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My friend Dorothy Squires              

Bryan Yeubrey

I first went to see Dorothy Squires in 1970, when as a 19 year-old songwriter I took a new song to her, at her home in Bexley.  Being a teenager at the time, I guess I really had no idea just how big a star she was, having only become aware of her because she had then enjoyed two recent chart hits with ‘For once in my life’ and ‘Till’.  I had written a big ballad of a song called ‘No tears tonight’.  It was a strong song and in the same style, so I knew it would suit her perfectly.  The only problem was that Dorothy and I had never spoken or met and she certainly wasn’t expecting either me, or my song. 

My visit must have been around the time that she released ‘My Way’, because I recall it was a glorious summer’s day.  As I approached the house, on the sweeping driveway stood a white Rolls Royce and through a hedge I could see a brightly painted gypsy caravan, next to a swimming pool in the garden.  I didn't really do too well that day though, because the housekeeper answered the door and said, “I am afraid Miss Squires is resting… she can’t see you”  

However, through one of those strange but fortunate circumstances that life sometimes deals, I found myself being formally introduced to her three years later, when she was opening a large store in my hometown Wolverhampton.  We struck up an immediate friendship, a friendship that was to last for the rest of her life.  As many of her fans know, the beautiful house in Bexley was destroyed by fire in 1974, so she moved to a new house on the River Thames in Bray.  Over the years I stayed at the new house many times. 

Dot always said she looked upon me as the son that she never had.   Sometimes we would go out to dinner or to shows and when she was in the Midlands she would stay with my wife Ros and I.  One time in 1985 after Dot and I had returned from the ‘Ivor Novello Songwriter Awards’ at the Grosvenor Hotel, London, she insisted on transferring all of her copyrights to me…. but I refused to let her do this.

On another occasion in that same year, Dot came to Wolverhampton, to celebrate the 50th birthday of a mutual friend Arthur Lewis.  In those days I had a recording studio built in my house.  When Dot called around, for some reason I decided that on this occasion I would play her ‘the song’ that I had taken to her house all those years earlier.  I had never mentioned or played the song to her before.  She listened intently before saying…. “Bloody Hell Bryan… that’s a hit record…  I wish I’d had that years ago.”  I never told her about my visit in 1970. I still wonder what she might have said had she known…  or whether it too would have become another hit for her.

From a musical perspective, Dot and I occasionally worked on songs together and I still have some co-written songs and part written pierces.  I also have some of her acetate demos of recordings that were never released.  For a time she had worked on a musical called ‘Old Roly’, based on the life of King Charles ll.  It was a wonderful story and Dot had performed several of the songs in her live shows, ‘Heart of the city’ etc but, the musical itself was never staged.

Dot loved to talk and would regularly call.  We would often call each other for guidance sometimes spending hours on the telephone.  As anyone who knew her will tell you, a call could come at almost any hour and would be a marathon, for she rarely stopped for breath… or to let you squeeze a word in.  She had a vibrant and wonderfully creative and incisive mind.  I had a great respect for her. 

As I am sure many people know, Dot had embarked on a series of litigations in the 1970’s and 80’s, the enormous costs of which led to the bailiffs finally seizing her fabulous home Langtry House, Fishery Road, Bray in January of 1987.  What a wonderful house that was.  It was built around 1880 by the future King Edward Vll, for his mistress Lillie Langtry.  Located on the River Thames, these days it would sell for several million pounds and her neighbours included Rolf Harris, Michael Parkinson, Sheila Ferguson and many other celebrities. 

Then one dreadful day in 1987 I received an unexpected phone call from Dot and everything changed forever.  I will never forget her trembling voice that morning when I heard her say, “What do you think Bryan…  they have taken my home? They have put me out into the street.”  So I immediately jumped in my car and drove to Bray  

On arrival, Dot was in a distressed state.  Not only had they seized her home, but also its entire contents, including precious love letters from her husband Roger Moore, her fabulous stage gowns and a considerable number of other treasures and items of memorabilia.  Fortunately I was able to quickly find accommodation for her nearby at the Thames Riviera Hotel, in Maidenhead.  I covered the costs for many months and she rewarded me with the gift of a specially designed gold ring that she had kept back, and which had once belonged to ‘James Bond’.  I still wear the ring today.

At this time though Dot retreated to the privacy of her own world, accepting visits only from her closest friends such as her dear friend’s Des and Peter from Port Talbot, or the trusted journalist John Lloyd and from myself.  These were dark times, but we all thought that it would be just one more hiccup in her extraordinary but often topsy turvy life.  We could not have foreseen then that Dot would never again fully enjoy her precious independence, and would spend the remaining 11 years of her life staying with kind friends and fans such as Doris Joyce in Ackworth.

Following a career that had spanned and incredible seven decades, Dot made her final stage appearance in March 1990, at the Brighton Dome.  The show was promoted by impresario Brian Ralfe and was a great success.  All 2000 seats quickly sold out.  Also on the bill was her dear friend, the pianist Mike Terry.  My wife and I sat three rows from the stage, amongst an audience that included a number of stars.  You see Dorothy was a ‘star’s star’ and they always turned out to support her.   That night she enthralled us all and despite fluffing a few lyrics, which she so often did and yet which only ever seemed to endear her, she received several standing ovations.  You see a Dorothy Squires concert was no ordinary concert… it was always ‘an event’.

Throughout her life Dot was proud to have had a loyal following and was always eager to point out that many of her fans were gay.  She loved them all and they worshipped and adored her.  I guess they identified with her struggles and admired her immense courage and spirit.  The floral tributes at a Dorothy Squires concert were always a sight to behold. 

Also numbering amongst her celebrity fans was, Elvis Presley, who often went to her concerts in the US.  In fact it is said that in the late1950’s he took his mom Gladys to her concerts five nights in a row.  The great Frank Sinatra once said of her, “That gal has balls.”  In his own inimitable way, he was of course referring to her glitzy grit, determination and unbounded talent.

As we all know, Dot took her final curtain on the 14th April 1998, but as ever she closed the show in style, with not one, but two funeral services.  The first was in Port Talbot, so that her many fans from her beloved Wales could say their farewells. They attended in their droves and I went with my young son James.  The second service, a few days later, was her burial service, which was held at Streatham Cemetery in South London, which I attended with my wife Ros. 

Amongst the many celebrity mourners was Russ Conway, with whom Dot had shared the huge hit ‘Say it with flowers’ in 1961.  Russ played the melody on piano in the chapel.   On that day I was proud to be invited to carry her coffin along with Harry, one of her dearest fans.  Following the service, four of us carried ‘our Dot’ shoulder high some 400 yards to her final resting place, next to her brother who had died a few years earlier.  

Dot was just marvellous, a real star in the true sense of the word.  Moreover (a word she used a lot) she was the sweetest person once she knew she could trust you.  She was my friend.  I was honoured and privileged to have known her and to have enjoyed her confidence and trust for a quarter of a century. 

  © Bryan Yeubrey 2008

 


ASTORIA THEATRE - LLANELLI

Alec Jones from Llanelli’s local Heritage Society has contacted the website to say that the town’s Astoria Theatre - which was at one time jointly owned  and managed by Dorothy Squires and Billy Reid - has been demolished.

“I’m sending a couple of photos of the demolition.  It would appear that although it wasn’t a classic building it definitely had its merits, including an arched ceiling suspended from trusses, elaborate plaster work and original mouldings, as well as an upper level.  I would suspect that the stage area had more elaborate decorations but this was the first section to be demolished.”

Thanks for the information and the photos, Alec, about the Astoria which had been derelict for some time.  Situated alongside Llanelli’s railway station, the theatre was bought by Billy Reid and Dorothy in the late Forties.  Dorothy, naturally, took centre stage at its opening performance, which was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress and other civic dignitaries.  Following the break-up of their professional and personal partnership Reid retained ownership of the theatre, while Dorothy kept their home at St. Mary’s Mount in Bexley, Kent.

 


THE DOROTHY SQUIRES STORY - JULY 4th, 2008

The Dorothy Squires Story - Hungerford Arts Festival July 2008

Gary Wilkins has kindly supplied this review of Gerri Smith’s portrayal of Dorothy in this musical play which was originally staged at the Edinburgh Festival.

It was with some trepidation that I visited Hungerford in Berkshire to see The Dorothy Squires Story, a musical play which was being staged as part of the annual Arts Festival held there. I had on many occasions attended Dorothy’s concerts throughout the Seventies, meeting her several times back stage after the shows.  I had wondered if the play would be a true account of Dot’s life and could Gerri Smith’s portrayal capture the excitement and emotion of a Squires performance during the musical numbers.

I need not have worried as Gerri Smith’s musical play delivered on both counts.  The story was faithful to Dorothy’s own accounts of her life.  At the end of the play Gerri pays tribute to Dorothy’s famous ‘comeback’ concert at the London Palladium, singing several of the famous numbers from that show.  Without the benefit of a vast orchestra, Gerri gave a powerhouse vocal performance, accompanied only by her accomplished pianist Ian Michael Thomas (who she affectionately referred to as ‘Kenny’).

Seeing Gerri at the end of the show, clutching a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne, and listening to the applause, brought back nostalgic echoes of Dot’s concerts.  To quote from John Lloyd, who for many years ran the Dorothy Squires Fan Club, and was at the performance: “Tonight the Palladium came to Hungerford.”

Gerri will be performing this show several more times this year, including performances in South Wales.  Ford older fans it will invoke memories of a great performer and for those who never got a chance to see her perform live it will give you an insight as to why Dorothy sustained a career lasting over fifty years and was known as ‘Miss Showbiz’.

Thanks for the review Gary, who is pictured with Geri after the Hungerford performance.  Also pictured with Geri is the indefatigable John Lloyd.

Gerri has confirmed that she will be performing The Dorothy Squires Story at the Riverfront Theatre, Newport, South Wales, on December 11 and Park & Dare Theatre, Rhondda on December 12, both performances starting at 7.30pm.  She is also optimistic that it will be staged in Swansea, although no date has yet been set.

 


DOROTHY PRESS...
Click on articles to enlarge


Dorothy with record producer Norrie Paramor, Matt Monro and Helen Shapiro

Above two articles courtesy of Mark Willerton and the Bertey Fen Collection


Thanks to Stephen Debell for sending in this cutting about Dorothy's notorious appearance on the Take Two TV programme


Chris Rogers has compiled for Hallmark Records an excellent collection of early Dorothy Squires recordings, some of which are making their first time appearance on a CD.  The Unforgettable Dorothy Squires (Original Recordings 1936-1953) includes some of Dorothy’s earliest recordings, including Little Drummer Boy, My Heaven In The Pines, Moonlight On The Waterfall, Are You Sincere, The Sweetest Sweetheart Of All and Rose Covered Shack.  The collection also includes favourites like The Gipsy, Mother’s Day, Coming Home, It’s A Pity To Say Goodnight, It’s The Talk Of The Town, If You Love Me, and I’m Walking Behind You.  Catalogue number is Hallmark 706792.

Chris says: “I have wanted to do a Dorothy Squires CD for ages and thought about doing something a bit different, so I went all the way back to the early years with Billy Reid and his accordion band.  I believe these had not been heard for many years, so to preserve these lovely recordings I had the idea of putting them on The Unforgettable Dorothy Squires for Hallmark/Pickwick. 

 “I had telephoned Dorothy in the Nineties and found her a nice person to speak to, so this was my little tribute to Dorothy who I am just one of the many fans.  My name is not credited on this title, as Dorothy is the star of the show.  I hope her fans can add this CD to their collections.”

Chris has also done other titles for Pickwick/Hallmark including Gracie Fields, and Dancebands.  Another of his compilations is Classic Female Vocals which features Dorothy’s Moonlight On The Waterfall, together with a host of female singers including Vera Lynn, Deanna Durbin, Gracie Fields, Kate Smith, Carmen Miranda, Irene Dunne, Judy Garland, Elsie Carlisle and Ann Shelton.  Many of the recordings have never appeared on CD before.

The Unforgettable Dorothy Squires can be bought online via Amazon, or in major retail outlets like HMV.  Chris has downloaded three recordings from the CD and these can be heard on YouTube.


Obituaries - William 'Billy' Reid Junior & Jon Styler

William (Billy) Reid junior – the son of Billy Reid, who worked with and composed many of Dorothy Squires songs back in the 40s – died suddenly in October 2007 at his home in Southampton at the age of just 50.  Like his father, Billy was a musician and songwriter himself, and was very popular on the local live circuit.  His funeral at Southampton Crematorium attracted a large turn out of family, friends and colleagues.  Distinguished author and journalist Michael Thornton sent flowers, as did John Lloyd of the Dorothy Squires Appreciation Society who also attended the funeral.  During the service Billy’s own recording of Elton John’s Your Song was played, and the other music was Dinah Washington’s recording of his father’s classic song I’ll Close My Eyes, and Frank Sinatra’s My Way.

Sad also to report the death in August 2007 of pianist Jon Styler, who worked with Gerri Smith in The Dorothy Squires Story, which Gerri performed at the Edinburgh Festival and toured in 1999 including a performance at London’s Westminster Theatre.  Jon died on 14 August and Gerri says:  “Jon was an inspirational piano player and, without him, I would never have considered putting the show on.  We had a great time rehearsing and performing the show, and both of us had some truly eerie moments when we truly thought Dot was with us along the way.  Jon was at my birthday party of 16 July, and last New Year’s Eve we were together performing Say It With Flowers.  I will miss him always.” 

 


Obituary - Fraser O’Brien

The Dorothy Squires Official Website was saddened to receive the following e-mail:

“My name is Will and I am a friend of Fraser O’Brien.  I’m sorry to have to tell you that Fraser died suddenly on 25th May (2007).  I’m not sure if you knew already so thought I had better e-mail and let you know, in case you have been trying to contact him and wondered where he had disappeared to.  I’m just trying to make sure everyone he was in touch with is aware of his death”.

Fraser O’Brien had been in contact with the Dorothy website on several occasions and had been very supportive of the efforts to keep Dorothy’s name and music alive.  In fact he had been involved with the release of several of Dorothy’s CDs and had also been very encouraging about the new EMI Records double-CD The Very Best Of Dorothy Squires, suggesting the inclusion of recordings that had never been available on CD before.

Fraser was a big Dusty Springfield fan and had been closely involved with the annual Dusty Day celebrations, usually held around the time of Dusty’s birthday (April 16).  He also produced several CDs of Dusty’s TV and radio live broadcasts from the Sixties and early Seventies, which were available to fans only, but always highly professional looking and sounding.

Our sincere condolences go to Fraser’s mother, and to his other family and large circle of friends and acquaintances.  As a tribute to Fraser we reproduce here Fraser’s original article for the Dorothy website.  For more information about Fraser, please go to Will’s website which can be found at http://web.mac.com/digitographer


From Fraser O’Brien

I’ve just found the website and am really pleased to see there is one dedicated to Dot.  I’ve been a fan for about 20 years, ever since I saw a drag act taking her off at the famous Vauxhall Tavern in south London.  Iwas totally blown away by her voice.

I wrote a long fan letter to Dorothy around 1991 and, a few weeks later, she called me up on the phone.  I nearly dropped the receiver when I realised it was her!  Dorothy was very nice and thanked me for my letter.

I told her that I had been in touch with someone (Hugh Palmer) who had prepared the Three Beautiful Words Of Love CD in 1989 and that we were planning to swap information we’d both collected, to try and put together a complete discography of her work.  A year or so later Dorothy called me again, and said that Hugh Palmer had been in contact with her about re-issuing the 1970 and 1971 London Palladium concerts on CD and cassette.  I told her that a lot of fans would love to see the concert recordings available on CD and that second-hand copies of the original albums were changing hands for up to £50 each.  The fans were basically being ripped off and at the same time Dorothy was seeing no financial benefit from the situation.

Dorothy agreed with me on this and I got a letter from Hugh afterwards, thanking me for saying what I did.  He even gave me a credit in the ‘thank you’ section of the CD inner booklet.  I also contacted Living Era around 2002/2003, asking why they didn’t issue a CD of Dorothy’s, particularly as they were part of the same group that owned the rights to the old Pye and Polygon catalogues, which of course Dorothy had recorded for in the 50s.

They got back to me and suggested that I come up with a track listing, which I did and sent off.  Living Era specialise in issuing CDs of recordings that are more than 50 years old, and therefore out of copyright.  They got back to me and asked where they could get hold of a lot of the original recordings.  I advised them that I had most of them on 78s and arranged to take them to the guy who was preparing the CD, somewhere near Olympia.

They didn’t take the full track-listing that I suggested (which included the obvious hits, plus other tracks from the 1945-1953 period that had not yet been issued on CD.  They used most of them, but there were a couple of recordings that they didn’t use and which have yet to appear on a CD.  I also have a mention in the sleeve notes as co-compiler of the CD, along with Ray Crick who was working for Living Era.

I used to live in London – until 2003 – in Streatham and, when Dorothy called me the first time, she mentioned that she knew the area well – I think that she said her parents were buried there.  I went to the funeral at Streatham Vale Cemetery in April 1998.  I remember the day well - the only person I knew was John Lloyd – but I’m glad I went.  It would make sense that Dorothy’s parents were buried there, if that’s where she chose to be buried rather than back in Wales (webmaster’s note: Dorothy’s parents are, indeed, buried close to Dorothy’s grave, although to my knowledge there is no marker stone).

I hope that EMI Records will consider commemorating Dorothy’s career in someway, perhaps with a 3CD box set, as they have done for Alma Cogan, Ruby Murray and Michael Holliday.  Hopefully they will also release the 1972 Palladium concert on CD too, and they’ll also find the complete master tapes and restore the album CD to the full concert, rather than the heavily edited version that was released back in 1973.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with the Drury Lane CD.  I had hoped that they’d be able to restore the Nobody Does It Like Me opening number to the CD – I was never quite sure what the problem about that was, whether it was down to copyright problems with the change of lyrics, or whether it was deemed to be in contempt of court (webmaster: Dorothy was awaiting trial at the Old Bailey at the time, in the infamous BBC payola court case) and had to be withdrawn for that reason (webmaster: it was due to copyright problems, Dorothy had changed the original Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields lyrics, making references to her own life and current predicament!).  I was also hopeful that they’d restore the hits to the concert – I know we have got versions of them on the 1970 and 1971 CDs but I was hopeful of ‘new’ versions to listen to!  Hopefully Pye (or whoever owns the rights to the recordings these days) can be prevailed upon to issue a similar, complete CD set of everything they own (in the correct chronological order – including the complete Sings Billy Reid album from 1958.

One thing I did notice is that I Tunes has an album listed called Our Song by Dorothy.  It’s just a plain cover and the released date is 5th July 2006.  I’m not sure if it’s an actual album that can be purchased, as I can’t find it listed anywhere else, or whether it is an album just to be downloaded.  The snippet I could play of Waiting seems to be a lot better than the one on the If You Love Me CD (webmaster: this has certainly not materialised as an official CD release to date, October 2006).

I am a Dusty fan as well and I’ve been involved with a few things to do with Dusty during the past five or six years, mainly with the organisation of the Dusty Day in Henley – where she lived towards the end of her life – around the time of what would have been her birthday (April 16).  It’s usually the Sunday closest to it.  As far as I know, Dot and Dusty never met – they probably inhabited different worlds in the 60s and 70s.  I do know of someone who once asked Dot what she thought of Dusty and she said she really liked her – really admired her for having her own mind and having so much control over the material she recorded – and Dot thought that she exercised that control very well.

I’m not sure what Dusty would have thought of Dot – my guess is that, as Dot was British, Dusty probably wouldn’t have been that big a fan.  Most of her influences from that period were American, and Dusty (and her parents) didn’t really seem to seriously rate British singers of the era – Anne Shelton, Vera Lynn, and so on – and Dot would have been in the same bracket as them back in the 40s and 50s.

Webmaster: Thanks Fraser for this long and interesting e-mail. It’s particularly interesting to read about Dorothy’s thoughts of the great Dusty.  Not only did they share the same initials (DS), but also the same couturier company – Doug Darnell designed Dorothy’s stage gowns and his partner Eric Darnell made many of Dust’s.  In fact, back in the early 70s Dusty used to joke in her stage performances: “Do you like the frock?  I’ve borrowed it from Dorothy Squires; only she has to have it back by midnight because she’s hired the Vatican for a one-night stand!”

Incidentally it’s not inconceivable that Dorothy and Dusty may have met – they could well have bumped into each at the Darnels’ premises, and of course both Dusty and Dorothy were both big friends of Danny La Rue who regularly held lavish show business parties.  It would be interesting to hear from anyone who can cast light on this.

 

Roger Moore – The Early Days

In 1972 Roger Moore’s told his life story in a special magazine, The Roger Moore Story, a TV Times Extra publication published by Independent Publications Ltd.  Written in collaboration with Ken Roache, Roger spoke of his years with Dorothy Squires.  This is a slightly abridged version of his reminiscences about life with Dorothy.

I met Dorothy during a party at her home.  Without qualification I must say that I found her and her side of the entertainment business entirely fascinating.  My prime concern had been with acting and modelling but I had experienced some of the feeling of the variety side of our business through musicals.  I had a feeling for variety performers, and that’s one of the reasons Dorothy attracted me.

I was naturally flattered when Dorothy showed interest in me.  But neither of us made all the running.  It was entirely mutual; it developed swiftly and we had been together for about a year before my divorce came through and we were able to marry in America.  Careerwise, things started happening.  I was of course still very determined to make my own career in my own way, but the long and short of it was that Dorothy went to America to help promote a record and I went over as well to try my luck.

Dorothy’s reason for going to the States was the issue of her record I’m Walking Behind You.  Eddie Fisher recorded the same number and Dorothy’s didn’t do as well as it deserved, but she was still a considerable hit.  I was mainly acting as Dorothy’s manager but my visa and permit allowed me to work and in fact I never stopped.  When I tried to get it renewed they said it wasn’t possible, but there was a legal way around it if I became an American resident.  It was easier for an unknown like me to do everything than for an established star like Dorothy.  She did the No. 1 theatre – The Palace {in New York} – and later in Hollywood she was such a success at the Moulin Rouge that Elvis Presley was in every night to see her.  At this time I was in Hollywood doing TV plays or back in England (about 1957-58) while Dorothy was in the States, Australia and other parts of the world.  We didn’t get all that much time together.

One thing that never had an effect on me: I was never jealous of Dorothy’s star status.  And I don’t think the fact that I was virtually unknown had any effect on her.  I am convinced that side of things had nothing to do with either our relationship or our subsequent breaking up. 

Our marriage was in 1953 in New York City before a drunken Justice of the Peace.  Dorothy had bought her wedding shoes in the bargain basement at Gimballs and they hurt her feet.  She left them in the judge’s office and I had to run off and get them while the wedding pictures were being taken.  So I didn’t get to be in the wedding picture.  The best man was Joe Latona, who is now a TV producer in Australia, and who was part of a comedy knockabout act called Warren, Latona and Spakes.  It was a funny old wedding.  This justice, very inebriated, said something like: “Do you, Dot Rodge?  And Joe, will you sign here?”  It was that kind of wedding. 

There was no honeymoon because Dot had to be back in England next day for a TV spectacular.  I stayed on to see what was going to happen next.  It was a play on Broadway.  It opened on September 17 1953 and closed that same night.  They showed me the notice of closure and we all went home.  Dorothy was in New York so I rang her and said, “Let’s go to the pictures.” So off we went, me still clutching my sad little BOAC bag full of unused make-up.  My first big break on Broadway had fallen apart.

The first time the marriage between Dorothy and myself ran into trouble was during the making of The Alaskans series.  The discomforts {of filming} were nothing compared with the emotional bother I got into.  Dorothy was over there frequently and one night we were returning home from a cocktail party and she said, “You’re in love with somebody else”.  “What do you mean?” I asked, all innocent.  “You keep shouting her name in your sleep,” Dot said.  “What name do I shout?” I said, interested.  “Dorothy,” she said.  “That’s your name!” “You know very well (or words to that effect) that you never call me Dorothy.  You call me Dot!”  The entire episode ended up with me confessing that I was in love with my co-star in The Alaskans, Dorothy Provine.  Dot, understandably furious, stormed back to England.  Well eventually that came to an end, but there was a lot of other trouble before I did the run in Maverick.

Eventually I returned with Dorothy to Europe where there was pile of film scripts waiting for me to choose from.  Many were for French and Italian films and nearly all were bad.  Until I came upon one that struck me being hysterically funny.  It was about Romulus and Remus, the founding of Rome, and The Rape Of The Sabines.  The entire film was an appalling mess but the one good thing to emerge from it was I met Louisa.

In no time at all I had made up my mind that, married or not, nothing and no one was going to keep me away from Luisa.  I think it possible, even from this distance, that if Dorothy had had children then I may not have been so determined to do what I did.   The driving issue was that I loved Luisa but when I came back to London there were a few distressing scenes.  More arguments followed with Dorothy at our home in Bexley, Kent, and I packed up and left.

Later there was a perpetual nagging undercurrent which the whole world knows about.  Dorothy, for her own reasons, steadfastly refused to give me a divorce.  I was in love with Luisa and everybody who knew us considered us man and wife.  The English press always behaved marvellously to me.  They would come out to the studio to do an interview and inevitably it would reach a stage where the reporter would say, “I’m sorry but my editor is going to want to know why I didn’t ask you about Dorothy and Luisa.  And I would reply: “I understand, but I am afraid I have no comment.”

Eventually I decided to make a once-and-for-all statement about the position.  That would be the end of it.  Don Short from the Daily Mirror came out to the house.  We discussed it and when he left I sat back relieved to feel that at last some stability was around the corner.  The story with my statement was due to break on the Wednesday morning.  The night before Luisa and I went to a Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium and during the interval Don Short came down the aisle looking for me.  He beckoned me out to one of the foyers and said the story wasn’t going to be used.

“Why?” I said, a little put out.  “Dorothy’s lawyers have said that she has decided to divorce you.”  I was delighted and told Luisa the moment I got back to my seat.  But a part of me was saying that I’d heard this story before.  It was to drag on for another two years, for one reason or another.  One day I was to go home and tell Luisa that I was fixed.  It looked like she could make a honest man of me.”


Norman Newell
25th January 1919 – 1st December 2004

It is with sadness that we received the news of the death, at the age of 85 years, of Norman Newell, the veteran record producer and lyricist whose career in the music business had spanned well over five decades.

Roger Moore, Norman Newell, Russ Conway and Dorothy
Roger Moore, Norman Newell, Russ Conway and Dorothy

Norman had worked with many top recording names from both sides of the Atlantic throughout the decades including Shirley Bassey, Noel Coward, Gracie Fields, Russ Conway, Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, Josef Locke, Paul Robeson, Jessie Matthews, the Beverley Sisters, Alma Cogan, Bobby Crush, Ken Dodd, Des O’Connor and Peter & Gordon.  He also worked extensively in the recording studios with Dorothy Squires, and the two were close friends for many years.

Among the many songs that Norman provided lyrics for were Matt Monro’s Portrait Of My Love, Steve Conway’s My Thanks To You, Shirley Bassey’s This Is My Life and Never Never Never, Say Wonderful Things recorded by Ronnie Carroll,  Alma Cogan’s With You In Mind, and Petula Clark’s Sailor (which was also a Top 10 hit for Anne Shelton).  For many years Norman wrote under the pseudonym David West, so that this aspect of his career did not conflict with his role as an in-house record producer for EMI Records’ Columbia Records.

Norman, who retired in 2001, was the recipient of many awards during his career, including a Grammy, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, three Ivor Novello Awards and six BMI awards.  He also received an Oscar nomination for his lyrics for the song More (featured in the film Mondo Cane), which has been recorded by countless artists including Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, and Diana Ross & The Supremes.

Norman’s friendship with Dorothy dated back to the late Forties when he was in charge of EMI’s Columbia label.  He became a frequent visitor to Dorothy’s home in Bexley, and also at her home in Westwood Village, Hollywood, when she was living there with her husband Roger Moore during the Fifties.

 During one such visit (along with Russ Conway) Norman found some hand-written sheet music in a piano stool.  Russ started to play the melody and Norman enquired about the song.  It was Say It With Flowers, which Dorothy had composed herself, and then almost forgotten about.  Norman said that the next time she returned to London he would produce a recording of the song, with Russ playing the piano and Dorothy singing.  Released in the summer of 1961, Say It With Flowers spent a total of ten weeks in the British pop charts.

Norman went on to record many other singles with Dorothy during the Sixties including Talk It Over With Someone, Moonlight And Roses, Blue Snowfall, I Won’t Cry Anymore and The Call Of Spring.  In the late 1970’s the pair were re-united in the Abbey Road recording studios when Norman produced Dorothy’s album Rain Rain Go Away.  Among its outstanding tracks were Born To Lose, If I Never Sing Another Song, Love Letters, Is That All There Is?, and Dorothy’s self-penned songs Megan (for which Norman provided the lyrics) and If I Had The Chance.

Norman also provided the liner-notes for Rain Rain Go Away, saying that he had been “extremely proud to produce the album”.  He also wrote: “I have known this extremely courageous and warm-hearted person for many years, and indeed owe her a great debt of gratitude for helping me achieve my ambition to be a songwriter.  So many people have reason to be grateful to Dorothy for helping them to find their place in the sun.”

I recalled interviewing Norman Newell a couple of years later, and asked him which artists he had most enjoyed working with.  Dorothy’s name was one of the first he mentioned, and he recalled the sessions for that particular album.  Apparently Dorothy wanted to belt out many of the songs in her familiar ‘live in concert’ style but Norman convinced her to have a more low-key approach to the vocals.  He won the argument and Rain Rain Go Away remains one of Dorothy’s most outstanding albums.  Incidentally the gatefold sleeve of the album included a photograph of Dorothy, Norman, Russ Conway and Roger Moore at the opening night of Frank Sinatra in cabaret.

Apart from socialising at each other’s home, and attending their respective lavish parties, Norman and Dorothy often went to first nights together.  They were both there for Alma Cogan’s opening at The Talk Of The Town in 1964, shouting out song requests, and later in 1970 Dorothy and Norman were back at The Talk to attend Shirley Bassey’s opening.  One evening in early 1964 Dorothy and Norman were dining at the famous Pickwick club in London’s West End, along with Harry Secombe who fronted the venue, when they heard a cabaret performance by a young folk duo called Gordon & Peter.  After their set, Norman called them over to his table … and the rest is pop history.  Gordon (Waller) and Peter (Asher) became Peter & Gordon, and Norman produced their number 1 hit single A World Without Love (written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon).

After Dorothy’s magnificent 1970 comeback at the London Palladium, Norman was often to be found in the audience (or, more usually, the Royal Box!) at her concerts.  It was he who introduced Dorothy to the novelist Barbara Cartland, and which was the start of an unlikely but enduring friendship between the two women (which is noted in the Books section of this web-site).

In 1991 Dorothy was one of the recipients of a prestigious BAFTA Gold Badge Award, usually presented at an annual lunch in a London hotel and which are given to those singers, musicians and performers considered to have made a huge contribution over the years to the world of songs.  Shirley Bassey and Helen Shapiro were also among the recipients that year.  Sadly Dorothy was unable to attend the award ceremony in person, as she was then living in Yorkshire and looking after a sick friend, but Norman attended and collected the Gold Badge Award on her behalf.  He had the place in uproar when he apologised for not using Dorothy’s usual colourful language when he went onstage to collect the award!

Norman paid moving tribute to Dorothy when he was interviewed for the BBC Wales documentary Rain Rain Go Away, documenting Dorothy’s tumultuous life.  He said that it was sad her musical talents had been largely ignored by the media in recent years, and commented that she would have been wonderful in the stage musicals Gypsy and Sunset Boulevard.

I have it on good authority that, when Dorothy was in hospital during her final illness in early 1998, Norman phoned every day to enquire after her.  He also attended her funeral in Streatham Vale Cemetery, South London, paying tribute to Dorothy with a spoken version of his big song hit My Thanks To You.

Norman’s funeral was held in Sussex and among the mourners were Bobby Crush, Frank Allan of The Searchers, and John Lloyd of the Dorothy Squires Fan Club (who also sent flowers).  All who met and knew him will mourn Norman.

Chris White


Anne Edgar, an admirer of Dorothy’s for over thirty years, writes: 

Anne Edgar & Dorothy Squires
Anne Edgar pictured with Dorothy

I suppose my introduction to Dorothy Squires was a little different to most, so let me explain.

I was born in Australia and came to England in September of 1971 – in those days Australians still thought of Britain as the “mother country” and a lot of young Aussies came over for a year to “do” the Continent, visit relatives and see England. Then they went home, got married, had children and never left Australia again.

I, however, decided that I liked it so much here that 33 years on, I’m still here! Not for much longer though as the older I get the more I crave some sunshine so I’m off very soon to live permanently sunny Spain.

But I digress – I don’t remember being aware of Dorothy when I was living in Australia, but I was a fan of those singers that could “belt out a song” and give it their all, like Judy Garland etc. So when I saw the advertisement for the Palladium show of 1971, I believe I only went along out of curiosity and probably for something to do on a Sunday night.

Needless to say, I was hooked from that day on – Dorothy was amazing. She seemed to be so strong yet so vulnerable and you couldn’t help but become immersed in the electricity of the occasion. The audience went wild and I was carried along with their enthusiasm.

After that, I went to every concert that I could get to and bought every record I could find.

One concert stands out in my memory and it wasn’t for Dorothy’s singing. She was regaling us with, what seemed like a scene by scene and line by line account of the musical she had written and, to be fair, had gone on for a very long time about it.

Some sections of the audience were getting a little restless and bored and started slow handclapping and calling out for her to “get on with it”. Then, in a moment of silence, there was a lone voice from the gallery calling out “Just shut up and let Dorothy tell her story” – the place erupted with cheers and whistles Dorothy, without singing a note, got a standing ovation.

I was also fortunate enough to go to the Carnegie Hall concert, which I have to say was very frustrating for a fan as I don’t think the American audience really understood what Dot was all about. They certainly thought all the British fans were completely mad with all our shouting and clapping while they were very polite and restrained in their applause – unusual for Americans! However, we did have a fun time in New York.

I attended many fan club meetings including one memorable time whenAnne Edgar & Dorothy Squires “Stars in Yours Eyes” was screened. Dorothy was always in attendance, willing to sign autographs, have photos taken and most times she would make a speech – try getting Dorothy not to speak, it was impossible! But that was what made her unique – she said and sang what she felt and it always came from the heart.

At the time of her 1990 concert in Brighton, I had never visited the seaside town, let alone driven there. However I remember thinking that this could be her last appearance on stage, so in my little old Fiat 126, with map at the ready, off I went into the night.  Needless to say, it was well worth the drive.

Dot is also to blame for putting me on the slippery slope of gambling!! When she bought her racehorses I just HAD to have my 50p each way every time they ran. If was up to my shouting alone then Esban, Norwegian Flag, Walberswick, Fair Gazette and the others would have won every time – unfortunately, they didn’t!!  

Looking back over Dorothy’s achievements I am certain that her place among the great talents of British show business is justified. All of the external troubles, court cases, legal wrangles etc only proved that she was one of a kind – the Essential and Unique Dorothy Squires. We will never see her like again.  

I congratulate Chris on his new website – it is time that the voice and showmanship of one of Britain’s greatest singers was acknowledged in this way.

Thanks to Anne for sharing these memories.  She is pictured with Dorothy at two of the fan club parties that were held regularly in the Seventies, usually organised by John Lloyd.


Best Of British

Alma Cogan, Frank Ifield and Dorothy in full song
Alma Cogan, Frank Ifield and Dorothy in full song
Photo courtesy of the Burteyfen Collection


The September issue of the magazine Best Of British – Past & Present has a marvellous two-page feature about Dorothy written by Mark Willerton.  Under the headline Dorothy Squires – Voice Of The Valley, Mark traces Dorothy’s singing career and turbulent life in a very positive manner.  The feature is also illustrated with a couple of CD sleeves, sheet music, the record label of her huge hit The Gipsy, and a colour photograph of Dorothy in concert at Llanelli.

Mark is a great champion of British male and female singers from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties, and has previously written articles about Kathy Kirby (whom he regularly sees) and Lita Roza among others. He has also put together and written the liner-notes for several CD re-issues.

Mark and his business partner Nicholas Pitts, who both live in Spalding, Lincolnshire, co-own a music hall known as the Burtey Fen Collection, which houses a Compton Cinema Organ and a fascinating museum of memorabilia associated with music and cinema entertainment from the Forties onwards.  Organ concerts by top names including Nigel Ogden and Phil Kelsall are held monthly.  There is also a Sixties style coffee bar (completed with appropriate memorabilia)

Mark is a regular contributor to Best Of British and has features about Lita Roza and Matt Monro in the pipeline for the magazine.  He has also written articles for Record Collector and Yours.

For more information, check out the Burtey Fen website
Visits to the museum are by appointment only.


Marie RobertsFormer tap dancer Marie Roberts, in conversation with Robert Foxall, remembers Dorothy Squires

Marie Roberts (nee Beck) became a great pal of Dorothy Squires and Billy Reid through working with them in variety during the early 1940s.  Marie, now 90-years-young, remembers Dot with great affection, not only for her sheer talent, but also for her generosity, kindness, and down to earth nature.

One of eight siblings, Marie was born in 1914 into a show business family living in the Brixton area of south London, a popular residence for theatricals at the time.  Her stage debut was made at the age of 12 when, as a member of ‘Terry’s Juveniles’, she appeared in the annual pantomime production at the London Palladium.  She jokes about how she started her career at the top – and gradually worked her way down!

Not entirely true however because, when finally leaving the ‘Juveniles’ at the age of 16, Marie had another lucky break when she secured a prestigious engagement in Paris, joining the J. W. Jackson Girls.  There, at the famous Casino De Paris, she danced firstly alongside the famous French music hall legend Mistinguett, and then in the sensational 1930 revue Paris Qui Revue, starring the toast of Paris, the fabulous Josephine Baker.

After this blissful 15-month engagement Marie moved to London where she continued to appear in variety and light revues.  Now, considerably more experienced, and proving especially proficient in tap-dance, Marie enjoyed working alongside many popular personalities of the day such as the Canadian band leader Teddy Joyce and the pianist Charlie Kunz, accompanying the latter on the Charlie Kunz Road Show.  It was around this time, in the very early 40s, that Marie danced her way onto the same bill as ‘The Composer And The Voice’ – Billy Reid and Dorothy Squires.

Still in their early days of success as a double act, Dorothy and Billy were topping the bill.  They were not in the slightest egotistical, but warm, friendly and easy to work with, and along with the rest of the company always seemed to have fun.  In particular, Marie recalls how, during one part of the show, she and the girls had to perform a ‘staircase’ dance on a flight of stairs centre stage.  Positioned each side of this staircase was Billy Reid’s orchestra with the man himself standing in the forefront conducting the musicians, but also of course facing the girls as they danced their way through the number.

With his back to the audience Billy would take great delight in distracting the poor girls by pulling all sorts of daft faces at them, trying his hardest to make them laugh!  Needless to say, it didn’t take much doing!

Within this relaxed and happy working atmosphere, everybody became good friends and many a time Marie would be invited back to Dorothy’s home which at that time was a large three-storey house just off Railton Road in Brixton.  There, often in the added company of Dot’s charming brother Fred, Dorothy was as ever the perfect hostess, frequently delighting everybody with her wonderful cooking served from the third floor kitchen, which Marie recalls, was – rather oddly - situated above the bedrooms.

With the conclusion of the variety tour everyone parted on excellent terms and Marie’s friendship with Dorothy and Billy continued.  As they all lived in the same vicinity, keeping in contact was made easy.  However a couple of years later Marie’s life took another direction when she met her future husband on the variety circuit.  His name was Tommy Roberts, a talented young acrobat from a dynastic British circus family, and when they later married Marie left her dancing career behind for a new role in circus life.  Consequently due to the relentless touring of the circus and with her ties to the theatrical world somewhat severed, it would be another 20 years or so before Marie’s next reunion with Dorothy Squires took place.

Dorothy, who was by now, of course a major star in her own right was appearing at a theatre in Manchester for a Sunday evening concert and, by a stroke of luck, at the same time Marie and the circus happened to be working in the same area.  With the circus having no shows that particular evening Marie and her sister-in-law lost no time in making their way to the theatre.  On their arrival a note was left at the stage door for Dorothy saying that a Mrs Marie Roberts would be in the audience that evening and would be calling round to see her after the show.  However, when Dorothy read the note, the name must have mystified her, which, in hindsight, was not really surprising, as she had only known Marie by her maiden name.

The concert was a sell-out and it was only because they were ‘pro’s’ themselves that Marie and her sister-in-law managed to get a couple of tickets.  When the concert was over Marie went backstage as planned and waited for her old pal to come down from her dressing room.  When at last Dorothy appeared, the hilarious greeting Marie received was so typically ‘Squires’ that it remains to this day one of her most lasting and cherished memories of the singer.  As Dorothy descended the stairs, still not knowing whom to expect, she suddenly saw to her surprise and joy the familiar face that awaited her.  She roared out in a broad Welsh accent, but full of affection: ‘Oh you bloody silly cow!  Who the hell knows Marie Roberts?  You’re still Marie Beck to me!’

Reacquainted, and having caught up on old times, Marie was naturally invited to Dorothy’s home in Bexley, if ever she was down that way, being assured that she would be made welcome anytime.  And indeed, when Marie and her husband dropped by unexpectedly some time later, Dorothy was true to her word, her hospitality was overwhelming and she even insisted that they returned the next day bringing their children so that they could all have a swim in the pool!

Sadly the two eventually lost touch but Marie is left feeling privileged to have known Dorothy Squires.  The ‘Dot’ that Marie had first befriended all those years ago, when they were both young girls, never once changed in all the years of knowing her.  She was simply the ‘salt of the earth’, a truly caring and genuine person and for that she will always be remembered.

Many thanks to Robert for contributing this interesting article.  Robert himself works in the circus as a trapeze artist.  Marie is pictured in her early performing days!


John Hartley of Tooting, London SW17, writes:

I only got to know Dorothy towards the end of her life, but from the time of our first telephone conversation she remembered me and always asked how I was doing.  When we eventually met in the august surroundings of the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, where Dorothy was challenging an earlier legal ruling, I was struck by her spiritedness as she spoke to well wishers, and the way she illuminated the shadowy, echoing corridors.

On my wall hangs a rare, framed lobby poster of Dorothy topping the bill at the Savoy Theatre, Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.  The show dates from the late 1950s, as she is described as ‘Britain’s Dynamic Personality – Direct From Her American Tour’.  It marks one of her return visits from the States where she had successfully promoted Roger Moore’s career, someone she also never forgot, and loved, with the ache of separation that permeated many of her songs.

Dorothy was never afraid to say how much she admired her many gay fans who, in the loyalty they showed, surely saw her as the British equivalent of Judy Garland.  Both gained iconic status due to the passionate highs and spiritual lows of their private and professional lives, and the way these were transmitted into truly remarkable vocal performances.

Yet however famous Dorothy became, she never lost sight of her birthplace.  She remained a child of the valleys, and her native Wales will always remember her with enduring pride.


Desmond Carrington Remembers Dorothy

Desmond Carrington Regular listeners to Sunday programmes on Radio Two will have been saddened by the departure - after some 23 years - of Desmond Carrington whose two-hour programme has always featured an enjoyable and eclectic choice of easy listening music. Desmond has always ensured that Dorothy - along with other recording artists of her generation - continued to be heard on the airwaves.
The only consolation of Desmond's Sunday departure is that he now has a one-hour Radio Two programme on Tuesday evenings, between 7-8pm, and it's nice to report that he made sure that Dorothy was one of his inclusions in the very first to go out, on 7th September. Desmond closed his show with Dorothy and Russ Squires' recording of Say It With Flowers, and reminded listeners that she had written the song herself.
Let's hope that Desmond - along with David Jacobs and Russell Davies - continue to have their own Radio Two programmes for a long time to come, otherwise a very important era of popular music will rarely be heard on the airwaves.
Listen to Desmond's programme online»


John Lloyd, honourable secretary of the Dorothy Squires Fan Club, writes:

Lorna Luft, the younger daughter of the legendary Judy Garland, and half sister of Liza, is back in Hollywood after her recent seven-week season at the Savoy Theatre in London - and she returned home with a copy of the triple-CD set, Dorothy Squires Live At The London Palladium 1970-1971.
Despite some great matinee and nightly performances, during which Lorna proved she knows what show business is all about, Songs My Mother Taught Me - a tribute to her Mom - received some very unkind and undeserved reviews.
A backstage visitor to see Lorna during the season was Emily Squires - Dorothy's only niece - who congratulated Lorna on a bravura performance, despite flu and an August heatwave.
Lorna mentioned the scathing Evening Stand review which had the headline Best Luft Well Alone. Emily says: "Lorna was very charming and wanted to know how my Auntie Dot dealt with such over-the-top reviews. We agreed that a show reviewer's write-up is just one person's opinion, but also how such reviews can do a lot of box office harm, and even close a show prematurely."
Emily - who looks after her mother, the famed vaudeville comedienne Joyce Golding, at her Brighton home - adds: "Lorna was fascinated by the Daily Mail headline when Dorothy became the first performer to hire the London Palladium at their own expense. … 'Don't Do It! You Can't Buy Success'.
"Auntie Dot sent the writer (the late Lynda Lee Potter) a huge Get Well Soon card, with the message: "If you could buy success, the millionaires would buy it all and keep it for themselves, and their bambinos and their bambinos' bambinos. I am paying the £5000 Palladium hire fee for the chance to prove what I can do."
Dorothy, of course, packed the London Palladium for annual shows, earning her own two-week season there in July 1974 with Russ Conway, and also hired New York's Carnegie Hall where Lorna's Mom triumphantly appeared in 1961. Dorothy also appeared in concert at the Dorothy Chandler Theatre in Los Angeles.
During her 1970 comeback concert at the Palladium, Dorothy paid musical tribute to Judy Garland, recalling how she had seen one of her last shows (at The Talk of the Town) and then performing The Man That Got Away. A suitably impressed Lorna asked for a copy of the London Palladium CD, which includes the tribute, and which the famous record producer Norman Newell, as well as radio presenters Lee Stevens and Eric Hall, agree is one of the best live recordings ever.
I personally delivered a copy of the CD to the stage door of the Savoy Theatre the next day, and Lorna's personal assistant told me: "Thanks a million - Lorna is waiting for this."
Incidentally, Sterndale Records' Hugh Palmer and Andrew Shepherd report that the Palladium CD set is still selling steadily. The triple-CD set retails at £20 with the cassette equivalent costing just £12. It can be bought in major stores like HMV or direct from Sterndale Records at 252 London Road South, Lowestoft, NR33 B1.

* John Lloyd has run Dorothy's fan club for many years, having first her back in the Fifties when he was a young sports reporter in South Wales. He can be contacted direct at: 22 Trinity Court, Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8JX | Tel. 020 7837 0597


The Long Firm (BBC TV Drama)

The character of Dorothy Squires makes a brief appearance in the third episode in the BBC TV series The Long Firm which goes on Wednesday 21st July.  Based on Jake Arnott best selling novel about the London underworld back in the 60s, Dorothy is depicted by Gerri Smith.  The scene is set in a north London nightclub and ‘Dorothy’ is briefly see singing I’ll Close My Eyes before taking her bows and being handed some flowers.  It has to be stated that the scene has certainly been toned down from that which appeared in Arnott’s book!

Gerri SmithGerri Smith has of course a previous connection with Dorothy – she played the title role in The Dorothy Squires Story, a musical play which was written especially for the Edinburgh Festival and subsequently toured to enthusiastic reviews.  Gerri also includes a tribute to Dorothy in an hour cabaret performance featuring a reconstruction of her 1970 concert with songs like Till, My Way and I Am What I Am.  She took part in the late Russ Conway’s 75th birthday celebration concert in Eastbourne and afterwards Russ commented: “Gerri not only sounds like Dot, she even looks like her.  It’s uncanny.”

 


From The Editor

Chris White with DorothyI first Dorothy Squires on 20th February 1971 when she appeared at the New Victoria Theatre in Halifax, just a few weeks after her triumphant comeback concert at the London Palladium. Between then and her last performance at Brighton Dome in 1990, I witnessed many of Dorothy's shows including at the Palladium, Batley Variety Club, Liverpool Empire, Wakefield Theatre Club, Leeds Grand Theatre, St. George's Hall in Bradford, Wimbledon Theatre, the Barbican Concert Hall, and the Dominion Theatre.
I was also fortunate enough to get to know Dorothy - not as a very close friend but sufficiently to realise that this was a very complex woman, but one who was also generous, loyal and warm-hearted.

I first interviewed Dot when she appeared at Batley Variety Club in 1971, and I was a cub reporter on the local newspaper. She did great business at the venue - which seated over 2,000 people - and was in ebullient mood. She was delighted that someone as young as myself (18 years old) was so into her music and career! I also had the privilege of spending an entire day in her company - along with another friend, the late Colin Hopkins - at the home of mutual friends Bobby and Graham in Brighton, where Dot was staying during the period of her last concert at the Dome Theatre in March 1990. On that occasion she even asked me to be her manager - an offer that Colin (a show business veteran) perhaps wisely told me to turn down!

I also had my run-ins with Dot! On one occasion she called me in the evening at home, and the phone had almost melted in my hand by the end of our 'conversation'! I had been involved with the re-release of some of her earlier recordings, and Dorothy was convinced that I was issuing them privately! She was not happy. I tried to explain that in fact it was a very reputable company (EMI) that was issuing the CD, and wasn't it better that someone who knew her and her work was involved in the project, rather than someone who cared nothing about her?

Chris, Dorothy & Colin HopkinsDorothy remained unconvinced and threatened to sue me before putting the phone down! The next day however she called me back, apologised, and said that she was glad I was involved with the re-issue. After that we remained in constant contact, and she would often phone in the evening, particularly during the period that she was living reclusively in Ackworth and, later, in south Wales.
On one particular occasion I was travelling back to London, from visiting family in West Yorkshire, and decided to divert my journey and visit Dorothy. The house where she was staying seemed to be a closely guarded secret among the villagers but I eventually found someone who pointed it out, on the undertaking that 'You don't let on I told you'. I knocked on the door of the small cottage, but there was no reply. I left a message with flowers and a note, and resumed my journey. 

Ten minutes later I had the urge to phone her (this was in the days before mobiles), so I stopped at a telephone box and dialled Dorothy's number. She answered straight away! However, when I explained I was in the vicinity, I could detect panic in her voice. No, it wasn't possible, she'd just stepped out of the bath, couldn't see anybody, maybe next time …

I replied not to worry, I understood, but that she should look outside of her door for the note and flowers that I had left her. By the time I arrived home several hours later there was a long message from Dorothy on my answer phone, thanking me profusely for them, and saying that she would love to meet up soon. It was typical of her that she never forgot to say 'thank you'.

The last time I met Dorothy was the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, on 30th November 1993, when she was attempting to overturn the earlier legal decision to make her a vexatious litigant (she failed). I was covering the George Michael versus Sony Records court case for Billboard magazine in a neighbouring court, and during a lull in the Michael proceedings popped into Court Number 1 (only the best for Dot!) to see how she was faring. Afterwards we all adjourned to the café for a chat. I had taken along my poster from Dorothy's concert at the Royal Albert Hall back in the 70s and asked her to please sign it for me. She did, with the message - "I was going to sue you … but I'll wait until after Christmas! Lots of love, Dorothy (Squires) of course."

I attended Dorothy's funeral at Streatham (which is close to my home), along with many other friends, fans and devotees, and a couple of times a year I visit her grave to place flowers there. She still has an enormously loyal fan following, including the admirable John Lloyd who has run the Squires fan club for years. Dorothy was a special, a one-off, as others have noted on this web site. 

When Radio Two presenter Russell Davies recently played a couple of records by Dorothy on his Sunday afternoon programme, and mentioned that he found it sad that there was no dedicated web-site for a performer who had been so popular in her hey-day, I decided to rectify the situation. I hope that this web site will bring pleasure to people, and perhaps help to rehabilitate the memory of Dorothy Squires as one of Britain's most enduring stage performers. I also hope that people will feel free to contribute any particular memories they have of the great lady, or maybe even share their own particular memorabilia.

Chris White 
July 2004


Sir Roger Moore CBE 

Roger Moore comments on his second wife, Dorothy Squires, in the BBC television documentary, Rain Rain Go Away: The Dorothy Squires Story, transmitted on February 25, 1998: 

Dorothy Squires & Roger MooreOn her star quality 

"People either have a charisma, or they don't have a charisma. I read an article the other day where it said that you can develop one. I don't think you can develop charisma. Either you have it or you don't have it, and she has it". 

On her star status at the time of their meeting 

"Well, I think everybody knew Dorothy at the time that I met her. She was a very big star. We heard her most every Saturday night on Variety Bandbox ". 

On how they met 

"We had a mutual friend, so I used to hear a great deal about her through the mutual friend, who was also Welsh, Betty Newman. I got a call, did I want to go to St. Mary's Mount for a party, and I went, and that's how we met. I was a young struggling juvenile actor. She probably thought that I was a bit of a twit actually. I wouldn't be surprised". 

On their wedding day on July 6, 1953, in Jersey City, USA 

"I remember this courtroom with this judge who was going to perform the wedding ceremony. And we went outside then for the wedding picture and I was never in the wedding picture because Dot had left her new shoes in the judge's office and I had to go back and get them". 

On the rumours that he only married her to advance his career 

"People can think what they want, say what they like. I certainly didn't go into a relationship with that in mind". 

On their relationship after marriage 

"We moved out to Hollywood. Dorothy wanted to go out to launch a record called I'm Walking Behind You. And I made two or three films, and I was then cast opposite Lana Turner in my first starring role, in a film called Diane, in which she played Diane de Poitiers and I was Henry II of France. And I came home from the studio, King Henry, and I said, 'What time's dinner Dot?'. And she said, Don't you come the bloody King Henry here boy'. She built me up and she put me down". 

On the children Dorothy lost through miscarriages 

"I think Dorothy would have been a wonderful mum. She was very warm, she is very warm, very outgoing, larger than life". 

Roger Moore & Dorothy SquiresOn the reasons for their parting in 1961 

"I think the problem in show business - hah, show business - there is a lot of temptation, especially if you're apart for long periods of time, you know. And I'm not particularly proud of myself. I don't think I behaved that well". 

On the decline in Dorothy's later career 

"When you get to the top of the bill, there is nowhere else to go". 

On the importance of Dorothy Squires in his life 

"The great thing I learned from Dorothy was to become my own person. I used to be very, very nervous about walking into restaurants or walking into a room. Rather timid. I think that happens and is the case with a lot of actors. They like to be actors because they can be somebody else. You can hide behind a false nose or a moustache or a beard, or you develop a persona. And I think that from the time I met Dorothy, I then started to develop a persona. I became somebody called Roger Moore". 

Looking back on their life together 

"You know, a number of years of a lot of fun. We shared a lot of very good friends, some of whom I still see. We had a very good life". 

Dorothy Squires & Roger Moore

With special thanks to Michael Thornton


Billy Reid Tribute

Click on photo to view article...On 30th September 2002 Southampton City Council paid tribute to the songwriter and bandleader Billy Reid with the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the centenary of his birth there.  Danny La Rue carried out the unveiling in the presence of the Mayor of Southampton, along with a large crowd of people.  Billy Reid’s daughters Dawn Bull and Yvonne London attend the event, along with former variety star Joyce Golding – widow of Dorothy Squires’ brother Fred – and Dorothy’s niece, Emily Squires.  Carry On actor Jack Douglas was also present at the event, which was followed by a reception at Southampton Guildhall.  Danny La Rue paid tribute to Billy Reid, and also to Dorothy Squires – even including an impromptu impersonation of Dot singing Say It With Flowers, which was always a popular inclusion in his West End stage performances!  Billy Reid had been proposed for the plaque by noted author Michael Thornton who was also behind much of the organisation of the event.

 


Radio Airplay

Like many other recording artists of her era, Dorothy’s recordings are generally ignored by radio today.  However Radio Two’s Desmond Carrington has always ensured that she is heard fairly regularly on his Sunday lunchtime programme, often playing Mother’s Day on – appropriately - Mother’s Day – and he recently played I’ll Close My Eyes.  Desmond also took a bold step on Rememberance Sunday in November 2002 when he played Dorothy’s Irony Of War medley in its entirety – 14 minutes and ten seconds, something unheard of on his long-running show.

David Jacobs also occasionally gives Dorothy airplay, and Sunday afternoon Radio Two presenter Russell Davies included Dorothy in a tribute to Billy Reid – as well as playing an extract from an interview she gave back in 1970 when she first hired the Palladium.  In fact Russell gave impetus to the creation of this website – he recently played a couple of recordings by Dorothy, and remarked that he had looked on the website and could find nothing about her.

Dorothy does get occasional mentions on TV.  A snippet of the infamous live argument between her and actress Adrienne Corrie was shown on a recent programme about chat show nightmares, and Dorothy was also seen in a recent programme celebrating the 40th anniversary of BBC Two – the extract was taken from the Eighties documentary about the song My Way.  A documentary about Roger Moore also included several mentions of Dorothy, and showed a clip of them arriving at a film premiere back in the Fifties.


In loving memory of Dorothy SquiresDorothy’s Funeral

Dorothy Squires had two funeral services – the first held in her native south Wales, and the second in Streatham, south London, where she was buried in the same grave as her brother, Army Captain William (Freddie) Squires.

The first service was held at St. Mary’s Church, Port Talbot, on Tuesday, 21st April 1998.  Although it was a wet and windy day, some 500 people were in the church, with several hundreds more standing out in the rain.  Olwyn Rees, wife of Johnny Tudor, who worked on several Dorothy Squires bills (including the famous 1970 comeback event at the Palladium), recited All Is Well, and actor Sion Probert delivered Dylan Thomas’ And Death Shall Known No Dominion.  The event featured on local TV news programmes.

Three days later the second service was held in the chapel at Streatham Park Cemetery.  Dorothy’s coffin was brought in to her recording of Song Of The Valley.  Russ Conway played Say It With Flowers, with the congregation singing along, and then Russ teamed up with Dorothy’s long-time friend and recording manager Norman Newell for a duet of My Thanks To You (which Norman originally co-wrote for Steve Conway).  In addition Dorothy’s niece Emily Squires paid her own spoken tribute.

The service ended with Dorothy’s coffin being carried out to the sounds of her own live recording of My Way, and the entire congregation gave her a final standing ovation.  Among the flowers were a bouquet of purple tulips from Roger Moore (“I’ve Said It With Flowers”), Danny La Rue (“Shine brightly as ever, Dot”), and a joint wreath from dress designer Doug Darnell and Shirley Bassey (she and Dorothy both shared Darnell as their couturier).  Pianist Bobby Crush and LBC broadcaster Lee Stevens were among the friends and former colleagues who attended the service.

Emily Squires’ tribute to her Aunt Dorothy at the Streatham service:

Click on picture to view article...“Over the past weeks I have heard my aunt talked about as the singer, the vexatious litigant, the penniless recluse … recluse yes, penniless no.  And the one the press seemed to love most of all: Dorothy Squires, the ex-wife of Roger Moore.

But what about Dorothy, the generous lady who opened her heart and her homes to so many people from all walks of life.  She gave people a home when they had problems.  That is why I will always be grateful to Esme Coles, her devoted fan who gave her a home when the family couldn’t.  I want to tell you that Dorothy was an Aunt too.

Auntie Dorothy, the larger than life lady who, on one occasion to my embarrassment, picked me up from school wearing a mink coat and driving a large powder blue Thunderbird.

The Auntie who sat in the front row of my school concert and cheered at my portrayal of Humpty Dumpty, and offered stage directions from the audience.

The Auntie who knew I was unhappy as a boarder in my convent that I went to after my father died, so she rescued me on Sundays in the summer to splash around in her swimming pool along with twenty other 6-8 year olds and two nuns.  Yes, nuns at Bexley – on these occasions she was a model of decorum, the nuns left without adding to their vocabulary.

The Auntie who would lay awake at night, cuddle me, and tell me of her life in Hollywood with numerous anecdotes.

The Auntie who told me most men were not good then constantly tried to match me with every available man young and old.  She was still trying to do this when she was ill in hospital.

She used to remind me that at the age of three I stood on a chair, drew myself up to my full height, leaned over her large dining table and announced: ‘Auntie Dorothy I love you.  She them mimicked my stance and said ‘And I love you Emily Jane’’.

Those words passed between us in the last few weeks.

I know my Aunt did not always like me, she did not always approve of things I did, but I do know she loved me.  Despite the rows and fights we had, we always made up.  Despite the number of times I walked out, or was thrown out of Bexley and Bray.

Despite not seeing her for seven years, but still talking to her on the telephone, wherever she was living.  When I first saw her a month ago in hospital her eyes lit up and her arms opened wide for a hug, and she said my Emily, my lovely Emily’.  That’s what I’ll always remember.

Auntie Dorothy I know you are safe now, and may I say: Thanks for the bad times, I’ve learned from them.  Thanks for all the fun we had together.  And thanks for so many fascinating memories.  Life with you was never dull. - Emily Squires

© 2011 www.dorothysquires.co.uk

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