PETULA CLARK Biography - Musicians


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Name: Petula Clark                                                                     
Birth name: Petula Sally Olwen Clark                                                   
Born: 15 November 1932 Surrey, England                                                 
Petula Clark (born 15 November 1932), is an English singer, actress and                 
composer best known for her upbeat popular international hits of the 1960s. With       
more than 70 million records sold worldwide, she is the most successful British         
female solo recording artist and is cited as such in the Guinness Book of World         
Born to an English father and Welsh mother in Ewell, Surrey, England, she was           
christened Petula Sally Olwen Clark. Her father Leslie coined her first name,           
jokingly alleging it was a combination of the names of two former girlfriends,         
Pet and Ulla. As a child, she sang in the church choir; her first public               
performances were in Bentalls Department Store in Kingston upon Thames, where           
she sang with an orchestra in the entrance hall for a tin of toffee and a gold         
wristwatch. In October 1942, she made her radio debut while attending a BBC             
broadcast with her father, hoping to send a message to an uncle stationed               
overseas. During an air raid, the producer requested that someone perform to           
settle the jittery audience, and Clark volunteered a rendition of "Mighty Lak a         
Rose" to an enthusiastic response in the theatre. She then repeated her                 
performance for the broadcast audience, launching a series of some 500                 
appearances in programmes to entertain the troops. In addition to radio work,           
Clark frequently toured the UK with fellow child performer Julie Andrews. She           
became known as "Britain's Shirley Temple" and was considered a mascot by the           
RAF and the United States Army, whose troops plastered her photos on their tanks       
for luck as they advanced into battle.                                                 
With Sid Field in London Town, 1946                                                     
In 1944, while performing at London's Royal Albert Hall, Clark was discovered by       
film director Maurice Elvey, who cast her as an orphaned waif in his weepy war         
drama Medal for the General. In quick succession, she starred in Strawberry Roan,       
I Know Where I'm Going!, London Town, and Here Come the Huggetts, the first in a       
series of Huggett Family films based on a British radio series. Although most of       
the films she made in the UK during the 1940s and '50s were B-movies, she did           
work with Anthony Newley in Vice Versa (directed by Peter Ustinov) and Alec             
Guinness in The Card.                                                                   
Clark with Jimmy Hanley (left) and Edward Rigby (rear) in Don't Ever Leave Me,         
In 1946, she launched her television career with an appearance on a BBC variety         
show, Cabaret Cartoons, which led to her being signed to host her own afternoon         
series, titled simply Petula Clark. A second, Pet's Parlour, followed in 1949.         
In later years, she starred in This is Petula Clark (1966) and The Sound of             
Petula (1972-74).                                                                       
In 1949, Clark branched into recording with her first release, a cover of Teresa       
Brewer's "Music! Music! Music!," in Australia. Her father, whose theatrical             
ambitions had been thwarted by his parents, teamed with Alan A. Freeman to form         
their own label, Polygon Records, in order to better control her singing career.       
She scored a number of major hits in the UK during the 1950s, including "The           
Little Shoemaker" (1954), "Majorca" (1955), "Suddenly There's a Valley" (1955)         
and "With All My Heart" (1956). Although Clark released singles in the US as           
early as 1951 (the first was "Tell Me Truly" b/w "Song Of The Mermaid" on the           
Coral label), it would take thirteen years before the American record-buying           
public would discover her.                                                             
It was around 1955 that she became romantically linked with Joe "Mr Piano"             
Henderson. Their relationship lasted a couple of years, professionally                 
culminating in a BBC Radio series in which they performed together. Speculation         
that the couple planned to marry became rife. However, with the increasing glare       
of being in the public spotlight, and Clark's growing fame (her career in France       
was just beginning), Henderson — reportedly not wanting to end up as "Mr. Petula     
Clark" — decided to call the whole thing off. They remained on friendly terms,       
and in 1962 he penned a ballad about their break-up, called "There's Nothing           
More To Say," for Clark's LP In Other Words.                                           
In 1958, Clark was invited to appear at the Olympia in Paris where, despite her         
misgivings, she was received with acclaim. The following day she was invited to         
the office of Vogue Records to discuss a contract. It was there that she met           
publicist Claude Wolff, to whom she was attracted, and when told he would work         
with her if she signed with the label, she agreed. Her initial French recordings       
were huge successes, and in 1960 she embarked on a concert tour of France and           
Belgium with French star Sacha Distel, who remained a close friend until his           
death in 2004. Gradually she moved further into the continent, recording in             
German, French, Italian and Spanish, and establishing herself as a multi-lingual