Your browser (Internet Explorer 6) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.
X
Post

Aaron Harris

Aaron Harris
Post

Billy Dee Williams

Billy Dee Williams

William December “Billy Dee” Williams Jr. (born April 6, 1937) is an American actor, voice actor, and artist. He is best known as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise, first in the early 1980s, and nearly forty years later in The Rise of Skywalker (2019), marking one of the longest intervals between onscreen portrayals of a character by the same actor in American film history. 

Williams was born in New York City, and raised with his twin sister Loretta in Harlem. In 1945 he made his Broadway theatre debut at age seven in The Firebrand of Florence. He later graduated from The High School of Music & Art, then won a painting scholarship to the National Academy of Fine Arts and Design, where he won a Hallgarten Prize for painting in the mid-1950s. To fund his art supplies he returned to acting, including stage, films, and television. He kept creating art, his work has since been shown in galleries and collections worldwide. 

Williams’ film debut was in The Last Angry Man (1959), but he came to national attention in the television movie, Brian’s Song (1971) which earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Actor. He has appeared in at least 70 films over six decades including critically acclaimed and popular movies such as, Lady Sings the Blues (1972) and Mahogany (1975) both starring Williams paired with Diana Ross; and Nighthawks (1981). In the 1980s he was cast in his most enduring role as Lando Calrissian, becoming the first African-American actor with a major role in the Star Wars franchise, in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983). He also delivered Lando as a voice actor in video games, animated series, and the National Public Radio adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back. He was inducted into the Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame in 1984, and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985. Another enduring franchise relationship started with Batman (1989), playing attorney Harvey Dent, a role that was also developed into a villainous alter-ego, Two-Face, which he voiced for The Lego Batman Movie (2017). 

Williams’s television work has over sixty credits starting in 1966 including recurring roles over the decades in Gideon’s CrossingDynastyGeneral Hospital: Night Shift; and General Hospital. Numerous cameos and supporting roles included being paired with Marla Gibbs on The Jeffersons227, and The Hughleys. Later work included voice acting in the series Titan Maximum (2009), and appearing on the reality show Dancing with the Stars (2014). His work has earned him numerous awards and honors including three NAACP Image Awards, and the NAACP Lifetime Achievement award.

Post

Kate Fahy

Kate Fahy

Katherine Fahy is a stage and film actress from Dublin. She studied drama at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and then joined its Young Vic Theatre Company. Later on she joined the Everyman Theatre Liverpool Company, where she met actor Jonathan Pryce. She made her theatre directorial debut on January 2010 with Wet Weather Cover, a play written by Oliver Cotton.[1]

Kate Fahy

In 2017, she was in ‘A Lie of the Mind‘ at Southwark Playhouse with Gethin Anthony and Robert Lonsdale.

She and Pryce, whom she married in 2015, have three children: Patrick (born 1983), Gabriel (born 1986), and Phoebe (born 1990

Post

Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson

Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson

Pearl Carr obituary in “The Guardian” in 2020.

In 1959 the husband and wife duo of Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson were invited to look at songs with which they could represent the UK in the fourth staging of the Eurovision song contest. These were pleasant ballads that owed nothing to the prevailing climate of rock and roll, and there was a trite but cheerful novelty song, Sing, Little Birdie. The pair saw how they could develop it into a routine with solo lines, immaculate harmonies and sideways glances at each other – and chose it as their UK song for Cannes. They came second, losing to a rendition of Een Beetje by Teddy Scholten for the Netherlands. In the event Sing, Little Birdie topped the charts in the Netherlands, having also made No 12 in the UK.

Carr, who has died aged 98, would like to have been remembered for something more substantial than that song, but it did demonstrate that the UK might actually win Eurovision. Sing Little Birdie’s writers, Stan Butcher and Syd Cordell, submitted Pickin’ Petals for Carr and Johnson as a contender for the UK entry in 1960, but this time Teddy’s younger brother, Bryan, represented the UK with Looking High, High, High – and also came second. The UK eventually won in 1967 with Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String.

Carr was born in Exmouth in Devon. Her father owned a fish and chip shop and her mother, who had been the music hall artist Lily Palmer, ran a dancing school and taught her to sing and dance. The young Pearl was put into one of CB Cochran’s shows and then joined the Three in Harmony singing group, who appeared in Best Bib And Tucker with Tommy Trinder at the London Palladium in 1942.

She sang with Cyril Stapleton and his Orchestra and then joined a vocal quartet, the Keynotes, for whom she was the lead singer on There’s a Harvest Moon Tonight, a 78 rpm single, in 1946. The Keynotes were regular guests on two radio shows, Take It From Here and Breakfast With (Bernard) Braden.

Johnson, who was two years older than Pearl, had worked as a drummer and DJ, and then had a hit single with Beloved, Be Faithful in 1950. When he appeared on the BBC radio show Black Magic, hosted by the bandleader Stanley Black, Carr was asked to sing with him. The partnership worked well, although they had no plans at the time to repeat it. However, by 1952 they were dating and they started appearing on the same shows, performing separate acts and coming together for Idle Gossip and Shadow Dance, which Johnson would sing while Carr danced.Advertisement

When they married in 1955 they decided to perform as a husband and wife team, with accompanying light-hearted banter. Audiences responded enthusiastically to their genuine affection.

They were regulars on the Winifred Atwell Show on TV (1956-57), as well as on the new children’s series Crackerjack, and they hosted shows for Radio Luxembourg, advertised as Mr and Mrs Music. 

In 1959 they recorded a lyricised version of the instrumental song Petite Fleur, which had been a popular number for Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, but were so dismayed by the record’s production that they told fans not to buy it. They fared much better two years later with How Wonderful to Know, an adaptation of the Italian song Anema e Core, which became their second hit, entering the Top 30.

The duo often worked on variety shows with Morecambe and Wise and, in 1964, they appeared on the same bill as the Beatles on the nationally televised Blackpool Night Out. They featured in pantomimes and summer shows and for two seasons (1977 and 1978) worked with John Inman in Fancy Free.

In the 80s they developed a touring tribute to Bing Crosby, with Pearl taking the place of Bing’s many duet partners. In 1987 they had an 18-month run as Wally and Emily Whitman in the first West End production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, at the Shaftesbury theatre.

They continued to make occasional public appearances and would pretend to be irritated by requests for Sing, Little Birdie, declaring that “we do know other songs”. In later years they both lived at Brinsworth House in Twickenham, south-west London, a retirement home for entertainers. Teddy died in 2018.

• Pearl Lavinia Carr, singer, born 2 November 1921; died 16 February 2020

Teddy Johnson obituary in “The Guardian“ in 2018.

The British entry has finished second in the Eurovision song contest 15 times. The first of these was in 1959 when Sing, Little Birdie was performed by the husband-and-wife duo Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson. In addition to his singing career as a soloist and with his wife, Johnson, who has died aged 98, was a well-known radio personality on Radio Luxembourg and the BBC, and an occasional actor.

The Eurovision song contest had begun in 1956 but the UK, through the BBC, did not enter the competition until the following year when Patricia Bredin came sixth with All. The BBC withdrew to lick its wounds in 1958 but re-entered in 1959. Johnson and Carr were invited to take part in the preliminary contest to choose the British entry. Johnson told an interviewer that “there was one song that nobody wanted. It was called Sing, Little Birdie and as soon as it was played, Pearl and I looked at each other and agreed to do it”.

With 11 countries represented, the 1959 contest was held in France, in Cannes, and Johnson and Carr were beaten by the Netherlands entry, Een Beetje by Teddy Scholten. They re-entered the preliminary contest in 1960, but were unsuccessful; Johnson’s younger brother, Bryan, went through to represent Britain, coming second with Looking High, High, High.

Teddy Johnson was born in Surbiton, south-west London, and worked in an office after leaving school at 14. Aged 18, he landed his first professional booking, as a drummer and assistant steward on the P&O liner SS Corfu. “We played a wide variety of music,” he recalled. “Everything from popular songs and dance music of the day to classical pieces and light opera.” Johnson made his first broadcast in 1939, for Radio Ceylon, which provoked a fellow musician to tell him: “You are a very good singer but a bloody awful drummer”.

During the second world war Johnson served in the merchant navy, working on the Queen Mary as a butcher on the transatlantic run. Ashore in New York City, he attended shows by Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman’s orchestra, as well as buying a state-of-the-art drum kit.

After the war he joined the resident band at the Locarno dance hall in Streatham, south London, and broadcast as a singer with the bandleader Jack Payne. Johnson worked with several more dance bands before he was hired in 1948 as chief announcer for the English language programmes of Radio Luxembourg.

He spent the next two years in the Grand Duchy, presenting and compiling a range of shows from request programmes to the first radio hit parade, compiled from British sales of sheet music. When he was offered a recording contract by EMI’s Columbia label, Johnson returned to London, to be replaced by Pete Murray.

Johnson’s first disc was Beloved, Be Faithful, to be followed by another 20-plus singles. The first of these, There’s a Small Hotel, was an unusual duet with the American star Jo Stafford. Each singer recorded their part in their home studio, with an engineer matching them up. In 1950, Johnson briefly presented the record request show Housewives’ Choice until BBC managers deemed him be too informal.

He had more luck as compere of the radio variety show Black Magic, which also featured Carr, an established singer and member of the vocal group the Keynotes. This was the start of their long professional and personal collaboration. They toured together in variety shows during the 1950s and were regular guests on the BBC children’s programme Crackerjack. The couple married in 1955.

The publicity generated by Carr and Johnson’s Eurovision appearance in 1959 brought them regular bookings for summer shows and pantomimes while the recording of Sing, Little Birdie reached No 12 in the British charts and was No 1 in the Netherlands. A later record, How Wonderful to Know, was a Top 30 hit in 1961. In later years, Carr and Johnson were somewhat out of sync with newer trends in pop music, but Johnson found work with the BBC Light Programme and Radio 2. The duo also made numerous pre-recorded shows for Radio Luxembourg.

Their final live appearance was in the 1987 West End revival of Stephen Sondheim’s show Follies. In retirement, the couple moved to Brinsworth House, a home for entertainers in Twickenham, west London.

Carr survives him.

• Edward Victor Johnson, singer and radio presenter, born 4 September 1919; died 6 June 2018

Post

Demi Moore

Tom Cruise & Demi Moore
Post

Russ Conway

Russ Conway

Russ Conway obituary in “The Guardian” in 2000.

The honky-tonk pianist and composer Russ Conway, who has died of cancer aged 75, enjoyed a great British chart success in the late 1950s and early 1960s. His biggest hit was Side Saddle (1959). He emerged during a hiatus in popular music, before exportable British rock took hold, that produced a clutch of successful piano players, including Winifred Atwell and Liberace, who, along with Conway, were to influence the work of Elton John in later decades. 

Conway was a particular favourite. Tall, anonymously handsome and with shining white teeth – this at a time when complicated bridgework was largely a stranger to British dentistry – he had a particular appeal to women. He sold more than 30m records, had 17 consecutive top-20 hits, his own television shows, mansions, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. He was always embarrassed at being compared to Liberace, the white-fur-coated and smirking American pianist. 

In fact, Conway’s and Liberace’s music and lifestyles were quite different. It was not just Conway’s looks that set him apart from the flamboyant American; his piano style was leaner, firmer and less pretentious, less nakedly appealing to blue-rinsed ladies. His glissandi were no less confident, but less self-indulgent, and he was equally as sure when handling A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square as Tiger Rag. 

His lifestyle, too, though at one time luxurious by the cramped style of the times, was less pretentious, not reliant on screaming clothes; Conway favoured plain dark suits and ties, more in line with his humble background. Nor was he a natural in meeting the extravagant demands of showmanship, which, as a shy man, he always found stressful. 

Throughout his life, he was prone to illnesses and accidents, which he saw as his body’s reaction against the tyranny of the piano. He fell, broke a hip and was paralysed for several days; he had strokes; he sliced off the top of a finger with a bread-slicer – something which, ironically, became a Conway signature as television cameras zoomed into his hands on the keyboard – and he smoked up to 80 untipped cigarettes a day. 

Close on 70 years of age, he jammed a finger in the door of his Rolls-Royce, but he never agreed with the pundits who pensioned him off. A few months later in Bristol, he was busy entertaining a belated 50th anniversary tea-dance to celebrate Victory in Europe Day, where he nonchalantly peeled off the bandage from his wounded finger before attacking the keys. 

Born in Bristol as Trevor Stanford, the name he retained for his composing work, Conway was the son of a mother who died when he was 14, but who had been an amateur pianist and contralto in her day. Unlike his two brothers, who had musical education but no talent, Conway had virtually no musical education, apart from a single boyhood lesson. His clerical-worker father put his son through secretarial college after the boy left school at 14, and then got him a job as a solicitor’s clerk. But, at 16, Conway made for the Merchant Navy training school and his first passage, on a Dutch freighter. 

During the second world war, he earned the distinguished service medal in the Royal Navy for “gallantry and devotion to duty” in mine-sweeping in the Mediterranean. After four years in the RN, his long-running stomach ulcer saw him invalided out. The end of the war found him see-sawing between the Merchant Navy and dead-end jobs as a salesman, plumber’s mate and barman. 

Then a friend suggested he stand in for a holidaying club pianist. He played in pubs and clubs, and was seen by the choreographer Irving Davies, who was so impressed that he asked him to play piano for stars at rehearsals. He worked for Dennis Lotis, Dorothy Squires and Gracie Fields. But it was when Conway made it to the Billy Cotton Band Show, a fixture on BBC radio and television in the 1950s and early 1960s, that the rumbustious bandleader persuaded him to loosen up his playing, and helped create the disciplined freedom of the mature Conway style. 

It was not playing but composing that indirectly led him to fame. A musical he had written for the comedian Frankie Howerd, Mr Venus, was a write-off, but it led him to writing the score for a TV musical, Beauty And The Beast. For it, he had to write a last-minute tune for one brief scene set in a ballroom. Sitting in the rehearsal room, Conway wrote 16 bars as an olde-world gavotte and scribbled “Side Saddle” beside it in the margin. 

Though it was to become virtually his signature tune, the music industry was, at first, blind to the piece’s potential. A publisher took all Conway’s music for Beauty And The Beast – except Side Saddle, which he dismissed as “too old-fashioned”. Another publisher, after its writer had honky-tonked it up, did not agree. Soon, Conway was a national figure, and China Tea, Roulette and Snowcoach followed. 

In 1960, when he had his first television show, Russ Conway And A Few Friends, he was reputed to be earning £500 a week, then a huge sum, in record and sheet sales alone. He became an instantly recognisable face and sound, while the media found him politely evasive when discussing anything except his work. He moved from a basement flat in Maida Vale, where he personally answered his fan mail, to a mansion, where three full-timers did the job. 

The music promoter who had called him “an atrocious pianist” was in a minority, but symbolised the stress Conway felt he was under. The stomach ulcer returned. In 1963, he had a nervous breakdown while playing at Scarborough, and then fell and fractured a hip, leaving him paralysed for three days; two years later, at only 38, he had the first of his strokes. 

He had several times to give up playing, but never had to give up composing. He and his compositions were heard at seaside resorts and at theatres, including the London Palladium, long after his records had vanished from the charts. 

At 65, Conway discovered he had cancer. Noting that others waiting to see specialists were either talkative and confident of surviving or silent and morose, he resolved to be part of the former group – and succeeded for many years. He lived on in Eastbourne and never married. 

• Russ Conway (Trevor Stanford), pianist and composer, born September 2 1925; died November 15 2000

Post

Denise Black

Denise Black

English actress and singer Denise Black’s diverse career has spanned several critically acclaimed television and stage performances. Best known for her role as Denise Osbourne on Coronation Street, Black has also appeared as Hazel Tyler in Queer as Folk and its follow-up series, Cucumber, and as Joanie Wright in Emmerdale. Her other TV appearances include Bad Girls, A Touch of Frost, The Bill, and Doc Martin. Black has also taken to the stage at The Threepenny Opera, Stop Children’s Laughter, and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and King Lear. Not only a theatrical talent, Black is also a member of the jazz group Denise Black & the Kray Sisters and the band The Loose Screw.

This Hampshire-born actress found her first role in the Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre production of Miniatures, before joining the Actor’s Touring Company to travel and perform in Europe, Asia, and South America. Upon her return, she formed Denise Black & the Kray Sisters with actresses Josie Lawrence and Kate McKenzie. Appearances on Channel 4 soon followed, as did her TV debut in an episode of BBC’s Casualty. She has since received a 2004 MEN Award for her portrayal of Mari Hoff in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and the UK Theatres 2018 Award for Best Performance for her role in The Cherry Orchard.

Black can recently be seen performing in Machinal at the Almeida, singing at the Brighton Pride, and making her silver-screen debut in the feature film The Last Tree. Fans can also catch her portraying Lady Cooper in NST City’s The Shadow Factory.

Post

Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett. Wikipedia

He began acting as a child appearing on BBC children’s television and in films such as Bang! You’re DeadA Cry from the StreetsWar and PeaceThe Genie and Four Sided Triangle.

Years later he made many appearances in television and films including ITV Television PlayhouseZ-CarsThe Wednesday PlayCast a Giant ShadowEmergency-Ward 10ChronicleArmchair TheatreHell BoatsMoonstrikeAttack on the Iron CoastSoftly, SoftlyThe TerroristsRobin Hood JuniorBBC Play of the MonthThe Zoo RobberyPaul of TarsusTales of the UnexpectedFather TedHolby CityBrush StrokesMinderPoldarkNoah’s Ark and Theatre 625.

In the mid-1970s Barrett was cast in the BBC Radio series of George Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels as Maigret’s subordinate, Inspector Janvier. He has performed the voices of Asterix and Caius Tiddlius in the English version of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, Tik-Tok in Return to Oz, a Goblin in LabyrinthBig Mac and other characters in TUGS, Thadius Vent’s soothsayer Goodtooth in Oscar’s Orchestra, Melchoir in the English dubbed version of the Lapitch the Little Shoemaker TV series, Roly the Pineapple in the English version of The Fruities and UrSu the Dying Master and UrZah the Ritual-Guardian in The Dark Crystal as well as additional characters in two video games The Feeble Files and Viking: Battle for Asgard. He also provided the voice for Captain Orion in Star Fleet, the English version of the 1980s Japanese puppet series X-Bomber.

He also narrated Fair Ground!TimewatchPeople’s Century and Dark Towers for BBC, dubbed voices in many anime films such as Roujin ZCyber City Oedo 808 and Dominion: Tank Police and has done voices for several audiobooks and radio stations.

In 1996, he was the narrator for the Channel 4 documentary series, Black Box. The series primarily concentrated on commercial aviation accidents, and the investigations related to them.

Barrett also worked as part of an ADR Loop Group on Aardman‘s first computer-animated film Flushed Away, a voice director on Lapitch the Little Shoemaker and a dialogue director on The Fruities. He has also narrated episodes of the BBC TV series People’s Century and Dancing in the Street, as well as a number of BBC nature documentaries in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Sean Barrett

In 2011, he voiced Andre of Astora, Petrus of Thorolund and Ingward in Dark Souls. He returned to voice Darkdiver Grandahl in Dark Souls II, and later reprised his role as Andre of Astora in Dark Souls III, as well as voicing Holy Knight Hodrick.

In 2017, he voiced the titan Azurda in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and in 2018, reprised the role for Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country.

Post

Rory Cowan

Eilish O’Carroll & Rory Cowan
Post

Eilish O’Carroll

Eilish O’Carroll & Rory Cowan