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Petula Clark

Petula Clark

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 15, 1932 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Surrey, England, GB Profession: actor, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Singer-actress Petula Clark's soaring, often soulful vocals helped to grant her one of the longest-running and most successful music careers in the history of British pop music, with over 15 Top 40 singles in the United States alone and scores more in her native England and throughout the world. Though Clark's signature song was the plaintive No. 1 single "Downtown" (1965), she had been a fixture on British radio and film since the early 1940s, before enjoying a modest career as a teen singer in the 1950s. A move to France in 1960 established her as a more versatile talent before she broke worldwide with "Downtown" in the midst of the British Invasion. A string of hit singles, including "I Know a Place" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" soon followed, as did her successful return to feature films with "Finian's Rainbow" (1968) and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969). In the 1970s, Clark shifted her attention to television and theater, where she drew rave reviews for performances in "The Sound of Music" and the 1983 Broadway run of "Blood Brothers." But her pop career continued to enchant and entertain new generations of listeners, as evidenced by new versions of "Downtown" in 1988 and 2011 that enjoyed...

Singer-actress Petula Clark's soaring, often soulful vocals helped to grant her one of the longest-running and most successful music careers in the history of British pop music, with over 15 Top 40 singles in the United States alone and scores more in her native England and throughout the world. Though Clark's signature song was the plaintive No. 1 single "Downtown" (1965), she had been a fixture on British radio and film since the early 1940s, before enjoying a modest career as a teen singer in the 1950s. A move to France in 1960 established her as a more versatile talent before she broke worldwide with "Downtown" in the midst of the British Invasion. A string of hit singles, including "I Know a Place" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway" soon followed, as did her successful return to feature films with "Finian's Rainbow" (1968) and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969). In the 1970s, Clark shifted her attention to television and theater, where she drew rave reviews for performances in "The Sound of Music" and the 1983 Broadway run of "Blood Brothers." But her pop career continued to enchant and entertain new generations of listeners, as evidenced by new versions of "Downtown" in 1988 and 2011 that enjoyed placement in the U.K. Top 10. Clark's ebullient personality and winning way with an upbeat song preserved her status as one of England's most beloved pop performers.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Droles de zebres (1977)
2.
 Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) Katherine
3.
 Finian's Rainbow (1968) Sharon McLonergan
4.
5.
 6.5 Special (1958)
6.
 That Woman Opposite (1957) Janice Lawes
7.
 Track the Man Down (1956) June Dennis
8.
 The Runaway Bus (1954)
9.
 Promoter, The (1952) Nellie Cotterill
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1939:
First performed on radio at age eight; went on to entertain British troops fighting in WWI
:
Put under contract by the Rank Organization
1944:
Made film acting debut, "A Medal for the General"
:
Appeared on an experimental British TV program in the 1940s
1946:
First motion picture musical, "London Town/There Goes My Heart"
1948:
Was featured in the comedy film "Here Come the Huggetts"; appeared in two 1949 sequels, "The Huggetts Abroad" and "Vote for Huggett"
1949:
Debut as recording artist with "Music, Music, Music"
1950:
Acted in the British feature "Dance Hall"
1952:
Gave Alec Guinness his first screen kiss in "The Promoter/The Card"
1954:
Acted on stage in "The Constant Nymph"
1955:
Made American TV debut in a rare dramatic role in an episode of the ABC series "The Vice"
1957:
Sang at the Olympia Theatre in France
:
Settled in France and began making records and nightclub appearances
1964:
Became international sensation singing "Downtown"
1965:
Appeared as a guest on "Shindig!" (ABC), singing hit single "Downtown"
1966:
Debuted as Las Vegas headliner
1966:
Starred in BBC variety series "This Is Petula Clark"
1968:
Moved to Geneva, Switzerland
1968:
Hosted own special, "Petula" on NBC; created uproar when she touched Harry Belafonte's arm on national TV
1968:
Was featured in the Francis Ford Coppola-directed musical film "Finian's Rainbow"
1969:
Co-starred with Peter O'Toole in the musicalized remake of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"
1969:
Made second NBC special "Portrait of Petula"
1970:
Third US TV variety special "Petula" (ABC)
1973:
Headlined the British TV variety series "The Sound of Petula"
1981:
Appeared in film "Never Never Land"
:
Headlined a London revival of "The Sound of Music"
1982:
Last feature (to date) "Never Never Land"
1983:
Played rare non-musical stage part in the title role of "Candida"
:
Had lead in the British production of the musical "Someone Like You"
1990:
Starred in the London musical "Someone Like You"
1993:
Made Broadway debut in "Blood Brothers"; also toured in the show
1995:
Assumed the role of Norma Desmond in the London stage musical "Sunset Boulevard"; later toured in the part until 1997
:
Reprised the role of Norma Desmond in the American tour of "Sunset Boulevard"
2000:
Debuted one-woman autobiographical show in Canada called "Petula Clark: This Is My Song"; show eventually filmed and aired in USA on PBS in 2001
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Made a Commander of the British Empire in 1997.

On the reaction of the British press to her 1961 marriage to Frenchman Claude Wolff, Petula Clark told The Guardian (February 20, 2002): "Oh, they didn't want sexiness. Sex was definitely out. My God! Our Pet's married a foreigner and a Frenchman what's more. Don't even go there! ... our Pet was sexless or asexual anyway."

"I have different homes. I suppose London is my slippers- type home - I feel comfortable here. Paris is more of a spiritual home. And New York is the buzz. I enjoy the competition and toughness of New York. It's like the song - if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere - and New York has always been great to me. And Geneva is a wonderful place to put your feet up and listen to ... the silence." --Clark to The Guardian, February 20, 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Claude Wolff. Married in June 1961; she and her husband have what Clark terms "an open marriage".

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Barra Wolff. Had a well-publicized addiction to heroin in the 1980s; later married and had two children.
son:
Patrick Wolff.
daughter:
Kate Wolff.

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