Hailing from Ilford, Essex, Kathy Kirby sang her way into the charts with discs like Dance On and Secret Love, then went on to lucrative cabaret and stage appearances and her own TV series (the BBC produced Kathy Kirby Show), which netted her £18,000.
Often compared to Marilyn Monroe, Kathy was only sixteen when she first sang in an Ilford dance hall with the Ambrose Band and learned her trade the hard way, singing with dance bands.
Her manager, veteran musician Bert Ambrose, shrewdly guided her career to the point that at 24, Kathy was in the £1000 a week class, although her singing career was eclipsed by a turbulent personal life.
Ambrose also turned out to be Kathy’s “Secret Love”. Though he was more than four decades older than her – and they kept it hidden from the press – they were lovers until his death in 1971.
Adrift and reclusive in the 70s and 80s, apart from occasional unwanted intrusions from the tabloids, Kathy was reunited in the internet era with the family she had more or less left for Ambrose.
Kathy gave one last concert in Blackpool in 1983 and after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, she retired from showbiz. She passed away in 2011.