BORN LONDON, NOVEMBER 1, 1915. DIED LONDON, JULY 28, 2009, AGED 93
KNOWN AS the Glamorous Songstress, Gloria Kane sang in the golden days of radio and concert halls. Her professional career of over 15 years began in 1935. She toured extensively, working in Britain’s best known theatres and cinemas, and entertained troops in liberated Europe.
Her most cherished memory was of singing to the troops in Paris when peace was declared. A general came on stage after her song and announced: “The war is over.”
She played in pantomime and sang in concerts with bands conducted by Lew Stone, Eric Winstone, Ambrose and Mantovani. She sang in popular BBC programmes, such as Music While You Work, Workers’ Playtime, Albert Sandler and the Palm Court Orchestra and It’s All Yours, which were broadcast from the Criterion, an underground West End theatre requisitioned by the BBC.
Born Gloria Keizelman in Dalston, east London, she came from a musical family. Her father, Benjamin, was chazan of the Jubilee Street Zionist Great Synagogue in the East End.
One brother, Aaron went to Australia in 1938 as chazan of Sydney’s Great Synagogue. Another was a violinist and comedian. A third, Alan, a drummer and vocalist, had a successful career both as soloist and in partnership with Gloria, as My Sister and I.
Gloria’s singing and piano lessons were funded by the Association of Ministers (Chazanim) of Great Britain, and she was tutored by a Viennese singing teacher. At 18 she became one of the BBC’s youngest crooners, performing with Lou Preager and his band under her initial stage name of Gloria Kaye.
In the late 1930s she crisscrossed the country by train, going to Scotland, Dublin and Belfast, as well as big London theatres like the Holborn and the Hackney Empire. Still learning her trade, she performed in the Lew Stone tours for £4.10s (£4.50) a week. She was described as a “charming singer with an equally charming personality”.
She was on a train between Liverpool and Manchester when war was declared. She became an ENSA star, broadcasting requests for troops from makeshift radio studios below stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, with Jack Leon and his orchestra from 12.30-1pm.
On stage at the same theatre she played principal boy and principal girl in two different shows on Boxing Day 1942. Every letter of her fan mail was answered, with her mother’s help.
At one celebrated date, she opened the Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn, north west London, marching into the theatre with a band following behind.
Critics said her mezzo soprano voice was so good, she had no need of a microphone. She sang with Man- tovani at Butlin’s camps in Filey and Skegness. In 1946 she made her 800th BBC broadcast.
In 1943 she married Louis Harris, a well-known London saxophonist and violinist. Their marriage lasted 60 years until Lou’s death in 2003. She retired from professional showbusiness in the early 1950s to look after her family but continued to entertain in charity and community work.
She died at Jewish Care’s Princess Alexandra Home. She is survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Glamorous songstress Gloria Kane