ANNE ON HER OWN (1996 – 2003)

I had known, admired and loved Anne and Webster, and had been deeply influenced by them for forty-three years, and Anne’s death was the end of an era for me. But I am left with a few sad, but many happy memories of them, some of which I have shared in this personal memoir. If they had never been able to sing a note, I would have loved them for their warm, generous and kind hearts, and as long as I live they will never be forgotten.

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Anne and her nephew, Mike Eastwood from Portsmouth (circa 1996)
1997 With Bonnie in Joan Tapper’s garden in Mold.
Anne and Maurice Buckley on the way to the RNCM for the awards concert and presentation 1997.
1997.
Anne and Bonnie 1997.

In 1997 Webster’s son Keith died at the age of 72, and in March of 1998 Anne’s dear little Yorkie Bonnie had to be put to sleep, aged 15. Anne was very lonely without her and although she vowed that she could never have another dog because she was too old, eventually she did take on Toby, another Yorkie.

With Jean Buckley on holiday in Harrogate in 1998.
Anne, Allun Davies and Joan Tapper after a lunch in 1998.
Anne and the new Yorkie, Toby in 1999. Sadly, Anne became too frail to care for him and he had to be placed in a new home a year or so later.
Anne and Joan after lunch at the Groes Inn in 1999.
Anne and Joan 2000
Anne and some fans celebrating her birthday (circa 2000)
Anne sends a birthday greeting to me (2001)
Joan and Anne (2002)

Extract from my book Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth:

I phoned Anne on 3 August 2003. By this time her carer was coming in three times a day. Anne could still joke, “Once in the morning to see I am still alive, next at lunchtime, and then at 6pm to see I’m having supper and set for the night.”

We spoke of the days in Johannesburg when I was young – and she much younger – when everything had been happy and carefree. She could not believe that I was nearly sixty as she always thought of me as a young woman. It was forty years since I had first started playing for Webster when she went away on the trip with Leslie Green.

She had not seen Babs for over a year and did not know if she was alive or dead. We decided that it was a pity that things had worked out so badly with Babs, as it could have been a very happy arrangement.

She remarked, “That’s life – or should I say – death?” I told her that she still sounded wonderful, not like an old person at all, with her beautiful speaking voice and her alert mind. I said that I would phone again in a few months. We said, “God bless you,” to one another, and her last words to me were, “Take care, darling.”

Five days after that phone call Anne had another dreadful fall. She was taken to the Llewellyn Ward at Llandudno Hospital, where Dudley Holmes found her in September. She was pleased to see Dudley, but he was deeply shocked at the change in her physical appearance. Dudley spoke to Sally Rayner, who told him that Anne could never return to the bungalow and that they were looking round to find a suitable frail care home for her. Although she would probably never be able to write to us again, we vowed that we would write to her regularly as long as she lived.

On 27 September I wrote a letter to Anne and enclosed a cutting about Kathleen Ferrier on the fiftieth anniversary of her death, and sent it care of Sally Rayner. On the morning of 13 October, there was a telephone message from Sally to tell me that Anne was unlikely to last for more than a day or two.

I phoned Sally immediately and she told me that she was going in to sit with her that morning. Later that day Sally phoned again to let me know that Anne had died peacefully. She had sat with her, and later in the morning had been joined by Anne’s great-nephew, Michael, Jinnie’s son, from Liverpool. They remained with her, holding her hand until she passed away peacefully at 1.30 pm.

Sally had taken my letter in that morning to read out bits of interest to her – about Kathleen Ferrier, the records my actor friend Bill Curry had given me, and Love’s Philosophy, the song she had sung at her Wigmore Hall recital all those years ago. Sally said that some parts of the letter made her smile, although she had not opened her eyes for a long time.

Telegraph obituary 17 October 2003.

TIMES OBITUARY FOR ANNE ZIEGLER – 17 OCTOBER 2003

During the 1930s and 1940s Anne Ziegler and her husband, Webster Booth were among the most popular acts on the British stage. A handsome, beautifully dressed couple (he in immaculate tails and she in crinolines designed by Norman Hartnell), they were often billed as the British equivalent to the Hollywood stars, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. With their signature tune Only a Rose and their wide repertoire of popular operetta and musical comedy, they were rarely out of work, and during their heyday topped the bill not only in concerts but also in variety shows. Each had had a successful singing career before they teamed up as an act.

Anne was born Irené Frances Eastwood in Liverpool and from an early age had trained to be a classical pianist. She gave her first recital in her native city in 1928. (As a singer, not as a pianist!)

She moved to London in 1934 and joined the chorus of the operetta By Appointment at the Adelphi Theatre. In 1936 (1934!), after being chosen from 250 applicants to play the leading soprano role of Marguerita (Marguerite!) in an early film production of Faust, she met the tenor Webster Booth.

Booth, a romantic figure with a profile not unlike Ivor Novello’s (!!), had performed in numerous Gilbert and Sullivan operas with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company as well as recording classical oratorios for HMV records. He married Anne Ziegler in 1938 and two years later they decided to form a double act.

Billed as Sweethearts in Song, their act was pure romance and was hugely popular with wartime audiences. The couple made numerous broadcasts with the BBC in which they sang a variety of rousing songs and bitter-sweet ballads including We’ll Gather Lilacs, If You Were the Only Girl in the World, Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life and The Bells of St Mary’s.

Radio inevitably led them to top the bills in variety and they often appeared in company with leading artists of the day including Douglas Byng, Tommy Trinder, Max Wall, and others. They appeared in summer shows in Blackpool, the revue Gangway at the London Palladium and in a revival of Rudolph Friml’s operetta, The Vagabond King at the Winter Garden Theatre, London.

One of their most famous stage successes was Sweet Yesterday at the Adelphi Theatre in 1945, a “cape and sword” romance of the Napoleonic era which ran for more than 200 performances.

They were happiest on stage together just as themselves in either concert or variety. Inevitably their film career was a brief one, the most notable being The Laughing Lady (1946) and Demobbed (1946 – 1944!) a light-weight comedy in which they appeared opposite Norman Evans. They did not appear opposite Norman Evans but were guest stars in two brief episodes of the film!

With the advent of rock ‘n roll in the 1950s, the appeal of the duo towards the public began to fade and they decided to emigrate to South Africa, where they lived and worked until 1978. While there they wrote an autobiography Duet, published in 1951. They emigrated to South Africa in 1956 and the autobiography was published in the UK in 1951, 5 years before they emigrated!

On their return to Britain, they were astonished to discover that there was a boom in nostalgia and particularly with music from the 1930s and 1940s. Radio stations began playing their old hits and new albums were released including Sweethearts in Song (1979) and The Golden Age of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (1980). They made numerous television appearances including on such programmes as Looks Familiar with Dennis Norden.

Although they were no longer in their prime as singers, they continued to appear on stage well into their seventies in old-time music hall and variety shows throughout the country. The venues may not have been as glamorous or the bills as prestigious, but older audiences held an obvious warmth and affection for the couple and they were admired by their peers for their stamina and professionalism.

The impresario Aubrey Phillips, whop presented the couple in concert at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1982, remembered how romantic they appeared. “It was very touching to see them at that age, holding hands together as they left the dressing room for the stage,” he said. “They were still very much in love and audiences could sense that. That was the secret of their enduring success.”

The couple had made their home in Colwyn Bay, North Wales and occasionally appeared in concert in Llandudno, often in company with their friend Jess Yates, the organist. They sang their last duet, I’ll See You Again at a concert in the town, in June 1983. (They sang this at a concert in Bridlington!)

Webster Booth died a year later at the age of 82. Ziegler, who remained supremely elegant to the end, spent her final days in a nursing home in Colwyn Bay.

There were no children.

As there were a number of errors in the obituary, I wrote an email to The Editor of the Times.

19 October 2003 – St Andrew’s Kensington pew leaflet. I was the musical director at the Church at that time.

Anne’s funeral took place on 21 October at 2.00 pm. The organist played We’ll Gather Lilacs at the beginning and their recording of Now is the Hour was played at the end of the service as the coffin disappeared behind the curtain. One of Sally’s friends, Stanley, a member of the Rhos on Sea Savoyards, sang their signature tune, Only a Rose, during the service.

About forty people, including Webster’s grandson, Nicholas Webster Booth, and the Meals on Wheels ladies, attended the service on a rainy afternoon. Most of the people present had some firm connection with Anne, although there were a few curious “hangers-on”. Forty people did not seem a large number considering who she was and how many friends she had made over the years.

There were obituaries for Anne in papers all over the world, but I was saddened that little notice was paid to her death in South Africa, where she and Webster had lived and worked for twenty-two years. Errol sent an e-mail to the Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeld to inform them of Anne’s death but the paper made no mention of it.

A week or so later I was surprised to hear from Anne’s solicitors in Rhos on Sea that she had left me a legacy in her Will.

An abridged version of my letter was published in The Times in early November.

I contacted the actress and broadcaster, Clare Marshall at Radio Today to let her know that Anne had died. She was the only broadcaster in South Africa to pay a fitting tribute to Anne on the radio. Later I sent her copies of a number of their CDs and she continued to play them frequently on her Sunday morning programme, Morning Star. Sadly, Radio Today has changed direction and Clare’s programme is no longer featured on that station.

Ironically, Anne’s friend Babs, who was two years older than her, had died two weeks before Anne, leaving all her money – nearly £1,000,000 – to various charities.

I had known, admired and loved Anne and Webster, and had been deeply influenced by them for forty-three years, and Anne’s death was the end of an era for me. But I am left with a few sad, but many happy memories of them, some of which I have shared in this personal memoir. If they had never been able to sing a note, I would have loved them for their warm, generous and kind hearts, and as long as I live they will never be forgotten.

Evergreen – Winter 2003 – note from Joan Tapper, Anne’s friend and fan from Mold.

All the written material comes from my book: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth which was published three years later in 2006.

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

Post updated on 26 July 2019

Jean Collen.

ANNE ZIEGLER ON HER OWN (1990 – 1995)

Before Anne left me to bathe and prepare for our evening ahead, she remarked that she could hardly believe I was there and that we were going to spend some time together at last.
“The years are drawing in so quickly now. We’ll probably never have a time together like this again,” she told me before she left me.

After I met Webster and Anne again in 1973 we kept in touch
with each other. After Webster’s death, Anne began writing to
me regularly and when I told her that I planned to visit the UK
in 1990 she asked me to visit her for a few days in Penrhyn
Bay. We spent a very happy time together and we wrote to one another and spoke on the telephone until shortly before her death.

The fifty year copyright on some of Webster’s recordings had come to an end, so a CD was soon to be issued under the Flapper label, entitled Moonlight and You.

As Anne didn’t have a CD player – and I had only bought one when this CD came out, I made a tape of the recordings to take to Wales when I visited her.
Jean Buckley and Anne in Penrhyn Bay, about to set out to attend the RNCM award concert in Manchester.
April 1990 – the productions in which Peter and Jackie Firmani were featured, including Memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Anne turned 80 in June but did not want a party on that day as her birthday fell on the day after the first anniversary of Webster’s death. Instead, her friend Joan Tapper arranged for a late birthday picnic in the grounds of Erddig Hall.

Jean Buckley and Anne at Erdigg.
Anne’s birthday cake at Erddig Hall – 14 August 1990.
Cutting the cake.
Champagne at Erddig. A photo appeared in the local paper.
Anne with Joan Tapper (right) and a friend (left), not to mention Bonnie, Anne’s tiny Yorkie.
The picnic at Erddig for Anne’s late birthday.

After Webster’s death, Anne and I had written to one another regularly and with increasing frequency. The rift between us which had arisen during the nineteen-sixties had been gradually healed and we never ever discussed the reasons for it. When I told Anne of my plans to visit the UK she immediately suggested that I should visit her in Penrhyn Bay. Despite my sadness at the death of my father, I looked forward to the trip. It would be wonderful to see Anne once again.

On a day in mid-October I arrived at the bungalow at the appointed time to find Anne already in the driveway waiting for me. We greeted one another with pleasure. She was as beautiful as ever, but she appeared more delicate and fragile than I remembered her from seventeen years before.

The house was small but very comfortable with some of the lovely pieces of furniture and ornaments, remnants of the ”good old days”, together with the familiar pictures, and the cherished certificate from the Victory Royal Command Performance of 1945, signed by King George VI, in pride of place on the wall above the upright piano. The Chappell grand piano had been left behind in South Africa.

Anne said, “Sit yourself down”, the way Webster used to. Bonnie was a sweet little dog who insisted on sitting on my lap, despite her bad leg, to be fed titbits of scones, fruit cake and chocolate cake provided by Anne’s friends for our first tea together.

Anne was kind and friendly. I soon felt as though I had seen her last only the week before. After tea and a preliminary chat she took me round to the hotel to introduce me to Mrs Hall, the proprietor of the Orotava, and to see my pleasant room, which was decorated with a pretty floral bedspread and matching curtains, with a view over the grey Irish Sea.

The Orotava Hotel, round the corner from Anne’s bungalow.
My bedroom at the Orotava Hotel.

Before Anne left me to bathe and prepare for our evening ahead, she remarked that she could hardly believe I was there and that we were going to spend some time together at last.

“The years are drawing in so quickly now. We’ll probably never have a time together like this again,” she told me before she left me.

The bungalow, Penrhyn Bay.
We spent a wonderful few days together. While I was there I took a few photos of Anne and she took a few photos of me. Bonnie was in all the photos! I shall write a shortened version of my visit taken from my book and post it in the blog.

On Sunday we had lunch in the Queen’s Head.

Before I had gone to the UK I had been feeling rather depressed after my father’s death. My stay with Anne had built up my self-confidence as she had encouraged me to do more with my musical and academic gifts. I asked her whether she would update the testimonials she and Webster had given me when I went to the UK in the mid-sixties. She agreed at once, and not long after I returned to South Africa I received the testimonial she had written for me. I will always treasure it, just as I will always treasure the hundreds of letters she and Webster wrote to me over the years.

In fact, the photo was taken in 1981 at the Silver wedding party of Jean and Maurice Buckley.
3 January 1991.
The awards continued for some time. Unfortunately, Esso withdrew its sponsorship in the mid-nineties and the last award in Webster’s name was made in 2002. Anne’s award continued for some time although it was no longer the lavish presentation it had been. It too was discontinued a few years ago. Read more about the awards at: WEBSTER BOOTH/ANNE ZIEGLER AWARDS
1991 birthday party at Joan Tapper’s home in Mold. Anne with Allun Davies (centre) and Joan Tapper (right) 22 June 1991
Allun Davies and Anne – birthday lunch for Anne’s 81st birthday.
Babs Wilson-Hill and Anne at Jean Buckley’s house (circa early nineties)
16 October 1991. Anne on The Seven Ages (BBC Radio 2)
Bonnie aged ten and a half. Dece,ber 1993
Photo for the Evergreen article. December 1993.
Anne kindly sent me a copy of this cassette.
Anne, Joan, Jean and her husband Maurice.

In 1994 Anne had some pleasure when a BBC team came to the bungalow to record her part of The Webster Booth Story, a radio tribute to Webster on the tenth anniversary of his death. She told me that the bookof cuttings I had presented to her in 1990 had been a great help in jogging her memory for the interview. She became friendly with the script writer, Stephen Pattinson and his father, as well as Robin Gregory, the narrator, and Tony Wills, the producer. The programme was broadcast on 26 June 1994 on Radio Two, and not long afterwards Anne sent me a recording of the programme.

This programme was presented 10 years after Webster’s death. It is an excellent programme. I was pleased to get to know the presenter, Robin Gregory and the writer, Stephen Pattinson some years later.
Circa 1995. Anne accompanied Jean when she sang at a concert in Llandudno. Anne is on the right, Jean extreme left.
Maurice, Jean and Anne – on holiday together (mid-nineties).

BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1970 – 1976)

I found Webster and Squillie waiting for me at Plett airport. We had to go into the airport office to confirm my return flight. The woman on duty there recognised Webster and regarded us with keen interest.
We drove “home” in his blue Vauxhall Viva station wagon through the Knysna Forest to the settler cottage in Graham Street which they were so keen to sell. The countryside around Knysna was beautiful and I was lucky enough to see a steam train crossing the bridge over the water as we entered Knysna. I also remember seeing the Cottage Hospital, which reminded me of my TV favourite, Dr Findlay’s Casebook.
As we entered the house, Webster said, “You can do what you like in this house, darling.”

22 February 1970 Letter from Webster to Mabel Perkin in the UK.

6 May 1970 Anne and Webster appear on BBC2 in an interview with Sue MacGregor on Women’s Hour.

April 1970
27 April 1970
27 April 1970 (cintinued)
Poor photo accompanying the interview.

26 June 1970 I get married to Errol Collen at St James’ Presbyterian Church, Mars Street Malvern.

Jean and Errol with the Rev Nicol Binnie
24 August 1972 – Durban.
24 August 1972 – Durban.
24 August 1972 – Durban.
Birthday dinner for Fred Cropper (He and his daughter Freda lived on the top floor of the Booth’s house in Knysna, 1972)
Imperial Hotel, Knysna
Rent receipt book R75 per month for top flat at 18 Graham Street.
Dick Whittington for the Port Elizabeth Musical and Dramatic Society in Port Elizabeth 7 December 1972
Port Elizabeth 5 November 1972 – Thirty-fourth wedding anniversary.
March 1973. Mikado in East London. Shirley Smith interviews Webster.
4 to 14 April 1973. The Mikado at Guild Theatre, East London.
Webster directing the Mikado; Jean Fowler conducting. March, April 1973.
Webster in the wings.
Webster – close-up
Webster stayed at the King’s Hotel. I wrote the letter (right) to the Daily Dispatch under the pseudonym of J. McIntyre.
Scene from the Mikado – Bernie Lee, Jimmy Nicholas, Colin Carney, Pamela Emslie
I visit Webster in Knysna in May 1973.
Postcard from Anne to Freda Boyce and Fred Cropper, 2 May 1973.
Anne visits Jean Buckley during her holiday in the UK.
Webster and I go to the Lookout Steak House in Plett while I am in Knysna.
Beacon Island, Plett.
18 Graham Street, Knysna.
From Webster to me.
Christmas card from the Booths. We returned from East London to Johannesburg. My baby, Michael was born on 12 March 1974.
Anne in the garden of the house in Somerset West (photo: Dudley Holmes)
October 1975 – Farewell Performance in Somerset West.
Anne and Webster sing “We’ll Gather Lilacs” at the British Ambassador’s residence to the accompaniment of Brian Kay after the King’s Singers’ Concert in Cape Town – 1976 or 1977 – shortly before they returned to the UK.

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.

FANS

They attracted a legion of adoring fans. Many followed them ardently from one engagement to another and listened to all their broadcasts on the radio. One of their fans was Gladys Reed, seen below with Anne at the stage door of the London Palladium in 1942. You can see how delighted she was to have her photo taken with her idol! Anne wrote a letter to Gladys telling her to give their regards to the “gang” – probably referring to the devoted fans who followed them around from one engagement to the other.

2019-05-25_101919Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler were very popular and attracted a legion of fans who followed them for a variety of reasons.

Before he began working with Anne, Webster attracted many female fans who admired him, not only for his beautiful voice, but for his smouldering good looks. He told me that he often singled out the most attractive girl in the audience and sang for her alone. Invariably she would be waiting at the stage door after the show, either to ask shyly for his autograph, hoping for a few kind words from her hero, or hoping, better still, that he would ask her out for a drink! He had attractive photos made to hand out to his fans, such as this one, signed at Shanklin in 1931, and the same photo later signed to Elaine in 1933.

2019-04-30_152223

His practised seduction technique led directly to his second marriage with soubrette, Paddy Prior. He had been singing at a Monday evening concert at the Concert Artistes Association when he noticed an attractive young woman sitting in the audience obviously enjoying his singing. When he sang One Alone he directed his attention to her alone. After the concert, he was introduced to her and they were married after his divorce from his first wife, Winifred Keey, was finalised. Sadly, his marriage to Paddy did not last very long after he met Anne Ziegler during the filming of the Faust Fantasy at the end of 1934.

In July 1934, Madeleine wrote a note to her friends, Lily and Phil, from Shanklin on the Isle of Wight where Webster was appearing in the Sunshine summer show there.

1934 WBHe valued his fans and treated them with kindness and consideration.He answered fan mail himself, such as in these letters, dated September and December 1936:

1936 letters

During the 1990s Anne wrote to me and told me that her very first fan had visited her recently in Penrhyn Bay. The girl had been fifteen years of age in 1935 and saw Anne in a summer show in Ryde when Anne herself was only twenty-five years of age. She had been a fan of Anne’s ever since and kept in touch with her over the years.

Even before Webster’s divorce to Paddy Prior was finalised, he and Anne began singing together on the concert platform. They were an instant success. Both were very attractive with charming personalities. He wore an evening suit with a gardenia in his lapel; Anne was beautifully dressed. As their popularity grew, she had crinoline gowns designed for her, some by the Queen Mother’s dress-designer, Norman Hartnell.

They attracted a legion of adoring fans. Many followed them ardently from one engagement to another and listened to all their broadcasts on the radio. One of their fans was Gladys Reed, seen below with Anne at the stage door of the London Palladium in 1942. You can see how delighted she was to have her photo taken with her idol! Anne wrote a letter to Gladys telling her to give their regards to the “gang” – probably referring to the devoted fans who followed them around from one engagement to the other.

13 November 1942 bPalladium

Letter to Gladys 1943

North British Station Hotel

Imagine how Anne and Webster’s fairytale act must have lightened the lives of their fans during the difficult war years. No wonder they attracted so many people at that time.

In 1943, Jean Buckley (née Newman) was thirteen years of age, living in wartime Manchester and she and her mother spending many nights in an air raid shelter with bombs dropping around them, keeping them from sleep. She and her mother attended many of their concerts and broadcasts in the city for Jean was enchanted by their act. She and her mother always went backstage to see the couple and Jean saved her pocket money and collected coupons so that she could buy gifts to present to Anne whenever they went backstage after a show. Anne and Webster saw Jean so often that they often sent her complimentary tickets for their shows.

Jean was very upset when they decided to move to South Africa in 1956 but they kept in touch and she sent them copies of The Stage while they were living there. When they returned to the UK in 1978 they lived near Jean and her husband Maurice and spent a lot of time with them. Jean said that Webster enjoyed watching cricket on TV with Maurice.

When Webster became ill and was admitted to a nursing home, Jean visited him in the afternoon when she finished work and took him out occasionally to give him a break from the dull routine of the nursing home. After his death, Jean did a great deal for Anne in one way and another. She and Maurice raised money to inaugurate a prize in Webster’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Jean was very hurt when Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson Hill condescendingly introduced her as “Anne’s greatest fan.” Jean replied, “I think I might be considered Anne’s greatest friend.” Sadly, Anne and Jean fell out over a trivial matter several years before Anne’s death and they were never reconciled. I corresponded with Jean for over ten years and I am sad that she has lost her sight and is now living in a frail care home at the age of eighty-seven.

Anne and Jean in Penrhyn Bay before going to the Royal Northern College, Manchester for prize winners’ concert for the Webster Booth prize.

Before attending  the RNCM concert (1990s)

Another fan was Pamela Davies (née James). She mentioned in her book Do You Remember Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth? that she and her fellow teaching students gathered round the radio to listen to the Victory Royal Command Performance in November 1945 to hear Anne and Webster singing. She made extensive notes of all their radio appearances.

When Anne and Webster returned to the UK in 1978 she wrote to them to say how pleased she was that they had returned to the country. Thus began a regular correspondence which resulted in Pam and her husband Walter taking Anne out to lunch whenever they went to North Wales.

Anne and Webster went on an extensive concert tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1948. Anne wrote in Duet: “I had an admirer in Christchurch who brought me flowers every day we were there. They were freesias, of the beautiful big New Zealand variety. Her name was Margaret Richardson, and she has since come over to England and obtained a job in New Zealand House.”

Margaret Richardson returned to New Zealand and she and Anne kept in touch over the years. Unfortunately, Margaret died shortly before Anne, so she did not receive the photos Anne had allocated to her in her will.

John Bull 1952

I wonder where these children are now and what they thought of their mother’s choice of names for them!

When they returned to the UK in 1978, aged 68 and 76, they expected to lead a quiet life in semi-retirement. They had been doing very little work in South Africa for years so it came as a surprise to them to find that they were in great demand in the UK. Many of their fans from the good old days were still alive. Soon they were travelling around the country, singing in concerts, giving talks, appearing on TV and presenting radio programmes. In 1975 they had given a farewell concert in Somerset West and they had not intended to sing again, but they gave in to public demand when they went back to the UK. Anne was still in fairly good voice but Webster’s voice had deteriorated and I thought it was very sad that he should have had to sing in public again when he was past his best. But they needed the money and their performances continued longer than they should have done. I don’t think their elderly fans were very critical – they were only too happy to see their favourites on stage once again.

On TV 1980

Joan Tapper, a piano teacher, had been a life-long fan of the couple and when they sang in Mold, North Wales, she presented them with a gift after the concert. This led to a friendship which lasted until Anne’s death in 2003.

Anne and her fan and friend, the late Joan Tapper.

Webster’s health deteriorated and after a disastrous performance in Bridlington when he forgot the words of one of their most popular duets, Anne realised that this had been their swansong and they would never be able to sing together again.

Webster died in 1984, and Anne lived alone in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales for another nineteen years. The bungalow was owned by Babs Wilson Hill, who had been Anne’s friend and admirer since they appeared in pantomime together in Liverpool in 1935, although by the end of their lives they were not as close as they had been in earlier times. They died within a few weeks of one another.

Happier times – Jean, Anne and Babs

Jean Collen © 22 June 2017