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The woman who became known as "The girl with the laugh in her voice" after a critic`s commnt in the 1950s, was born on 19 May 1932 in Stepney, London.
By the late fifties, Alma was a huge star, dazzling audiences with her perfect black bofaant harido, Hollywood smile, bouncy novelty songs and huge glittery dresses. She became legendary for these dresses and would make as many as eleven dress changes during one show. Many of her flamboyant costumes had been designed by Alma herself, including a dress that required over 250 yards of material in it`s petticoat to achieve the shape she requires, and a dress especially for a song about the birth of twins called Twenty Tiny Fingers, which featured twin dolls in a pocket. She had more hits than any other female singer in Britain and even gained a hit in iceland with "Never Do a Tango with an Eskimo" and a number one in Japan with with Just Couldn`t Resist Her And Her Pocket Transistor.
As well as the comedy records she covered more serious songs from the US, and her music ranged through country, showtunes, 60`s pop and jazz standards. Alma was a very popular personality apparing in a variety of mediums to the British public. She featured in many radio programmes, being a regular with Jimmy Edwards and June Whitfield on "Take It From Here", and went on to guest with Benny Hill and Billy Cotton on television before and starring at the London Palladium in her own right.
Despite her fame and fortune, Alma remained living at home with her mother and sister Sandra who shared a flat in Kensington High Street, number 44 Stafford Court. The flat became an open house for the theatrical side of the showbix crowd and was frequently visited by Michael Caine, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Steele, Danny Kaye, Ethel Merman, Sammy Davis Junior and Cary Grant. The lounge was set up as a room for entertaining, being a large room full of Italian leather furniture with red lampshades bathing the room in a soft rosey light that meant that the seemingly endless supply of wine arrived in red glasses and the napkins were always pink. Books didn`t feature hevily in the house, and the only ones to be seen in the lounge were an un-opened set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Records on the other hand filled the shelves in the hundreds, all neatly arranged. The walls not filled with shelves of records were covered with her mother`s proudly displayed framed portraits of Alma including a slightly kitch portrait of her by Fred Wood. Flamenco dancing dolls were scattered her and there amngst an array of glass vases and ornaments, and there was of course the large silver tray full of bottles of various spirits.
Alma met up with a young and upcoming musical group called The Beatles during rehearsals for Sunday Night at the London Palladium on January 12th of 1964, and instantly became friends with the young lads who shared her sense of humour. As their bassist Paul McCartney remembers: "We`d sometimes get booked on variety bills... we were still in showbiz. It wasn`t rock - as it`s now offensively named. It wasn`t that, it wasn`t an industry, it was very small time and we were playing cabarets. It was crossover with the old-time showbiz and one of the people who we`d met doing it was Alma Cogan." After the show, Alma invited the band back to the family flat she shared with her mother and sister at 44 Stafford Court in Kensington, but due to them being in danger of getting mobbed by their adoring fans on the way out, they were smuggled out of the building before the final curtain and arrive long before Alma, who hadn`t contacted her family to let them know the lads were arriving. "She invited us round to her mum`s place in Kensington, she and her sister lived with their mum, and her mum was an old Jewish lady." remembers Paul.
The warm family and open house at Stafford Court was very much the style of living that The Beatles were used to back home in Liverpool, and visiting it gave them a chance to relax and socialise away from crowds of hysterical fans and the curious general public. As Sandra recalled "They needed to relax and get away from the crowds. Our flat gave them refuge for many months to come, with Mum - Mrs Macogie, as they called her - making pots of tea and sandwiches, and playing charades." Paul remembers the visits to the family flat as a learning curve for The Beatles about a new way of life. "They were very nice, Alma and her sister Sandra... I saw a documentary about John Betjeman, who said that when he got out of college there was a country house to which he was invited. And he said, `There I learned to be a guest,` and that`s what was happening to us at Alma`s flat. There we learned to play charades, and we started to do it at our own parties. It was just a little learning curve. We`d never seen anything like this but we liked a laugh so we played charades with Stanley Baker and with bruce Forsyth; he was always
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Alma Cogan (19 May 1932 – 26 October 1966) was an English singer of traditional pop music in the 1950s and early 1960s. Dubbed the "Girl with the Giggle in Her Voice", she was the highest paid British female entertainer of her era.
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Deceased||Alma Cogan passed away on 26th Oct 1966 aged 34.|||
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