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














BOOKS ABOUT WEBSTER BOOTH AND ANNE ZIEGLER by JEAN COLLEN

Since 2006 I have written and published books about my former singing teachers and life-long friends, the famous British duettists, soprano, Anne Ziegler (1910-2003) and tenor, Webster Booth (1902-1984). The books are available as paperbacks and ebooks. The latest book is a digitised version of their joint autobiography, Duet which was originally published by Stanley Paul in 1951. I am most grateful to John Marwood for proofreading it meticulously. Currently, I am revising and enlarging my first – and most popular book – Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. 

All my nonfiction books, written by Jean Collen are available at: https://www.lulu.com/duettists

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. I completed the ATCL and LTCL singing diplomas and remained friends with them until their deaths.

Since 2006 I have written and published books about my former singing teachers and life-long friends, the famous British duettists, soprano, Anne Ziegler (1910-2003) and tenor, Webster Booth (1902-1984). The books are available as paperbacks and ebooks. The latest book is a digitised version of their joint autobiography, Duet which was originally published by Stanley Paul in 1951. I am most grateful to John Marwood for proofreading it meticulously. I have just revised and enlarged my first – and most popular book – Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Price:$17.00 Prints in 3-5 business days I published the first edition of this book in 2006. I have now published the second edition and have, in some instances, included excerpts from my contemporary diaries, and have drawn on the many letters written to me by Anne and Webster over a forty year period. This edition contains more information about Anne and Webster than the first edition. It also includes many extra photographs.

The book summarises Anne and Webster’s rapid rise to fame, which is already well documented in their own autobiography entitled Duet. (1951). The book’s main focus is on their lives and careers from 1956 in South Africa, their friendship with me, and their “third” career after they returned home to the UK in 1978.


Do You Remember Anne Ziegler & Webster Booth? (in collaboration with Pamela Davies of Pershore) (2006) This book tells Pamela Davies’ story of her keen admiration of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in the forties and early fifties. Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the UK from South Africa in 1978, Pamela began corresponding with Anne and became good friends with her. The book includes THE BODY OF WORK OF ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, compiled and edited by Jean Collen. Jean has listed many of their engagements on stage, screen, radio and television from 1924 to 1994.

A SCATTERED GARLAND: GLEANINGS FROM THE LIVES AND CAREERS OF WEBSTER BOOTH AND ANNE ZIEGLER (2008) in 4 volumes. The books are available as paperbacks and epubs.

Price:$10.45 Prints in 3-5 business days. A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler was originally published in one volume but because of the additional material I have discovered the work now extends to four volumes: Volume 1: Early days (1920s – 1939) The work includes articles, criticisms, cuttings, and extracts from the online archives of The Times, The Scotsman and The Stage, and other newspapers. In Volume 2, I have included material from New Zealand and Australian newspapers and in Volume 3 there is material from South African newspapers. Occasionally I have supplemented this material with my own notes. All my own writing is italicised. Book 1 contains information about the early days of their careers.

Volume 2: Years at the top in the UK (1940 – 1956) This is the second volume of A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, and includes articles, criticisms, cuttings, and extracts from the online archives of The Times, The Scotsman and The Stage. In this edition, I have included extracts from New Zealand and Australian newspapers from the Booths’ extensive tour there in 1948. Occasionally I have supplemented these articles with my own observations. All my own writing is italicised.

Volume 3 South Africa (1956 – 1977) When I was 17 years old I began my singing studies with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in their studio on the eighth floor of Polliack’s Building in Pritchard Street, central Johannesburg, where they taught Singing and Stagecraft. A few years later I became Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne (who was accompanist as well as teacher) had other commitments. I studied with them for five years and did my Associate and Licentiate singing diplomas under their guidance. Despite several years when Anne and I were estranged, we remained friends until Webster’s death in 1984 and Anne’s in 2003. I published the story of my relationship with Anne and Webster on Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/duettists) in April 2006 in a book entitled Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. Because Volume 3 concerns my direct relationship with the Booths I have mentioned events briefly if I consider them to be relevant to the story.

Volume 4: Back in the UK (1978 – 2003) and additional information.

Volume 4 covers the last period of the lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler. They returned to the UK in 1978 and were welcomed by fans who remembered them from the forties and fifties when they had been at the top of the tree. I have written extensively about the life of Paddy Prior, Webster’s second wife. She was a very talented performer in her own right. Her divorce from Webster was soon forgotten and he and Anne had great success while her own career remained static. After her brief marriage to Webster, she divorced him in 1938 because of his adultery with Anne. Sadly, the scandal of the divorce was soon forgotten and he and Anne achieved great success in the 1940s while Paddy’s own career remained static. I was glad to hear that she married again in Tasmania some years later.

I have updated the book about British radio and television broadcasts by Webster and Anne, dating from 1927 to 1994. The last broadcast was “The Webster Booth Story” presented by Robin Gregory in 1994, 10 years after Webster’s death. This book is available as a PDF only and may be seen at https://www.lulu.com/duettists.

Extracts from My Teenage Diaries. (1960 – August 1963)

I kept regular diaries when I was a teenager. These diaries cover the period from 1960 when I was in my final year at school until August 1963 when I turned 20. They deal largely with my singing studies and relationship with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, my piano studies with Sylvia Sullivan, my close friendship with Ruth Ormond (a fellow pupil of the Booths) and other activities at that time. They cover the time when I was Webster Booth’s studio accompanist at the age of nineteen – a memorable period of my life. I continued my diaries until the end of 1965 when I left Johannesburg and went to the UK. Sadly the diaries from 1963 until the end of 1965 were destroyed.

I have updated the book about British radio and television broadcasts by Webster and Anne, dating from 1927 to 1994. The last broadcast was “The Webster Booth Story” presented by Robin Gregory in 1994, 10 years after Webster’s death. This book is available as a PDF only and may be seen at https://www.lulu.com/duettists.

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from ‘Gramophone’ & Discography” (2009) It is made up of articles and reviews about the recordings made by Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler (1929 to the present). The discography section has been completely revised and updated and includes an almost complete discography of their solo and duet recordings and some of their surviving radio broadcasts.

The third edition of this book contains criticism & articles about recordings made by Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler from Gramophone (1929 to the present day). The book includes an almost complete discography of their solo and duet recordings in 78rpm, LP and CD formats, and some of their surviving radio broadcasts.

Price:$12.50 Prints in 3-5 business days. Duet, the autobiography of famous British duettists, Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, was originally published by Stanley Paul in 1951. Sixty-five years later I have digitised the book and made it available as a paperback, epub and pdf book.

My sincere thanks to John Marwood who proofread the book most painstakingly for me. Webster and Anne tell the exciting story of their rise to fame, and their sensational romance. After Webster’s divorce from Paddy Prior, his second wife, he and Anne married and became the most popular duettists of their day, earning them the deserved title of “Sweethearts of Song”.

📷 📷 📷 📷 📷By Fiona Compton May 31, 2016 I read this book many years ago and am delighted that it has been digitised and once again available to those who are interested in reading about the illustrious careers of tenor Webster Booth and soprano Anne Ziegler. Although the book was written in part by a ghost-writer, the tone of the alternate chapters written in turn by Anne and Webster captures the personalities of both writers – Webster’s writing is more measured and thoughtful than Anne’s enthusiastic, spontaneous writing.

Webster Booth had one of the finest British tenor voices of the twentieth century and had a distinguished career in oratorio and recording in his own right. Anne Ziegler had a pleasant light soprano voice and a charming personality, but she was never in the same vocal class as her husband. This book is entitled Duet, so the emphasis of the book is on the work the couple did together as romantic duettists in musicals and films and on the radio, TV, concert and variety stage.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book but I would have liked to have heard more about Webster’s distinguished solo singing career. No doubt this book was responsible for giving people the idea that Webster was merely a romantic duettist in partnership with his wife, doing nothing more than singing light songs together with her. Despite this reservation, the book moves at a lightning pace and is most enjoyable. I recommend it highly.

All my fiction books, written under the pen name of Fiona Compton, are available at: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fiona_compton