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Elisabeth Welch


A favorite singer of extraordinary flexibility and longevity, Elisabeth Welch was a dark American celebrity/singer whose 50-season profession took her through the streets of NY to achievement in London. Delivered in NEW YORK, Welch educated for the stage and produced her debut within the theatrical revue Blackbirds of 1928. She afterwards made an appearance on stage in Paris and returned to NY in a display called THE BRAND NEW Yorkers, where her presented quantity was the Cole Porter track “Love on the market,” which she launched to NY audiences. Welch produced her London debut in 1933 with Dark Doings, and she adopted this up later on that same 12 months within the Cole Porter display Nymph Errant. Welch was therefore well received and, subsequently, so liberated from the reception she within Britain, that she managed to get her home completely, and loved a three-tiered profession on stage, radio, and in films, showing up in seven feature movies between 1934 and 1945. Perhaps most obviously of the movies had been when she starred reverse Paul Robeson in a set of movies, Track of Independence (1936) and Big Fella (1937), as well as the chiller Deceased of Night time (1945). Her nice, rich tone of voice — sometimes referred to as a “noisy alto” — was perfect for numbers such as for example “Solomon” or “Stormy Weather conditions” (which she launched to London viewers), producing Welch a significant appeal on radio and massively well-known as an entertainer from the soldiers during World Battle II. Welch’s stage and documenting career held her busy through the 1940s, and she liked a long profession in nightclubs in to the 1970s, a period when she came back to movies aswell. Welch received a brand new burst of promotion in England because the highlighted vocalist on Ned Sherrin’s tv series specialized in the work of varied pop music composers, which resulted in an EMI Globe Record Membership LP reissue of her traditional 1930s edges. In 1980 she performed in NY to stunning testimonials and crowded membership viewers, reaffirming her superstar position in her previous hometown. She came back to NY often after that and was nominated to get a Tony prize in 1986. A tale on both edges from the Atlantic, Elizabeth Welch passed away July 25, 2003 at age 99.

Quick Facts

Date Of Birth February 27, 1904
Died July 15, 2003, Northwood, London, United Kingdom
Profession Actor, Entertainer, Singer
Nationality American
Spouse Luke Smith
Siblings Edward Welch, John Welch
Awards Obie Award for Performance, Outer Critics Circle Special Award
Music Songs Love for Sale, I Still Suits Me, The Man I Love, Harlem in My Heart, The Girl I Knew, Dark Music, When Lights Are Low, Far Away in Shanty Town, Drop in Next Time You're Passing, One Kiss, LollyBye, Soft Lights and Sweet Music, Song On The Sand, When I Get You Alone Tonight, Long Before I Knew You, To Keep My Love Alive, I Love You Truly, Much More Lovely, Raise A Ruckus, And So Do I, I Gotta Shoe, If I Ever Fall in Love Again, Miss Otis Regrets, That's How the First Song Was Born, Sleepy River, I Gotta Go, One Life To Live, Cindy-Ella, No Time At All, My Cousin In Milwaukee, Such A Night, Give Me Something To Remember You By
Albums Cindy-Ella (Original Cast Recording), Miss Elizabeth Welch 1933 - 1940, Elisabeth Welch In Concert, This Thing Called Love, A Nightingale Sang....., Soft Lights and Sweet Music, The Crooked Mile, The Very Best Of, One Kiss, Famous Hits by Elisabeth Welch, I Still Suits Me / Ol' Man River (Mono Version), Harlem in My Heart
Nominations Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical
Movies The Tempest, Big Fella, Song of Freedom, Arabian Adventure, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Our Man in Havana, Dead of Night, Girl Stroke Boy, Over the Moon, Cleopatra, Fiddlers Three

  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

1 Lived in England since 1933.
2 Ivor Novello wrote two songs especially for her in the 1935 musical, "Glamorous Night.".
3 She never saw her father again after he left her mother.
4 Her paternal grandmother was of the Lenape tribe of Wilmington, Delaware. She was run off the reservation for marrying an African whose relatives had been slaves.
5 Her parents had troubled getting married because her mother was Caucasian and her father was African and Native American. They finally found a Catholic priest who married them in secret.
6 Was nominated for Broadway's 1986 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Musical) for "Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood."
7 Her father, a head gardener and later coachman, was part African-American and part Native American. Her mother was born in Scotland and was part Scots and Irish. She once called herself a "one-woman United Nations."
8 Her father, a devout Southern Baptist, divorced her mother after he discovered his wife promoting Elisabeth's show business career behind his back. He supposedly said packing his bags, "Girlie's gone to the boards--she's lost!"
9 Had two brothers: Edward and John.
10 Briefly married to a musician at age 18; later married jazz musician Luke Smith, who died in 1936.
11 Began singing in a church choir at age 8.
12 First gained attention in 1923 singing the song "Charleston" in front of a group of flashy, frenzied dancers in the jazz-age musical "Runnin' Wild" on Broadway.
13 Introduced many songs which became popular standards in her shows over the years including "Charleston," "Stormy Weather," "Far Away in Shanty Town" and her "scandalous" signature song "Love for Sale."
14 A popular Paris nightclub singer after performing in the black revue "Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1928" and frequently played the Moulin Rouge.
15 During World War II she often joined artistic forces with such notables as John Gielgud, Edith Evans and Beatrice Lillie to perform for troops in Malta and Gibraltar.
16 Despite severe arthritis, she persevered in such 1970s musicals as "Pippin" and "Cindy-Eller," sometimes performing sitting down.
17 Had a seven-decade long recording career.
18 Launched a one-woman show in 1986, at age 81, at New York's Lucille Lortel Theatre, and earned an Obie and 'special' Outer Critics' Circle awards for "making old song favorites sound young, fresh and vital."
19 Made her final professional appearance in the 1996 British television documentary "Black Divas," singing "Stormy Weather" for the last time in public.



The Tempest 1979 A Goddess
Arabian Adventure 1979 Beggarwoman (as Elizabeth Welch)
Revenge of the Pink Panther 1978 Mrs. Wu
Girl Stroke Boy 1973 Mrs Delaney
The Man Who Came to Dinner 1972 TV Movie Sarah
Jackanory 1968-1969 TV Series Storyteller / Storyteller - 'The Naughty Little Elves'
BBC Play of the Month 1967 TV Series Tiare Johnson
BBC 3 1966 TV Series
Crane 1964 TV Series Assunta
Cleopatra 1963 Children's Nurse (scenes deleted)
The Brockenstein Affair 1962 TV Movie Corinne
Our Man in Havana 1959 Woman
BBC Sunday-Night Theatre 1956 TV Series Bessie Bolt
Penny Plain 1952 TV Movie
Tuppence Coloured 1949 TV Movie
Oranges and Lemons 1949 TV Movie
Dead of Night 1945 Beulah
While Nero Fiddled 1944 Nora
Alibi 1942 Singer
This Was Paris 1942 Cabaret Singer (uncredited)
Over the Moon 1939 Cabaret Singer (as Elizabeth Welch)
Around the Town 1938 Elisabeth (uncredited)
Big Fella 1937 Amanda 'Manda'
Song of Freedom 1936 Ruth Zinga (as Elizabeth Welch)
Death at a Broadcast 1934 Elisabeth Welch - Singer



The Tempest 1979 performer: "Stormy Weather"
Dead of Night 1945 performer: "The Hullalooba"
While Nero Fiddled 1944 performer: "Drums In My Heart" - uncredited
Over the Moon 1939 performer: "Red Hot Annabelle"
Calling All Stars 1937 performer: "Nightfall"
Big Fella 1937 performer: "One Kiss", "Harlem in My Heart"
Song of Freedom 1936 "Sleepy River"
Soft Lights and Sweet Music 1936 performer: "Yesterday's Thrill"
Death at a Broadcast 1934 performer: "Lazy Lady" - uncredited



Black and White in Colour 1992 TV Mini-Series documentary Herself
The Jerome Kern Songbook 1990 Video Herself
The 40th Annual Tony Awards 1986 TV Special Herself - Nominee: Best Featured Actress in a Musical
This Is Your Life 1985 TV Series documentary Herself
Joyce Grenfell 1910-1979 1980 TV Movie documentary Herself
The Royal Variety Performance 1979 1979 TV Special
Song by Song 1978 TV Series Herself - Music Performer
Looks Familiar 1973 TV Series Herself - Guest
A Birthday Gala Tribute Noel Coward 1970 TV Movie Herself - Performer
Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life 1965 TV Series Herself
This Is Your Life 1959 TV Series documentary Herself
This Is the Henry Hall Show 1958 TV Series Herself
Alan Melville Takes You from A-Z 1957 TV Series Herself
Pleasure Boat 1957 TV Series Herself - At Your Command
Music for You 1955-1956 TV Series Herself
Ivor Novello 1956 TV Movie Herself
Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure 1956 TV Mini-Series Herself
Isn't It Romantic? 1955 TV Series Herself - Guest Artist
Face the Music 1955 TV Series Herself
Kaleidoscope 1950-1953 TV Series Herself / Herself in Song Time segment
Calling All Stars 1937 Herself
Soft Lights and Sweet Music 1936 Herself

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1 (In a 1987 interview) Ivor Novello was a great romantic. I don't think he would be accepted particularly now because of what some people call his schmaltz. I call it love. He was in love with love.
2 My mother was Scottish, and I say what is the point of my taking out British citizenship? I'm half British anyhow. I regard myself as American, but I'm English in thought ans interest.
3 I was brought up in a mixed neighborhood, 63rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, that was primarily Irish, secondly Italian, thirdly Negro, and then the mixes of all other European countries. I went to a mixed school, Julia Richman High. I've never thought of race. I'm lucky. It never hit me.
4 [on co-star Paul Robeson] There were no lines he objected to in "Song of Freedom." In later years he was very nasty in that film "Sanders of the River." He said they had tricked him into that. I don't know how or why. That's his comment, but I have no evidence of it. He was a lovely man. We discussed politics naturally, but I'm not politically minded although I follow. And I have my own theories. He said you've got to be a citizen of the world because of this... (she points to the color of her skin.} I said I've got so many bloods in me, I'm part of the world. I don't stand up for one or the other, only for what's right... for decency. He wanted to convert me, but he was very gentle about it. I'll take anybody's arguments if they have a sense of humor with it. And, of course, he laughed so easily. We became great friends. I loved him, and he always came to see me when I was playing.
5 [when friend and co-star Paul Robeson tried to persuade her to make a stand for black people] I'm of mixed blood: African, Native American Indian, Scots and Irish, Paul, I can't make a stand for all of them. You must excuse me.

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