Louise Clarke - Biography
By Gary P. Rose
25th August 2012
Louise Clarke was born in Kilburn, London on 3rd September 1949 and was raised in Harlesden. Her father was a music arranger and her mother was of Italian extraction. She started dancing when she was four years old and later went to the Corona Stage School in Hammersmith. Whilst still at Corona, she was chosen for some minor roles in films and television and also did some child modelling. She started her career at the London Palladium, when she was 16 years old, in a Cliff Richard pantomime, Aladdin, which ran for 14 weeks in 1965. Following this she worked in cabaret and then got a job at the Celebrity Club where she stayed for 8 months. She left to become lead dancer in a company touring Europe.
Louise's older sister, Carole, had already made an impact on the British public, having scored a massive hit with the song Gone Tomorrow in the summer of 1965. Using the professional name of Carol Friday, she was working in Europe at the same time as Louise and they both appeared on the same music programmes - Carol as a singer and Louise as a dancer. It was whilst working in Europe that Louise met the girls who would later become her colleagues in Pan's People.
Pan's People had been formed in December 1966 by Flick Colby, Dee Dee Wilde and Babs Lord. After several line-up changes, Andrea Rutherford was recruited followed by Louise, who joined in December 1967, when she was 18 years old. She performed with Pan's People in Europe, appearing on many of the top music shows, including the German programme Beat! Beat! Beat!, before returning to England. She perfomed with Pan's People on the BBC programme The Beat Room before Pan's People became resident dancers on Top of the Pops. Pan's People made their initial debut on Top of the Pops in April 1968 when Flick, Dee Dee and Ruth Pearson performed as a three-piece. Louise made her first appearance on the programme on 30th May 1968 when the whole group performed to US Male by Elvis Presley.
Louise remained with Pan's People for seven years before deciding to leave. She had met her future husband, entrepreneur Tony Dobson, on the night of her 21st birthday, in 1970. The same year, Louise took to the West End stage when she landed a major role in the play Lie Down, I Think I Love You. The play was intended to be the British version of Hair! but failed miserably, achieving a mere 13 performances at the Strand Theatre in London.
After a long engagement, Louise and Tony decided to marry and start a family. Her final performance on Top of the Pops was to Homely Girl by the Chi-Lites in May 1974. Following the birth of her son, the family bought a big house in Sheffield, an apartment in London and a villa in Marbella in Spain. She was a stay-at-home mum in her 30's but later returned to work. She opened a health and beauty club in London called Pan's Place and also started her own motorbike courier service. In the meantime, her sister, Carole, had changed her name to Caroline Villiers and had carved out a successful career as a television and stage actress.
Louise was widowed in 2010, when Tony died, aged 77. Following his death, she lived with her son, Anthony, who is a financial consultant, Sadly, Louise passed away in August 2012, just two weeks short of her 63rd birthday.
(c) G. P. Rose 25th August 2012