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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Kathie Kay born 20 November 1918

Kathie Kay, (b. Kathleen Thornhill; 20 November 1918, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire – 9 March 2005, Largs, Scotland), was a Scottish singer, best known for her television appearances in the Billy Cotton Band Show during the 1950s and 1960s.

Bright, attractive and blessed with a personality that brightened many television programmes, Kathie Kay was a star who maintained a homespun Scottish image and became one of the best-known names on British television. She joined the Billy Cotton Bandshow in 1949 and was its resident singer till 1968. The programme started on the Light Programme on Sunday lunchtime and, such was its popularity on the radio that it was transferred to a prime slot on BBCTV on Saturday evening.

Along with stars such as Russ Conway and Alan Breeze, Kay added a spark of vitality and fun. She sang catchy ballads and with her bubbly personality admirably fitted in with the antics of the sketches. More important Kay matched the host, the ebullient Billy Cotton, for energy and fun.
Kathie Kay came from Glasgow and got bookings in local clubs. Kay was booked to appear with such stars of the era as George Formby and Harry Lauder. In the late Forties as Connie Wood she toured with Hughie Green in his show His Gang. It was from there that Billy Cotton heard her and recognised a real comic talent with a most attractive voice. She became an indispensable part of the Bandshow. The joyous nature of the show was set by Cotton’s raucous intro — “Wakey Wakey” — followed by an uptempo — almost a gallop — from the orchestra. They set the mood of the show and it regularly had audiences of more than 20 million.

 Kay lived with her husband in the Kelvin Court apartments
in the West End of Glasgow, alongside other Scottish entertainers like Harry Gordon, Tommy Morgan, Calum Kennedy, Jack Milroy, Mary Lee and Kenneth McKellar.Although devoted to her family Kay flew to London once a week for the show.
Her voice had a sultry and alluring quality that added a 
certain style to her delivery. On TV and in cabaret she sang popular songs from the Hit Parade and recorded hits such as We Will Make Love, All My Life and (particularly successful) A House with Love In It. She made several recordings of traditional Scottish songs. For many years Kay had her own programme on Scottish Television where she was dubbed “the Fireside Girl”. She made a rare appearance when she came out of retirement to top the bill at a charity show in Johnstone Town Hall in May 1984.

She was married to the impresario Archie McCulloch who died in 1994. Kay, who had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 15 years and was a resident of Warren Park Nursing Home,Largs, Ayrshire, where she lived until her death.Even when she fell victim to Alzheimer’s and lost her memory, Kathy still sang to her fellow residents, reviving musical memories of earlier days. (Info edited from various sources, mainly The Times Online.)

I had nothing of Kathy's recordings in my library, but did find this courtesy of the "Lord Of The Bootsale" blog. A 1959
recording of "Come Home To Loch Lomond and Me."

1 comment:

mister_tmg said...

Nice post, she was a very good singer.