Skip to main content

A Biography of the Exceptional Singer Mary Marshall

Mary Marshall

Mary Marshall

Mary Marshall

Mary (Right) with "The Three Shades"

Mary (Right) with "The Three Shades"

Mary Backstage in The Grande Theatre Bolton

Mary Backstage in The Grande Theatre Bolton

Mary Marshall Background and Early Years

Mary Hasmall was born in Bolton to a highly musical family.Opera and Classical singing was already part of the family heritage by virtue of Italian and Welsh ancestors. In Edwardian times a grandmother and renowned beauty, had become so popular that a jealous rival waited with the fans outside the stage door and then threw acid into her face. Her grandfather a much respected businessman was very protective and after this incident insisted she gave it up.

Mary was from an era when families would still gather for musical evenings around the piano. From the age of about three it was clear she had an unusually advanced ability. By four she was delighting local Italian ice cream sellers who made her sing songs from the operas in exchange for ice cream! At five, she was singing in school concerts. On one such occasion she was singing ‘Brindisi' from ‘La Traviata' but alas things didn't go quite as smoothly as anticipated. Mary forgot the words and became stuck in a repetitive musical loop, just singing the line over and over until the teacher came to guide her off the stage. Despite the ordeal Mary was put forward for countless local concerts and built up a strong local following who flocked to see the little girl with the beautiful voice.

Mary also joined the Frances Bleasedale school of dancing but this really wasn't an encouraging experience for a little lass instructed to just stand with the big girls where she was expected to just copy and catch-on. However, Frances had heard Mary's singing and taking her to one side, said she would like to recommend her to her sister Jenny.

The "Kiss" Girl

The "Kiss" Girl

Mary the Aspiring Opera Diva Aged 16

Mary the Aspiring Opera Diva Aged 16

Jennie Bleasdale the Bolton Bel Canto Coloratura Soprano who trained Mary's Voice.

Jennie Bleasdale the Bolton Bel Canto Coloratura Soprano who trained Mary's Voice.

Mary in Promotional Shot.

Mary in Promotional Shot.

Training and Early Operatic Accolades and Achievements

Jenny Bleasedale was a retired and renowned Operatic Premier Prima Donna of the Carl Rosa Opera Company and a legendary figure in the North at that time.

Jenny recognised something special in Mary and wanted to cultivate and perfect her talent by training her in the revered Bel Canto technique. Mary did not realise what a high honour she had just been afforded until she casually broke the news to her family that Jenny wanted to train her voice. The room fell silent and jaws dropped until her older brother exclaimed "Jenny Bleasedale -you must be something really special if she wants to take you on!" Under Jenny, Mary's range would increase from a three and a half octave range to four and a half and was to be relentlessly trained and polished to classical perfection.

Jenny knew exactly when she was "ready". Mary, although a grammar school student from a family of high academic achievers, lived only for her singing. Jenny felt that Mary was her star pupil, a natural, so she approached the Carl Rosa Opera Company requesting an audition for Mary as they were appearing in the town. Impressed by Jenny's enthusiasm and Mary's exceptional ability Mary was asked to fill a‘principal' role when a cast member became indisposed. Only as this telephone call was terminating did the representative think to ask Mary's age and upon learning she was only fifteen had to withdraw the offer by explaining that this was a ‘mature' role. This was a deja-vu moment for Mary who had already won the nationwide area heats of the Carol Levis competition only to be disqualified when it was learned she was just 14 (when the required performing age for the programme was 16)

Mary was restless and impatient to prove her worth, so when the next operatic company visited town she auditioned for the Chocolate Soldier and was immediately engaged. With an amateur naivety, Mary enquired what part she would be playing. She was discreetly taken aside and told that the principal male lead had had to wait thirteen months before even achieving a walk-on part! The company directors had great confidence in Mary however and thankfully she moved much more swiftly through the ranks, appearing in ‘Gay Rosalinda' and ‘Die Fledermaus'. She then spoke just two words ("Yes, waltz") but her ‘Adele' character was hailed at understudy rehearsals as phenomenal and dancers in the ‘Corps de Ballet' kept asking Mary to give them Bel Canto lessons in the Orchestra pit. They were thrilled by the results -as professional dancers are not usually proficient in singing technique.

More roles followed for Mary including a leading role in ‘Lilac Time'. She was also an understudy to the principal acting role of ‘Marini' and was called on at 15 minutes notice to fulfill this obligation when the real ‘Marini' forgot the matinee performance and had gone to the cinema instead!

The jump from a demure teenage role to part of Italian ‘vamp' requiring masses of dialogue and loads of heavy accent was shattering for Mary but met with rave reviews. The MD in the orchestra even asked a still shaking Mary after the show if she spoke Italian as her accent was so accurate.

Mary Marshall

Mary with her Husband James

Mary with her Husband James

Mary in a Promotional Shot.

Mary in a Promotional Shot.

Scroll to Continue
Mary sings a duet with Victor Soverall, (£1000 winner of the Carol Levis Show).

Mary sings a duet with Victor Soverall, (£1000 winner of the Carol Levis Show).

Break into Professional Showbiz, Columbia Records and Celebrity Colleagues

Despite the plaudits Mary felt that her career progress was still too slow and being so eager to get on, decided that now was the time to further pursue her professional ambitions along different channels.

Just after signing the contract with The Three Shades three part harmony group, she was offered her dream role with her former operatic company, as Kathy in the Student Prince , which she was heartbroken to turn down. Meanwhile it was clear that whatever she had achieved as an amateur now counted for very little in the professional world. When chatting to cast members on the evening of her first professional performance, she was asked what she had done before and so innocently referred to her most recent successful role. She saw a couple of looks being exchanged and a furtive remark being passed behind the back of a hand. Silence fell and when the conversation resumed it was on a totally different subject. Mary wondered what she could possibly have done wrong. An older, fatherly figure in the cast sympathised with her obvious bewilderment and kindly took her to one side later to explain. Mary was a ‘Pro' now and once a pro it was considered taboo to discuss anything you had done as an amateur. The bar had been raised to a vastly higher standard and she would now be expected to start all over again from square one - only this time she would be performing among the best in the country.

Mary having opted to join the girl trio known as the "Three Shades" as a way of getting a stronger foothold into the forefront of the professional door, one of her co Shades, Ella Lightfoot was- as an ex Kordite- already a fully fledged pro harmony singer of some years. Mary felt guilty that she had ‘sold- out' in favour of pop and found it hard to tell her tutor that she was now in a group. However the harmonies were so pure and melodic that on hearing a radio broadcast Jenny was surprisingly philosophical and commented that at least Mary had at least joined a very classy and superior group.

Dozens of successful contracts followed -in fact it wasn't until Mary left the group that she learned that the Shades had been offered a big break at the London Palladium but their manager had -unbelievably-turned down this ultimate opportunity saying he couldn't afford their fare to London! (A less acclaimed girl group at the time called the "Kaye sisters" (whom ironically Mary had once been approached to join),got the contract by default and made their name as a result). Mary broke away from the Shades to resume her solo career.

Due to a misprint in a programme she was billed as Mary Marshall, but after the opening night the write-ups were so good that it seemed to have been a lucky name- so she kept it. Countless successful auditions followed with Mary competing against hundreds each time. The only two unsuccessful auditions were one caused by lateness when Mary discovered a ladder in her stocking and tried to remedy the situation by stopping for an emergency purchase -and secondly when Robert Nesbitt of renowned Pigalle name, a casting director told her he was delighted with her singing but that as Principal Girl she was far "too sexy" for the role in question.

Her publicist was Freddie Ross (later to become ‘Hancock'-wife of Tony). Mary's appearances were attracting a lot of attention. Record promoter Denis Preston the man behind such talents as Cleo Laine and Lonnie Donnegon saw her performing at London's Park Lane Hotel where she was backed by a brilliant Sri Lankan musician and Songwriter Nimal Mendis, (who would later write ‘Kiss Kiss Kiss' for her on the single that followed). Decca was already showing a keen interest in Mary, and now Denis asked her to record a demo disc for Columbia EMI .

At one of her personal appearances at the opening of a record shop in Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street), that day, there was a fresh faced young lad called Cliff Richards (With the ‘s' at the end) who modestly confided that he didn't know why he was there and that he just seemed to have something his producer liked. England was still fervently looking for it's own Elvis and Cliff would soon realise he was deemed the most likely contender.

Mary's studio demo was so successful that the fellow artistes present burst into spontaneous applause and so the pianist played on a second time. She was probably the only female recording artiste to be signed up at that time in the 50's when even many established female stars were having their contracts terminated. This was a male dominated music scene and although Columbia was convinced that Mary was destined for the big time they also advised her to be aware that she would have a great struggle to face until the trend changed again. Her single, a double-A sided disc entitled "My Island Home" and "Kiss Kiss Kiss" excited musical legend and sound technician Joe Meek, who after the recording, raced down from the control room at Columbia, threw his arms around her and exclaimed delightedly "Mary, together we're going to the top!" The single got five star reviews in the Music mags of the day such as The Melody Maker, The Record Mirror, The Stage and The Disc etc (Mary would later realise the prophetic irony of the first track title...) Personal Appearances were regularly organised alongside Cliff Richard, Millicent Martin and Marion Ryan etc.

Tours to countries such as Iceland and Cyprus also followed where she was informed that she was the most popular British female artiste ever to perform there. In the former, Mary even overcame the considerable Anglo- Icelandic tensions caused by the notorious fishing disputes and was subsequently hailed by the English ambassador for her invaluable high profile diplomatic role at this sensitive time. An ice cream was even named after her - "Ice bombe Miss Marshall" (echoing another occasion when she had performed at Scarborough and had a salad sandwich range named after her - Mary Marshall Sandwiches!) Demands for her TV and BBC Radio work in the UK increased. She worked with and met many of her contemporaries, Frankie Vaughan, Matt Monro, Jimmy Young (then singing) Jackie Trent, Charlie Drake, Bernie Winters, Kenneth More, Christopher Lee, etc etc .

Mary as Principal Girl 2

Mary as Principal Girl 2

Mary Presents Jayne Mansfield with a Flower Lay

Mary Presents Jayne Mansfield with a Flower Lay

Mary and Sydney greet Dick Emery upon his arrival.

Mary and Sydney greet Dick Emery upon his arrival.

Left to Right, Ronnie Ronalde, Sydney James and Mary Marshall

Left to Right, Ronnie Ronalde, Sydney James and Mary Marshall

Mary (far right), with Victor Maddern in Blood of the Vampire.

Mary (far right), with Victor Maddern in Blood of the Vampire.

Mary and Sydney with Sid Little and Eddie Large

Mary and Sydney with Sid Little and Eddie Large

Film, T.V. Star Anecdotes

As is usual in the profession, Mary had filled time between contracts doing occasional bit parts in films and ads, eg. she had appeared in a dungeon scene in the horror film "Blood of the Vampire" but the chains and manacles she had to wear were considered too risqué for British 50's audiences so the scene was reserved for the European version! However, film director J.Lee Thompson (Guns of Navarone etc) had seen her brief appearance and considered her to be an exciting new discovery and a natural acting talent. He was desperate for her consider a change of career but Mary did not want to throw away either her years of exceptional training or singing voice. Nevertheless Mary was happy that he had put her forward for a starring role in his film "No Trees in the Street". Thompson was devastated to learn that at the last minute the board of film sponsors had decided that they couldn't take the financial risk of backing an unknown film name.

Mary also appeared as the hat- check girl in the film entitled "Man with the Gun" and as an appreciative air stewardess in a TV ad for Van Heusen shirts. When the Hollywood star Jayne Mansfield visited London to promote the film "South Sea Adventure" at the Globe theatre, it was decided that as an up and coming Columbia recording star it would be good publicity if Mary Marshall dressed in a straw skirt and adorned with a lay of flowers around her neck, presented Miss Mansfield with a bouquet for a London Evening Standard photo on arrival. The photo never appeared. Thanks to the camera angle, Jayne was piqued that her own figure appeared to compare unfavourably with Mary's! A more flattering shot of J.M. was substituted.

Mary was also asked to double for Gina Lollobridgida in the film "Trapeze". (Their measurements were identical) but constant changes by La Lollo to her planned filming schedule meant that Mary could not remain available if also expected to fulfil her own contractual obligations and earn money. Mary also was asked to audition as Maid Marion in the TV series "Robin Hood" but declined. Her singing must always come first.

Mary was enjoying all the precursors to stardom but apart with the fact that male artistes were taking almost sole precedence in matters of publicity, other unforeseen pressures were also slowing down her journey to the top. Almost invariably, the men with the most power to make and break careers were womanisers who frequently attempted to abuse their position. Mary would put them straight "If I can't make it on my talent then I don't want to make it at all" she would tell them and then once she'd left the office, the tears of frustration would flow. Word would soon get back to other dubious characters in management positions "Nah! Nothing doing there!" Show business sometimes isn't a place for ‘nice' girls and as a person with high ideals Mary knew that with so many ‘wolves' to contend with, this situation could go on indefinitely.

All things considered, upon meeting Channel Islands impresario Sydney James who was bowled over by her talent and immediately decided he wanted to be her personal manager, she was persuaded to make a tough decision and so exited London, to the utter astonishment of the music world, and married him having been persuaded into appearing exclusively for his shows thereafter, (other than exclusive shows in the UK). Later Mary would also became his co director and therefore one half of Sydney and Mary James Productions Ltd. A new era had dawned for Mary

Old Tyme Music Hall

Mary Marshall centre. Line up includes Arthur English, Kitty Gillow and Leslie Sarone.

Mary Marshall centre. Line up includes Arthur English, Kitty Gillow and Leslie Sarone.

Sir Claude Francis Barry Paints Mary's Portrait

During Mary's years in the Channel Islands, the world renowned artist Sir Claude Francis Barry was so impressed with Mary's amazing vocal talents and her natural beauty, that he approached her and asked if she would consider sitting for him so that he could paint a portrait of her. Mary agreed, and the resulting portrait was exhibited at the Paris Salon with great success.

Portrait of Mary by the Renowned Artist Sir Claude Francis Barry

Portrait of Mary by the Renowned Artist Sir Claude Francis Barry

Mary wearing the same dress as depicited in the portrait of her by Sir Claude Francis Barry.

Mary wearing the same dress as depicited in the portrait of her by Sir Claude Francis Barry.


I would like to thank my Sister Hayley for her providing so much of the effort that went into this article. Mary Marshall was our Mother, (known as Mary Cassaday since remarrying following the death of our Father Sydney James back in 1986). Naturally we are very proud of her talent and only wish we had inherited her beautiful voice and talent ourselves.

Sadly Mary died on the 14th of January 2021 after a long battle with Cancer. Her husband James died in September the same year (also from Cancer).


Alan Righton on October 21, 2020:

Mary might remember when she appeared in Leamington Spa in the 50s at the Jephson Gardens theatre?

One night she asked me if I could give her a lift to her lodgings in Warwick. I only had a Lambretta scooter but she accepted and I took her there.

I used to see her every night, coming through the gate I worked on.

She was very beautiful and I was fortunate to see her every night.

She still looks the same! Beautiful.

Alan Righton, Leamington Spa.

Bob Stacey on April 21, 2020:

Interesting to see the letter in today,s Press regarding Little and Large.In 1971 I was barman at L,Ancresse Lodge Hotel.At the start of the season,the owner,Charlie Griffiths invited the cast from all summer shows,down to the hotel on the Sunday night,as there was nowhere to go on a Sunday in those days.Little and Large were amongst the,,stars,,dancing girls,are our local favourited Bishms Banjo Boys.As the night progressed and after a few,,relaxing,,drinks,everyone did an impromptu act.During the following week Little and Large came into he lounge bar several times,and as most people were on the beach,so I was able to have some good chats with them.1972-74 I was manager at Pembroke Bay Hotel and we regularly took coach loads of residents to all Guernsey.s summer shows.I remember Cannon and Ball at the Carlton,and also the Sunday night cabarets starting at midnight,so tat,going into Monday,alcohol was allowed to be served.Can,t remember who was performing,apart from Bobby Crush,who was a big star at the time.That was when Guernsey knew how to enjoy itself.All our yesterdays.-Bob Stacey.

Alan Righton on November 10, 2019:

I got to know Mary when she sang at the Jephson Pavilion in Leamington Spa. in the mid 50's. I actually gave her a lift on my Lambretta Scooter to her lodgings on the last night of her performance. What an honour! Alan.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 31, 2013:

Thanks so much Jude, I will show my Mum the link when I am up there (as well as your comment).

Jude on December 31, 2013:

Hi Cindy, Nimal is doing fine. He is busy these days finishing a film score of a new film that will be released soon. He is also the music director of a major TV channel in SL. I spoke with him this afternoon and he also told me that you emailed him in 2009 just before they left for SL and he made contacts with your mum after 41 years!. I too met him and his lovely wife at London before they left for SL. I have uploaded Kiss Kiss Kiss from last week's SL radio programme, to Sound Cloud. Here's the link.

Jude on December 31, 2013:

Hi Cindy, Nimal is doing fine. He is busy preparing the music score for a film that will be coming out soon, and is also the music director for a major TV channel. Spoke to him this afternoon and he also told me that just before he left for SL in 2009, he got an email from you and made contacts with your mum again after 41 years!. I too met him and his lovely wife at their London home before they moved to SL. His son is also with him. Hopefully they'll be in UK sometime in 2014. I have uploaded Kiss Kiss Kiss from last week's Radio programme of Sri Lanka, to Sound Cloud. Here's the link.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 31, 2013:

Thanks Jude, Mum still keeps in touch with Nimal, although she has been a bit worried about him as she hasn't heard from him for a while and knows he was devastated when his wife died not so long ago.

Jude on December 31, 2013:

Hi Cindy,

Nimal Mendis is now available on Facebook. I am going to post your article on his wall. TC.


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 11, 2013:

Thanks Jude, I am glad you enjoyed this article so much and hope you can make use of some of the information in it. I will have to see if my Mum can listen to the show online at their house. :)

Jude on December 11, 2013:

Dear Cindy,

Bumped into this great article about your mum whilst researching the song 'Kiss Kiss Kiss'. We are hoping to feature it on Radio Sri Lanka's programme 'Music We Grew Up With' on Saturday the 21st 09.00-11.00 CMB time (they are 5.30 hours ahead of GMT). You can listen to it live on then by clicking Radio Sri Lanka. Thanks for sharing valuable information on the page. Great article.

Kind Regards,


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 27, 2012:

Thanks Julianna, this is such a touching and lovely comment to receive. I will pass it on to Mum :)

Julianna from SomeWhere Out There on April 27, 2012:

Now I know where you get your looks from. Your mom is beautiful and you should be so proud of her. :) I have heard of her through my mom and my father. My natural father was from Wales. Aahh yes I am 50% Welsh and 50% English, lololo! Nice combo! Loved this article about your mom! :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 21, 2012:

Thanks Kelly, you are such a sweetheart and I am delighted you enjoyed this so much (right down to the comments.) You truly are a darling :)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on March 21, 2012:

Beautiful Cindy! This was very enjoyable, I love history and this was a fabulous account of the life and fun times of a vibrant, beautiful lady. I so admire those who chuck practicality and go for their dreams. Commendable and yes - gorgeous woman. This was delightful. I even was glued to the comments and thrilled to see the connections made here! Bravo to you, your sister and your mother:)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 18, 2012:

Thank you Rajan, although on this occasion my Sister Hayley deserves most of the credit as the text was mostly her work and I just added photos. That said she words things much like I would do, so I guess we have quite a bit in common.

So pleased you enjoyed this and thanks for the lovely compliments all round :)

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on February 18, 2012:

Cindy, wow, what a wonderful tribute to a very successful singer and your mom and I bet you are thrilled having her as mother.

your narrative has been so perfect that I could see the entire sketch of incidents playing as if on film before my very eyes.

Incidentally, your mom still retains the stunning good looks.

You are a very good narrator, believe me.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 21, 2011:

Thanks so much Alan, I shall pass this on to Mum as well. A happy Christmas to you and your family also.

Best wishes


Alan Righton on December 21, 2011:

Happy Christmas Misty to you and your mother Mary.

Fond memories.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 20, 2010:

The nicest comment yet gehan, thank you so much for making it and I shall most certainly pass this on to my Mother. She will be thrilled to know her tracks and singing maintained popularity for so many years after she stopped singing. Mum and Nimal are still in touch and close friends. A truly lovely man.

Gehan Gunasekera on August 18, 2010:

I happened to stumble on to this site. I had no idea of Mary's background. I am originally from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), where as a young boy the strains of "Kiss Kiss Kiss" was heard on our hit parade, and request programs. I always referred to this song as "Kisses In The dark", in 1967 my parents and brothers migrated to Australia, and unfortunately, did not bring with us our "Pop" record collection of Tony Brent, Bill Forbes and all of the other UK stars of the '50s and '60s, as well as US stars. Years later I began a hobby of mine doing a Radio Program on one of the local FM Stations 2CCR FM 90.5 and this program was aimed at the Sri Lankan community, and ran for three hours each Sunday afternoon. The program consisted mainly of requests, and "Kisses In The Dark" was one of the most popular tracks ever played on this program, and people often rang in asking for details of Mary, but sadly I didn't know anything about her, so this site has certainly given me a wealth of information. . . thank you to all the contributors. I met up with the talented Nimal Mendis, (his lovely wife Ranjani and his son Paulmarie), the composer of that track, and he mentioned that Mary now lives in Gurnsey (I am sure that's what he told me). Mary or Haley or Mistyhorizon2003, I just want you all to know how much we loved this piece of music. The track "My island home" still makes me long for a home, a time and a place that was long ago, and my three daughters grew up hearing these songs when their homesick Dad played them on Radio for the world to enjoy!! Thank you Mary Marshall!!!


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 20, 2010:

Hi Dave, thanks for the information, much appreciate it.

Dave Watson on July 19, 2010:

I grew up in Formby and lived in the house next door to Kitty..... a truly lovely lady

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 06, 2010:

Thanks Sue, I have replied to you by email and forwarded your email on to Tracey also. I am glad this article is helping to reunite a family.

Sue Hughes on April 06, 2010:

I am Kitty's neice. My dad was Kitty's brother. Kitty sadly passed away a number of years ago having had a stroke. She was 88 when she died. She was booked to do a show so she was still working until she was 81. I have done some research on the family tree and tracy can get in touch.

Tracey on March 18, 2010:

thanks so much for your help.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 18, 2010:

Hi Tracey, if you remember you contacted me on this same hub 2 months ago, but as I didn't hear back from you I couldn't send you the larger picture of kitty to pass on. I see you have emailed me now, so I shall make sure I scan the photo and send it on to you, plus I shall ask my mum if she can remember Kitty's real name too.

tracey5 on March 04, 2010:

great hub, first photo i have ever seen of my ancester KITTY GILLOW, just wish i had more info on her, can you help me please



Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 25, 2010:

Hi David,

I am seeing Mum today so I shall ask her and see what I can find out for you :) Check back here tomorrow and I shall see what I can post in the meantime. We are all away on Monday for a couple of weeks, so I shall have to try to get you any information before then. She may even say I can give you her phone number so you can chat properly and make notes. Alternatively send me your email address via the envelope icon under my profile picture and I can send you the info privately.

David Peters on February 25, 2010:

I am very interested in your mother's involvement with Joe Meek, as I knew Joe in the mid 60s, and I am now involved with The Joe Meek Society, would like to know more about her time with Joe, as this is totally new to us

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 21, 2010:

Hi Tracey,

I have quite a lot of information for you after talking to my Mum tonight, so I shall endeavour to cover it here as best I can. In addition I can also provide another similar photo of Kitty which will be larger so you can see her in more detail. I suggest you send me your email address via the envelope link under my profile picture above in order that I can email it to you.

The info I can tell you right now is based on my chat with Mum tonight:

Kitty Gillow was from an area near to, or in Liverpool, and was a terrific tap dancer (also known as a "hoofer" in those days). She was of a slightly "heavy set" build and was an extrovert in personality. Kitty was also a male impersonator, although this was not the only aspect of her act.

In the picture on this hub she was appearing for my Father (Sydney James) in Jersey in the "Olde Tyme Music Hall" show in the "Plaza Ballroom", and during her appearance as a woman she would sing a song first made famous by "Hetty King". The song was called " Why am I always a bridesmaid, never a blushing bride?".

Whilst performing as a male Kitty would sing " Burlington Bertie from Bow" as a part of her act, and half way through the act she would pass out 'Castello' Cigars to members of the audience.

Kitty appeared for Sydney James at St George's Hall in the "Olde Tyme Music Hall" show in Guernsey in the early 1960's. and then later at the Jersey "Plaza Ballroom" in the late 1960's.

Reviews of the shows would have been published at the time in the well known UK "Stage Newspaper" if you wish to research it.

Kitty mostly performed in working men's clubs in the North of England both before and after her time in the Channel Islands. She was an extrovert personality and known as a "good trouper", who along with the rest of the stage acts would sing throughout the several "ensemble's" that were interspersed throughout the show.

At the time she appeared in Guernsey she would have been aged in her early 50's.

Kitty showed a remarkable vitality for someone in her 50's according to my Mother (Mary Marshall featured in the photo above).

One thing of possibly particular interest is the fact she often spoke about a gentleman friend she was very keen on at the time called "Joe". He was not in the same line of work, but was obviously important to her as he frequently featured in her conversation. He did not accompany her to the Channel Islands when she performed, so we can only assume he stayed back in the UK.

I hope this helps you to find out more about Kitty, and please send me your email details so I can send you a far better image of Kitty.

Look forward to hearing from you

Kind regards

Misty (Cindy)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 20, 2010:

Hi Tracey, leave it with me and I shall ask my Mum if she can help when I next see her (in a day or so). I am really glad you got your first picture from this hub too. Check back here in a day or two and hopefully I may have some more info for you.

Tracey Atkinson Coulton on January 20, 2010:

Hi very interseting site, I am a relative of KITTY GILLOW, I was wondering if you have any information on her that might help me with my family history. You have given me the first picture of her, my dad can just about remember going to see her when he was younger



Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 04, 2010:

Thank you Brightforyou, so pleased you enjoyed this :)

Helen Lewis from Florida on January 04, 2010:

What a wonderful tribute to your exceptionally talented and beautiful mother (who stills looks beautiful in the more recent photo). Thank you for sharing this with me!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 18, 2009:

Thanks Alan, I am sure she will ask me to send the same back. She has just had a cataract removed from her eye today so she is a bit groggy but coping well. Happy Christmas to you and yours also.

Alan Righton on December 18, 2009:

Happy Christmas to you, your mum and the family. Best wishes, Alan.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 12, 2009:

Thanks Alan, Hopefully you will unearth something somewhere along the way:)

Alan Righton on December 12, 2009:

My visits to the local library have not proved successful. I will keep trying.

Best wishes, Alan.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 23, 2009:

Hi Alan, if you do manage to get some can you email the info over to me if possible, as I am sure mum would love to have it too. in the meantime I shall ask her if she has any such info already, and if so I shall email it to you. Thanks

ALAN RIGHTON on October 23, 2009:

I have been trying to get some information from the local newspaper about the performances of your mother at the Jephson Pavilion in Leamington Spa but so far no response. It would be nice to see any write ups so I will keep trying.

Cheers, Alan.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 22, 2009:

I will try to find out for you Alan, check back here tomorrow and I shall let you know if she remembers the name of the place.

Alan Righton on September 22, 2009:

I see that Mary performed in Cyprus some years ago. It was there only two weeks ago that I had been talking to a friend Colin about the old times in Leamington Spa and mentioned Mary performing in the Jephson Pavilion during the Leamington lights festival and he went on to the internet and came up with your mothers story. Do you know where she performed in Cyprus? Cheers, Alan.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 17, 2009:

In case you pop back here Alan, I passed your lovely comment on to my Mum and she says she remembers the time you gave her a lift well. She even told me the name of the Guest House. Anyway, if you do wan to exchange any messages with her directly you can email them to me using the link below my profile picture, and I can then pass any replies back to you the same way. Thanks again, she was delighted by your lovely words.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 17, 2009:

Thank you Alan, what a lovely blast from the past memory. I shall make sure to pass this message on to her.

Alan Righton on September 17, 2009:

I remember Mary when she sang in the Jephson Pavilion in Leamington Spa, when they used to have the "Leamington Lights Festival" around 1958. On the last night that she performed I gave her a lift to Warwick on the back of my scooter to where she was staying. I have never seen or heard of her since except I have always had her record,"Kiss, kiss, kiss" on top of the record player and played it only a few weeks ago. It is lovely to read of her success and that she is still as beautiful as she was then.

Alan Righton.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 05, 2009:

Thanks JasperJohn, yes we are very proud of her, plus she is a very lovely special person to have as our Mother.

jasperjohn on September 04, 2009:

A wonderful insight into your mums career.You really must be very proud.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 04, 2009:

Thanks for stopping in Shirley,

It didn't really effect me as I wasn't born until quite a lot later, so Mum was only singing periodically by then in Dad's shows as she had two children to look after by now, and Dad was ill, so he retired by the time I was about 10 or 11.

My Sister (who is 5 years my senior) saw much more of it than I did, but even she missed out on most of Mum's singing career. The best bits for me were being able to be made a fuss of by people who were the acts in Dad's shows, many of whom became famous later on.

Shirley Anderson from Ontario, Canada on January 04, 2009:

Wow, your mom had quite a life right from the start!  This is such an interesting story.  I agree with the comment that mentioned this would make a good book or movie.

I chuckled when I read about Jayne Mansfield banning the photo because your mom showed her up.

I found myself wondering what life must've been like for you and your sister growing up with famous parents.

Excellent hub, Cindy!  Bravo.

Donkey Joan on May 20, 2008:

Heard Mary on Guernsey Radio yesterday. What wonderful memories it stirred and what a lovely lady too. Agree with everything said so far.

Phil, Guernsey on May 20, 2008:

Miss Marshalls performances were always something special.She was an inspirational role model for countless local amateurs wanting to experience a top notch professional in action. We'll never see that kind of talent and star quality again. Mary has earned her place as Guernsey's only true Diva.

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on April 27, 2008:

Fascinating article on your mother, Cindy, and a great selection of photos!

Stan the man on April 26, 2008:

I came across this blog while researching Jo Meek for a thesis on the British Music industry. Had you thought this story would make a great film or novel? There are so many aspects to it. Juicy tit bits, inside knowledge, emotional ups and downs. The reasons why Mary missed out on fame are what make the story so interesting.It proves that fame is at least as much to do with being in the right place at the right time as having talent. A valuable insight into the music industry during a time when fame had to be earned the hard way. Thank you.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 25, 2008:

Thank you Susan for your kind comments. It is a shame your Dad can no longer know what happened to my Mother, but it is lovely that you have shown an interest.

Susan Higgins on April 25, 2008:

My father was a Boltonian. He always wondered what happened to Mary Hasmall. Like all his Bolton friends at the time he just took it for granted that she was a big star in the making, then she seemed to just vanish off the radar. Guess the name change also made her harder to track too. It sounds like Britain was deprived of a great talent. Rotton luck for Mary too but its good to know that she continued to have a successful career independently and it's interesting to understand how the whole fame machine works. Dad would have loved this blog.Well done Cindy.

Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on April 24, 2008:

great detail and bio, thanks

Related Articles