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Marian Davies - Biography

panfan's picture
Marian Davies
Date of Birth: 
23rd November 1940
Place of Birth: 
Cynant, Neath, South Wales
Date of Death: 
24th January 2008
The Ladybirds


By Gary P. Rose

Marian Davies was born on 23rd November 1940 in Cynant, near Neath, in South Wales. She was educated at Neath Grammar School. She was going to study medicine but won a scholarship which took her to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama so she studied opera instead. While at school, she was given leave, each month for five years, to appear with the singing children in Land of Song on telelvision. She later joined the Cliff Adams Singers and the Granadiers and then teamed up with Maggie Stredder and Gloria George in the Ladybirds.

The Ladybirds had a long and illustrious career as backing singers on virtually every major variety and music show and appeared with almost every performer in the 1960's and 1970's. They appeared regularly on The Benny Hill Show and were resident backing singers on Top of the Pops. Other artists they backed on their recording and television shows included Marc Bolan, Twiggy, Rolf Harris, Sandie Shaw, Des O'Connor, Les Dawson, Tommy Cooper, Little and Large, Shirley Bassey, Morecambe and Wise and Cliff Richard. They were also regulars on such shows as the Eurovision Song Contest, The Generation Game and Children in Need.

After the Ladybirds, Marian went into presenting television shows and became a reporter. She presented the childrens series How! for five years and was a guest storyteller on Rainbow, where she read her own stories for children. Later in her career, she sang on Sunday Best and became an after-dinner speaker. By 1992, she was working on a cruise ship. Sadly, Marian passed away on 24th January 2008.  

(c) G. P. Rose 2011


cornershop15's picture

I didn't know Marian had died until I read Gary's biography a few weeks ago. My condolences to her family, should they visit this thread.  I was an avid viewer of Top of the Pops, The Benny Hill Show and How! when I was a child but original memories of all these long-running series are very dim indeed.

The Ladybirds were instantly recogniseable to me when they appeared on TV but I have to confess this was entirely due to the very distinctive Maggie Stredder, with glasses and always in the middle. Was there enough time to notice the other ladies, or were they on screen for just a few seconds, as in the Take Me Home Country Roads?

Anyway, I never knew until reading the previous post that Marian Davies was one of The Ladybirds. Her name was only familiar to me as a presenter of How!, which, like Top of the Pops, is mostly lost. All very sad. Another reason to want to go back to those halcyon days.  R.I.P., Marian.

TVTimes interview for 19-25 August 1962 issue

(From John Gough's column, Looking Around) 

Big chance turned down

HONEY-BLONDE Marian Davies, a guest singer in Land of Song on Sunday, has just turned down an exciting chance to travel to the other side of the world.

"Put it down to homesickness," I was told by Marian, who might have been 12,000 miles away singing in Australia at this moment.

"I was all set to tour Australia and New Zealand singing leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan," she said.  "I spent a week learning a part for an audition.  Then, after I had got this marvellous chance, came the shock;  I would have to be away for two whole years.  I couldn't face that."

Also included was this photo of Marian:


cornershop15's picture

Marian had the dubious distinction of being the Mirror's 'Telebird' that week:


NAME: Marian Davies AGE:25* OCCUPATION: Singer

BACKGROUND: Won a £1,000 music scholarship to study opera - but preferred light music. Was a soloist for five years on Ivor Emmanuel's Land of Song TV show and a regular member of ITV's busiest all girl backing group The Ladybirds.

ASSIGNMENT: She is a soloist on Val Doonican's show tonight (BBC-1, 7.30) when she will sing "Love Is Blue." Marian will also join Val in a duet, "Four-0-Double-Three."


*I believe Miss Davies was actually 28 then!

Unfortunately, that programme is lost. It also included Flanders & Swann and The Gojos.

Love Is Blue is a beautiful tune, best known as an instrumental (a US #1 for Paul Mauriat).  I like Claudine Longet's version as well. She was Mrs. Andy Williams at the time. This won't make up for the loss of Marian's version but I hope you like it anyway:

  CLAUDINE LONGET - love is blue

(US #71 in 1968)

You might remember her as Peter Sellers' friend in The Party. She is also known for killing her real-life lover. A tragic story. 

Gary's picture

Thanks for posting this article, cornershop.

It appears she's knocked a few years off her age but most women in show business have a tendency to do this. I do remember Claudine Longet and I'm intrigued about the story of her lover. I'll google her name and see what it comes up with.

W.B.'s picture

Even Benny Hill - on whose show Marian and the rest of The Ladybirds were seen for the show's first five years (and then, with other members, heard in its last 11) - shaved a year off his age, claiming to have been born in 1925 rather than 1924.  But one of his "regulars" - Bob Todd - for some reason had two years added to his age, with most bios having had him born in 1921 when, in fact, he came into this world in 1923 (meaning that, at the time of his death several months after Mr. Hill's in 1992, he was 68 rather than 70).

As for Ms. Longet's lover - does Spider Sabich ring any bells?