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 (1985 – 1989)

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

Anne lived on alone in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales for another 19 years until her own death in October of 2003. Obituary notices appeared in the Star and Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg shortly after Webster’s death – I had not included these previously, so will do so now. The Rand Daily Mail’s obituary contained a few errors, like We’ll Gather VIOLETS, and several wrong dates!

25 June 1984 Rand Daily Mail.

Anne was still teaching a few pupils and had been booked to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk in Bromley at the end of the year. She decided to have a break in South Africa before she was due to go into the pantomime. It would do her good to get away from Penrhyn Bay, which was full of reminders of Webster’s illness and death. (Extract from my book: Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth (2006) (All additional information from the same book.)

Going to South Africa – September 1985.
Visiting Doris Boulton in South Africa.

Jean Buckley, their fan and friend of forty-two years, who had been very kind and supportive during Webster’s last illness, was working to raise money for the Webster Booth Memorial Fund in order to award a scholarship to a tenor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Webster, Jean Buckley and Anne visiting the Buckleys shortly after the Booths had returned to the UK in 1978.
Anne and Bonnie 1985 (Photo by fan and friend: Pamela Davies)
This message from Jean Buckley appeared in The Stage and Opera in September 1985.

Anne went to Bromley in November to play the Fairy Godmother in Jack and the Beanstalk. Contrary to what had been agreed with her agent, she discovered that she was to play a minimal part in the show. She had been promised a solo of her own choice, but when she arrived all that was required of her was thirty-six lines of dialogue and four bars of Only a Rose with “another character”. She was hurt and annoyed. (Extract from my book)

Bromley Pantomime. December 1985.

That was Anne’s last venture on to the stage. Although she was offered a decent part in panto at Plymouth the following year to make up for the poor one in Bromley, and was asked to take the part of an elderly actress who had once been a star of Operetta in Stephen Sondheim’s West End production of Follies, she turned both offers down. ( I believe Adele Leigh took the part Anne had been offered. I wonder if Adele Leigh knew that she had not been the first choice for the role!)

In April 1986 she received an Award from the Queen for services to music. This award took the form of a pension from the Civil List. It was made in both their names and Anne was saddened that Webster had not lived long enough to enjoy the honour and see the monetary benefit of it.

After her bad experience in Bromley, Anne remarked, “Theatre as I knew it doesn’t exist any longer and now that I’ve had the award, I don’t need to work.”

On 9 June 1986 Jean Buckley was able to take a cheque for £3250.00 to the RNCM, and on 10 December Anne presented an interim award of £500 for that year. The Duchess of Kent, the President of the College, presented the Diplomas to graduating students at the same ceremony.

Alan Keith had attended Webster’s memorial service in 1984 and was a great admirer of Anne and Webster.
New Year’s party (circa 1986) with Penrhyn Bay neighbours – Les and Peggy Williams, Anne, ?, Jean and Maurice Buckley at the Buckley home.
Anne with her friend and fan, Joan Tapper (from Mold) and Jean and Maurice Buckley.

Anne with tenor, Allun Davies (1987) after one of his concerts.
Jean, Anne and Babs with their pets outside Jean’s house in Rhos on Sea. (late 1980s)
14 October 1987 It’s a Funny Business.
January 1989 – Peter Firmani doing a tour of Memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.
Anne, Jean and Joan Tapper at Joan Tapper’s home to celebrate Anne’s birthday (circa 1989).

Jean Collen 28 May 2019.

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.

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

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

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. Currently, I am revising and enlarging my first – and most popular book – Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

List Price:$16.00Price:$14.40You Save: $1.60 ( 10% )Prints in 3-5 business days


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)

List Price:$16.57Price:$14.91You Save: $1.66 ( 10% )Prints in 3-5 business days. 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)

Volume 2: Years at the top in the UK (1940 – 1956)

Volume 3 South Africa (1956 – 1977)

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

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.

Price:$10.92 Prints in 3-5 business days. 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.

Price:$10.92 Prints in 3-5 business days. 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.

Price:$10.00 Prints in 3-5 business days. 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. It also covers the sad time when Webster’s health was failing. He died in 1984 and Anne remained in the bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, North Wales for another 19 years until her death in October of 2003.

In this volume, I have written extensively about the life of Paddy Prior, Webster’s second wife. She was a very talented performer in her own right. 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.

Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from ‘Gramophone’ & Discography” (2009) List Price:$7.04 Price:$6.34 You Save: $0.70 (10%) Prints in 3-5 business days 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.

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.

I have decided to continue with the diaries and will occasionally add chapters on this page. All my fiction books, written under the pen name of Fiona Compton, are available at: https://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fiona_compton

I will list the Fiona Compton fiction books separately. Jean Collen.

BABS WILSON-HILL (MARIE THOMPSON)

Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) top left in a show.

The following article, written by Linda Anderson, a relative of Babs, appeared in my book, Sweethearts of Song; A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth Front cover small-01

LINDA ANDERSON OF BIDFORD-ON-AVON WRITES:

Babs - Linda Anderson-06

MARIE GLADYS WILSON/THOMPSON (BABS WILSON-HILL)

Babs was born in Manchester on 12 September 1908, the second child of Gertrude and Harold Wilson. As a young child, she lost her father during the First World War. She missed her father dearly as she had been very fond of him.

When Babs was in her early years she was living in Chandos Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy and went to Loreto Convent School. By this time she had been having piano lessons and had also become a very able dancer.

Babs remembers her Aunt May, only eight years older than herself, teaching her a few dances. This sparked off an interest which was later to become her career. She decided to take the subject more seriously and began lessons with the Haines School of  Dancing, Whalley Range and later at Sheila Elliot’s School of Dancing, Liverpool. Some of her early performances were in the theatre at the rear of Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

During her dancing years, Babs had been coached by Anna Ivanova who was with the Pavlova Company. Babs was later to become the Principal Ballerina in pantomime with Tom Arnold who produced performances throughout the country. She was in eight pantomimes altogether and was Principal Girl, Fairy, Witch, and Principal Dancer. She performed with and became a friend of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth and knew George Formby and his wife Beryl well.

George Formby was later to be responsible for Babs being sent to the Isle of Man during the Second World War. He saw her dressed in her WAAF’s uniform and was most amused! He wanted Babs to be part of a team in Jurby, Isle of Man, where a theatre had been set up at the RAF base there. Babs asked that this was to be secondary to her work as an MT driver. She had been advised not to be part of ENSA and so this was a good compromise. When she arrived at the Isle of Man she had her own personal transport waiting to take her to Jurby and was treated as a VIP, much to her surprise! A trunk of her costumes was shipped over to the island. Babs always made her own costumes.

One of the shows she was involved with went to London for one night where she was introduced to a member of the Royal Family. Later in the war, she was transferred to Ireland, Scotland and finally Stanmore, where at one time she was driving a 15cwt lorry and, as a Corporal, she was also driving a Staff Car. After coming out of the Services Babs went to live in Cobham Surrey. She had a very short, unsuccessful marriage and later moved back to Colwyn Bay.

Babs looks upon her move to Colwyn Bay as a successful one. She has had the advantage of both the sea, in which she was a regular swimmer for many years and the beautiful surrounding countryside. She is also surrounded by many very good friends. Over the years she has been very involved with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Her friendship with Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth enabled her to spend many months with them in South Africa.  When Anne and Webster were thinking that they would never be able to return to the UK, Babs bought a bungalow for them to live in which was near to her in North Wales. They remained in this home until they died.

Babs died on 28 September 2003* (only a few weeks before Anne died on 13 October 2003).

Linda Anderson.

Babs in her beautiful garden in Colwyn Bay (photo: Linda Anderson) Babs Wilson-Hill (2) *only a few weeks before Anne’s death on 13 October 2003. Anne had met Babs when she appeared in her first pantomime in Liverpool. Anne was the principal boy, Babs the principal dancer. 1935 First Panto Anne (right) in Liverpool pantomime (1935/36) When the broadcaster, Leslie Green went to the UK in 1962 he met Babs and interviewed her for his programme Tea With Mr Green on Springbok Radio. Anne and I listened to the programme together. Here is an extract from my diary on 4 September:

4 September Go to the studio in the afternoon. Anne is there by herself and she tells me that Webster has had to do his two extra programmes before he goes (to Rhodesia) today. She told him to go home and have a rest after them if he’s tired so I might not see him. She asks if I’d like to listen to Tea with Mr Green because her girlfriend is going to be on today.

We do scales and exercises. The chemist phones and she arranges to have a silver Wellaton (hair rinse) sent up! She says her hair is a dull mousy grey and she has to do something to liven it up and stop her from looking old!

We listen to Leslie G and she tells me that Babs Wilson-Hill is her very best friend in Britain. She and Babs were in panto together in 1934 and she is very fond of her. They write to one another every week and tell each other all their worries and troubles. She is very well off – she has a lovely home and garden. She shows me a picture of her (which is on the wall). She says she misses her more than anyone else in Britain.

Leslie G introduces his programme by saying that it was due to Anne Ziegler that he is there because she had told him about Babs. He talks about the lovely garden – laburnum, willows, larkspurs, snapdragons… Babs sounds very like Anne, only more so – same laugh, the same intonation of words, very pleasant and slightly “county”. She has a house near Guildford in Surrey. Anne says that Babs wrote and said she made a terrible botch of the whole thing but she sounds terribly self-possessed to me. After it is over, Anne says that one can only have a friend like that once in a lifetime and she thinks everyone needs someone to confide in and tell their troubles to.

Jean Collen 12 September 2018.

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SWEETHEARTS OF SONG

Front cover small-01Four years ago, I received a lovely letter about the book from a gentleman in Ireland. I share it with you  on the fourteenth anniversary of Anne’s death.He had recently read my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. He attached various photos of Penrhyn Bay, North Wales which he had taken during his trip. Ashampoo_Snap_2015.10.07_16h06m30s_002

    • Part of his note reads as follows:

  • “All thanks to you, I spent a really moving day rambling the highways and byways of Penrhyn Bay. To be standing outside Anne and Webster’s house was an extraordinary feeling and for me a real privilege. Looking at the house, and then walking on the beach, all the time internally hearing their wonderful music, and feeling a real sense of gratitude to them both for all the joy they brought to countless millions over the years with their unique gifts, their unique talents. And yes, as I looked out on Penrhyn Bay, and then further East to Rhos on Sea, Colwyn Bay, Llanddulas and Abergele, I would see in my mind’s eye, the beautiful Anne in her youth, as well as her undoubted beauty in her later years. It is, as you well know, a spectacular landscape: Snowdonia to the South, the Ormes to the West, and to the North the Irish Sea stretching as far as the eye can see—–all quite something, and a beautiful and moving backdrop to remember both Anne and Webster. 
So once again, many thanks, not only for your wonderful book but also for a memorable windswept day in Penrhyn Bay.”

It was good to know that my book had given him pleasure and had motivated him to pay a visit to Webster and Anne’s final home.
Jean Collen 13 October 2017.
  •  

JEAN BUCKLEY (26 May 1930 – 20 July 2017)

In 1943, Jean Buckley (née Newman) was thirteen years of age, living in wartime Manchester. Jean, an only child, was originally from London and the family had lived in Brighton for a time. When the war came her father decided that they might be safer living in Manchester. This did not prove to be the case. Jean spent many nights in a damp air raid shelter as German bombs fell on the city.

Jean had always loved Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth’s singing. She had a clear memory of hearing Webster singing Phil, the Fluter’s Ball with Fred Hartley and his quintet on the radio when she was a young child. As light relief from the sleepless nights in the damp air raid shelter, she and her mother attended many of their concerts and broadcasts in the city. They 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 when they went backstage. Anne and Webster saw Jean so often that they sent them complimentary tickets for broadcasts of Variety Bandbox and Variety Fanfare. She remembers Webster coming into the dressing room and greeting them with, “How are my two lovelies this evening?”

When Jean left school she went to work for Singer’s Sewing Machines and became a top sales woman with the company. Unknown to Anne and Webster she began to take singing lessons on a part time basis at the Northern School of Music and managed to obtain a few engagements. She told me that she did not mention this to the Booths in case they felt obliged to use their influence to advance her singing career.

Jean married Maurice Buckley in 1956 but was very upset when Anne and Webster decided to move to South Africa in the same year. They kept in touch with the Booths and she sent them copies of The Stage and other British newspapers while they were living there.

Maurice and Jean Buckley (1956)

When they returned to the UK in 1978 they lived near Jean and Maurice, and spent a lot of time with them. Jean said that Webster always enjoyed watching cricket on TV with Maurice. Jean baked a cake for Anne and Webster’s fortieth wedding anniversary in 1978.

Jean and her poodle, Trixie

A few years later, Jean and Maurice celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary. Here is a lovely photograph of Anne and Webster on that happy occasion. I used this photo as a front cover to my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth

Anne and Webster (1981)

When Webster became ill and was admitted to a nursing home, Jean visited him regularly and took him out for a drive or for tea occasionally to give him a break from the nursing home. She put a tape recording of his records on the car radio. He disliked the nursing home and never wanted to return after his outing with Jean.

After his death, Jean did a great deal for Anne in one way and another. Jean was very hurt when Anne’s friend, Babs Wilson Hill introduced her to someone as “Anne’s greatest fan.” Jean replied, “I think I might be considered Anne’s greatest friend by now.”

The first time I heard of plans to establish a scholarship in Webster Booth’s name at the Royal Northern College of Music was in a letter from Anne Ziegler, dated 20 November 1985, just over a year after Webster Booth’s death on 21 June 1984.

Anne mentioned that a coffee morning had been held in the local church hall in aid of the Webster Booth Memorial Fund. Jean had proposed the idea of providing a scholarship in Webster’s name for a tenor to attend the RNCM for a year’s post-graduate study. Jean and her husband, Maurice worked hard to raise money for the Fund and by the time Anne wrote to me £1,600 had been raised towards the initial goal of £3,500. Anne’s letter continued:

November 20 1985 Anne to me

I wondered why the scholarship was to be awarded at the RNCM as Webster had studied singing with Dr Richard Wassall at the Midland Institute in Birmingham, fitting in lessons after he finished work at a firm of accountants. I knew that conductor Sir Charles Groves was chairman of the RNCM council at that time and Webster had often referred to him affectionately as “Charlie Groves” who had often conducted him in radio broadcasts, so I though that perhaps this was why Jean had chosen the RNCM for the Award.

Many years later, Jean told me why she had chosen the RNCM. In her late teens, she had studied singing part-time at the Northern School of Music, Manchester. This school and the Royal Manchester College of Music amalgamated in 1975 to form the Royal Northern College of Music, which was producing singing graduates of a very high calibre. Manchester was not too far from North Wales where Anne, Jean and Maurice lived. The trip to the College for the annual competition would not be too onerous for Anne as she grew older and it would not be necessary to stay overnight in the city after the Award had been presented.

Jean’s friend, journalist and broadcaster Natalie Anglesey, interviewed her on the BBC about the Webster Booth Memorial Fund, bringing news of it to a wider radio audience. Jean’s interview with Natalie

 Jean continued to raise funds by making things to sell, doing clothing alterations for a small fee, organising raffles, and collecting donations to the Fund from friends, fans, relatives of Webster and Anne, and local neighbours. Donations were often as little as £1 or £2, but occasionally bigger donations were made by societies such as the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society. Webster’s older brother, Edwin Norman Booth, his wife Annie and daughter Margaret took great interest in the progress of the Fund and helped Jean with fund-raising. Annie made beautiful rag dolls to sell, and each member of the family made regular substantial donations. Jean’s early singing training at the Northern College also benefited the Fund in a round-about way. She and her accompanist, Maureen, began entertaining at hotels around Llandudno and all the money Jean earned in this way went towards the fund. To publicise the Award she gave talks to various societies and clubs about Anne and Webster’s career.

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

I did not meet Jean when I visited Anne in Penrhyn Bay in 1990, although Anne told me a great deal about her while I was there. Jean had even made a cake for our tea! Jean and I began our correspondence in 2007 and we often said how sorry we were that we had not met each other in 1990 as we could have become good friends.

After Webster’s death, Anne went on holiday with the Buckleys every year. They usually took self-catering accommodation and Jean did all the cooking.

Maurice and Jean on holiday with Anne and Bonnie in the 1990s.

Jean did a great deal to help Anne as she got older. She and Maurice created an en suite room in their home and would have been happy to have Anne to live there if ever she felt unable to continue living in her own home. Even when Maurice became ill, Jean still took Anne shopping, to doctor’s appointments and to the annual prize winners’ concert at the RNCM. When Anne’s gardener could not continue working Jean even helped Anne with the gardening!

Sadly, Anne and Jean fell out over a trivial matter several years before Anne’s death and they were never reconciled. I corresponded regularly with Jean for over ten years and I was sad when she lost her sight and had to move to a frail care home. She developed Alzheimer’s disease and I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to be in strange surroundings, unable to see and not remembering very much. She was an only child and had no children of her own. I was sad to hear that she died on 20 July 2017 at the age of eighty-seven. I hope she is now at peace. I will treasure the letters and emails she wrote to me, and the photos and memorabilia she sent to me. She will be sadly missed, but fondly remembered by me and friends who loved her.

Jean Collen ©

23 July 2017