Friday, 2 August 2013

Julie Dawn born 2 August 1920

Julie Dawn, (2 Augst 1920 - 18 May 2000) sang with some of the best-known dance bands of the 1940s, including those of Carroll Gibbons and Geraldo; later she presented a successful programme for penfriends on Radio 2.

She was born Juliana Rosalba Maria Theresa Mostosi on August 2 1920 in London. Dawn was the daughter of Italian immigrants; her father was the Savoy hotel's head waiter. She sang in her convent school choir and, from 13 to 15, took a piano and music course at the Guildhall School of Music. She sang popular songs in English,

Italian and French, which her father taught her; from the broadcaster Maurice Elwin she learnt microphone technique.

She got her break as a singer in 1939 when her violinist brother Ubaldo (known as Mossie) took her to a party. Singing J'attendrai in French, and accompanying herself on the piano, she was spotted by Ernest Quaglino, who invited her to appear at his famous restaurant in St James's. Collie Knox, the Daily Mail entertainment columnist, advised her to anglicise her name, and thus did Juliana Mostosi become Julie Dawn. In late 1939, she made her first studio broadcast. In 1939 she made her first record for Van Straten and her broadcasting debut from the BBC's Bristol studios, with Billy Ternent and His Sweet Rhythm Orchestra.

The entry of Italy into the war brought difficulties for the Mostosi family. Although Julie and her brother Ubaldo had been born in England, their parents were not naturalised. Her mother was sent to Holloway and her father, then manager of the Branksome Towers Hotel in Bournemouth, to Dorchester prison. Both were interned for five years.

In 1940, Julie Dawn joined the Harry Roy Orchestra, touring

variety theatres in England and Scotland. But after a falling-out with Roy in 1941 (she had taken to singing in Italian), she joined the Eric Winstone Quartet. After he formed his big band in 1942, she recorded frequently with him, as she did with with Harry Leader and Billy Thorburn. Meanwhile her brother Ubaldo, a violinist, played with the Mantovani Orchestra.

While working with Carroll Gibbons and the Savoy Orpheans in 1944, she was called up. But the authorities suggested that instead of working in a factory she should contact the bandleader Geraldo, who had been asked by Field Marshal Montgomery to undertake a three-week tour of France, Belgium and Holland to entertain the troops. Julie Dawn sang with Geraldo's orchestra at six gala performances in Paris and one at Versailles, and then with them at Eindhoven and Tilberg in Holland.

During the last few months of the war she was again with Eric Winstone. His swing band, on the advice of the War Office,
consisted only of volunteers, for it was playing in very advanced positions during the bitterly fought push into Germany.

After the war, she married Eddie Mordue, who was a saxophonist with Winstone's band. (The couple went on to record and perform with the likes ofGene Kelly, Sammy Davis, Jr and Frank Sinatra). She sang with Art Thompson at the Embassy Club, then with the Lew Stone Band and was featured at Hatchetts, Lansdowne House and the Copacabana. She broadcast with Sam Donahue's US Navy Band and the Robert Farnon Orchestra and in the early 1950s had a two-year residency at the Celebrity Club, off Bond Street.

There followed almost two years with the BBC Show Band, led by Cyril Stapleton, making three two-hour broadcasts each week. She was much in demand on the variety circuit and was featured on The Goon Show.

Her career later changed direction when Radio 2 gave her a twice-weekly spot. This was to continue successfully for five years. She was the only woman to appear on Charlie Chester's Soap Box, and she also broadcast on Night Ride and Music Thru' Midnight.

In 1977, she was invited to broadcast three times a week to listeners who lived alone. The idea was to put them in touch with others living in similar circumstances. She read out their letters, which soon topped 1,000 a week. Once a week, accompanied by a quartet, she sang for the audience. Julie Dawn's Penfriend Programme ran
for 10 years, and owed its popularity to her sympathetic approach to her correspondents' problems and her soothing voice.

During her later years, she entertained meetings of the Harry Roy Appreciation Society and was one of the founder members of the musicians' rendezvous, the Coda Club.

Julie Dawn died in Chelsea, London aged 79, 18 May 2000. She was twice married. Her second husband, David, predeceased her in 1992.(Info from Telegraph, Guardian & Independent obits)

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