Petula "Pet" Clark, broadcaster, actress, international recording artist and pop singer. b 1932 -
"a voice as sweet as chapel bells"
Born 15th November 1932 in Epsom
, her mother began teaching her to sing at almost as soon as she could talk. By the time she was seven, she had begun to appear on stage, and by age nine (with some 200 live shows under her belt) had begun her broadcasting career on the radio. During World War II
she really came into her own, entertaining the troops at home and abroad with her own radio concert program, and quickly became known as the "British Shirley Temple
In 1944 she made her first film, Strawberry Roan (she went on to make over 30), and in 1945 was invited to sing at the victory celebrations in Trafalgar Square - an oustanding achievement for a girl of just thirteen.
During the 1940s, she became involved with the new medium of television, presenting and singing in some of the earliest experimental broadcasts. She was later given her own show, "This is Petula Clark", in 1966.
It was also in the 40s that she began her recording career, with "Music, Music, Music" in 1949, but moving on to record over 1000 songs, from the standard 'pop' fare to children's songs such as "Where Did My Snowman Go?". She has to date sold over 69 million records.
Her international career began in 1960, when Claude Wolff invited her to sing at the Olympia Theatre in France. This event was to change her life. She attracted audiences throughout Europe and the rest of the world, but more than that, she fell in love with Claude, and they were married in 1961. As a live artist, she even rivalled Edith Piaf for popularity, even in Piaf's native France. She has recorded songs in French, German, Italian and Spanish, and has had Number One hits throughout the world.
Strangely, despite her European popularity, she remained little-known as a recording artist in the UK. This changed in 1965 when Tony Hatch persuaded her to record his song, Downtown, which became an enormous success, reaching Number Two in the UK charts. She followed this up with a string of hits in the late 60s, and this opened up her career worldwide. North America and Australasia beckoned, and she did not disappoint.
Both in and out of the spotlight, Petula Clark is an extraordinary person - even in her late 50s, she still pursued a punishing schedule, sometimes filming in the morning, recording or broadcasting in the afternoon and giving concerts in the evening. This powerhouse of a woman still drives herself hard, also working hard for many charities and noble causes, including AIDS fundraising and awareness events, and has worked for UNICEF and CURSAID as an 'ambassador' and fundraiser. Her concern for the people is legendary. She will not be cowed over conscience issues either - when asked to give a television special for NBC in 1968, the programme's sponsor requested that a sequence in which she touched her black guest, Harry Belafonte should be removed in deference to the southern states. She refused to comply, and the show was eventually transmitted despite protests from the producers and sponsor alike.
With literally hundreds of singles and albums, there are simply too many to list. A selection of her best-known charting singles is given below:
Notable TV guest appearances
Out-takes (Typing Errots):
"...by age nine (with some 200 live shoes under her belt)..."
"...moving on to record over 1000 snogs."
"As a love artist, she even rivalled Edith Piaf..."