I received extracts of this film (about half an hour) on DVD recently and have posted some stills of it to the photos in the group. I quite enjoyed it but generally critics (both contemporary and present-day) were not kind.
December 1934 – Shooting of the film, Faust Fantasy. Anne (Marguerite) and Webster (Faust) began filming the Faust Fantasy. Webster had been married to Paddy Prior for just over two years, but his meeting with Anne spelt the end of this marriage almost before it had begun. He had taken several joint engagements with Paddy and these continued for some time after he met Anne. As late as 28 May 1936 he and Paddy attended Vi Stevens and Bryan Courage’s wedding. As soon as he met Anne he recommended her to the BBC, and less than a month later she sang in the broadcast of Kenneth Leslie-Smith’s Love Needs a Waltz. (extract from my book, A Scattered Garland: Gleanings of the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler)
14 March 1935 – The Times. Faust Fantasy. A further experiment in the use of colour on the screen was demonstrated yesterday.
Faust Fantasy is almost a full length film – it lasts for over three-quarters of an hour – and while it cannot claim that it has solved the problem of flesh-tints and such reds as are in the glow of torches, and the leaping flames of a fire still undergo a curious metamorphosis once they are photographed, it is an interesting and by no means unsuccessful experiment. It has in its favour its circumspection in avoiding those colours which up to now have consistently repulsed the advances of the camera with the result that some of the “shots” have not only the composition necessary for a well-painted picture but some of the tone and colouring as well. Progress in turning the black-and-white of the screen into colour has been slow, however, and it still remains the medium for fantasy and not for realism. Mr Webster Booth, Mr Dennis Hoey, and Miss Ann Zeigler (sic) play Faust, Mephistopheles and Marguerite, and the hint of strain and hardness in their singing is probably due to the fact that it comes to us second-hand.
Extract from the book OPERA ON FILM by Richard Fawkes
One of Britain’s contributions to filmed opera at this time was an hour-long version of Gounod’s Faust. This was shot at Bushey Studios on the outskirts of London and was produced and directed by Albert Hopkins. It was one of the earliest colour films made in Britain (using the Spectracolour system), but not even that distinction could save it from being dire. Faust has gone down as being the worst operatic film ever made. The singing is quite acceptable. Webster Booth, a former member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, is a smooth-voiced Faust and Anne Ziegler, whom he met on the set and was later to become his third wife, is an attractive Marguerite, but Dennis Hoey plays Mephistopheles as a pantomime villain, the production is cheap and looks it, and the direction is non-existent. The camera is often high to disguise the fact that there is virtually no set. Most scenes are shot against a wall, although there is a risible duel scene filmed in a wood. The final scene when Faust and Mephistopheles visit Marguerite in her cell (she has killed her baby) is a gem of dreadful acting and unimaginative film making.
Irené Frances Eastwood (Anne Ziegler) was born on 22 June 1910, the youngest child of Ernest and Eliza Frances Eastwood (née Doyle) of 13 Marmion Road, Sefton Park, Liverpool. Her father was a cotton broker, and her mother, born in Bootle, was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Doyle. James was an architect, who had designed the Grand Hotel, Llandudno and other well-known buildings. Her sister, Phyllis, and brother, Cyril, were some years older than her, so Irené was almost an only child. At the time of her birth, her father was in Houston, Texas, buying cotton, so he did not see her until she was three months old.
Her father did not want her to risk the might of the Zeppelins, so she had a Scottish nursery governess to teach her reading, writing and basic arithmetic. Later she attended Belvedere School. Her sister, Phyll, had done well there, but Anne was only interested in music and dancing, so the staff at Belvedere often compared her unfavourably to her studious elder sister, who had become a pharmacist when she left school.
Anne left school at the age of sixteen and continued playing the piano up to Grade VIII of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and began to study singing with the eminent teacher, John Tobin. In the nineteen-twenties a girl of her class had no need to work for a living. She was beautiful: tall and slim with emerald green eyes, fair hair and a fine bone structure. She became engaged – several times – to suitable young men, including a curate!
She sang in John Tobin’s female choir of twenty-four voices and took the part of the May Queen in an amateur production of Merrie England.
She won the gold medal at the Liverpool eisteddfod and sang at concerts in and around Liverpool. At this stage singing was a pleasant way of passing the time rather than a means of earning her living for a girl of her class had no need to work and earn money. Her father financed a vocal recital in Liverpool and a further recital at the Wigmore Hall under John Tobin’s tutelage. At the Wigmore Hall she sang everything from Handel’s He’ll say that for my love from Xerses to Roger Quilter’s Love’s Philosophy and Scheherzade, but neither of these recitals brought forth any professional singing engagements.
Her family’s fortune took a downturn in the early thirties with the depression and the collapse of the cotton shares. For the first time in her life, she had to think seriously about earning a living to relieve her family’s finances. She was not trained to do anything as mundane as serving in a shop or typing, but she was attractive and she could sing. She and her friend, the mezzo-soprano, Nancy Evans, went to London to audition. Nancy didn’t find any work on that occasion, but Anne got the part of top voice in the octet of a musical play, By Appointment, starring the famous singer, Maggie Teyte, changed her name to the more glamorous Anne Ziegler, was accepted on the books of the theatrical agent Robert Layton, and was determined to establish herself on the stage and not become a financial burden to her father.
By Appointment was not a success and lasted only three weeks but she found another job singing for Mr Joe Lyon’s organisation amidst the clatter of the restaurants of the Regent Palace and Cumberland Hotels, and the Trocadero. She auditioned for the part of Marguerite in a colour film version of Gounod’s Faust Fantasy. She had seen the opera as a child and was so enchanted with it that she determined she would play the role of Marguerite when she grew up.
From over two hundred other hopefuls she was chosen for the part: no doubt her blonde good looks and charming personality counted for nearly as much as her attractive lyric soprano voice. It was in the making of this film, which commenced shooting in December 1934, that she met Webster Booth, playing opposite her as Faust.
They fell in love almost at first sight, although at the time he was married to his second wife, Paddy Prior and had a son, Keith, by his first marriage. Four years later, after his divorce from Paddy in times when divorce was not as common or acceptable as it is today, Anne and Webster were eventually married on Bonfire Night in 1938.
In the intervening four years from the time Anne and Webster met and when they were free to marry, Anne was principal boy in her first pantomime, was an overnight success on radio in The Chocolate Soldier, sang in the early days of British television in 1936, and starred, under the name of Anne Booth, in the musical Virginia in New York.
Anne had made a test recording for HMV in 1935 but she made very few solo recordings for the company. It was only when she began singing duets with Webster that her recording career as a duettist was established in 1939. Here is her test recording from 1935: The Waltz Song from Merrie England
At the end of 1935, she was principal boy in Mother Goose, her first pantomime, at the Empire Theatre, Liverpoolwith George Formby and George Lacey. The following year she was principal boy in Cinderella in Scotland with the popular Scottish comedian, Will Fyffe.
July 1937. Anne was invited to go to the States to appear in the musical Virginia by Schwartz. She decided to take the name of Anne Booth for her appearance there and made up a fictional life storyto go with her new name! The show was presented at the Center Theater, New York, but it was not a great success, and Anne did not receive very good notices. She returned to the UK after the show ended although a film company in Hollywood had been interested in employing her.
Anne and Webster were married on 5 November 1938 and from then on their lives and careers were intertwined and in the 1940s they were to reach the top of the entertainment tree as duettists.
Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler spent a large part of their early careers singing in restaurants, hotels and cafés. Many of these establishments were owned by J. Lyons and Company, forebears of the attractive food fundi, Nigella Lawson. Neither enjoyed singing in these establishments because they were obliged to sing over the conversation of diners, the bustle of waiters and nippies, the clatter of dishes, and in an atmosphere pervaded with the mingling smells of food, drink and tobacco. If you think that these places were the intimate cabaret venues one might find today, think again. Many of these restaurants and cafés were capable of seating 2000 people, most of whom were not paying close attention to the musical entertainment on offer, regarding it as mere background music.
Not only did Webster sing in Lyon’s Restaurants and Cafés, but he was often called upon to sing at Masonic, staff and livery dinners. Webster himself was a Mason and there were Masonic Lodges attached to the Savage Club and the Concert Artistes’ Association.
Webster singing at a Masonic Gathering in the forties.
He was an active member of both and in the 1950s he and Anne were joint presidents of the CAA for several years. I thought that entertainers at Masonic dinners would be limited to men, but women also entertained there. Webster particularly remembered Betsy de la Porte, the South African singer, as a fellow soloist. She took her knitting with her to keep herself busy as she waited to perform. There were close connections between particular restaurants and hotels and various Masonic Lodges. The Skelmersdale Lodge held their meetings at Verrey’s Hotel, Hanover Street from 1926 to January 1928, after which they moved to another hotel.
1 March 1928 – A Newspaper Affair. The Daily Mirror and Sunday Pictorial staffs met at the Holborn Restaurant for their annual dinner and dance on February 24. The concert had as contributors Maude Malins, Webster Booth, Gordon Marsh and Fred Gibson. Jessie Wildon’s Orchestra played during dinner and Frederick Arthur’s Band, under Tommy Parker’s direction, for the dance. Gordon Marsh’s cabaret, Marshmallow, in which the principal was assisted by a smart troupe of girls, including Beryl Lesley and Kathleen Law, was given in an interval in the dances.
Webster’s second wife, Paddy Prior, a comedienne, soubrette and mezzo-soprano, whom he married in October 1932, began entertaining at such dinners when she was not otherwise occupied in seaside summer shows, musical comedies, early television or pantomimes. Early in 1927, she appeared at the Skelmersdale Lodge Masonic Ladies’ night at their meeting place at Verrey’s Hotel, Hanover Street, apparently evoking much laughter amongst the guests with her turn. In 1928 she appeared at Anderton’s Hotel, Fleet Street, the hotel where the Magic Circle held their meetings and which had close associations with the printing profession. The inaugural dinner of the London Press Club had been held there in 1882. She entertained at a Printers’ Charity Concert with other performers, and in 1929 she performed for the Electrotypers & Stereotypers’ Managers’ and Overseers’ Association at Frascati’s Restaurant, Oxford Street.
In January 1928 there was a dinner of the Gallery First Nighters’ Club at the Comedy Restaurant, Panton Street, Haymarket, with Miles Malleson as guest of honour, where a number of well-known artistes provided the entertainment, including George Metaxa, Webster Booth and Tom Howell (the leader of the Opieros, with whom Webster was working at the time) and a similarly lavish dinner for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Pictorial staffs at the Holborn Restaurant, Kingsway also featured Webster Booth. Below is a photograph of the Masonic Temple at the Holborn Restaurant
A photo of Paddy Prior taken some years after her divorce from Webster Booth.
Paddy Prior entertains the Masons.
Paddy Prior entertained at Beale’s Masonic Hall, Holloway, while Webster, who was still calling himself by his full name, Leslie Webster Booth, appeared at a variety of Lyons Cafes, such as the Popular Café in Piccadilly, which seated 2000 diners, the Empress Rooms, and the Corner House in the Strand. The Lyons restaurants catered for different social classes. The Trocadero was luxurious and expensive, while other restaurants were more economical. Within the same venue there were often multiple restaurants, some more expensive than others.
Webster met Anne Ziegler during the filming of The Faust Fantasy at the end of 1934, and this meeting was instrumental in ending Webster’s short marriage with Paddy in 1938.Webster and Anne in a scene from The Faust Fantasy (1934/1935)
Even in the 1930s when Webster was making a name for himself on record, radio, in the West End, Oratorio, and on film, he was still entertaining at dinners and at benefit concerts, such as one at the Finsbury Town Hall on 6 March 1930 for the Clerkenwell Benevolent Society, where South African soprano, Garda Hall was one of the other entertainers. Charles Forwood was the accompanist at this concert. Ten years later, Charles Forwood would become the regular accompanist for Anne and Webster in their variety act. In February 1931 Webster and Gladys Ripley (contralto) sang at a dinner for the Hardware and Metal Trades Musical Society at the Cannon Street Hotel. A month later he sang at the Holborn Restaurant for the Entre Nous Club, with comedienne, Suzette Tarri and comedian, Arthur Askey as fellow artists.
I would imagine that entertaining at dinners was more congenial than singing above the general hub-bub in a public restaurant or café, as those attending the arranged dinner would have a specific time set aside to enjoy the entertainment, and this would not have been while waiters were collecting dirty crockery or serving the next course.
The first time that Webster and Paddy Prior appeared together was at a concert for the Bellingham Club on 30 April,1932. They were married on 10 October of the same year. In January 1933 Webster sang at a meeting of the Henley Lodge, held at the Connaught rooms, which had been the headquarters of the Freemasons since 1717. After a long summer season with Paddy at Scarborough with the Piccadilly Revels later that year, Webster was entertaining the Railway men at the North End Hall, Croydon and for St Dunstan’s at the Regal Kinema, Beckenham. The Lea Valley Growers Association held their annual dinner at the Abercorn Rooms on 1 November with Webster, Bertha Wilmott, Mario de Pietro, and other entertainers, and Webster entertained the Masons of the Welcome Lodge at the Adelaide Galleries on November 15th. On 21 December The Old Friends Society held their ladies festival at the Hotel Victoria. Once again Webster was one of the performers. In the early 1930s he was the guest artist at the New Year’s Annual Gathering of the Luton Industrial Co-operative Society, situated at 3-5 Hastings Street, Luton.
Irené Frances Eastwood had changed her name to Anne Ziegler in 1934 when shearrived in London from Liverpool in 1934 to sing the top voice of the octet in the musical play, By Appointment, which starred the famous soprano, Maggie Teyte. The show was not a success and closed after three weeks. Her father had lost his money in the collapse of the cotton shares so Anne decided to stay on in London to try to forge a career there rather than return to Liverpool and add to her father’s financial woes. She found work singing in Joseph Lyons’ venues, and continued this work, on and off, for two years. She sang at the Regent Palace Hotel, Glass House Street, the Popular Cafe in Piccadilly, The Strand Corner House, the Trocadero, the Café de la Paix, the Café Monico, Piccadilly Circus, the Piccadilly, and the Cumberland Hotel, Marble Arch. She often worked on the same bill as Leslie Hutchinson, “Hutch” at the Cumberland and with tenor Harry Welchman.
On 20 February 1936 Webster and Paddy Prior contributed to the musical programme at the ladies’ festival of the Hendon Lodge, held at the Piccadilly Hotel and the pair entertained again in April when the Lyric Lodge of Instruction met at Gatti’s Restaurant. Later that month he sang for the annual dinner of the London Meat Trades’ and Drovers’ Benevolent Association at the Connaught Rooms. It demonstrates Webster Booth’s versatility that, on 10 April 1936, he was the tenor soloist in the Good Friday Messiah at the Albert Hall.
On 24 April 1936 he and Paddy attended a big society wedding of Reginald Cave, the son of the Reverend Cave of Handsworth and Vera Holdsworth at the Reigate Parish Church. Webster sang an aria from Mendelssohn’s St Paul, Be Thou Faithful Unto Death during the signing of the register and also sang a number of songs during the reception afterwards. If Paddy had known about his liaison with Anne at that time she must have found it painful and embarrassing to listen to her husband singing that particular aria in the light of what she knew. Be Thou Faithful Unto Death (Mendelssohn)
On 29 April Webster entertained at the annual dinner of the London Commercial Chess League at the Northumberland Rooms, Trafalgar Square, along with Leonard Henry.
The last engagement Webster and Paddy worked together was at the 84th Annual Dinner of the City Musical Union at the Holborn Restaurant on April 30 1936, attended by 500 people. He had met Anne Ziegler during the filming of The Faust Fantasy at the end of 1934, and this meeting brought Webster’s short marriage with Paddy to an end in 1938.
At the end of May 1936, he and Paddy went to the wedding of their friends, Violet Stevens and Bryan Courage and attended the reception at Frascati’s, the last time they were out together as a married couple. I presume that they made an effort to avoid appearing at joint engagements in future. They both continued to perform at dinners, many connected with the Masons, although, by this time Webster was a regular broadcaster, oratorio soloist and film actor.
In January 1937 he sang at the annual dinner of the Ham and Beef National Trade Association at the Holborn Restaurant and at the City Musical Union, this time at the Cannon Street Hotel, and at the Charrilock Social Club dinner at the Trocadero in March.
Webster started singing with Anne in 1937 and literally burnt his boats as far as Paddy was concerned when he went with Anne to New York where she had been booked to appear in the musical, Virginia at the Center Theater there. They were married on 5 November 1938. Not long after their wedding in November, on 17 December Webster sang in a noted performance of Messiah, conducted by Thomas Beecham at the Queen’s Hall in the afternoon.
That evening he and Anne sang at a banquet to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the Clan Line at the Victoria Hotel. I am grateful to Bernie Furlong for allowing me to share his photos of the menu here.
Paddy joined ENSA at the outbreak of war. In 1947 war she immigrated to Australia. Ironically, while Paddy was entertaining the troops in various theatres of war, Anne and Webster rose to great fame as romantic duettists on the variety stages of the UK, but eventually immigrated to South Africa in 1956.
The Booths returned to the UK in 1978 and in December 1979, were invited to present a Sunday afternoon concert at the Cumberland and were given a week’s luxury accommodation there to commemorate their appearances there early on in their careers.
Here is some information about the group. I hope you will be tempted to join!
Welcome to this group for admirers of the singing and the careers of British duettists Webster Booth (1902 -1984) and Anne Ziegler (1910 – 2003) and related artists. We will add duets and solos by Anne and Webster and related artists, share photos, links to related sites, and information about them.
Please feel free to post, start discussions, add videos, recordings and ephemera featuring Anne and Webster and related artists, comment, ask questions – and answer them if you can.
I began my singing studies with Webster and Anne at their studio in Johannesburg at the end of 1960 when I was 17 years old. Early in 1963, they asked me if I would accompany for Webster in their studio when Anne was unavailable to do this. That was certainly one of the most fulfilling and life-changing experiences of my life. I did my associate and licentiate diplomas with them and we remained close friends until their deaths – Webster in 1984, and Anne in 2003. They played a very important part in my life and I will always remember them with love.
Anne and Webster were an unassuming couple who did not boast about their achievements. I found out much more about these when I began researching their careers after Anne’s death in 2003 and published my book, Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth. All my books about Anne and Webster may be seen at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/duettists
I started this group hoping to keep the memory of their lives, voices and careers alive and have gladly shared recordings, photos, and other ephemera here and I hope that the group will continue long after I am dead and gone. I have bequeathed my collection to the Museum of English Literature in Grahamstown, South Africa.
John Marwood and Mike Taylor are the other administrators of the group. Mike has shared his restored collection of 78rpms. We are very lucky to have these restorations in our collection. You will be able to hear many rare recordings featuring Anne, Webster, and artists with whom they were friendly or with whom they worked. If you look at the group photos many have links to these recordings, which may be downloaded for your own pleasure (and NOT for commercial usage).
There are many recordings, photographs, and articles here. You may download these for your own pleasure, but they may not be used for commercial purposes.
Do not post adverts unrelated to the group.
If you wish to publicize a concert or event in which you are taking part, please ask the administrators for permission first.
Please limit your posts about related artists to a maximum of two a day otherwise Anne and Webster’s contribution will be swamped.
Please make sure that the recordings you post actually have some connection to Anne and Webster’s work – either by the music with which they were associated, the artists they knew and admired, with whom they worked, or who were working in the same musical sphere at the same time.
Please treat fellow members with courtesy, and do not blaspheme.
Essie Ackland, Arthur Askey, Isobel Baillie, George Baker, Owen Brannigan, Basil Cameron, Alfredo Campoli, Gwen Catley, Noel Coward, Joan Cross, Harry Parr Davies, Bebe Daniels, Peter Dawson, Mary Ellis, Maurice Elwin, Nancy Evans, Kathleen Ferrier, Flotsam and Jetsam/ Malcolm McEachern, Will Fyffe, Gert and Daisy, Olive Gilbert, Leon Goosens, Harry Gordon, Martyn Green, Frederick Grinke, Herbert Greenslade, Olive Groves, Garda Hall, Joan Hammond, Tommy Handley, Fred Hartley, Stanley Holloway, Tom Howell, Winifred Lawson, Evelyn Laye, Janet Lind, David Lloyd, Mark Lubbock, Ernest Lush, Ben Lyon, Malcolm McEachern, George Melachrino, Gerald Moore, Elsie Morrison, Alice Moxon, Heddle Nash, Oscar Natzke, Robert Naylor, Dennis Noble, Ray Noble (pre USA), Ivor Novello, Derek Oldham, Geoffrey Parsons, Rawicz and Landauer, Gladys Ripley, Stuart Robertson, Eric Robinson, Stanford Robinson, Albert Sandler, Malcolm Sargent, Elsie Suddaby, Richard Tauber, Inia te Wiata, Tommy Trinder, Jack Warner, Harry Welchman, Harold Williams.
Other artists from the same period, but not necessarily related to Anne and Webster in any way: Jack Buchanan, Gracie Fields, Layton and Johnstone, Melville Gideon, Jessie Matthews, Gladys Moncrieff, Anna Neagle.
Webster and Anne on the Russell Harty TV show (1981)
On 22 April 1948 she and Bettie Bucknelle sailed for Australia, where they intended to make a new life. Paddy’s brother had settled there some time earlier. It must have been upsetting for Paddy to see Webster and Anne as established stars while, despite her considerable talent, she had not made a big and lasting name for herself.
Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name Paddy Prior) on 10 October 1932 at the Fulham Registry Office. He had married Winifred Keey there eight years earlier but had divorced her in 1931 after she deserted him and their small son, Keith, several years before.
Marriage certificate of Hubert Edward Prior and Annie Jane Henderson on 25 October 1902.
Paddy Prior, was born in December 1904, the daughter of Fulham ironmonger, Hubert and his wife, Annie Henderson. Paddy began her professional stage career while still a teenager. She was a talented soubrette, comedienne and dancer, and possessed a pleasant mezzo soprano voice into the bargain.
Paddy’s parents lived at Disbrowe Road when they were first married.
Paddy’s birthplace in Fulham. Her baptism on 29 January 1905 at St Peter, Fulham.
George William Henderson was a relative of Annie Jane Prior (nee Henderson).
In 1924, at the age of nineteen, Paddy spent nearly a year as a member of the travelling Rogues concert party from April to January 1925. In various reviews Paddy was praised for her comedy talent and her speciality dancing with comedian Fred Roper. They were appearing at Leas Pavilion, Folkestone in January 1925, but by the 5 February Paddy had left the Rogues to join the Gamblers and Their Tipster concert party at the same venue. This party also toured extensively, so before she was twenty-one, Paddy had seen much of the country and gained valuable professional experience into the bargain.
24 December 1924
Whitehall Court, Fulham – Paddy’s home in the 1920s.
In November 1925 Paddy appeared at the Taunton Lyceum in Little Miss Muffet as Dolly Dimple. The pantomime toured various towns until early 1926.
By April Paddy was out of work and obliged to put an advertisement in The Stage as follows:
8 April 1926 PADDY PRIOR, SOUBRETTE AND DANCER, VACANT: First class offers for CP, Revue, and Musical Comedy. PA 37 Arundel Mansions, Fulham SW6
By July Paddy was working again, this time with Leslie Fuller’s Whitby Pedlars, and a review pointed out that, “Paddy Prior is a charming and dainty soubrette, who uses her mezzo voice effectively.”
The pattern of Paddy’s stage career was set: concert party, after-dinner entertainment, pantomime and musical comedy. Towards the end of the twenties she was also on television at Daventry, first in De Courville’s Hour in 1929.
Albert de Courville.
then in the early thirties in Philip Ridgeway’s series entitled The Ridgeway Parade, which included Janet Lind, Dorothy Dampier and Hermione Gingold in the cast. She starred in the Cicely Courtneidge role on a Scottish tour of Lido Lady in 1929.
31 January 1929 – Advertisement in The Stage. PADDY PRIOR – Playing Lead LIDO LADY Co. This week, Theatre Royal, Inverness, next His Majesty’s, Aberdeen
The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 7 October 1931 21.15 (New Series. No. I) Sweep Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN
Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY
FRED CURTIS , BERTHA WILLMOTT, IRENE VERE, HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, SINCLAIR COLE, BERT MEREDITH, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, JACK HODGES, JOHN CHARLTON, PADDY PRIOR, ARTHUR JAY, WALLACE NORFORD. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA. PHILIP RIDGEWAY.
THE FIRST OF THE NEW SERIES OF RIDGEWAY PARADES – National Programme Daventry, 9 October 1931 20.00SWEEP NIGHT – A song and dance show, written by Holt Marvell and Philip Ridgeway. Musical arrangements by Dorothy Hogben. Devised and produced by Philip Ridgeway. Fred Curtis, Bertha Wilmott, Irene Vere, Hermione Gingold, Gerald Osborne, Dorothy Dampier, Anna Day, Sinclair Cole, Bert Meredith, Douglas Pemberton, Lola Gordon, Beatrice Galleway, Jack Hodges, John Charlton, Paddy Prior, Arthur Jay, Wallace Norford, Dorothy Hogben and her Orchestra. Philip Ridgeway.
Singing, dancing, burlesque-and Mr. Ridgeway. The producer is the life and soul of his own shows. It is Philip Ridgeway who designed costumes for his Paraders to wear in the Studio, who makes his whole company dance furiously for a minute before the red light goes on in order that they should start their broadcast warmed up, who created and impersonated Joe Ramsbotham of Rawthenstall, of the unsteady Lancashire accent. These Parades, of which the present series is the third, are among the most generally popular light entertainments ever broadcast. They may lack the subtlety and satire of the revues of Gordon McConnel, John Watt, Denis Freeman; their aim is otherwise—broad humour, popular songs, vitality, rather than finesse. Many of the members of former Parade companies are taking part in the present series. Mr. Ridgeway’s musical director, Dorothy Hogben, is again in charge of the orchestra. Philip Ridgeway is well qualified to possess an acquaintance with the popular taste in entertainment. Still in his thirties, he has been connected with the theatre since he was a boy, as actor, author, producer and manager in turn. It is typical of his lively versatility that the two most widely acclaimed achievements of his career have been his introduction of Chekhov to London, at the Barnes Theatre, several years ago, and the invention last autumn of the Ridgeway Parades. Tonight he will be beside the microphone as usual, the inevitable flower in his buttonhole, waving his company on, a cross between Sir Henry Wood, Francois Descamps and Grock. So on with the show. We’re a lot of little songs to chase the blues, Dancing shoes to amuse. We’re the lightest and the brightest of revues, We’re the Ridgeway Parade.
The Ridgeway Parade – National Programme Daventry, 22 October 1931 20.00 (New Series-No. II) Sweetheart Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY. DOROTHY DAMPIER, HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, FRED CURTIS, SINCLAIR COLE, BERT MEREDITH, LOLA GORDON, JOHN CHARLTON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES , DORIS YORKE, ALEXANDER HENDERSON, WALLACE MORFORD, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA. PHILIP RIDGEWAY
The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 4 November 1931 20.30 (New Series-No. Ill) – Old Soldiers’ Night – A Song and DanceShow Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical Arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and Produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY. HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON, FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES, WALLACE MORFORD, DORIS YORKE, ALEXANDER HENDERSON, BEATRICE GALLEWAY.BL_0000381_19321224_010_0001
The Ridgeway Parade— V Regional Programme London, 2 December 1931 20.00 (New Series) Typists’, Brunettes’, and Dukes’ Night – A Song and Dance Show Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP Ridgeway. HERMIONEGINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON, FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON, LOLA GORDON, BEATRlCE GALLEWAY, ALEXANDER HENDERSON, PADDY PRIOR, JACK HODGES, WALLACE MORFORD, DORIS YORKE. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA, PHILIP RIDGEWAY.
The Ridgeway Parade – Regional Programme London, 16 December 1931 20.00 (New Series-No. VI) HAPPY NIGHT. A SONG AND DANCE SHOW Written by HOLT MARVELL and PHILIP RIDGEWAY. Musical arrangements by DOROTHY HOGBEN. Devised and produced by PHILIP RIDGEWAY. HERMIONE GINGOLD, GERALD OSBORNE, IRENE VERE, BERTHA WILLMOTT, BERT MEREDITH, SINCLAIR COLE, JOHN CHARLTON. FRED CURTIS, DOROTHY DAMPIER, ANNA DAY, ALEXANDER HENDERSON , DORIS YORKE, WALLACE MORFORD, JACK HODGES, PADDY PRIOR, BEATRICE GALLEWAY, LOLA GORDON, DOUGLAS PEMBERTON. DOROTHY HOGBEN and her ORCHESTRA. PHILIP RIDGEWAY
MURRAY ASHFORD’S ENTERTAINERS – Regional Programme Midland, 17 June 1932 18.30 From THE PAVILION, JEPHSON GARDENS, LEAMINGTON SPA. WINIFRED SCOTT-BAXTER (Soprano), EDWARD WARD, (Baritone), CLIFFORD WARREN (Entertainer), PADDY PRIOR (Soubrette), MARIE GROS (Comedienne), DOROTHY BRADSHAW (at the Piano), FRANK RYDON (Light Comedian), WILBY LUNN and CONNIE HART (Living Marionettes).
MANY interesting personalities are associated with Murray Ashford’s Entertainers. Paddy Prior is familiar to admirers of the Ridgeway Parade, Marie Gros is the niece of the late Marie Lloyd and sings many of her songs, while Edward Ward has appeared in several Drury Lane successes.
Webster Booth divorced his first wife, Winifred Keey, in 1931.
Between Leslie Webster Booth (Petitioner) and Winifred Dorothy Booth (Respondent) and Trevor Davey (Co-respondent)
TAKE NOTICE that a Petition has been filed in this Division endorsed with Notice to you to appear and answer the charges in the Petition of Leslie Webster Booth of 151 Biggin Hill, Upper Norwood, in the County of London, praying for a dissolution of marriage. In default of your so appearing, you will not be allowed to address the Court, and the Court will proceed and hear the said Petition proved and pronounce sentence. AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE THAT for the purpose of the aforesaid within one month after the date of this Publication an appearance must be entered at the Divorce Registry, Somerset in respect thereof AND TAKE FURTHER NOTICE THAT House, Strand, London. W INDERWICK, Registrar, Solicitors for the Petitioner:-W H Speed & Co., 18 Sackville Street, London, W1
Like Webster, Paddy was a member of the Concert Artistes’ Association, and it was there that she first heard Webster sing. In an interview with W.S. Meadmore in Gramophone in November 1935, Webster described his meeting with Paddy. He was singing One Alone from The Desert Song when his attention was drawn to her seated in the audience, obviously enjoying his singing. They were introduced after the concert and married on 10 October 1932. They spent their honeymoon in Newquay, Cornwall.
10 October 1932 – Marriage. Webster married Dorothy Annie Alice Prior on 10 October 1932 at Fulham Registry Office, the same registry office where he had married Winifred Keey in 1924.
While married to Dorothy (Paddy) Prior, the couple lived at 5 Crescent Court, Golders Green Crescent, NW11. They were listed separately in the telephone book as Webster Booth, tenor, Speedwell 6608; and Paddy Prior, soubrette-entertainer, Speedwell 6608
Although Webster was living with Anne at her flat in Lauderdale Mansions in 1937, Paddy and Webster remained listed in the telephone book at the same address until their divorce was made final in October 1938.
13 October 1932 – Wedding Bells. Paddy Prior and Webster Booth were married at the Fulham Register Office last Monday. A reception followed before the bride and bridegroom left for a honeymoon at Newquay, and several professional friends were in attendance to toast the happy couple.
Paddy and Webster lived at Crescent Court, Golders Green Crescent, Golders Green during their marriage (pictured above).
May 1933 – Piccadilly Revels. Murray Ashford and Wilby Lunn’s Piccadilly Revels will open a fortnight’s engagement at the Pavilion, Bournemouth, next Monday, with a visit to the Argyle, Birkenhead, to follow. The company will start their long resident season at the Floral Hall, Scarborough, on Whit Saturday. The Western Brothers, Ena Broughton, Webster Booth, Paddy Prior, Violet Stevens, Edgar Sawyer, Andrée Conti, Isolde, Alexis and Carlo, and the Euphan Maclaren Girls form the cast.
Piccadilly Revels, Scarborough 1933
Paddy Prior (middle row left), Webster Booth (seated next to her)
In 1934 they were members of Powis Pinder’s Sunshine concert party at the Sunshine Theatre, Shanklin. Arthur Askey and Bernard Lee were also in this company.
At the end of 1934 Webster was chosen to play Faust in the film, The Faust Fantasy and Anne Ziegler was chosen to play Marguerite. Filming began in December and, according to Anne and Webster’s joint autobiography Duet, they fell in love almost at first sight. Paddy’s marriage to Webster was about to end before it had properly begun.
Filming Faust (1934/1935)
1935 – Fred Hartley’s wedding. Mrs Webster Booth (Paddy) is mentioned as being one of the wedding guests present.
https://clyp.it/ovf2ai2i Roses of Picardy. Click on the link and listen to Webster singing this song with Fred Hartley’s quintet.
In May 1935 Webster and Paddy did an extensive broadcast from Daventry entitled A Musical Comedy Pot-Pourri. Harry Bidgood and Sydney Jerome accompanied them on two pianos and played several piano duets. Paddy and Webster sang several duets together.
As Binnie Hale is the archetypal soubrette, I dare say that Paddy’s mezzo soprano voice was similar to Binnie’s.
In October of the same year, Webster sang in an early broadcast with Anne Ziegler, several years before Paddy divorced him – the programme was called Musical Comedy Moments.
Webster and Paddy continued to work together for several years after his meeting with Anne. Their last professional appearance was on 30 April 1936 when they performed together at the City Musical Union’s 84th Annual Dinner at the Holborn Restaurant. At the end of May they were guests at the wedding of their friends, Violet Stevens and Bryan Courage.
But in July 1937 Anne and Webster sailed for New York together, where Anne had been engaged to play in the musical, Virginia at the Center Theater. She had changed her name to Anne Booth for this production, after being advised that Americans disliked German-sounding names at that time also anticipating her eventual marriage to Webster. Webster returned to Southampton onboard the MV Georgic and gave his address as 74 Lauderdale Mansions, Maida Vale (Anne’s flat), although he was still listed in the telephone directory as living in Crescent Court, Golders Green, where he and Paddy had spent their short married life.
From the beginning of 1938 Anne and Webster began taking engagements together, while Paddy filed for divorce on 29 March 1938 “on the grounds of his adultery in April 1937, with Miss Irene Eastwood, otherwise Miss Anne Zeigler (sic), singer…”
In September 1938 before Webster’s divorce from Paddy had been finalised, Anne was featured on the cover of Radio Pictorial sporting an opulent diamond solitaire engagement ring:
and on 7 October 1938 the absolute decree was granted to Paddy Prior against Webster Booth. Anne was named as the co-respondent in the divorce.
After the divorce Paddy moved to 14 Muswell Hill Road, sharing her new home with a young Welsh singer, Bettie Bucknelle, who had sung on the radio show, Band Waggon, which starred Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch. In January 1939 Bettie was featured in a show with Charlie Kunz and Denny Dennis.
Bettie Bucknelle and Paddy Prior in Newquay shortly before they Bucknelle left for Australia.
Anne and Webster were married on 5 November 1938 and went on to even greater success as romantic duettists on the variety stage during the war. I always felt very sorry for Paddy having to watch Anne and Webster obtaining great fame in the theatre while she never achieved great fame despite being a talented and hard working performer.
Witcock and Rutherford’s WEST-END VANITIES – Regional Programme London, 21 December 1938 16.30 Helen Hill, Paddy Prior, Jean Forbes-Macintyre, Lucas Bassett, Bradley Harris, Derek Moreland, Frank Wilcock, Tubby Harold. Introduced by Harry S. Pepper.
The Folkestone Bouquets. Paddy Prior, middle row (2nd from the right) 1939.
ROUND THE CONCERT PARTIES, No. – Regional Programme London, 28 July 1939 20.30 A composite programme of excerpts from three concert parties –DAZZLE Presented by Eric Ross from Pierrot Land, Bognor Regis – Ida Williams, John Lovering, Barbara Wells, Fred Gibson, Eric Ross, Ted Andrews, The Dazzle Girls, Joan Pendleton, Violet Shute, Beryl Pryer and Phyllis Revell.
SUMMER FOLLIES Presented by Will Catlin, Devised and produced by Harry Bright from the Arcadia Theatre, Llandudno. Phil Strickland, The Carlyle Cousins, Terry and Doris Kendall, Ross Eaves, Marion Francis, Sydney Snape, Vera Kitchen, Leslie Moorhouse, Joan Cowley, The Mayfair Dancers,Wagstaff’s Zelo Orchestra.
1939 FOLKESTONE BOUQUETSPresented by Wilby Lunn from the Marine Gardens Pavilion, Folkestone. Betty Pugh Bruce Clark, Dorothy Bradshaw, Harold Stead, Paddy Prior, Stock Wynn, George Carden, The Mariajanos, Marguerite Lome, Eileen Lome, Hylda Burdon, Ruby Savage, Wilby Lunn and Connie Hart. The programme presented by Harry S. Pepper
A show in 1941.
Paddy continued with her theatrical career and when war broke out she joined ENSA. Here is a photograph of Paddy entertaining the troops during World War 2.
Signatures of Paddy and other members of ENSA after entertaining at
Clare Hall, South Mimms in 1943.
20 November 1945. Only a few weeks after Anne and Webster had sung at the Victory Royal Variety Performance, Paddy was the hostess at the CAA and Bettie Bucknelle was one of the performers at this concert. One could hardly blame Paddy for feeling rather bitter about Anne and Webster’s great success while she was doing much the same thing as always.
Paddy and Bettie Bucknelle entertained British forces in the Middle East and returned to England in 1946. In 1947 she did a summer season with the Oval Entertainers, Margate, where a reviewer described her as “a gay young lady with a sparkling sense of humour as fresh as Margate’s famous sea breezes.”.
On 22 April 1948 she and Bettie Bucknelle sailed for Australia, where they intended to make a new life. Paddy’s brother had settled there some time earlier. It must have been upsetting for Paddy to see Webster and Anne as established stars while, despite her considerable talent, she had not made a big and lasting name for herself.
Bettie Bucknelle and Paddy Prior in Newquay shortly before they Bucknelle left for Australia.
Extract from passenger list to Australia.
A newspaper photo regarding their arrival in Australia in 1948.
Later that year Anne and Webster made an extensive and triumphant concert tour of New Zealand and Australia. They heard that Paddy and Bettie had booked seats in the front row for one of their concerts in Sydney. Webster feared that they might be planning an unpleasant demonstration against them at this concert. He was asked whether he could recommend Paddy as understudy to Cicely Courtneidge in the play, Under the Counter, which meant she would have to leave for New Zealand to rehearse the understudy role. Paddy had played the lead in a Scottish tour of Lido Lady in the late twenties, the same role in which Cicely had starred in London a few years earlier. He had no hesitation in making this recommendation, so Paddy was not able to attend the concert as she had to go to New Zealand right away to begin understudy rehearsals.
There is evidence of Bettie Bucknelle singing in a number of broadcasts, including broadcasts with the famous bandleader Jay Wilbur, but I could not find out anything about Paddy’s Australian theatrical career. In a 1949 electoral register, she is listed as a housewife!
Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the UK from South Africa in 1978, a letter arrived for Webster from Paddy who was still living in Australia. She said he would be welcome to visit her if he ever decided to go out there. Anne did not show this letter to Webster!
I was pleased to hear from Paddy’s niece, Beverley June McLachlan (née Prior) and her daughter, Paddy’s great-niece, Cheryl Willits recently. Paddy married Harold Bradshaw and the couple lived in Hobart, Tasmania where Paddy continued to entertain at their bowling club, singing and doing comedy skits. Cheryl mentioned that Paddy had sung on the radio with Ross Higgins,
Comments from Cheryl Willits and Beverley McLachlan which appeared in the original post on my Jean Collen website.
Cheryl Willits, in reply to me: Hey there, My mother might be able to help you on this as she is Paddy’s niece. I am her great niece. If you would like any info feel free to email me and I could put you in touch with my mother. Reading the article has been a delight, Regards, Cheryl.
Beverley McLachlan: Paddy Prior did marry Harold Bradshaw. She was my aunt. My Father was Paddy’s brother. Paddy and Brad lived in Tasmania and still entertained at their bowling club, singing and comedy skits in Hobart, Tasmania.
Sadly, I did not hear any more from Beverly or Cheryl.