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Felicity Isabelle Colby - Her Story in Words and Pictures

Gary's picture

 

 

 

 

FELICITY ISABELLE COLBY

(23 March 1946 - 26 May 2011)

HER STORY IN WORDS AND PICTURES

By Gary P. Rose

Contributions by Dee Dee Wilde

 

ANCESTORS

THOMAS COLBY AND ELEANOR MUGGLI EARLY LIFE THE BEAT GIRLS
PAN'S PEOPLE EUROPE TOP OF THE POPS BREAKTHROUGH
RUBY FLIPPER, LEGS & CO AND ZOO AFTER TOP OF THE POPS SUMMARY SPECIAL THANKS (Dee Dee)

 

ANCESTORS

The Colby family's history has been well-documented and their tree includes many notable people, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, (author of Little House on the Prairie), Chester A. Arthur (the 21st President of the United States), William Egan Colby (former Director of the CIA),  Richard Bruce Cheney (Vice President of the United States, 2001-2009), Gardner Colby (Christian philanthropist and founder of Colby College) and Bainbridge Colby (US Secretary of State 1920-1921). Their ancestry dates back to the fifteenth century.

The Macy-Colby house in Amesbury, Massachusetts, USA

 

The earliest recorded ancestor is William Colby of Lincolnshire, England. Records show that he owned land in a small village called Sempringham in 1421. One of William's descendants, Anthony Colby, sailed to New England on the Winthrop Fleet of 1650 and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts. Thomas Macy, the first town clerk of Amesbury, Massachusetts, was persecuted for harbouring Quakers and was forced to sell his home to Anthony Colby. The ancient Colby home can still be found, although the last Colby to occupy it was in 1958. There are treasured items of the Colby family still in the house. Many of the items belong to  Anthony Colby but there is also a cradle which belonged to the Colby family's friend, Susannah North Martin. Susannah was involved in the notorious Salem witch trials of 1692 and was hanged as a witch.

The full history of the Colbys is the subject of a book entitled The Colby Family in Early America, by Frederick Lewis Weis, Caledonia, published by Caledonia Press in 1970.   

 

THOMAS COLBY & ELEANOR MUGGLI

Flick

 

Thomas Edgar Colby was born in 1921 in New York. He attended Hamilton College and entered the U.S. Navy upon graduation, in 1942. He was in active duty with the Navy until 1945, after which he spent a year studying in Zurich. From 1947 to 1949, he taught German at his alma mater, Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York, and then began graduate study at Princeton University. He received an M.A from Princeton in 1952 and a Ph.D. in 1960 and spent the next seven years on the faculty at Columbia University. Following this, he returned to Hamilton to teach German language and literature and remained at the college until his death in 1983.

Thomas married Eleanor Muggli on 22nd December 1942 in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, and they went on to have three children, a son, Thomas, and two daughters, Michal and Felicity.

 

EARLY LIFE

20 year old Flick in a London Park

 

Felicity Isabelle Colby was born on 23rd March 1946 in Hazelton, Pennsylvia. A gifted child, with a natural talent for dancing, she started dancing at the age of three.  According to those who knew her, she was very strong-willed, even as a child, and was determined to do things her way. She was popular at school and always participated in the talent contests that took place there. She got involved in their drama productions too, playing Katherine in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, and performing in a production of The Skin of Our Teeth. She was educated in Clinton, New York and Andover, Maryland and later attended the prestigious Joffe Ballet Company in New York. She worked in Ethnic and Modern Jazz Ballet at the Perry Mansfield School in Colorado and, at 18, choreographed the Harvard College production of Bye Bye Birdie.

She took ballet and dance lessons in Boston before joining a repertory theatre company, where she met her first husband, Robert Marasco.  She sang and danced in Summerstock productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Damn Yankees, The Boyfriend, Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun and The Fantasticks, amongst others, before moving to Europe. 

 

THE BEAT GIRLS

The Beat Girls

 

Felicity arrived in London in early January 1966 with her husband, Robert, who was attending film school. It was the height of the Swinging Sixties and London was the place to be. The Beatles were on the scene and Felicity, now affectionately known as Flick, wanted to be a part of it. In those days, there was only the Dance Centre in Covent Garden, Floral Street, so all the dancers used to congregate there. Gary Cockrell ran and owned the centre and Flick attended classes there. To make ends meet, she took a job as a go-go dancer in a Soho nightclub. In the meantime, Gary created a group of dancers called the Beat Girls who were performing for a BBC programme called The Beat Room. The Dance Centre was where the Beat Girls rehearsed and Flick joined them at the end of January. It was through the Dance Centre and the Beat Girls that Flick would meet the girls who would later become her colleagues and, subsequently, her life-long friends, in Pan's People.

The Beat Girls

Babs Lord and Ruth Pearson were original members of the Beat Girls, having joined in the group in 1964 but, by the time Flick joined, Ruth had left to form her own group, Tomorrow's People. In May 1966, Dee Dee Wilde, Lorelly Harris and Penny Fergusson signed up as members of the Beat Girls, joining Babs, Flick and Diane South. This line-up performed in several television shows, including The Dickie Valentine Show. In September 1966, the Beat Girls went to Venice with the Luvvers pop group where they performed at a party thrown by Universal Studios after the premiere of the film Fahrenheit 451.

One of the most influential music shows was Top of the Pops and, to appear on the show meant that artists had reached their peak. The show often featured a dance troupe called the Gojos but Flick thought the show should have a regular dance troupe and decided to do something about it.

 

PAN'S PEOPLE

Pan's People

 

On 8th December 1966, Flick, Babs, Dee Dee, Lorelly and Penny formed their own group (Diane had left the Beat Girls to work as a choreographer for Gary Cockrell at the Dance Centre). After much discussion, the girls came up with the name Pan's People. Looking for a sixth person to complete the line-up, Felicity Balfour-Smith, a former school friend of Dee Dee's, was brought in. However, Felicity decided to leave after a few months and Pan's People continued as a five-piece. Flick's marriage to Robert dissolved shortly after arriving in London and, in 1967, she married publicist James Ramble in Westminster. James was also the personal manager of the group Dantalian's Chariot but, after marrying Flick, he took the role of manager and publicist for Pan's People. After careful consideration, Flick decided that Pan's People would function better as a six-piece so, in March 1967, she contacted Ruth Pearson and invited her to join the group. Then Lorelly left to join the Bluebell Girls in Paris and was replaced by Andrea Rutherford. Penny left at Christmas 1967 and was replaced by Louise Clarke. So, by the time Pan's People performed on Top of the Pops in the Spring of 1968, the line-up we know so well was complete.

 

EUROPE

Pan's People

 

In 1967, the newly formed six-piece toured Europe, where they spent the next eighteen months, appearing on television and in cabaret. Flick choreographed most of their routines but Ruth collaborated with her on a couple of occasions. On television, Pan's People appeared in three series of Vibrato for Belgium's RTB network and also appeared in Hits a Go Go in Switzerland and Beat, Beat, Beat in Germany. One of their highlights was appearing in a television spectacular called Carousel D'ete,  which was broadcast in Holland, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. Pan's People appeared in two Royal Command Gala Performances for the Belgium National Company, Die Fiedermaus, in 1968, and Guliver, in 1969. On both occasions, Flick choreographed.

For their cabaret work, Flick recruited two male dancers, Adrian le Peltier and Gary Downie, who accompanied them throughout their European tour. Flick became a star in her own right in Holland, after she appeared in her own Showcase TV Special called Felicity. The show included a 15 minute improvisation to Mozart and went on to win Holland's official entry at the Munich Television Festival in 1967. Through sheer hard work - and determination - Flick, and Pan's People, soon gained a reputation and, when they returned to London, they were eventually offered a regular spot on Britain's biggest music show...Top of the Pops.

 

TOP OF THE POPS

Flick

 

But Pan's People's place on Top of the Pops didn't come easily. In April 1968, the group were practicing in the annex of the White House Hotel in Earl's Court when Virginia Mason, the choreographer for Top of the Pops, came in to audition dancers for the show. Much to their disappointment, Virginia told the girls she only needed two girls for the programme. The girls had already decided that Pan's People was a self-contained unit but eventually agreed that this was an opportunity too good to miss. They hoped that at least one of them would get the job and that it would pave the way for the rest of the girls. But they did better than that because both Dee Dee and Ruth got the job.

Dee Dee and Ruth's first dance number was Simple Simon Says by 1910 Fruitgum Company and both girls were disappointed because they thought it was a safe number to dance to. They had hoped for a more raunchy number, which is what Pan's People were more accustomed to. On top of this, they were made to wear white knickerbocker outfits instead of Pan's People's trendier costumes. But Dee Dee and Ruth made the best of what they had and put on a great performance.

Dee Dee and Ruth's hard work paid off because, a short while later, opportunity came knocking at their door. Colin Charman, the director of Top of the Pops, came into the studios and Ruth recognised him instantly. Back in 1964, she had worked with him on The Beat Room when she was with the Beat Girls. She approached him and asked him to give Pan's People a chance to show what they were capable of. Ruth introduced Colin to the rest of the girls and Colin made a promise to them that he'd contact them when he needed dancers for the show. A few weeks later, the girls received a telephone call from Colin. It was a call that would change their lives forever...

 

BREAKTHROUGH

Flick

 

Colin apologised for the short notice, but said he needed Pan's People to perform on the show the very next day. He also told them that he only required three dancers. The girls couldn't contain their excitement but knew that three of them would be disappointed. Colin had already chosen Dee Dee and asked her to chose the other two. She had already worked with Ruth on the show so she seemed the obvious choice and Dee Dee and Ruth agreed that the third person should be their choreographer, Flick. The remaining girls were very understanding and accepted the choices that had been made.

The next 24 hours were very hectic as the girls worked hard to perfect their routine as well as sort out their costumes.They opted for white calf length boots, skimpy tops and mini-skirts. Their long hair, which was their trade-mark, was left to fly free. Flick had very little time to devise a new routine so she adapted the steps from a number they had recently performed to in Belgium. Flick added just a few minor changes to the number, Respect by Aretha Franklin, and pulled it off perfectly.

Flick

Back in the Top of the Pops studio, Flick, Dee Dee and Ruth trembled with excitement as they awaited their turn. After what seemed hours, the music started for their dance spot and, for the first time, British audiences saw what Pan's People were really capable of. That performance opened doors for Pan's People and marked the beginning of their long and successful association with Top of the Pops. Babs, Andrea and Louise didn't have to wait long for their turn because, three weeks later, all six of them were asked to perform to US Male by Elvis Presley. Throughout the rest of 1968, Pan's People, as a whole, frequently appeared on the programme...and stayed there for the next eight years.

When Flick's marriage to James Ramble dissolved, she took over as their manager.  In 1971, she left the group to concentrate solely on choreography. At the same time, she undertook work in other areas; choreographing for television shows such as Sez Les, The Two Ronnies, The Black and White Minstrel Show and The Goodies. She also choreographed the routines for the musical Catch My Soul in London and, later, in Paris.

Flick

Pan's People soon became a household name and quickly built up a fan base, Girls wanted to emulate them and their brothers and fathers switched on every week just to watch them perform. They became so popular that they were offered work on other BBC shows, with stars such as John Denver, Bobbie Gentry, Lulu and Georgie Fame. They were even given their own television special, Pan's People in Concert, in 1974. They also appeared in a number of advertisements. The girls were instantly recognisable and everyone had their favourite dancer. Each girl had a different look and personality so, to viewers who didn't know them by their individual names, they were "the big blonde one" (Babs) or "the little dark-haired dusky one" (Ruth) or "the sultry one with the tousled hair" (Louise).

Pan's People were talented and sexy and, without doubt, helped make Top of the Pops ratings - not to mention a few male pulses - soar . During their heyday, there was no other dance troupe quite like them and Flick can take all the credit for that.  After an incredibly successful career and several line-up changes, Pan's People finally disbanded in April 1976. Andrea, Babs and Louise had left to get  married and start families and had been replaced by Cherry Gillespie and Sue Menhenick,  respectively. In the final months, Lee Ward and Mary Corpe had been brought in as replacements but their careers in Pan's People were short-lived.

 

RUBY FLIPPER, LEGS & CO AND ZOO

Flick

 

In 1976, the music scene was changing and disco was quickly becoming the most popular sound around. Feature films like Saturday Night Fever had become very popular too and Flick wanted to move with the times. With the exception of Ruth, all the original members had left Pan's People so Flick decided it was time for a change. Flick and Ruth came up with the idea of forming a new group that would also include boys in the line-up and put their idea to the BBC. The BBC weren't enamoured with the idea but Flick and Ruth insisted on giving it a try and presented them with Ruby Flipper. Ruby Flipper consisted of four girls and three boys and included former Pan's People dancers Cherry Gillespie and Sue Menhenick. To complete the line-up, Flick added two new girls, Patti Hammond and Lulu Cartwright, and three male dancers, Philip Steggles, Gavin Trace and Floid Pearce. Flick believed that by adding a black boy to the mix, Ruby Flipper would appeal to a wider audience and also fit in with the current trend of mix-raced dance troupes.

Flick

However, Ruby Flipper's career on Top of the Pops was short-lived and, within six months or so, the group had vanished form our screens. The BBC wanted Flick to return to the original format of having an all-girl group, so she set about auditioning for new dancers. Cherry had left Ruby Flipper mid-way to begin a career in musical theatre, but the remaining three girls, Sue, Patti and Lulu, were given places in the new yet-to-be-named group. After holding open auditions, Flick eventually settled on Pauline Peters, Rosemary Hetherington and Gillian Clarke and the group became known as Legs & Co.

Legs & Co enjoyed an equally successful run on Top of the Pops, from 1976 until 1981, when the BBC decided that all-girl dance troupes were becoming out-dated. After much discussion, the BBC informed Flick that they wanted to return to the mixed-race, mixed-sex format so Flick created Zoo, which included classically trained dancers as well as 'robotic' and acrobatic performers. But Zoo proved less popular than the BBC had hoped, so the BBC, finally, decided to abandon dance groups altogether. Their decision marked the end of Flick's long association with Top of the Pops and the BBC.

 

AFTER TOP OF THE POPS

Flick

 

Following her departure from the BBC and Top of the Pops, Flick regularly commuted between Britain and America. She spent a lot of time with her family in Clinton, New York, but she loved London very much and returned there as often as she could. Then, in 1984, Flick decided to go home to America for good. She built a spectacular house on a slope overlooking a valley and installed a raised stage at the end of her living room in case she ever felt like dancing again. She opened a gift shop called Paddywacks and ran it for a few years, but then ill-health forced her to give it up. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer several years earlier and had undergone regular chemotherapy treatment. She was in remission and was enjoying a quiet lifestyle with her third husband, George Bahlke, who she had married in 2003.

George was a professor of English at Hamilton College, where her late father had worked.Flick suffered a personal tragedy when George died in February 2011, just three months before her own death. The cancer had returned a few months prior to George's death and, as a result, Flick's chemotherapy treatment increased. Sadly, she passed away on 26th May 2011.

 

SUMMARY

Flick

 

Flick Colby was an inspiration to many people, especially to young girls who dreamed of becoming dancers, film stars or pop singers. She achieved success during a time when women were often still expected to stay at home and look after the children or work part-time at the local shop. Flick worked hard to achieve her goals. She had lots of determination and drive and fought for what she believed in. These characteristics enabled her to turn her dream of becoming a classical ballerina into a jazz dancer and choreographer into reality

To her fans and the media, she will always be remembered for her remarkable achievements as a dancer, choreographer and co-founder of some of Britain's most popular dance troupes. But to her family, friends and those who knew her personally, she will always be remembered for her witty sense of humour, her ambition and passion for dancing. According to those who were privileged to know her, she was brave, courteous and dignified until the very end.

 

SPECIAL THANK YOUS

Flick

 

To Dee Dee for confirming dates, helping to fill in the gaps and for details regarding Flick's spouse(s). Your contribution helped tremendously and was gratefully appreciated by myself, Panfan, and all the members of the website. To mojo 2007 - the 1969 leaflet provided essential information for Pan's People's work in Europe. But most of all, thanks to Flick. We love and miss you x

(c) G. P. Rose. May 2012

Sources: Dee Dee Wilde, other personal correspondences, various newspaper, books and magazine articles, ancestry.co.uk.

 

 

30 comments

panfan's picture

Well done Gary!

Gary's spent many weeks researching and preparing this extended biographical tribute to Flick, and I'm sure you'll agree with me he's done a great job in putting this together in time to help us to focus our thoughts on Flick on this sad first anniversary of her loss....

And thanks also to Dee Dee who has helped Gary piece together the varying line ups in the Beat Girls and Pan's People.

gibb1962's picture

Thank you Gary and Dee Dee for this wonderful biographical tribute.She had alot to live up to with all the high achievers in her family tree,she certainly did not let them down.If you're looking in Flick,there's still alot of love for you down here.

Glenn

Gary's picture

Your message to Flick is very touching. I hope she is looking in - and feeling the love we all have for her.

Flight14's picture

Gary - I cannot thankyou enough for this amazing updated biography of Flick Colby.I knew she came from an upper-middle class family but I didn't know just how important to the history of the USA.When she decided to do 'Europe' with her husband little did she know that she would form the finest modern dance sextet the world has ever seen 'Pan's People'.

She was a Don Quixote - coming to Europe to fight the imaginery windmills & make modern-dance a fine performance art that we appreciate today.When she arrived in London in '66 ,dancers,especially female dancers were often 'decorative background' to male pop groups.Flick changed all that.She liberated dancers.Like the song;she did it 'her way' & we all benefited from it.

Flight14's picture

Many thanks to Dee Dee too,for helping Gary with important information.It's a tremendous,superb bio of Flick & particularly the events of the momentiously important year 1968 when P P made it's tentative debut on TOTP,& the marriages & of course,the remarkably impressive ancestry.

cornershop15's picture

Brilliant work, Gary. I hope all those who knew and loved Flick will read this (so far) definitive biography and appreciate all your hard work in putting it together in time for the first anniversary. The presentation is also wonderful, with a good selection of photos.

This time last year I paid little attention to the sad news and only had rare glimpses of Pan's People on TV retrospectives. A few weeks later, I found out, much to my distress, that the vast majority of the 1964-76 Top of the Pops archive was destroyed. My favourite era.

A curiosity to see what there is on YouTube led to the discovery of many routines I'd either missed or apparently ignored when I was a regular viewer in the Mid-1970s. The variety of their work amazed me and I've been in love with the girls ever since. 

Most of the last year has been dedicated to paying tribute and searching for anything I can find on the Internet. A lot of the content here is made up of photographs, articles and even videos that more established fans never knew existed - like the Golden Earring(s) promo. I hope to keep doing that for a while yet.

I am most proud of discovering the items relating to Flick and am particularly fond of the mini-shopper photocall as the picture was taken a week after Pan's People were formed (hope that's right)    and possibly the same day as the famous Leap in the Park, above.

I will post some other favourite finds later, including publicity stills for The Dickie Valentine Show at her Miscellaneous Appearances thread in a moment, and a striking close-up for the Felicity special in my next post here.

Very Best Wishes to the friends and family of our beloved Flick, whose great talent deserves to be acknowledged for many more years (forever would be nice). I'm so sorry that she's no longer here but continue to hope we will all get to see her - and her routines - in a better place. 

Gary's picture

Your archieve material is very much appreciated,  as is all your hard work. You never cease to amaze me with all those newspaper clippings - where do you get them from!

Panfan, myself and the rest of the Admin team are grateful for everything you do for the website. Thanks.

Lee and Mary Fan's picture

Wonderful work Gary, that was lovingly writen,  and well put together.

The past year has gone by quickly, but the pleasure of Flicks hard work has lived on, from watching TOTP routines on You Tube or on the BBC Four re-runs of TOTP to the interesting memories from Peter to the interesting archives tracked down to Cornershop, the past 12 months Flicks work has been remembered and enjoyed by many.

Its such a shame Flick left us far too soon and never got to see this website in all its glory, but what a fine platform it is to remember a special lady who along with our beloved dancers gave us so much enjoyment and ever lasting memories.

Flick Colby will never be forgotten and will always be loved and respected by those who admire her work and creative ideas.

Gary you have done a lovely job on Flicks Biography and I am sure all of Flicks family and friends will be touched by your interest and dedication to to Flick.

Regards to Flicks family

PJ

Gary's picture

Thanks to all you guys for your kind comments.

I wanted to write something special to commemorate the anniversary of Flick's death and, to achieve that, I turned to Dee Dee for help. I can't thank Dee Dee enough for her contributions.  

Dee Dee - I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you. x x

 

Lee and Mary Fan's picture

Gary,

Im sure Flick would of been proud of her friend Dee Dee and yourself for helping to keep her memory alive.

Gary's picture

Thanks PJ,

You know yourself how willing Dee Dee is to talk to her fans or to answer their emails. I can't thank her enough for the help she gave me. And it was all done out of love and respect for Flick.  

We all miss you, Flick

We will keep the candle burning for you......... x

Lee and Mary Fan's picture

If only we had a chance of being able to say Thank You to Flick, I guess very few people knew the lady was ill, I didnt, it came as a massive shock to hear of her passing one year ago.

I feel so frustrated in not being able to say Thank You to Flick for the countless hours of enjoyment she gave us, however, this is a lovely way of showing Flick our respects, her family and the TOTP dancers will hopefully get to read our comments, I know one thing, Dee Dee is very impressed by the fans who help to keep the memory of Pans People and the other TOTP dancers alive, Dee Dee and all other of Flick Colbys dancers....its our pleasure!.

Gary's picture

It was good of Dee Dee to provide us with the name of Flick's first huband and to, finally, know how the Beat Girls developed into Pan's People. 

Paperboyplod's picture

I've quite literally only taken an interest in the old dance troupes in the last year or so, thanks to the TOTPs re-runs on BBC Four, when I heard about Flick's passing, I just took it as just another sad death in the world of showbiz, & then I thought nothing more about it, so shame on me for being so disrespectful.

At that time I didn't even know this website, or OftDs even existed, I only found them through Google searches early this year.

I've been reading about the forthcoming live TOTPs event, & that they'll be a dance troupe appearing, I like to think that if Flick was still with us today that she'd be the one putting the troupe together & choriagraphing their routines, but I'm sure that she'll be there in spirit at least, I wonder what she'll be thinking about all of this!

 

Justin

Rusty Carno's picture

Thanks from me too to Gary and Dee Dee for this definitive article and tribute.  For one thing it puts me straight finally on the Pans/Beat Girl Family Tree but most of all it shows Flick's career's great depth and her versatility.  In her own pre-eminent Family Tree she certainly takes a worthy seat in the front row.  Thanks again

Rusty

Gary's picture

The BG to PP transaction is all down to Dee Dee - she provided the dates and explained how one group developed into another.  I'm very grateful to her, as I'm sure we all are.

Thanks again

JEZ's picture

Well done gary ,excellent ,many thanks for all your hard work in putting together all this valuable info on flick ,also many thanks as always to dee dee who ive always found very obliging and helpful with question or info regarding pans people ,many thanks to all

cornershop15's picture

I would also like to thank Dee Dee  for providing important details for Gary's biography of Flick, including the surprises of an even earlier marriage and another dancer named Felicity. I'd certainly like to know more about the latter. Nothing has turned up in my own research so far.

This is the recent discovery I mentioned, from the Dutch newspaper Utrechts Nieuwsblad, 6th September 1966:

Felicity was broadcast the next day. I hope to create a thread for the show soon, once I've sorted out the translation and hopefully found more photos.

panfan's picture

A lovely photo Cornershop! It would indeed be wonderful to be able to uncover and archive all the treasures that must lie in the archives in the Dutch and other European media vaults.

Lee and Mary Fan's picture

Nice find Cornershop, lovely picture of a beautiful lady.

Flight14's picture

Actually I was surprised about the 1st marriage to Robert Marasco.I though she was 1st married to James Ramble in 1967.I know she had a successful 3rd marriage to George Bahlke & he died 3 months before she did. So effectively Flick's Wikipedia entry is incorrect?.It only lists 2 marriages.Well it won't be the first wikipedia to be inaccurate.

Thanks to Gary & Dee Dee : - the mysteriously elusive year of 1967 is becoming more clear.It seems that the 1st full year of Pan's People was spent largely abroad in Continental Europe.Belgium,Holland,Germany etc. on tv & in cabaret.I don't think they made a single apperance on British television in 1967 ?.

The story of Flick Colby is eternal. Not just for us oldies but the young people of today who discover Pan's People on youtube for the first time or even by the tagged photos & videos on our website via search engines.Flick's work will last forever & her departure is actually down to us on this website to be turned into an 'arrival'.We've only just begun to tell the story of Flick & P P.

panfan's picture

Yes that's a good point about the Wikipedia article, Peter.  Thanks for pointing it out.

There were a few inaccuracies there, which I've just corrected in the light of the information from Gary and Dee Dee - not only the first marriage to Robert Marasco, but also the early line up.

Gary has certainly done a wonderful job here: this is without doubt the most elegant and definitive account of Flick's life written to date.  He is to be congratulated for all the hard work he has done over the last year on his biographies, which make PansPeople.com without doubt the number one resource available for professionally researched and accurate information on the careers of the dancers.  The site would be a shadow of its current form without them, and I'd like to add my own thanks and personal debt of gratitude to him.

It is indeed such a shame that PansPeople.com didn't come into its own even a year earlier, and that Flick herself never got the chance to see how her life and work has been remembered and preserved for posterity.  But I can say that her friends and relatives do appreciate the work we have all been doing to keep her name alive, and as the months and years go by, we will strive to discover, collate and make available all we can find about the career of Flick and the other dancers, whether through Gary's research, or the untiring endeavours of Cornershop in locating and posting archival material.

We plan to celebrate Flick's life and work with special articles annually on our Flick Colby Day: we all recall the shock of a year ago and are remembering her loss today, but from next year, we will focus on Flick on her birthday, 23 March.

cornershop15's picture

Hi, Peter. They were resident dancers on Dickie Valentine's ATV series in 1967, as Pan's People. The previous year, half of them appeared as The Beat Girls. I was thrilled to discover these rare pictures a few weeks ago:

Publicity and production stills for 'The Dickie Valentine Show' (1967)

 

 

Flight14's picture

I can hardly wait for this !! - 'Flick Colby Day' on her birthday: 23rd March 2013.Thanks Panfan.Well done for correcting the Wikipedia entry.It correctly lists 3 marriages now.You see I put up my own memories of her which were really only a small number of meetings & friendly banter but at least it was up close & personal & I never forgot those encounters,she was in my memory for her amazing beauty,radiance the teasing & the American Accent.Gary's biography is brilliant & incredibly absorbing.I am sure Gary will regularly update it as new information comes to light in ensuing months & years.

Thanks Cornershop15 for doing what you are so brilliant at doing; - uncovering amazing new revelations & photos of Pan's People.So they did appear regularly on British tv in 1967 & contrary to what I said it is not a lost year in the P P Calendar.It did seem for a while that only Holland & Belgium etc. had the pleasure of P P dance routines that tumultious year.I mean 1967 was the year of the hippies & 'flower power' so Pan's People would have been doing that whole 'psychedelic'- type scene thing,& tamla-motown soul.So the emphasis for 1967 is on ATV's 'The Dickie Valentine Show' 1967. Unlike the BBC,ITV are known to have kept many of their videotaped programmes.ITC especially as they were prodigious in worldwide export.So will we ever seen Pan's People dancing on TDVS ?.....If we did uncover such a clip it would be the only P P British television performance from 1967 (yes we have the Tamla-Motown rehearsal P P Promo film).

How strange fate twists & turns in unpredictable directions.If Pan's People could have made their debut on TOTP a year earlier would they have danced to Pink Floyd's 'See Emily Play' ? - now that would have been mind-blowing.Of course we had the GoJos on TOTP at that time.

mojo2007's picture

Amazing pictures from Dickie Valentine Show, a great find.

I will confess that my musical taste has not always been sound, the first 78 I purchased, while still at school, was Dickie Valentine's , How would you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island ?  I was there for Guy Fawkes Night in 1961

 

mojo

 

andy1950's picture

God bless you flick you were always my favourite, dance on with louise and the angels

northampton andy

cornershop15's picture

This is just to remind you that today (26th May) is the third anniversary of Flick's death. It's still difficult to find something new to add to her threads, with such a disastrous archive status, so I thought I'd post some of my favourite American chart hits from 'our' time as an emotional tribute to mark the occasion.

I'm fascinated by that story, towards the end of the book, about the butterfly at her memorial service. In Dee Dee's message to us, she said Flick "will always be around in spirit, watching over us girls" - which made me think of Shelby Flint's Angel on My Shoulder (US #22, 1961).

The other two songs never made it to the British charts either:

Mercy - Love (Can Make You Happy) (US # 2, 1969)

Mama Cass - New World Coming (US #42, 1970)

 

I hope you liked all of those and that Flick would have approved.

 

  

Flight14's picture

Nice choice of songs Cornershop 15.Thanks. I probably only met Flick on 3 occasions : My 'Ruby Flipper' day in August 1976 , Sis's Cricklewood Birthday Bash in June 1980 but the strongest memory is: Me & big Sis were walking down Holland Park Avenue,about to cross over to the Tube Station. A lady called out to us then drove up to us at the kerb.A chat ensued,she offered us a lift a few times.We opted instead to use the Tube.Sis said 3 words :"That was Flick" .I remembered this particular encounter for decades.I always remembered it as a random chance encounter,Flick was driving past & simply spotted us in the street.It could have been any year from 1976 up to the early 1980's. Holland Park Avenue is a busy junction linking the West End to BBC Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush.So it makes sense.It was the surprise element of it that makes such a clear memory recall.I remember Flick as stunningly beautiful , very bold & vivacious.

cornershop15's picture

Thanks, Peter. Cricklewood is very close to where I live, near Gladstone Park. Kind of eerie to know that Flick was not far away at that moment.

You might remember that I share the same birthday as her, and the also sadly-late Delphi Lawrence (23rd March). That's probably all I've got in common with them ...

Kindest Regards to Patti, by the way.

It's obviously great news that many lost Pan's People routines continue to be discovered - assuming we get to see them all. I love and admire much of her work as a choreographer but really wish there was more to represent Flick's career as a dancer.

The unavailability of her Bridge Over Troubled Water solo is a terrible blow to fans and loved ones. Babs has described this performance a few times. Apparently, the camera followed Flick's movements throughout, with no changes of shot. All the Top of the Pops discoveries seem to be from 1973-76 so I don't suppose we'll see much more footage of Flick and Andrea, which is beyond sad.

I always think of the group when a song they danced to is played on the radio, or when I select one on the computer. Even those that don't have an existing routine to go with it, like Tears of a Clown and (Blame It) On the Pony Express. (wasn't that one of theirs as well?).

At least we can imagine the Pan's People interpretation of  Another Day, thanks to their book's caption for this picture (reversed and in black-and-white in Our Story). Mystery solved:

Left to right: Dee Dee, Babs, Andrea, Louise and Flick

 

My favourite surviving clip of Flick Colby is the Beat Club routine for Bucket T.

Flight14's picture

That routine would have looked especially good on Colour TV for those fortunate enough to have one in '71.Great photo/research C15.

Popscene has this routine listed as TOTP: Thursday 11th March 1971 .Presenter Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart.I know their info isn't always accurate but that sounds about right. Ruth seems to be missing from this rountine unless she was dancing solo & not in this particular photo?.

Possibly this one involved revolving around chairs & desk?,following the lyrics.