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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Dorothy Squires born 25 March 1915

Dorothy Squires (March 25, 1915 - April 14, 1998) was a Welsh vocalist who earned a Fortune as one of Britain's highest selling recording stars, but ended up bankrupt and homeless. At the peak of her career in the 1940’s and 50’s she packed theatres all over Britain and America and her records sold in millions. She was a dynamic, dramatic highly emotional singer who retained an army of fans throughout a career spanning half a century.

She was born Edna May Squires in Pontyberem, (about 12 miles from Llanelli), Carmarthenshire, in South Wales. Her parents were Archibald James Squires, a steelworker, and his wife Emily. She began to perform professionally as a singer at the age of 16.

Her stunning career was launched in the 1930s after she moved to London and was to take her to the millionaire peaks of show business. She was discovered by American pianist Charlie Kunz and joined his band at the Casani Club, and then she did most of her work with the orchestra of Billy Reid who was her partner for many years. After she joined his orchestra, he began to write songs for her to perform. During the war they were one of the most successful double acts on the variety circuit, making frequent broadcasts which helped to sell her records in profuse numbers.

In the immediate post-war years she recorded the original version of Reid's composition, "A Tree in the Meadow," best known in the United States in its recording by Margaret Whiting, which reached No.1 on the US charts. Similarly, her version of Reid's composition, "I'm Walking Behind You" was covered by Eddie Fisher which became a No.1 hit in the US and her recording of "The Gypsy" became a No.1 hit there after being waxed by The Ink Spots - their biggest hit. (It was also a major hit for Dinah Shore.)

After her relationship with Reid ended she married British actor Roger Moore in 1953 in New Jersey. Moore was twelve years her junior. The marriage lasted until 1961, when Moore left her and moved in with Luisa Mattioli, whom he was unable to marry legally until Squires granted him a divorce in 1969.

In 1961 Dorothy teamed up with pianist Russ Conway to record one of her own songs, Say It With Flowers, which she launched with a huge party at her Bexley mansion.  The single went into the Top 30 in August of that year and spent a total of ten weeks in the pop charts.  On the strength of this, Dorothy became the first British performer to play London’s Talk Of The Town nightclub – quite an accolade as, until then, it had been mainly a headlining venue for top American stars like Sammy Davis, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Tony Bennett and Sophie Tucker.

In 1974 her Bexley mansion burned down, from which she escaped with her dog and all her love letters from Roger Moore. She then moved into a house in Bray next to the River Thames, which flooded three weeks later.

Squires later became notorious for her involvement in court cases. She even took out a libel action against the actor Kenneth More for mistakenly referring to Luisa as Roger Moore's "wife" (Michael Havers acted for Kenneth More). By 1982 she had been banned from the High Court, and had spent much of her fortune on legal fees. Her litigiousness was so excessive that, on 5 March 1987, the High Court declared her to be a "vexatious litigant", preventing her from commencing any further legal actions without the permission of the Court. In 1988 she lost her home following bankruptcy proceedings.

Dorothy Squires retired to Wales and her obsession with Moore never waned. And as she lay dying, Moore telephoned the hospital. On the phone he told the legend's Emily-Jane Squires: "Take hold of her hand, give it a little squeeze, and tell her Rog is thinking of her.” When she was given Moore's message, Dorothy Squires smiled and spoke just one word. "Magic," she said.   Dorothy died of lung cancer, aged 83, in Llwynypia Hospital, Rhondda.  (info mainly edited from Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Dorothy Squires – 50’s and early 60’s recordings go here:
Thanks to Dusty.