Piccadilly Revels 1933
Paddy Prior (middle row left), Webster Booth (seated next to her)
Webster Booth married his second wife, Dorothy Annie Alice Prior (stage name Paddy Prior) on
10 October 1932 at the Fulham Registry Office. He had married Winifred Keey there eight years earlier but had divorced her in 1931 after she deserted him and their small son, Keith, several years before.
Paddy Prior, was born in 1905, the daughter of Fulham ironmonger, Hubert and his wife, Annie Prior. Paddy began her professional stage career while still a teenager. She was a talented soubrette, comedienne and dancer, and possessed a pleasant mezzo soprano voice into the bargain.
In 1924, at the age of nineteen, Paddy spent nearly a year as a member of the travelling Rogues concert party from April to January 1925. In various reviews Paddy was praised for her comedy talent and her speciality dancing with comedian Fred Roper. They were appearing at Leas Pavilion, Folkestone in January 1925, but by the 5 February Paddy had left the Rogues to join the Gamblers and Their Tipster concert party at the same venue. This party also toured extensively, so before she was twenty-one, Paddy had seen much of the country and gained valuable professional experience into the bargain.
In November 1925 Paddy appeared at the Taunton Lyceum in Little Miss Muffet as Dolly Dimple. The pantomime toured various towns until early 1926. By April Paddy was out of work and obliged to put an advertisement in The Stage as follows:
VACANT: First class offers for CP, Revue, and Musical Comedy.
PA 37 Arundel Mansions, Fulham SW6
By July Paddy was working again, this time with Leslie Fuller’s Whitby Pedlars, and a review pointed out that, “Paddy Prior is a charming and dainty soubrette, who uses her mezzo voice effectively.”
The pattern of Paddy’s stage career was set: concert party, after-dinner entertainment, pantomime and musical comedy. Towards the end of the twenties she was also on television at Daventry, first in De Courville’s Hour in 1929, then in the early thirties in Philip Ridgeway’s series entitled The Ridgeway Parade, which included Janet Lind, Dorothy Dampier and Hermione Gingold in the cast.
Like Webster she was a member of the Concert Artistes’ Association, and it was there that she first heard Webster sing. In an interview with W.S. Meadmore in Gramophone in November 1935, Webster described his meeting with Paddy. He was singing One Alone from The Desert Song when his attention was drawn to her seated in the audience, obviously enjoying his singing. They were introduced after the concert and married in October 1932.
The following year they worked together in Murray Ashford and Wilby Lunn’s Piccadilly Revels for the summer season at the Floral Hall,
Scarborough, and in 1934 they were members of Powis Pinder’s Sunshine concert party at the Sunshine Theatre, Shanklin. Arthur Askey and Bernard Lee were also in this company.
At the end of 1934 Webster was chosen to play Faust in the film, The Faust Fantasy and Anne Ziegler was chosen to play Marguerite. Filming began in December and, according to Anne and Webster’s joint autobiography Duet, they fell in love. Paddy’s marriage to Webster was about to end before it had properly begun.
Webster and Paddy continued to work together for several years after his meeting with Anne. Their last joint appearance was on
30 April 1936 when they performed at the City Musical Union’s 84th Annual Dinner at the Holborn Restaurant. At the end of May they were guests at the wedding of their friends, Violet Stevens and Bryan Courage.
But in July 1937 Anne and Webster sailed for
, where Anne had been engaged to play in the musical, New York at the Center Theater. She had changed her name to Anne Booth for this production, after being advised that Americans disliked German-sounding names at that time, and also anticipating her eventual marriage to Webster. Webster returned to Southampton onboard the MV Georgic and gave his address as 74 Lauderdale Mansions, Maida Vale (Anne's flat), although he was still listed in the telephone directory as living in Crescent Court, Golders Green, where he and Paddy had spent their married life. Virginia
From the beginning of 1938 Anne and Webster began taking engagements together, while Paddy filed for divorce on
29 March 1938 “on the grounds of his adultery in April 1937, with Miss Irene Eastwood, otherwise Miss Anne Zeigler (sic), singer…”
In September 1938 Anne was featured on the cover of Radio Pictorial sporting an opulent diamond solitaire engagement ring and on
7 October 1938 the absolute decree was granted to Paddy Prior against Webster Booth. After the divorce Paddy moved to 14 Muswell Hill Road, sharing her new home with a young Welsh singer, Bettie Bucknelle, who had made her debut on radio in Band Waggon, which starred Arthur Askey and Rupert Murdoch.
Anne and Webster were married on
5 November 1938 and went on to even greater success as romantic duettists on the variety stage during the war.
The Folkestone Bouquets. Paddy Prior, middle row (extreme right)
Paddy continued with her theatrical career and when war broke out she joined ENSA. She returned to England in 1946 after entertaining British forces in the Middle East, and, in 1947 did a summer season with the Oval Entertainers, Margate, where a reviewer described her as “a gay young lady with a sparkling sense of humour as fresh as Margate’s famous sea breezes.”.
22 April 1948 she and Bettie Bucknelle sailed for , where they intended to make a new life. Paddy's brother had settled there some time earlier. It must have been upsetting for Paddy to see Webster and Anne as established stars while, despite her considerable talent, she had not made a big name for herself. Australia
Later that year Anne and Webster made an extensive concert tour of
and New Zealand . They heard that Paddy and Bettie had booked seats in the front row for one of their concerts. Webster feared that they might be planning an unpleasant demonstration against them at this concert. He was asked whether he could recommend Paddy as understudy to Cicely Courtneidge in the play, Under the Counter, which meant she would have to leave for Australia to rehearse the understudy role. He had no hesitation in making this recommendation, so Paddy was not able to attend the concert as she had to go to New Zealand right away. New Zealand
There is a record of Bettie Bucknelle singing in a number of broadcasts, including broadcasts with the famous band leader Jay Wilbur, but I could not find out anything about Paddy’s Australian theatrical career. If anyone can give me any further information about her I would be very glad if they could contact me.
Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the
in 1978, a letter arrived for Webster from Paddy who was still living in UK from South Africa . She said he would be welcome to visit her if he ever decided to go out there. Australia
Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the