly upon each other, held hands, dated about in conventional operetta poses, and with all sang so sweetly that it seemed inevitable that a pink little Cupid should leap up from the piano and fire silver arrows at them.

ROSE FOR USHER

Miss Ziegler, who looked as pretty as a portrait, even went so far as to present an usher with a red, red rose and to bless his prosaic life with a shy, shy kiss when he brought her the first beautiful bouquet of flowers. Yet he slunk away from this enviable moment of rapture, as though unaware of a moment in paradise.

     The voices are not outstanding, but they are better than most that have been heard in Australian musical comedy and operetta for some years. The singers know how to control the sweet natural tone in a way that will extract the last drop of sentimental unction from it.

Notable illustrations of this were their duets – Stay Frederick, Stay from The Pirate of Penzance, the waggishly comic presentation of The Keys of Heaven and the medley of ballads which included Until, Love’s Old Sweet Song and I Hear You Calling Me.

Clarence Black, their accompanist, played several well-worn solos in the certain knowledge that his choice of items would make his audience sigh with pleasure.”

13 August 1948 – Newcastle

On the 16th August in Newcastle Anne lost her watch valued at £350. They reported the matter to the police but there was a happy outcome to this loss:

Concert in Newcastle City Hall.
Sydney Concert – 16 August 1948.
Reception in Gloucester Room of Australia Hotel, Sydney.

Unfortunately, Anne also lost a valuable diamond ring worth £900 in their suite at Hotel Australia, Sydney. The police were called in and someone sifted through all the bags of the vacuum cleaners, but this ring was never found.  There were several newspaper photographs of Anne and Webster looking (in vain) for this ring.

19th August 1948. Anne and Webster are pictured scouring the floor of their hotel suite trying to find the lost ring. Some of the more unkind reporters suggested that the “lost ring” was a publicity stunt!

20 August 1948. A less favourable Sydney criticism.
7 September 1948 – Brisbane concert and His Majesty’s Theatre.

Anne and Webster go through their music for one of their Australian performances.

Brisbane Hotel flat.
Brisbane 29 August 1948.

2 September 1948 Woolongong
Adelaide concert 16 September 1948
16 September – Hobart concert.

Webster and Anne meet the mayor of Adelaide’s daughter, Barbara McLeay at a civic reception in their honour.

5 October 1948 – Perth.
10 October 1948 Perth

Before they left Australia after their extensive tour of the country, Webster had the last word about the critics in the following cutting:

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Anne and Webster arrived back in the UK on board the Strathaird after seven months away, on their tenth wedding anniversary, 5 November, just in time to do a broadcast on In Town Tonight.

Their film The Laughing Lady opened in Australia shortly after they left the country. Unfortunately, Australian critics were almost universal in their scathing comments about this film. It occurred to me that after being acclaimed and treated like Royalty on their extended tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948, only ten years later they were living in South Africa in very much reduced circumstances.

Jean Collen©

May 2011. Updated 4 April 2019.

Bibliography: 

Booth, W, Ziegler, A, Duet, Stanley Paul, 1951

Davies, P, List of New Zealand cuttings (1948)

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF AUSTRALIA

New Zealand Newspaper Archive














NEW ZEALAND TOUR – 1948

Pamela Davies who collaborated with me in writing Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? at the same time as my own book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (published at the same time by LULU ) was given a scrapbook of Australian and New Zealand press cuttings related to Anne and Webster’s tour there in 1948.

List compiled by Mrs Pamela Davies, Church House, Great Comberton, Pershore, WR10 3DS Worcestershire, England.

Pamela Davies who collaborated with me in writing Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? at the same time as my own book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth (published at the same time by LULU ) was given a scrapbook of Australian and New Zealand press cuttings related to Anne and Webster’s tour there  in 1948 from the late Jean Buckley.

Jean Collen 1991
Jean Buckley with Trixie
Pamela Davies

New Zealand list compiled by Mrs Pamela Davies, Pershore,England.

On the trip to Australia aboard the maiden voyage of the Imperial Star the ship called at various South African ports, so Anne and Webster managed to do two broadcasts each in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. They picked up the ship again in Durban to sail on to Melbourne to meet their Australian accompanist from Adelaide, Clarence Black. Unfortunately their regular accompanist, Charles Forwood, was not in the best of health at this time, so chose not to travel with them on the tour.
   Clarence Black studied piano and organ at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide. When he graduated he became the organist at the Regent Theatre and gave organ recitals each Sunday afternoon. In 1951 he accompanied Peter Dawson (aged 69, but undiminished in voice and personality by advancing age) on his concert tour of Australia.

Broadcasting at the SABC in Johannesburg.

Broadcasting in Johannesburg.

WORLD FAME:  Attractive looking pair Ann Ziegler and her husband Webster Booth are known by their voices in every home possessing a radio. New Zealanders will shortly have the opportunity of seeing them in the flesh, for they are already headed for a tour of the Dominion. They are about to set sail from Liverpool with South Africa as their first port of call.


Arrival in New Zealand 1948  

Dominion (Wellington)/19/5/48 TWO ENGLISH SINGERS DUE NEXT MONTH

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler shortly due in New Zealand will make their first appearance at the Town Hall on June 1 and 2. These two stars who have achieved popularity through their contributions to light opera, musical comedy, screen and radio entertainment are assured of a warm welcome in this country as apart from their value as entertainers there is always a certain curiosity as to their personalities.     

Booth after leaving school was a clerk in a firm of Birmingham accountants.  Before this he had sung in the choir of Lincoln Cathedral.  His pleasing alto voice changed to tenor and after seeing the possibilities at the professional stage he applied for an audition, was given one and passed through the ranks as a tenor inEngland and Canada.

*Miss Ziegler has been known to the public since early childhood.  She actually gave a recital in London while still in her teens*.

*This section is completely inaccurate. She was not known to the public in her childhood and gave a singing recital at the Wigmore Hall, London when she was twenty-three years of age.

At one stage she was one of the best known of principal “boys” in pantomime in the provinces and crossed the Atlantic to play a leading part in the musical comedy Virginia.

Webster went on to oratorio under Dr Malcolm Sargent with the Huddersfield Choir and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. His career has been almost meteoric.

Otago Daily Times,26 May 1948 Otago Times.

SINGING DUO -TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND –ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH

Two of the most popular British singers, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, are to make a tour of New Zealand in the near future. Established favourites with a world audience through the medium of their broadcasts and recordings, they are also well known on the British stage and have made appearances in several films, the most recent of which The Laughing Lady has still to be released in this country. Although ranked high as singers of more serious musical forms both artists are equally well known in the realm of musical comedy.

Their partnership commenced with the film version of Faustand their recent stage successes have included a revival of The Vagabond King and a new musical Sweet Yesterday. Oratorio, opera and the concert platform have all been covered by this versatile duo.

Auckland Herald/29/5/48 Arrival from Sydney

Arrival in New Zealand.

New Zealand Concert Tour 1948.
Auckland Town Hall.

Wellington Town Hall

Wellington Town Hall.
Concert at Wellington town hall.

The Dominion (Wellington) 2 June 1948. Last Night’s Audience Were Enthralled. Finally, Tonight TOWN HALL 8PM – THIS IS YOUR LAST OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR WEBSTER BOOTH (Tenor) And ANNE ZIEGLER (Soprano) England’s King and Queen OF SONG With CLARENCE BLACK At the Piano. Ballads and Operatic Arias blended with Gems from Musical Comedy by Artists who “sing and act superbly” and who bring to the Concert Platform the romance and glamour of the Stage and Screen.

RESERVES STILL AVAILABLE At Begg’s Today, 8/- and 6/- plus Tax, Also DAY SALES AT 8/- plus Tax, And at the Town Hall tonight From 7pm Direction: Begg’s Celebrity Artists Co.

2 June 1948 Evening Post ENGLISH SINGERS DOMINION OPENING CONCERT.

A reception as enthusiastic as any seen recently in the Town Hall was accorded the English singers Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, and the Australian pianist Clarence Black when they opened a tour of the Dominion last night.  A large audience was present.

3 June 1948 Re cocktail party the previous day, given at 33 Club in their honour attended by WB alone; AZ “indisposed”. Anne Ziegler Taken Ill : Last Night’s Concert Postponed.

Because of the sudden illness of Anne Ziegler, the Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler concert did not take place last night. Practically every seat in the Town Hall was filled when Mr C A Rendle representing the promoters announced the postponement.

Miss Ziegler became ill between 5 and 6 pm. At first it was hoped that the sickness would prove to be a passing one and even the doctor in attendance thought that such might be the case, but after 7pm it was seen that Miss Ziegler was still suffering, and in no condition to make a public appearance. In these circumstances, there was no option but to cancel the concert.

Those present were informed that it was hoped the concert would be held on Saturday night next, and all tickets and reserves would be good for that date.  The audience took the announcement in good part. This arrangement has been made possible by the cancellation of the Nelson concert.

7 June 1948 Evening Post – second Wellington
concert on Saturday night in the Town Hall. Evening Post

CAPTIVATING PAIR – Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Of all the celebrity artists to visit New Zealand over the past few years possibly none have had the captivating stage manner so typical of the English singers Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.  At their second Wellington concert presented in the Town Hall on Saturday night, this popular couple shared all their songs with the audience rather than sung to them. Their unselfconscious miming and acting throughout both solos and duets won for them a staunch following among even the more staid concertgoers accustomed to the dignified impersonality of other artists.

They opened the programme with the duet Stay, Frederick Stay from The Pirates of Penzance (Sullivan) in which their voices blended perfectly.  There was not one false note among their choice of numbers, every item being of the type for which they are best
known. Solos and duets were both received enthusiastically by the audience, but it was in the duets that they were accorded the greatest storm of applause.

One of the most popular duets was Deep in My Heart (from The Student Prince) and We’ll Gather Lilacs (from Novello’s Perchance to Dream) as an encore was another success. Their duo programme included The Love Duet (Madame Butterfly), Coward’s I’ll See You AgainLife Begins Anew (Sweet Yesterday) and Laugh at Life from their latest film The Laughing Lady. A medley of ballads which warmed the hearts of older members of the audience comprised Until (Sanderson), Love’s Old Sweet Song (Molloy) I Hear You Calling Me (Marshall) and Two Little Words (Brahe).

Miss Ziegler’s first solo was her own arrangement Strauss’s Tales from the Vienna Woods which was superbly sung and she also sang One Fine Day from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Webster Booth sang The English Rose (German) his recording of which is considered one of his best, The Lord’s Prayer and Break of Day from the film Waltz Time.

As a climax to their programme and by popular request the two artists presented their own arrangement of the traditional Keys of Heaven. They burlesqued it delightfully and the audience loved it. 

As accompanist Clarence Black was sympathetic and never intrusive and his solo items proved so popular that he was recalled to play several encores. 

8 June 1948 Nelson Evening Mail. At the School of Music last night.

11 June 1948 Taranaki Daily News, Opera House, New Plymouth last night.

14 June 1948 Manawatu Evening Standard, Palmerston North Opera House on Saturday night. Their second and final concert in Palmerston North to be on Tuesday evening.

15 June 1948 Wanganui Herald Wanganui Opera House last night.

18 June 1948 Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune, Hastings. Municipal Theatre, Hastings last night. To appear in Napier tomorrow night.

21 June 1948 Daily Telegraph, Napier. Napier Municipal Theatre on Saturday night.

21 June 1948. Gisborne Herald. Talk given today by Webster Booth to members of Gisborne Rotary Club, where he complained about the lack of back-stage heating in New Zealand’s theatres.

22 June 1948 Gisborne Herald. Gisborne Opera house last night.

24 June 1948 Rotorua Post. Municipal Theatre, Rotorua last night. Interview given by Webster Booth today. The eleventh concert of their tour, the first concert with back-stage heating at Municipal Theatre, Rotorua.

25 June 1948. Wailatu Times, Hamilton. Theatre Royal, Hamilton last night.

29 June 1948. Northern Advocate. Whangarei Town Hall last night.

30 June 1948 Auckland Star. Town Hall, the first of two Auckland concerts.

6 July 1948 Timaru Herald. Theatre Royal, Timaru last night.

6 July 1948 Re great demand for tickets for recital on Wednesday, July 14th at Civic Theatre: followed by one at St James Theatre, Gore on Thursday July 15.

7 July 1948 Otago Daily Times Arrived Dunedin yesterday,
an interview on their arrival, and photo of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in their hotel lounge.

7 July 1948 Evening Star, Dunedin. Another interview this morning apparently when Webster and Anne were at the Town Hall, inspecting the stage.


8 July 1948 Town Hall, Dunedin Otago Daily Times Otago Daily Times

COMMUNITY SING

A special attraction at the Sing to be held tomorrow in the Strand Theatre in aid of the Food for Britain campaign will be Mr Clarence Black, pianist and accompanist for Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.  Donations may be sent to Mr J F Himburg, Charles Begg, who with Mr A J Pettitt will assist Mr M P Desmoulins to lead the singing.

Town Hall last night (Dunedin) Otago Daily Times

8 July 1948 CHARMING VOICES ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH – EXCELLENT COLLABORATION

On the concert stage Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth are a law unto themselves.
Their programme at the Town Hall last night could hardly be described as a vocal recital for their stage technique was a combination of musical comedy and film art. That it had charm and musical qualities was undeniable, for the large audience was attentive and enthusiastic throughout. Anne Ziegler has a pleasant soprano voice which she used without effort, or forcing and she moves about the stage with an easy grace and charm born of habit.

Webster Booth has a fine tenor voice with excellent quality and carrying power in his high register and in his singing of The Flower Song from Carmen and The English Rose from Merrie England:

FLOWER SONG (CARMEN) he gave a glimpse of what he might do with such a voice had he chosen a more serious musical career.

Anne Ziegler’s most serious contribution was They Call Me Mimi from La Bohème. It was, however in the duets that the audience found their greatest pleasure. The collaboration was excellent and though I found their gestures and movements on the stage somewhat meaningless there was a sophisticated charm about their deportment that disarmed criticism. They chatted informally, made jokes with
a local flavor and took the audience into their confidence. The response was all that could be expected and the artists frequently expressed their gratitude for the reception they received.

The pianist, Mr Clarence Black, was a sympathetic accompanist even to lending a hand with dramatic gestures in the duet The Keys of Heaven: 

KEYS OF HEAVEN https://clyp.it/ygd3sncd

He also played two groups of solos with competence and musical feeling.

9 July 1948 Otago Daily Times Town Hall (Dunedin) last night

9 July 1948 Otago Daily Times FINAL PERFORMANCE- OVERSEAS SINGERS – AUDIENCE CAPTIVATED

Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth captivated the large audience in their appearance at the Town Hall last night.  Once again their duets revealed their greatest audience appeal and their musical comedy numbers, in particular, were received with a spontaneous and enthusiastic applause which compelled them to return to the stage again and again.

The Love Duet from Puccini’s Butterfly was their most delightful number in the first half of the programme, the pure tenor and pleasing soprano voices blending perfectly.
In One Fine Day after the interval Anne Ziegler again thrilled the listeners. To finish their programme the artist sang a medley of popular ballads. This started a clamour for encores which engaged the singers for some 15 minutes longer than the scheduled programme and the audience persisted in its attempts to recall them even after they had prepared to leave.

The pianist, Clarence Black, again proved a sympathetic accompanist and a talented solo performer.

.The concerts continued at various places until the end of July. After that Webster and Anne continued their tour to Australia.

New Zealand song recorded by Anne and Webster  in 1948: BLUE SMOKE (RURU KARAITIANA)

Jean Collen 4 April 2019.

Charles Forwood, accompanist to Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Charles Forwood was the Booths’ accompanist for over ten years and is mentioned in several places in Anne and Webster’s autobiography Duet, published in 1951.

Charles Forwood was the Booths’ accompanist for over ten years and is mentioned in several places in Anne and Webster’s autobiography Duet, published in 1951.

Charles Forwood was the Booths’ accompanist for over ten years and is mentioned in several places in Anne and Webster’s autobiography Duet, published in 1951. He was a number of years older than them and had been playing the piano from the early years of the twentieth century.

In the early 1950s Anne and Webster were earning £250 a concert and paying their accompanist £30 a week, as it was stipulated in their contracts that they should pay the accompanist out of their own pocket.

Pamela Davies, who wrote the book, Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? mentions the part Charles Forwood played at the Harold Williams’ concerts, particularly one she attended in March of 1947:

Anne and Webster on stage at the Garrick Theatre, Southport with Charles Forwood playing the piano.

P 129 Anne, talking about her mother: “During my song Mother had crept on and on to the stage until she could look through the window at me signing , and there she stood, quite visible from the auditorium, a small figure with a black feather in her black hat, and resting on a long black umbrella! She saw Charlie Forwood, our accompanist, look up at her from the piano with horror in his face, so to comfort him she nodded her head and waved to him, the audience by this time being very much more interested in her than in me!”

P 133 Webster: “Much depended on our accompanist, and it was at this point in our career that Charles Forwood joined us. Hayward Clarke was unable to come to Blackpool owing to a previous contract at Newquay. We asked Charles if he would take us on, not dreaming that he would, for he was a well-known accompanist and concert arranger in the city and West End, and we always felt honoured if a booking came through him – it always meant a first-class show. However, the war had robbed him of many of his engagements, and he felt that a summer at the seaside would be pleasanter than wartime London. He has now been our accompanist, friend, adviser and a stern coach for eleven years, having given up all his old connections to remain with us. In that time we have never had a word in writing in the form of a contract, nor ever needed one. How delightful in these days of forms and mistrust to be able to do business like that.”

P163 Anne: “During those difficult days of the war, and indeed ever since, everything has been made much easier for us both by Charlie Forwood, our accompanist. When I first knew Webster a booking from Charlie always gave real delight to us – accompanied by some trepidation, for though he was the perfect accompanist he demanded the very best a singer could do. Whether the audience was enthusiastic or not did not matter; only if we sang well enough to please Charlie’s own most critical taste would he put his hands on our shoulders and say, “Well done!” But if we did not breathe in the right place, or, as Charlie would say, “Paint the picture”, then he would make no comment, give us our music back, pay us – and we were down in the deeps of depressions for days!

Webster has told how Charlie joined us as our own accompanist at Blackpool in 1940. He is still with us. Now, as always, it doesn’t matter to him how the audience applaud. If we have sung well, he will still say, “Well done!” If he puts the music back in the case and says nothing, we still creep away like a couple of rebuked children.

He says his father, who was a printer, enjoyed the nickname of M.O.B. (which Webster says means Miserable Old Bounder), and Charlie loves to think that the same words apply to him. They don’t really; he just tries to make people think so. A perfect accompanist, as a coach he has probably forgotten more than most coaches today have learned. He used to play the violin in a string quartet on the White Star luxury cruises. If he took a studio and taught singing he would make a fortune. But he won’t. He won’t have a telephone at his old-world Surrey cottage – wise man! – and when we want to get in touch with him urgently we have to telephone the local grocer, who sends a message by the next passer-by. To us, he is our Rock of Gibraltar.”

When the Booths went on their tour to New Zealand and Australia, Charles Forwood did not think his health would stand the rigorous tour so an Australian accompanist from Adelaide, Clarence Black was their accompanist for the New Zealand and Australian trip.