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Billie Anthony

Billie Anthony was born Philomena McGeachie Levy in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 11, 1932. She had a good start to break into the world of show business, as her godmother was Gracie Fields, although her parents divorced when she was just 18 days old. Her mother, Lily, was a dancer, and young Philomena spent her childhood around the theater, hoping for a career as a dancer. In 1946, at age 14, she ran away from home and joined a touring show as one of May Moxon's troupe. She met Peter Elliott and, given their shared love of dancing, formed a double act with him, touring theaters as Phil & Peter Elliott, the Debonair Dancers. This act was abandoned when Peter was called up for national service in the Royal Air Force. Taking advice from another friend, Tony Brent (who had become a successful singer), she decided to take up singing as a solo artist, changing her name to Billie Anthony, and after Brent introduced her to his manager, Don Agness, she signed with Columbia Records. Despite releasing numerous singles during the early '50s, only one ever reached the charts, a version of Stuart Hamblen's "This Ole House," but even though it peaked at number four, it lost out at that time to a much bigger-selling version by Rosemary Clooney. During the mid-'50s Billie Anthony regularly toured theaters, including an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall and several with Harry Secombe in the variety show Rocking the Town. When Peter Elliott returned from national service, they married but divorced several years later. She continued to tour, entertaining the British troops in Cyprus, Malta, and North Africa, but eventually retired from show business and became a full-time mother. In 2001, as part of their reissue series, EMI released the CD ^EMI Presents the Magic of Billie Anthony, which included 33 tracks, 22 of which had been released as singles, and including her one and only hit. Billie Anthony spent the latter part of her life living in the North London area of Hornsey. She suffered a series of strokes and died on the January 5, 1991, at the age of 58.
© Sharon Mawer /TiVo


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