.Born in Dulwich, South London, on 10th November, 1928, to William and Lamatana, Patricia Sibley (Anne Shelton) had two sisters, Eileen and Jo, and a brother, Bill. As a girl she attended the local convent in Forest Hill. She and Jo were very close, for Jo was also a singer who made several records.
Anne commenced her singing career at the age of 13. Having successfully auditioned for Bert Ambrose, she gained her own solo recording contract in 1943. Her first broadcast was from the Mayfair Hotel. She remained with Ambrose for six years.
In 1942 Anne started touring Army, Navy and Air Force bases all over the country. The BBC, quick to recognise Anne's popularity with the Armed Forces, soon gave her a special programme entitled ''Calling Malta'' . The show ran for five years and was the only link with the George Cross island while it was besieged during the Second World War. At the same time another programme, ''Introducing Anne'', was beamed to North Africa and used to counteract the German propaganda put over to Allied troops. Anne's signature tune was Lili Marlene, with an English lyric written by Tommie O'Connor. Needless to say, Anne successfully competed with the German programme and became known as the Lili Marlene Girl.
When Glenn Miller's orchestra arrived in England in 1944, Glenn asked if Anne would sing with his orchestra. Anne took this as a great compliment and did six shows with the Maestro. One of them was recorded for Anne on a number of 'V' discs - these have never been released and a small clip from one is available here:
Anne & Glenn Miller.
V-Discs were unique because they were the only live recordings made in the USA (and at overseas shows) exclusively for GIs during the recording ban from August 1942 to November 1944. Many of the artists who made V- Discs were under contract to different recording companies. Under normal conditons they could never perform together because of their contractual obligations, yet V-Disc staff was able to get together artists who performed "once in a lifetime" sessions for the V-Disc program.
In December 1944 Glenn Miller was asked to go to Versailles for a concert. He invited Anne to join him, but her mother reminded her that she had other commitments in England, so she stayed behind. Ironically, those shows recorded by Glenn were to be his last, as his C-64 Norseman plane was lost in heavy weather over the English Channel.
The same year Bing Crosby arrived in England to entertain the American Forces and asked Anne to do a show with him for the troops. On 27th August 1944, Bing and Anne recorded the''Variety Bandbox'' radio show (broadcast on 3rd September) at Queensberry All-Services Club, with comedian Tommy Handley. This show was also recorded on V-Disc, and a small clip is available here:
Anne and Bing Crosby .
Afterwards Anne and Bing gave an audience of 4,000 a show in which they sang two duets, ''Easter Parade'' and ''I'll Get By'' .
During the Berlin airlift of 1948 - 1949, 'the boys' were asked who they wished to entertain them. They were told that only one artist could get on the airlift - they chose Anne Shelton. So in went Anne on a plane full of mail and coal. She did 12 shows in three days, one show being staged in Hitler's own theatre in Berlin.
In 1949 Anne had 2 hits in the USA -"Be Mine" and "Galway Bay".
In 1951 Anne went to America for three months, but her tour ultimately lasted for 11 months. She opened at the world's greatest night club New York's Copacabana and played there for four weeks. Her tour took her to Las Vegas, Texas, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia. She also worked in hundreds of radio and TV stations throughout the country. Anne made lots of friends in the States included Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland, Sammy Davies Jnr. and Johnny Ray. She was asked to stay on but it was getting near Christmas, an occasion Anne had never spent away from her family. So on 23rd December she arrived home.
On the 21st September 1956. Annes most famous song 'Lay Down Your Arms' reached number one in the UK charts. Based on a Swedish melody, it stayed there for 4 weeks keeping stars such as Elvis off the top spot.
Try a brief reminder here:
Lay Down Your Arms
During the 'fifties and 'sixties Anne toured all over the Continent. Four or five times a year she would go to Holland, one of her favourite countries, to broadcast programmes. It was during a concert tour given to troops onboard a ship that she met entertainments officer, Lieut.-Commander David Reid. After disembarking, David and Anne found themselves on the same train -they married in 1958.
In 1960 Anne made a very successful tour of South Africa and, in the following years, did shows in America, Canada, Kenya and Hong Kong. She topped the bill in every leading variety theatre in the UK, and in 1959 and 1960 was honoured to be chosen to appear in the Royal Variety Show. In 1978 she appeared in the Royal Variety Show for the Queen Mother.
In 1979 Lieut.-Colonel Ryder of the U.S. Army organised a 'friendly invasion of Britain' by American Forces from the Second World War, to re-visit the beaches on which they landed on 'D' Day. Many came. Some 1,200 men were taken to Bournemouth where they all celebrated their reunion with the people of Bournemouth taking part. Asked who they wanted for their cabaret, all wanted Anne Shelton. Anne did three cabaret shows for them in the week they spent in London and Bournemouth before they left to re-visit the beaches in Normandy.
Anne was one of the stars invited to take part in the all women's show from the London Palladium. She starred also in the ENSA Charity Show held in Salisbury, the place where ENSA first started during the last war.
Anne was asked by John Schlesinger, the film producer of 'Yanks' if she would take part in the film by singing "I'll be Seeing You". This was a great honour coming from such a producer, and of course Anne accepted. The premiere of 'Yanks' was held in New York and John Schlesinger wanted Anne to be there. United Artists, who made the film, invited Anne, her husband and her sister Jo to attend. In the evening after the première, a grand ball was held. They asked Anne if she would do a cabaret spot singing "I' ll be Seeing You". When Anne agreed they booked Tommy Dorsey's Band conducted by Buddy Morrows and flew them in from California. What a night ! Anne received a standing ovation. When the films London première was held the guest of honour was Princess Anne; again Anne was asked by John Schlesinger to attend.
Anne was also asked by the Committee of the British Legion to appear at the Royal Albert Hall on 10th November (Remembrance Day). This was a great success and she was asked to do it again in 1980.
During 1980 Anne appeared in more than 30 shows for charities and she was asked to join the Committee of the Not Forgotten Association. This organisation is for all ex-Servicemen of the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Falklands Campaign and, of course, those who have served in Northern Ireland. Anne played her part by organising and appearing in two shows a year for ex-Servicemen. These shows were held in Buckingham Palace, and Prince Charles was the guest of honour.
In September, just prior to the show, Anne went to Toronto, Canada, to appear at The World Re-Union of the RAF Association. Air-crews from all over the world attended. In Winnipeg she was guest of honour, together with Sarah Churchill, on behalf of Bomber Command. Anne appeared on a CBC television show with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; the guest conductor was Stanley Black.
Anne's husband died on 11th June 1990, the year in which she was awarded the OBE for her valuable work to charities, especially the Not Forgotten Association. Her sister Jo became her closest companion, and whilst these should have been among her happiest years (she was still very much in demand), fate dealt a cruel blow. On 22nd July 1991, returning from a cabaret on the Isle of Man, Jo fell ill on the plane. She was taken to King's College Hospital, London, but died in the operating theatre. Anne and her sister Eileen were devastated at the loss of their 'baby sister' and it was only through the love and support of Eileen, her niece Kelly and her religion (Anne was a devout Catholic) that she kept going.
In Febuary 1994 she moved from the seven bedroom home she shared with Eileen in Dulwich to a house in Herstmonceux, East Sussex. Anne was still very active and played a big part in the 'D' Day celebrations appearing in several shows, one of which was on the HMS Daedalus at Portsmouth - a venue she had played 40 years before.
Anne's last performance was on 27th July 1994 for the Not Forgotten Association at Buckingham Palace. The other artisits included Bobby Crush, Faith Brown, Ray Alan and Frankie Vaughan.
Anne passed away in her sleep on 31st July 1994, and was buried in the family grave at Brenchley Gardens, South East London on 15th August. The family chose to delay the funeral so that her close friend and musical director, Ronnie Price and his wife, Jo, could attend. They were in Hong Kong when Anne died. Unfortunately, Ronnie died two years later from a brain tumour.
There was a memorial service to her at Corpus Christi Church, Covent Garden (the Catholic Performers' Church) on 10th November, her birthday. A great gathering of stars and dignitaries came together to celebrate the life of a truly great star.
To a most caring and wonderful lady who is sadly missed - Anne Shelton
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