BOOTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA (1962 – 1963)

I have told about this wonderful period of my life in my book, Sweethearts of Song. Indeed, the whole pattern of my life changed from that time on. Webster has been dead for many years now but he will always remain one of the strongest influences of my life and I will always remember him with love.

Anne and Webster 29 January 1962 in Lower Houghton.
Gilbert and Sullivan programme 7 January 1962 SABC Bulletin
The Andersonville Trial February 1962.
February 1962. The Andersonville Trial. Webster played a very small part indeed!
9 March 1962
Hymn competition winners. March 1962
17 March 1962 Drawing Room on the English Service of the SABC.

17 March 1962 Drawing Room on the English Service of the SABC. Article by Webster in the SABC Bulletin.

17 March 1962 Drawing Room on the English Service of the SABC.
Gary Allighan, March 1962
Showing some antiques to the press. 1962.
Anne choosing wallpaper – 1962.
April 1962 Olivet to Calvary, St George’s Presbyterian Church, Noord Street.
4 May 1962 The Vagabond King
June 1962. Music for Romance.
Arriving in Bulawayo, July 1962. He was ill.
July 1962 Bulawayo Eisteddfod
21 July 1962 Bulawayo
July 1962 Bulawayo

July 1962 – Leslie Green broadcasts from the UK.

Leslie Green was in the UK on holiday and Anne and I listened to Tea with Mr Green (broadcast from the UK) when she was in the studio on her own and Webster was very ill. By this time Paddy O’Byrne was reading Webster’s scripts on the Gilbert and Sullivan programme as he was too ill and weak to record the programmes. He visited Anne’s great friend, Babs Wilson Hill and did a broadcast from her home. He said she had the most beautiful garden in England.

Webster was very ill indeed when he returned from Rhodesia and had to spend some time in the Fever Hospital in Johannesburg.

Fever Hospital.

August 1962 – Music for Romance. Anne presented a series of programmes of recordings and reminisces about her life and career in England. It received adverse criticism from various radio critics and only ran until December.

August 1962 – Anne Ziegler
28 August 1962 Round the Christian Year, St Mark’s, Yeoville.
28 August 1962 St Mark’s Yeoville, Round the Christian Year.
At the wedding of Margaret Inglis and Robert Langford in the garden of Petrina Fry (pictured) and her husband, Brian Brooke. October 1962

October 1962 –The Pirates of Penzance. Bloemfontein. Webster directed this production. As a gimmick, he had a chimpanzee to accompany the pirates on stage, but the chimpanzee was not without problems. She disgraced herself during Webster’s opening night speech. He quipped, “You naughty girl. I won’t take you out in a hurry again.”

August 1962 – Webster Booth
Lord Oom Piet. Guest artists, eventually furious to have their singing disrupted by the antics of Jamie Uys. I always thought that was a terrible film and couldn’t understand why Anne and Webster had any part of it.
November 1962 Lord Oom Piet.
November 1962. Elijah.

November 1962 – Port Elizabeth Oratorio Festival. Elijah and Messiah, Webster, Monica Hunter, Joyce Scotcher, and Graham Burns, conducted by Robert Selley. The complete oratorios were broadcast locally in the Eastern Cape as usual. Later, excerpts were broadcast nationally but, for some unexplained reason, none of Webster’s solos were used in the national broadcast. Two older members of the SABC choir (Gill and Iris) took delight in cattily telling Ruth and me that it was because Webster’s singing was not up to standard and that was why he was not included in the broadcast. That was the last year that Webster sang at the PE Oratorio Festival.

1963

Great Voices – January 1963.
15 January 1963 At Alexander Theatre, Braamfontein
Mr and Mrs Fordyce and their stage family 15 January 1963.
Mrs Puffin (Jane Fenn) and Mr Fordyce (Webster) January 1963
Anne holds a tea party in Goodnight Mrs Puffin.
Photo in the programme of Goodnight Mrs Puffin.
Lewis Sowden crit.
Oliver Walker crit.
Dora Sowden’s crit?
7 January 1963 Great Voices

Accompanying for Webster. Shortly after Goodnight Mrs Puffin ended its run at the Alexander Theatre my father heard a recording I had made of myself singing Father of Heav’n from Judas Maccabeus on my recently-acquired reel-to-reel tape recorder. He passed several disparaging remarks about the quality of my singing and I was feeling extremely despondent when I went for my lesson. Anne and Webster were kind and sympathetic when I told them what he had said.

“My family never praised me for my singing either,” Webster growled. “If it had been up to them I would never have become a singer. Bring the recording along next time and let’s see what it’s like.”

They listened in silence the following week – perhaps my father had been right and it was awful – but afterwards, Anne asked rather sharply as to who my accompanist had been. They were surprised when I admitted to accompanying myself.

Nothing more was said. In the fullness of time, I recovered from the hurt my father’s criticism had caused me and I plodded on regardless. A few weeks later Anne phoned my mother to ask whether I’d like to play for Webster in the studio for a few weeks in April as she was going on a tour round the country with Leslie Green, the broadcaster of Tea With Mr Green fame on Springbok Radio, a great friend of theirs.

I have told about this wonderful period of my life in my book, Sweethearts of Song. Indeed, the whole pattern of my life changed from that time on. Webster has been dead for many years now but he will always remain one of the strongest influences of my life and I will always remember him with love.

Accompanying for Webster (April 1963)
Anne sent me a postcard when I was playing for Webster and she was away on holiday with Leslie Green.
Anne advertising a facial cream for “mature” women! I’m sure most mature women would have been delighted to look as perfect as Anne did at the age of 53!
Colonel Fairfax in The Yeomen of the Guard. 6 June 1963.
The Yeomen of the Guard.
6 June 1963 various cuttings including crits for The Yeomen of the Guard at the Alexander.
Kimberley Jim. Webster plays a bit part – the Inn Keeper – in that silly film. 1963,
9 August 1963 for the opening night of The Sound of Music.
September 1963 Jon Sylvester, radio critic The Star
A nasty comment – probably from “Jon Sylvester” (the pseudonym for the Star’s radio critic, about Webster’s programme.
I was Pooh Bah in this instance. I met Webster in the street one day and he asked me if I had written this note to beastly “Jon Sylvester”. I asked him how he knew that, and he said I was the only person in Johannesburg who could have done so!
They presented a children’s programme on the SABC, produced by Kathleen Davydd. At the same time they made an LP called The Nursery School Sing-along with the children from Nazareth House, conducted by my piano teacher, Sylvia Sullivan, and Heinz Alexander accompanying them.
21 September 1963 at Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
Michaelhouse, Balgowan.
Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
October 1963 – Ballads Old and New.
November 1963. Fauré Requiem.
Saturday Night at the Palace on the radio in November 1963, Anne, Webster, Jeanette James and Bruce Anderson.

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.

DIARIES CONTINUED – October 1963

4 October – Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

1 October.- Go to studio. Irish woman, Eileen Lawless phones about the theatrical garden party. Talks of “Anne and Leslie”. Ruth phones at night to invite us to Intimate theatre to see Playboy of the Western World. It is excellent. The young actor, James White is brilliant. We have coffee in Hillbrow afterwards and then take her home.

2 October – Go into studio. The pianist, Ivor Dennis comes to visit them. I lunch with Mum and buy some new clothes.

3 October – Go into studio and Webster arrives after making record with boy soprano, Robin Lister and feeling exhausted. Anne and I have an interesting chat. We visit Mrs Hooper and her son Alan. She is the sister of Ralph Trewhela. I sing for them and they seem to like it.

4 October – Go to studio and Mummy phones with results for ATCL – 77% which is very good.

Webster phones and Lucille comes to the studio and we arrange to meet tomorrow at the Rand Show Grounds for the Theatrical Garden Party. I meet Webster outside Thrupps. When I come back, I give him the bob and he is delighted and bends over me and kisses me sweetly and thrillingly. Anne is pleased with the result. Webster goes through songs with me and I have a long chat with him – heaven!

5 October. – Theatrical Garden party. I meet Lucille and Ruth outside the Rand Show Grounds. We have a cold drink in the refreshment pavilion because Anne and Webster are late and we are not too sure how to aid proceedings. The New Zealand bass, Inia te Wiata who is in the country to sing in Show Boat for the Johannesburg Operatic Society, is there, saying that he is very keen to see his old friend, Webster Booth. When Webster and Anne eventually arrive, we can hear them fighting with each other before we even see them. When they see us, Webster stops fighting and is pleased to see us, telling us that we look gorgeous. He puts his arm around me, saying that we have plenty of time to have a look around at everything. In contrast, Anne is still in a terrible mood, doesn’t even speak to us and marches off by herself. Webster has to run to catch up with her and we are left to our own devices.

We eventually see them having strawberries and cream with the VIPs. He signals to us to come over to their table but Ruth tells us to ignore them after Anne’s unpleasant behaviour towards us. Ruth brings me home and we have tea and decide that we will tell them that we met some boys we knew and had a hilarious time dancing in the rock ‘n roll tent! We could have had a lovely time with them were it not for Anne’s bad mood. I wonder why she was so cross with him.

6 October- Drive like a hell hound along the airport road and have rather a reactionary day recovering from Anne’s snub yesterday.

7 October – Go to studio and work for a bit. Ralph Trewhela phones. He has a friend who would like to meet Webster. I meet Ruth and her mother and the latter drives us home where Ruth and I have lunch. We enjoy ourselves running the Booths down after the disappointment on Saturday, and singing corny duets together which we record. She invites me to her house tomorrow to swim. We give her a run home.

8 October – Go to Ruth’s to swim and have fun apart from developing beetroot sunburn on my delicate Scottish skin. After having lunch there I go to studio. Webster is very charming when talking about the garden party but they make no mention of Anne’s bad mood. Apparently Inia te Wiata went back to Leslie Green’s house and they all had a party there. Anne asks if I can come on Monday from now on as they are going to teach at home on Tuesday.

10 October – Aunt Ina comes and we spend a day of constant natter as she runs down all our mutual relatives. We take her to Zoo Lake for tea.

11 October – Go into studio and lunch with Mum. Anne arrives in the afternoon. It is impossible to hold a grudge against her for long. Her arm is still sore and she feels sure she’s getting arthritis. Webster comes and says I might as well get on and do the LTCL. I sing My Heart and I for a last fling before thinking of the next exam.

12 October – Go to Mrs S in morning and have piano lesson and then work with Elaine. Just before choir practise Mrs S tells me that Webster was simply raving about me to her and saying how proud he is of me – and apparently Anne is also.

Dad phoned Webster today and he agreed that I could sublet the studio from next March and that I should go on with licentiate and fellowship.

We go to the Piccadilly and see Carry on Taxi.

14 October – I work hard at harmony. Ruth phones to ask me to some concerts. She’s given the Booths free tickets to the Maria Stander recital and is going to go with them. I wish I was going to that concert too.

Maria Stader (soprano)

15 October – Webster phones in the morning to ask if I’d play for him on Thursday, Friday and possibly Saturday as Anne is going to have her neck stretched. Naturally I agree. I decline during the rest of the day so get Mum to phone them to say I can’t come to lesson. Apparently he and Mum are now on Christian name terms. I phone him at night and he tells me the hours for accompanying. He says Anne will have to have a week of treatment. He asks whether I’m feeling any better now and tells me not to work so hard.

17 October – Accompany for Webster. During Linda’s lesson he spends time patting me on the cheek! Yvonne, Margriet, Louisetta, audition, Graham and Freddie come and we have jolly day with them. Freddie takes us to the garage and when Webster helps me out of the car he puts his arm around my waist and keeps it there. He takes me home and we talk outside for a while. I phone Anne to say he’s on his way home. She is feeling a lot better after the treatment. She was probably feeling ill on the day of the garden party and possibly didn’t even want to go to it!

18 October – Lucille arrives first and tells me all about her recently holiday. When Webster arrives wearing his dress suit, he tells me he’s going to the first night of Show Boat and Clara Butt will take me home. Lucille has her lesson and then I have mine during which we decide what to do for next exam. Selwyn, Myrna, Gertie and Charlotte come and all goes well as far as the piano is concerned. I say goodbye to him and am taken home by “Clara Butt” and husband. I feel a bit put out that Anne was not well enough to come to the studio but is well enough to attend the first night.

19 October – Go to Mrs S and have piano lesson. Go to Booth studio and Webster arrives shortly afterwards full of moans about last night’s late night at Show Boat. I make him some black coffee and we have Leanore who is also tired. Erica and Ruth follow. Ruth is very agitated and excited about going with them to hear Maria Stader. At one moment she tells Webster not to look at her when she’s singing and he says, “You want to spend the whole evening at the concert with me but you can’t bear me to look at you!” Robin is full of events in Show Boat chorus, and then we have Frances and Henrietta, sisters who sing duets together. Webster brings me home – we meet Margaret on the way to the garage. He tells me about their new house in Parktown North and about the wallpaper he has chosen for his bedroom. He is not keen on going to the concert as he is still very tired and says it’s a pity I couldn’t go instead of him but he knows Ruth would be upset if he didn’t go. He says he doesn’t like going out at night now that he is old!

20 October – Ruth phones in the morning to tell me about last night. She got home at 10.45 and they had coffee in the café in Parktown North afterwards. She asks me to go to a Shura Cherkasky recital at the SABC in the afternoon. Gill is there. Cherkasky is brilliant and plays the Mozart sonata I am playing myself. Ruth brings me home and we have supper and a cosy chat.

Shura Cherkassky

DIARIES continued – SEPTEMBER 1963.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I
sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her
blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

3 September – Meet Gill Viljoen in town and we go skating. The British champion skater, Daphne Walker is there with two little girls.

Daphne Walker (1946)

We lunch at the SABC with Doreen Taylor. I talk to Arthur (tuba player) and see Edgar Cree, Gerrit Bonn and Thea Mullins’ sister, Wendy (Kim Shippey’s secretary). I go to singing and Webster gives me tea and tells me Anne is feeling a bit miserable and has probably caught a chill. She remarks on my hair style and even he says it looks beautiful. They say the lipstick they gave me looks lovely. Sing Father of Heav’n and do it well. Anne is impressed with my skates! I meet Doreen Craig after her trip to Europe.

6 September – Go into studio. Anne comes in looking too beautiful for words. She tells me about her arthritis which keeps her in constant agony. We decide that everyone has something to worry them.

10 September – Ear tests with Edith Sanders. I learn that Guy McG is the examiner for my Associate diploma. I go to the studio and Anne answers the door as Webster is on the phone with Mum. He comes into the kitchen and gives me a message. When Heather leaves Anne asks me if I should like to help at the theatrical garden party on 5 October with Ruth. They are on the committee – should be fun. Anne says I look more beautiful every week. They emote about all the music history I have to learn for diploma exam.

12 September – Go into studio and work very hard as diploma is looming. Anne arrives looking too lovely for words in a pretty summer dress. We run down The King and I together and she says I’m the only person to whom she can say it because S. Africans would say she was acting big! Linda Walters arrives and I go out and meet Webster on the ground floor. He is very sweet to me. Ah, what a life this is!

13 September – Go into studio. Desmond Wright calls. Lucille and Anne arrive and Webster gives me some tea and complains about the heat. I say if I don’t pass, he knows what I’ll do, and he says if I do, he’ll take the keys away! I do vast amount of scales and Anne tells met to open my mouth wider, and he says, “And a very pretty mouth it is too!”

I phone Ruth at night and we decide to go to the theatrical garden party. There is a disgusting article by Jon Sylvester in the Star about Webster. I phone the Star and complain for I feel really bitter about it!

The Star 13 September 1963. Jon Sylvester – radio critic

14 September – We go to see The Blue Lamp with a lovely Jack Warner of 15 years ago – very similar to studio picture.

16 September – Ruth finishes preliminary exams. I do ear tests with Edith then go up to the studio. Webster is still in one piece after the horrible slating by Jon Silvester in the paper. They tell me all about Mabel Fenney marrying again, Anne’s anaemia, and how well Lucille sang in her exam. He makes tea for us and we make arrangements about lessons next week. We go to the Victoria hotel and dine with Uncle John and Aunt Nellie McKee up from Cape Town. I drink wine!

18 September – Go to studio. Webster phones in the afternoon, calling me Jeannie, and asks me to accompany Selwyn and Dennis at an audition in Ansteys building at the home of Gwen Clark on Saturday. I agree, naturally enough. He tells me about Elijah which he is singing in Pietermaritzburg. I wish him luck and tell him I know he’ll sing beautifully! He says, “Bless you, dear,” when we say goodbye.

19 September – Go to studio and have dozens of phone calls including one from Brian Morris. Linda arrives before Anne and then when she comes, I have to show her the broken window of which she knows nothing. She says she hopes I don’t mind playing for Dennis and Selwyn on Saturday. Anne will probably be early in tomorrow after visit to the doctor.

20 September – Work in studio. When Anne arrives, she tells me she hasn’t got anaemia but still feels horrid. We have tea and she tells me that Webster refused to phone her from Michaelhouse to tell her how he is or to enquire about the blood test she had. She is very hurt. We do scales for the entire lesson. She gives me a lecture on my inferiority complex. I phone Dennis’s mother to arrange to meet them tomorrow. I wash the dishes before I leave. Lucille is doing The Merry Widow in Afrikaans in Kempton Park.

21 September – Accompany Dennis and Selwyn at Gwen Clark’s penthouse in Ansteys. Taubie Kushlik and Ockert Botha are there. The boys sing well. We have a lovely tea after the audition (for Amahl and the Night Visitors) is over. I go up to the studio afterwards and Anne is still there. She makes us coffee and tells me she loathes Gwen Clark and all the pseudo-theatrical types in Johannesburg. She says, “You must think I’m a bitch!” but I agree with her. She says that when they first arrived all the society types were inviting them to the races and other events and were not impressed that they were not rolling in money and had to work for a living. I stay in the studio until 2.00pm. Lucille’s father arrives to talk to Anne about Lucille.

22 September – Phone Ruth who tells me about her exams and how Anne raved about me yesterday during her lesson.

23 September – Ear tests. Edith plays me her pieces and I sing mine to her. Go to the studio and Anne is on the phone talking to Lucille’s father. She tells me she’s sick to death of him. She asks me to make tea and tells me about a visit to the Capri where she had the ghastly experience of seeing Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans. She says Webster did phone when he arrived at Michaelhouse after all. Webster phones the studio to say he’s home again. I wash the dishes.

24 September – Webster answers door and calls me, “Darling!” He says the trip was fun but tiring when I ask how he is keeping. Heather sings a ghastly wrong note and he says, “See what I mean!” We grimace at each other for ages – lovely! Anne tells me that Lucille just passed her exam. The examiner was not at all impressed with her voice.

27 September – Anne comes and we do the French song and when Webster arrives, he puts everything on tape. He says I shouldn’t take any pills – just a glass of water! Linda W arrives and tells me she thinks I sing most beautifully. Webster jokes with me and then says, “Darling, I wish you all the best of luck.” Ruth phones when I get home and I say I’ll see her at the garden party.

28 September – I meet Anne at Edinburgh Court. She has a soothing effect on me. I sing well for Guy McG and he drools over her. Questions are all fine, as is the sight- singing. He seems pleased. Anne and I go to Macy’s where she buys a carpet sweeper and she says she was delighted with my singing and thinks I should do very well. She says I am turning out to be another Mabel Fenney! She runs me back to the studio in her blue Anglia and is a regular love.

Webster comes and says he hears I sang fabulously and do I want to pay his 1/- bet right now!

29 September – Go to Mrs Sullivan. Margaret arrives in a state after her exam. Mrs S tells me that Webster embarrasses her when he makes her conduct the proceedings for their nursery school record. He told her that they are very proud of me. All the orphans at Nazareth House were allowed to stay up to listen to his programme last week and were very impressed. Listen to Webster’s Great Voices and he plays his Sound an Alarm which is marvellous!

Nursery School sing-along.

29 September – Go to studio to get the sheet music for Rendezvous. Webster answers – still with bad leg. Gertie is there with Anne and they all congratulate me on Grade VII piano exam 85%. Tell them about the record and then depart. I feel sad about Webster in many ways.

30 September – Go to see Kimberley Jim. Despite Jim Reeves being the star of the film it is very poor indeed. Webster has only a tiny part as the innkeeper but plays it well, complete with monocle.

Kimberley Jim with Jim Reeves, Clive Parnell, Arthur Swemmer , Webster and others.

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EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES (1960 – AUGUST 1963)

30 April 1963 In the afternoon he goes to sleep for a while and then plays a tape of his religious songs for me and makes me cry – they are so beautiful. We have one last pupil and then he comes home to dinner with us. He has two drinks and is so sweet to me and my parents. He keeps Shandy on his knee and calls her, “my girlfriend.” He tells us lots of theatrical stories and is absolutely charming.
Shandy – “my girlfriend”!
My mother says, as he is leaving, “Thank you for looking after Jean,” and he gives me a fond glance and replies, “I think it’s Jean who’s looking after me.” He gives a short hoot of farewell as he drives over the Juno Street hill on his way home. What a heavenly day.

Extracts from my Teenage Diaries.
https://www.lulu.com/duettists

I have published each month of these diaries individually on this website but now I have published the entire book as a pdf file, dating from 1960 until my twentieth birthday on 31 August 1963. The book is substantially illustrated and contains tales of the period, the many musical, broadcasting and theatrical personalities frequenting Johannesburg at that time.

It also tells of my own very innocent life in those days. As I was going through the diaries I wondered what had happened to so many people I knew in those days. Sadly, many of them are dead now, and others have probably left South Africa. I would be delighted to hear from some of my lost friends from those far-off days. Many people are still fresh in my mind, while others, like Elsa and Pam, I do not remember at all.

I am not sure whether this book will be of any interest to anyone at all, but it is now available in my Book Store on Lulu, along with a number of other books – some paperback, others epub and pdf, all reasonably priced. Have a look.

Jean Collen

March 2019.

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: AUGUST 1963

When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

1 August –Heather arrives and then Webster who is in a lovely mood. We have Yvonne but Margriet doesn’t come so we have a chat about Leslie Green and Desmond Wright.I tell him I’ll soon be 20 and what have I done with my life? He says I’ll have done a great deal if I get the ATCL. Thea, Graham and Freddie come and he teases me through all of them and grins at me amiably We come home in Hillman and he asks me to phone Anne as he has forgotten to do so. I’m going in again on Tuesday.

2 August – Go to studio and work. I get the result for my harmony exam – honours! I leave for an hour while Lucille has her lesson. When I come back we go through Father of Heav’n and decide to make more use of the “or” vowel. She says she still doesn’t feel too wonderful. At half-past she goes to ABC for shoes and I make tea for us. When Anne comes back to the studio we do Love’s Sickness and she tells me that Webster said today that my sight reading is phenomenal now! I have an hour today and really enjoy myself with her.

3 August – Go into Mrs S. I get 88% for my harmony which is not bad, considering how ill I was that day. Webster has an excellent programme tonight – Marian Anderson, Robert Merrill and themselves singing the lovely Nocturne duet.

5 August – Go to SABC at night. I feel dizzy and have to go and sit in the foyer. Hester comes with me and we have a pleasant chat. All the boys from the choir ask me how I am keeping.

6 August – Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go up to studio and Webster arrives with a, “Hello, darling.” I tell him over tea about the dizzy turn and the theory exam. He’s pleased about the latter. I say that I didn’t think I would pass. He says, “I’ll smack your bottom if you talk like that again!” We have Linda Walters for a lesson and then I have my own lesson in which I manage to sing fairly well. He does slap my bottom after that and tells me I’m improving! Thea, Winnie and a girl called Lou-Anne come and the last-mentioned gives us a lift to the garage. In the car we talk about films and Mary Harrison. I phone Anne to let her know that he is on the way home as he forgot to do so before he left and she is as sweet as always.

8 August – Go to studio and work. Robert Lang phones to say he’ll send up a costume for Anne for tomorrow night. Heather arrives so we have a chat. Anne comes and I give her Bobby’s message and she is grateful. She congratulates me on my exam result and says Webster was full of it when he came home on Tuesday.

9 August – Go into the studio and accompany for the last time. Lucille arrives first so she sings a bit. He wishes her a happy birthday when he arrives. She sings well with her boyfriend and I have my lesson after she leaves and we do Dream of Gerontius which is very interesting. Gertie and Charlotte come next and then we are finished. He tells me in the car that they want to get a studio with a house attached and give up the present one which is rather disconcerting news.

Webster, Anne and Bill Brewer

10 August – Hilda returns from St Helena. Have a reactionary day. I do ear tests at Mrs S and see Hitchcock’s The Birds in the afternoon.

11 August – Phone Ruth in the afternoon. Hilda is definitely back for she saw her when she called at their house to get a record. They also told her of their horrible Northern Suburbs studio idea. It’ll break my heart if it comes off as I would never be able to go all that way for lessons.

12 August – I go and play at Afrikaans Eisteddfod for Connie (Mrs S’s pupil). She sings better than I expected her to sing and calls me “Tannie”!

Learner’s licence!

13 August – Go and get learner’s licence today and then lunch in Capeniro with Mum. I meet Flom (Frances de Vries Robbé) in the library. Go to singing. This time it’s Linda who has a dizzy turn so Webster walks with her to the station so that she can catch the train to Vereeniging. Anne and I discuss her attack and then I sing – not too badly for a change. When he comes back he says, “Where’s that voice coming from?” He makes me tea after my lesson when Thea is having her lesson. He says, “I haven’t asked how you are yet?” I feel rather miserable – perhaps I’m just jealous because they’re both back again in partnership and don’t need me any more.

14 August – I go into the studio and Linda’s mother phones to thank Webster for walking her to the station. I go to Mrs S for an hour’s lesson and get my accompaniment fee. We go to Afrikaans eisteddfod at night to hear Lucille singing the duet with her boyfriend. The Booths haven’t arrived and Lucille is in a frightful state. She says I will be able to play if they don’t come. They do – the car broke down off Jan Smuts Avenue so Dad takes Webster out to collect it. Anne sits behind me and we have a chat. Lucille and boyfriend sing well but they don’t win anything. Anne argues with Webster. We were going to take them home but their car starts.

15 August – Go to studio and work. Joy Anderson phones. When Anne comes in we discuss events of last night and have a laugh. They spoke to the adjudicator afterwards – she had seen them on TV. Heather is there for her lesson. I meet Webster on the way down and he says he’s still trying to recover from the drama of last night. He didn’t get to sleep until 2 in the morning.

16 August – Selwyn’s mother phones to say that he can’t come so I phone Anne to let her know. Anne arrives and tells me that the Anglia broke down. Lucille arrives with a sore throat. Julie, the girl before me is going to be in Sound of Music and auditioned for a Jamie Uys film today. Anne is furious that she wasn’t asked to audition. We do the Cycle of Life which isn’t too bad. He sings it with me and tells me to use my whole body when I sing it. I am there for a long time and wish them luck for their concert tomorrow.

17 August – Skip going to Mrs S and go to studio instead. What a terrible state of affairs when I’m happier in a place with no one there than to be with other people who are less amenable than the place. I love it! We have lunch in Galaxy and see How the West Was Won at the Cinerama. Listen to Webster at night and he plays Great South African Voices.

20 August – Go skating with Gill in the morning and enjoy being the best skater there for a change! Go to singing and Webster remarks on my skates and concludes that I went with my (non-existent) boyfriend. Anne tells me the Ficksburg concert was a great success and Desmond Wright played well. Webster and Anne argue all the time which is embarrassing! She goes to John Orrs and he tells me that they haven’t yet decided about giving up the studio.

21 August – Go to Mrs S and do ear tests with Edith. I work in the Booth studio. I listen to Webster’s ballad programme. Their duet, Love’s Garden of Roses is lovely.

22 August – Go to studio early. Anne arrives and tells me she wishes the other pupils would work as hard as I do. She calls me sweetie. Ruth phones and suggests I meet her after her lesson on my birthday and we can go for coffee together afterwards. She says they’ll be able to wish me a happy birthday too.

23 August – Lucille arrives early and we “goo” over the beautiful photographs. I meet Webster in the street and he is sweet to me. He gives me tea when I get back. We go over the things for the exam and they are absolutely delighted with it all. He tells me that my voice is getting much bigger and better.

24 August –Go into studio to collect glasses. The men working there greet me like an old friend – I suppose they think I’m their daughter or niece!

27 August – I go skating with Gill again and we have lunch in town. I have super singing lesson. Webster makes me tea and calls me darling and Anne admires my new hairstyle. Into the bargain I manage to sing very well. He teases me and throws a paper pellet at me!

28 August – Go to studio and have doleful conversation with estate agent! Obviously they are still thinking about having a studio attached to the house they intend to buy.

29 August –Work in studio and lunch with Mum. Anne comes and tells me that the Estate Agent should phone but doesn’t say why!

30 August – Leslie Green phones and is most affable. Lucille and Anne come and I tell them to help themselves to Danish pastries which I have brought in to celebrate my birthday. When I return Webster come into the kitchen and potters over me. When I go into the studio there is a birthday gift on the piano for me. I am simply delighted and thank them very much indeed. I sing my exam songs and discuss who the examiner will be. Webster says he’s sure it’ll be Guy McG for the diploma. They wish me a very happy day tomorrow.

31 August – I go to studio to fetch Ruth. Webster answers door and wishes me a happy birthday once again. Anne comes in and sings, “Happy birthday” to me and kisses me all over the place and Ruth does too! Ruth and I go for coffee and Webster says, “Not too much whisky!” In the afternoon we see The King and I with a Durban cast. At night Webster plays In Native Worth and Love Calling Me Home. A lovely birthday – but a teenager no longer!

EXTRACTS FROM MY TEENAGE DIARIES: JULY 1963

20 July – Go into the studio and Webster is there, in a good mood, and making coffee. Anne is evidently worse this morning. We have the morning pupils and the last two don’t come so we go home in the Hillman with the roof down. As we pass the Kensington Sanitorium he says that it’s such a lovely day that he wishes we could carry on driving all the way to the coast! Unfortunately, we can’t do that!

I have made omissions and toned down some entries in this episode before publishing it!

1 July – Go to music library and see Leo Quayle there. Coming home I see Graham Burns waiting for a bus.

2 July – Go to singing. Anne is wearing her mink coat. We have tea and biscuits and she tells me she hates Britain at the moment – with the shock of the John Profumo/Christine Keeler affair. She says they used to belong to the Conservative Party in Hampstead but fell out with them over something or other.

I sing Open Thy Blue Eyes, the Landon Ronald song Cycle, and Love’s sickness. She is pleased. She tells me I can use the studio at any time and don’t owe them anything for this month. I see Dennis and his mum and have more tea with them. I meet Betty on the way home and Ruth phones in the evening.

3 July – Go to studio and work hard in the peaceful atmosphere. I have lunch in Ansteys with Mum then go to Mrs S for lesson. I’m going to listen to our broadcast now.

4 July – Go to the studio and the lunch hour concert. Webster comes in a bit late – Anne phones to let me know that he’ll be late. We have Heather and Yvonne Marais and then he puts his hands on my shoulder and says, “Put on your coat, love, and put some money in my meter!” I do so. He is a honey. We have Graham and Reeka and then come home in the Anglia. He tells me about the near accident he had coming down the Great Orme in his Talbot in Llandudno, and the Springs Operatic Society. He says, “Imagine that I’ll not be seeing you until next Friday!” I say, “How can I bear it?” half in fun, but whole in earnest!

5 July – I work in the studio in the morning and lunch with Mum. In the afternoon Anne comes in and I have an hour lesson and I enjoy it enormously. We have tea and biscuits and she says I must eat them up when I’m in the studio by myself. She says Webster told her all about my account of Jossie B’s singing lesson and she enjoyed it. She lends me Doris Bolton’s Joan Sutherland biography to read over the weekend and says that of course I can come in on Monday although it’s a public holiday. She’s a sweety.

8 July – Family day. Go to studio to return the Joan S autobiography.

9 July – Go to singing in afternoon. Anne is there teaching Jimmy Elkin, the son of the optician! She tells me that I’ll be in on Monday to play for Webster for he really can’t manage without me. Last Monday was too much for him! We do Love’s Sickness and when we are having tea Anne shows me the Ravel song cycle she sang at the Wigmore Hall as Irené Eastwood – Scheherezade. We do the unaccompanied folk song and she imitates my serious face during my singing of it. We both end up in the giggles. Webster phones and she gives me a whole hour. We finish with Love, From thy Power and then Winnie arrives. I wash the dishes before I leave.

10 July – Go into the studio and read the script for Mrs Puffin. Lunch in Ansteys with Mum then go to Mrs S for lesson. Listen to Webster’s super new programme Ballads Old and New. He plays the Evening Song by Blumenthal – beautiful.

Ballads Old and New – July – not October!

12 July Go to studio and Webster arrives at 3.00 but Lucille doesn’t arrive!! He tells me of the difficulty they are having to find an accompanist for their concert in Ficksburg. He says he would ask me to play for them but they have always preferred a male accompanist as a woman takes the audience’s attention away from Anne. Mayor of Brakpan’s son comes and sings pleasantly. I have a lesson and we go over all the Messiah arias. Gertie and “Clara Butt” come later. Come home in the car from the garage and we have a discussion about Gert P and Jossie B!

13 July – Webster’s programme is excellent. He plays one of his own records. Go to Mrs S and work with Margaret and company. We see Sammy Going South.

15 July – Go to the studio to play. Webster makes me tea the moment I arrive. Myrtle is our first pupil. We talk about his programme on Saturday and have a number of pupils. He talks about making the Afrikaans record on the way home.

16 July – Go to Mrs S and work with Margaret. Lunch with Mummy and go to studio where Anne makes me tea. Tells me the lights fused completely last night and they didn’t eat until 10.00! I sing well and she is pleased. Jimmy doesn’t come so she gives me an hour because she says she enjoys working with me. There is a lovely picture of them in the paper at night. I listen to the recording of the SABC choir and think it is very good indeed.

18 July -Anne phones to say Webster will be a bit late. Yvonne, her Mum and little sister arrive early. Yvonne wants him to hear her sister sing. He tells them that she can’t start having lessons as she is far too young – wait until she is in her teens. We have Heather, Yvonne and Colleen. He tells me that Anne has caught a cold from Leslie Green – she went to a film with him last night. On the way home we go up to Wallie Petersen’s theatrical agency where he is offered a directorship of a film company. He introduces me as, “This is Miss Campbell – she plays for me.” We are pleased about the offer. I hope something comes of it. He says he’ll phone tomorrow if he wants me to go in and work for him at the studio.

19 July -Anne is too sick to come to studio and my father has ‘flu too so Webster and I “do” again. Lucille comes first and tells us about a funeral she attended. She sings well for an hour and I play well. I have my lesson – oratorio as before. Selwyn arrives in a weepy mood. Gertie comes next and he says to me, “Jean, darling, make me a cup of tea.” Gertie and Brian Morris come afterwards. Webster brings me home and I tell him to give Anne my love and I hope she will feel better.

20 July – Go into the studio and Webster is there, in a good mood, and making coffee. Anne is evidently worse this morning. We have the morning pupils and the last two don’t come so we go home in the Hillman with the roof down. As we pass the Kensington Sanitorium he says that it’s such a lovely day that he wishes we could carry on driving all the way to the coast! Unfortunately, we can’t do that!

21 July – I wash my clothes and hair in the morning. I phone Ruth in the afternoon and she is full of her recent holiday to Victoria Falls. We decide to go out together sometime next week. She’ll phone me on Tuesday. I phone to see how Anne is keeping. Webster answers and is pleased to hear from me. He tells me she is improving and crawling around the house. When we part, he says, “Goodbye, darling.”

22 July – Lunch in Ansteys with Mum. Go to studio and Webster tells me that Anne is a lot worse today. Myrtle comes for her lesson and he tells us about the loss of vision he experienced last night. When he went to lie down the room spun around him and he felt awful. He makes a tape of the pupils today for his cousin in England, Jean Webster. Janet and Lucille come. Webster is always far too nice to the latter for my liking! Reeka is the last pupil and then we come home and discuss the possible reasons for his bad turn yesterday. I hope there is nothing seriously wrong with him.

23 July – Work. Lunch in the Capeniro with Mum. I feel in rather a remote frame of mind after the obsequious way he behaved with Lucille yesterday. I must be jealous! When I get back to the studio Anne is there looking terribly ill. We spend a long time discussing Webster but I don’t say anything to her about Lucille. She says he used to be such a good husband but these days he’s always in a bad mood and drinks and smokes too much. She wants him to see the doctor but he refuses to go. We do some Elijah and have tea. She says he hates teaching in the studio (apart from a few pets), and he is too indulgent with Lemon so he is too spoilt for words. I wish her well and depart feeling somewhat restored but sorry for Anne.


24 July – Go to the studio. After lunch I go to Mrs S and work with Elaine and Edith and have my piano lesson. Ruth phones. She’s coming to fetch me tomorrow at the studio for lunch. She tells me about all her activities, including Yoga lessons which she is enjoying. Listen to Webster’s Ballads Old and New and it is terrific as usual. Why is he always so good?

25 July – Leslie Green phones the studio wanting to speak to Anne and Webster. He talks to me for quite a while – he is just as pleasant as he is to his listeners on the radio. Ruth comes up and we have lunch in the Chesa – she tells me all about her holiday while I spend time imitating my two current bones of contention – “Ag, Uncle Boooo!”

26 July – Lucille arrives early so we go out for an hour and return together. He calls out a casual greeting to me, then when he sees that Lucille is there he makes a great fuss of her. I am upset and spend a dismal hour playing for her during her lesson. He tells me that Anne is just as ill as ever and has been physically sick today too. In the car we discuss Leslie Green, Brian M and Show Boat. He promises to phone me tomorrow if he needs me.

27 July – Anne is still sick so I go into the studio to play for him. Webster makes me coffee and this time it is he who tells me he’s had a disagreement with Anne over Leslie Green and the doctor! Anne insisted on them going to dinner in Leslie Green’s draughty house despite the fact that she is not at all well. Ruth has a lesson and she is full of the joys of spring over the results of her aptitude test. Coming home in the car he talks about Gary A. I listen to him on the radio at night.

29 July – Go to town with Mum and lunch in Ansteys. Go to studio a little early and have tea with Webster. He is tired but in a lovely mood. Ruth phones. She has passed her driving licence and asks me to dinner. Webster says he will drop me off at her house which means a much shorter trip home for him. We pass Zoo Lake on the way to the Ormonds and he says the bowling club is in one of the loveliest settings in the world. I have a pleasant dinner with the Ormonds and they drive us in their huge Rover to the SABC where we have a meeting and then refreshments a la Anton H. Mr O drives me home – lovely day.

30 July Go to singing in the afternoon. Anne tells me she is going to see the doctor on Thursday about her laryngitis. She would have preferred to go on Wednesday but Webster is going to play bowls then come hell or high water! We have tea together and discuss Ruth and the effects of the lottery on her life – all favourable. We work at Father of Heav’n and concentrate on breathing. I see Lucille’s invitation to her twenty-first birthday – they can’t go. Good!