ALL MATERIAL ON THIS SITE IS MY COPYRIGHT. DO NOT COPY IT FOR ANY PURPOSE WHATSOEVER WITHOUT OBTAINING MY PERMISSION! Webster Booth (tenor - 1902-1984) and Anne Ziegler (soprano - 1910-2003) were best known in Britain as duettists on the Variety circuit from 1940 to 1955. During that time they rose rapidly to fame and were frequently heard and seen on radio, records, television, film and stage. Besides this Variety Act, Webster Booth was one of the foremost tenors of his generation and continued to sing in numerous oratorios throughout his career on the Variety circuit. Join The Golden Age of Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler and Friends on Facebook.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Places associated with Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler (1956-2003)

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Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler emigrated to South Africa in July 1956. While they were looking for a suitable home they lived at Dawson's Hotel, Johannesburg.  This photograph shows the hotel at the corner of Von Brandis and President Street as it is today. I believe that the building has been abandoned, hence the poor state of the exterior. It was considered one of the best hotels in Johannesburg after the Carlton and the Langham hotels in 1956.

The found a flat at Waverley, Highlands North, just off Louis Botha Avenue, where they lived for several years. They also rented a studio in the centre of the city on the eighth floor of Polliacks Building, corner of Eloff and Pritchard Street. It was advertised as the Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth School of Singing and Stagecraft.

The studio was on the eighth floor above Record Corner, which was Polliacks Corner in the days when Anne and Webster were there. It had a large balcony facing the OK Bazaars (now called Shoprite). On the OK Bazaars corner of Eloff and Pritchard Street, little 12-year old boys gathered each morning to play melodious Kwela music, using a penny whistle, and a bass made of a tea-chest. The studio was beyond John Orr's, the upmarket department store in Pritchard Street. This store was closed many years ago.

Polliack's Corner, 169 Pritchard Street where Anne and Webster's studio of Singing and Stagecraft  was situated is the building with balconies on the right of this photograph. Their studio was on the eighth floor.
The view from the studio was the photograph below - a big department store called the OK Bazaars, on the corner of Pritchard and Eloff Streets, Johannesburg. Both these photographs were taken in the fifties when trams were still running in the city.

About 1958 Anne and Webster bought a house at 121 Buckingham Avenue, Craighall Park in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Anne said they paid R4000 (£2000) for the house and thought they did very well when they sold it for R8000 (£4000) five years later.

On Wednesday afternoons Webster went to Zoo Lake Bowling Club where he played bowls in "the most beautiful setting in the world". I was sorry to hear that this bowling club's lease has not been renewed and is to be closed in February 2011. I hope that it may be saved as it has been on this site for over fifty years.

Their second home in Johannesburg was at 31a Second Avenue, Parktown North, where they lived until 1967 when they moved to Knysna in the Cape.

The first house in Knysna was at 4 Azalea Street, Paradise, Knysna. They planned to leave Knysna and move to Port Elizabeth when they discovered their second home in Knysna and stayed on until 1974 at a Settler Cottage at 18 Graham Street. 

The Beacon Isle Hotel was built at Plettenberg Bay, the adjoining town to Knysna and attracted visitors from other parts of the country. Anne and Webster sang at its opening around 1970.

The new Crowhurst in Picardy Avenue, Somerset West. Anne is standing next to the cars. (1975) Photo: Dudley Holmes

In 1974 they moved  to Somerset West near Cape Town where the cost of living was less than in Knysna, hoping to obtain more work in broadcasting and teaching but there were few pupils and few broadcasting engagements. Webster conducted the Somerset and District Choral Society but he was not offered a fee for doing this!  After a time they moved into a maisonette and prepared to return to the United Kingdom in 1978 as Anne's friend, Babs Wilson-Hill (Marie Thompson) offered to purchase a small bungalow in Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno, North Wales and agreed that they could live there rent-free for the rest of their lives. 

Webster died on 21 June 1984 after a long illness at the age of 82. Anne lived on in the bungalow until her death on 13 October 2003 at the age of 93.                      

The bungalow in Penrhyn Bay.

Jeannie C
July 2010

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