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Saturday, 21 June 2014



This is the last episode in a series which concentrated on the lives and careers of famous British duettists, Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, and of my association with them. It was based on my book, "Sweethearts of Song: A Personal Memoir of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth" available with my other books at

I can hardly believe that it is thirty years since a friend phoned to tell me that she had heard of Webster’s death on “News About Britain” on BBC World Service. I had known that he was ill, but it still came as a shock to hear that my beloved friend had died in Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno at the age of 82. I think this is a fitting day on which to present my final podcast in this series. 

These podcasts have largely been created for members of my Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler Yahoo group, the 78rpm Community, and the Anne Ziegler-Webster Booth fan pages on Facebook, but I am very glad that they have reached a wider audience who enjoy their singing and the performance of other artistes of their generation.

In this episode you will hear the voices of Anne and Webster, and some of Webster’s favourites – Dundee pianist, Fred Hartley, Australian bass baritone Peter Dawson, Australian baritone, Harold Williams, soprano Isobel Baillie and his favourite tenor, Jussi Bjorling.

Read more about Anne and Webster:

I have created a blog about Webster Booth as a solo artist. It includes information about his life, videos, recordings and podcasts.

You can see complete playlists of all my podcasts; listen to all my podcasts and recordings, and see selected YouTube videos related to Anne and Webster at:

Listen to many of Webster and Anne's solo and duet recordings on my You Tube channel at:

Listen to Webster's solo recordings (as videos) on the Daily Motion site at:

My Webster Booth- Anne Ziegler Yahoo group has been running for 4 years. You might like to join it at:

You can also find pages devoted to them on Facebook at:
for Anne and Webster as duettists,
for Webster as a solo performer.

The more people who "like" and join these links, the more I will be inclined to continue posting details about their lives and careers.

Jean Collen 21 June 2014.

Friday, 18 April 2014





Saturday, 8 March 2014

SOUTH AFRICA 1956 - 1978)

 Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler immigrate to South Africa (July 1956)

The Hillman Minx outside their flat in Waverley, Highlands North, Johannesburg (1956)

"Night in Venice" (Strauss) with Johannesburg Operatic Society, 1956

                                                Durban Whysall Studios (1957)

 "The Amorous Prawn" (1961) with Joan Blake, Simon Swindell. Victor Melleney (producer) extreme right.

"Goodnight Mrs Puffin" with Jane Fenn at Alexander Theatre, Johannesburg (1963)

 "Colonel Fairfax" in "Yeomen of the Guard" at Alexander Theatre, 1963 (Johannesburg Operatic Society)

At the wedding of actress Margaret Inglis (1962/63)

 In the studio, Pritchard Street (1963)


Attending first night of Doris Boulton's "Merry Widow" (1966)

"The Bartered Bride" (PACT) 1966

Move to Knysna in 1967.

                                            Silva and Spinach on the couch at Knysna (1970) Photo: Dudley Holmes

 Directing "The Mikado" in East London, Border (1973

Move to Somerset West, Cape (1975)
House in Picardy Avenue, Somerset West. Photo: Dudley Holmes

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Messiah - 22 March 1940 in Queen's Hall, London

Good Friday Messiah. Royal Choral Society with Elsie Suddaby, Muriel Brunskill, Webster Booth, Robert Easton. Conducted by Dr Malcolm Sargent.

Gala Variety Performance

Because of the war this show replaced the traditional Royal Command Performance.The concert was in aid of the Variety Artistes' Benevolent Fund.


22 December 1940 in Hallé Concert Society, Manchester
Webster Booth was tenor soloist at this concert, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. Later that night a big bombing raid destroyed the Free Trade Hall.

Dream of Gerontius (Elgar)

10 May 1941 in Queen's Hall, London
Webster Booth, Muriel Brunskill and Ronald Stear were soloists in an afternoon performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Choral Society, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. That night a single incendiary bomb gutted the Queen's Hall.
Paddy Prior, second wife of Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984 entertaining troops during World War 2. — in London, United Kingdom.
Photo: Paddy Prior, second wife of Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984 entertaining troops during World War 2.
Paddy Prior, Webster Booth's second wife who divorced him in 1938, entertains troops as a member of ENSA during the war.

Death of Sarah Booth, Webster's mother

Webster and Anne had sung at Golders Green Hippodrome in "Clap Your Hands and Smile" with Charlie Kunz and others from 1 November 1943. Webster's mother died (aged 80) during that week.

Good Friday Messiah

Webster Booth sang in another Good Friday Messiah at the Albert Hall with soloists Isobel Baillie, Mary Jarred and Henry Cummings, conducted by Malcolm Sargent. In 1940 he and Anne Ziegler began touring in Variety as duettists and it is clear that he did not do as much serious singing because of this.

Edwin Booth remarries.

In 1947 Edwin Booth married Irene Constance Louise Coles, who was born in Bristol in 1902, a few months younger than Webster. After Edwin Booth's death, Irene continued to attend Webster and Anne's concerts in Birmingham. The census form shows the Coles family in 1911 when Irene was 9 years old.

Funeral of Tommy Handley

Members of Savage Club formed choir which included Webster Booth, Parry Jones, Walter Midgley, Dennis Noble, Frederic Gregory, George James & Edward Dykes. They sang "The Long Day Closes" by Arthur Sullivan.
Funeral of Tommy Handley at Golders Green Crematorium January 1949. Webster Booth was singing in choir with other Savage Club singers. — with Trefor Jones at Golders Green Crematorium.

Death of Edwin Booth 16 October 1949 in Birmingham Town Hall Webster's father had celebrated his 83rd birthday the day before. He was attending a concert featuring Webster & Anne Ziegler and was taken ill during the concert. Webster was not informed about his father's death until after the concert. His father referred to the concert at which he died as his "birthday concert".


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Share/Bookmark 21 January 1902 Birth.
Leslie Webster Booth was the youngest of six children born to Edwin Booth and his wife Sarah (neé Webster) at 157 Soho Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire. Above - 157 Soho Road today.
Photo: Leslie Webster Booth was born at 157 Soho Road, Birmingham on 21 January 1902.
Soho Road in the early 1900s.

Accepted as a chorister at Lincoln Cathedral

Webster Booth spent four years as a chorister at Lincoln until his voice broke in 1915.

His voice breaks so he returns home.

His parents send him to do a commercial course at Aston Commercial School. The headmaster there is Edgar Keey. Later he married Edgar Keey's daughter, Winifred.

Leaves School

After Webster left school he began working in an accounting office in Birmingham. At the same time he took singing lessons with Dr Richard Wassall, choirmaster at St Martin's, Birmingham and singing teacher at the Midland Institute.

First professional engagement

Webster Booth was accepted into the chorus of D'Oyly Carte Opera and made his stage debut as a yeoman in "Yeomen of the Guard". He remained with the company for four and a half years, singing in the chorus, playing small parts and understudying the leading tenor roles. He was known in the company as Leslie Booth. He did not use the name Webster Booth until he left the company in 1927.


June 1924 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his first wife, Winifred Dorothy Keey in the second quarter of 1924 at Fulham Registry Office.

Birth of Keith Leslie Booth

Birth of his son, Keith Leslie Booth. Mother: Winifred Dorothy Booth (nee Keey)

6 September 1925. Webster Booth (Leslie W. Booth) as First Yeoman.

D'Oyly Carte Opera tour of Canada

24 December 1926 in SS Metagama, Liverpool
Webster Booth went to Canada as a member of the chorus of D'Oyly Carte for the tour of Canada aboard the SS Metagama. The tour opened in Montreal on 4 January 1927.


Singing in Lyons' Cafés and Restaurants

May 1928 in Popular & Strand Lyons' Cafés, Holborn Restaurant
Webster Booth, still known as Leslie Webster Booth, was eking out a living singing in various Lyons' cafés and at Masonic dinners, as well as performing in panto and singing with the Opieros. The photo shows the Holborn Restaurant, a popular venue for staff dinners.

Recording contract with HMV

1929 in His Master's Voice Records
Webster Booth made his first recording with HMV in 1929. He continued recording with the company until his contract was cancelled in 1951. The first recording was A Brown Bird Singing and I Love the Moon.

December 1929. Gloucester Hippodrome


"The Three Musketeers" (Friml)

Webster Booth made his debut as the Duke of Buckingham in The Three Musketeers. Denis King played D'Artagnan. Others in the cast included Adrienne Brune and Lillian Davies.

2 September 1931



 Divorce from Winifred Booth (nee Keey)

Winifred Booth deserted Webster and his young son in 1927. Webster tried to find her for many years but she had vanished. In October 1931, he sued for divorce, naming Trevor Davey as co-respondent.

Marriage to Dorothy Annie Alice Prior

10 October 1932 in Fulham Registry Office, Fulham, London
Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name: Paddy Prior). Paddy was a soubrette, dancer and light comedienne.

Piccadilly Revels

Webster Booth, Paddy Prior, Violet Stevens, George & Kenneth Western and Edgar Sawyer starred in Murray Evans and Wilby Lunn's summer show. Paddy Prior is seated to the left of Webster Booth in the middle row.
Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior. — in Scarborough, United Kingdom.
Photo: Piccadilly Revels, 1933 with Webster Booth (tenor) 1902-1984, and second wife, Paddy Prior.

The Faust Fantasy

December 1934 in Bushy Heath
Webster Booth was chosen to play the part of Faust in this film. During the filming he met Anne Ziegler played the part of Marguerite. Unfortunately their meeting spelt the end of his marriage to Paddy Prior before it had really begun.

A Kingdom for a Cow (Kurt Weill)

Webster Booth starred as Juan, with Jacqueline Francell as Juanita. The show included George Gee, Bobby Comber and Hay Petrie. Muir Matheson conducted the orchestra. The show received good notices but was not a success with the public. It closed after three weeks.

30 November 1935 - Samson and Delilah


The Robber Symphony (film)

Webster Booth sang several songs in this film. The film was directed by Friedrich Feher, who also wrote the script and the music. His wife was the heroine of the film.

30 May 1936 - Memorial Cinema, Hastings

Hiawatha's Wedding Feast

  1. Webster Booth's first appearance in Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. Conducted by Malcolm Sargent. He sang the role of the Monk on 7 & 10 June, and Chihiabos on 18 June.
  2. Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of "Hiawatha" held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.
    Photo: Souvenir programme for the dramatised version of "Hiawatha" held at the Royal Albert Hall in June 7-19, 1937.

    27 February 1938 - Colston Hall, Bristol

     Der Rosenkavalier, The Magic Flute

    Webster Booth sang the role of Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier and took a small role in The Magic Flute.

Third Marriage

5 November 1938 in Paddington Registry office, Paddington, London
Webster Booth's divorce from Paddy Prior came through in October. He married Anne Ziegler (Irené Frances Eastwood) the following month - first at the Paddington Registry Office, followed by a blessing of the marriage at St Ethelburga's Church in Bishopsgate.


17 December 1938 in Queen's Hall, London
Webster Booth, Joan Hammond, Muriel Brunskill, Norman Walker with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera Choir, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.
Members of the Concert Artistes' Association gave their annual concert in aid of their Benevolent Fund. Webster Booth & other artistes performed. The receipts totalled £427 - a record for these affairs!


28 July 1939. Forthcoming concerts at The Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells.

Joins staff of variety department of the BBC

Webster Booth had been appointed to the staff of the BBC Variety department at the outbreak of war. Others included Tommy Handley, Sam Costa, Charles Shadwell, Betty Huntley-Wright and Leonard Henry.
13 December 1939 Eastbrook Hall, Bradford