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Lord Chelmsford Said .Buller is ‘one of the finest soldiers of the century’, so modest and reticent –that it was difficult to say for what individual deed he had got the Victoria Cross as he had been doing acts worthy of it all along the line
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[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] Ivor Lewis Emmanuel (7 November 1927 – 20 July 2007) was a Welsh musical theatre and television singer and actor. He led the rendition of "Men of Harlech" in the 1964 film Zulu.
Emmanuel was born in Margam, near Port Talbot, Wales, and moved to Pontrhydyfen near Port Talbot as a young child. He was 14 years old when his father, mother, sister and grandfather were killed by a stray bomb that hit their village during World War II. A 2001 documentary programme about the incident was made by S4C (Channel Four Wales). His aunt Flossie took him in (his younger brother John lived with an uncle), and he began working in the coal mine like his father and grandfather before him.
He developed a keen interest in music and singing and was a member of Pontrhydyfen Operatic Society. Emmanuel used to carry a wind-up gramophone up nearby mountains to listen to recordings of Enrico Caruso.
At the age of 20, Emmanuel unsuccessfully auditioned for The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. He took solace by drinking with an old friend Richard Burton, who was performing in The Lady's Not for Burning at the time in London, and telling him how desperate he was to break into show business. Two weeks later a telegram arrived from Burton telling him to be at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane the following day for an audition. He was cast in the musical Oklahoma!.
Emmanuel was eventually hired by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as a chorister in March 1950, staying until August 1951 when he married fellow D'Oyly Carte chorister Jean Beazleigh. He was assigned the small role of Associate in Trial by Jury and shared the larger one of Luiz in The Gondoliers. He and Beazleigh had two children, a girl Sian and a boy Simon.
Emmanuel's masculine looks and ringing baritone voice suited him for musicals, and he soon took principal roles on the West End. At the Drury Lane, he played Sgt. Kenneth Johnson in the hit production of South Pacific (1951-53), then played small roles in two more long-running shows, The King and I and Plain and Fancy. At the London Coliseum, he finally got a leading role, playing Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees (1957) and then played Woody Mahoney in Finian's Rainbow in Liverpool and on a short tour. In the 1960s, Emmanuel returned to stage performing, pantomime and cabaret. In 1966, he appeared on Broadway as Mr. Gruffydd, the minister, in A Time for Singing, a musical version of Richard Llewellyn's novel How Green Was My Valley, but the show ran for only 41 performances. The following year he played his last West End role in 110 in the Shade, at the Palace Theatre. He continued to play in summer seasons of theatre and in cabaret and variety, particularly at holiday resorts, into the 1980s.
Emmanuel also had a successful career as a popular concert and recording artist and television personality. During the late 1950s, he made his breakthrough into television. He took part in a Welsh language singing programme called Dewch i Mewn and from 1958 to 1964 was lead singer on the TWW show, Gwlady Gan ('Land of Song'), acting as an older brother figure for the Pontcanna Children's Choir. The show was broadcast across the UK once a month and regularly attracted an audience of some ten million people, helping to popularize the Welsh language. Emmanuel later performed on, and was an interviewer for, other TWW shows.
In May 1960, Emmanuel performed in the first televised edition of the Royal Variety Performance. Other performers at that performance included The Crazy Gang, Benny Hill, Frankie Howerd, Vera Lynn, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Liberace. He continued, through the 1970s, to make numerous television appearance.
Emmanuel's record output included the 1959 studio cast recordings of Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate and The King and I, and the 1966 Broadway original cast recording of A Time for Singing as David Griffith (Gruffydd). He is also featured on the five-disc box set, The Greatest Musicals of the 20th Century, where it says of him, "one singer who really stands out on this volume is the Welsh baritone Ivor Emmanuel he was of the same era and very much in the fine tradition of the great American musical theatre baritones: Howard Keel, John Raitt and Gordon Macrae." He was featured as Frederic on the 1966 RCA Victrola recording of The Pirates of Penzance, which starred Martyn Green.He also made his own album of 24 songs, The Best of Ivor Emmanuel.
In 1964, Emmanuel appeared as "Private Owen" in the epic film Zulu, which launched the career of Michael Caine. Emmanuel's character rallies the outnumbered British soldiers on the barricade at Rorke's Drift in 1879 by leading the men in the stirring Welsh battle hymn Men of Harlech to counter the Zulu war chants. The same year, he married actress Patricia Bredin, but they had no children, and the marriage ended in divorce less than two years later. He later married Malinee Oppenborn, and the couple had one daughter, Emily.
Emmanuel retired to a quiet life in Benalmadena, a village near Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol, in 1984 with his wife. There he was filmed for an HTV television profile, Its My Life: Man of Song (broadcast on 14 July 1997). In 1991, Emmanuel lost his life's savings of £220,000 in the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International. In 2006, he appeared in a BBC TV documentary with fellow Welsh singer Bryn Terfel. Emmanuel died of a stroke in Malaga, aged 79. He was survived by his wife, Malinee, and his three children.
Posts : 2558 Join date : 2009-04-06 Age : 57 Location : UK
Ivor Emmanuel, singer: born Margam, Glamorgan 7 November 1927; married 1951 Jane Beazleigh (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1964 Patricia Bredin (marriage dissolved), 1966 Malinee Oppenborn (one daughter); died Malaga, Spain 20 July 2007.
Ivor Emmanuel had a moment of fame as the Welsh soldier who, in the film Zulu (1963), rallies a handful of men of the South Wales Borderers in their valiant stand against the four thousand warriors of Chief Cetewayo at Rorke's Drift in 1879. As Private Owen, he inspires the company with a spirited rendering of "Men of Harlech", the regimental marching tune.
As the Zulu Impis advance wave upon wave, rattling their assegais against their shields and chanting their blood-curdling war cries, he turns to Stanley Baker with the nonchalant comment, "They've got a very good bass section, mind, but no top tenor, that's for sure," then bursts into song, the English words of which he had written specially for the Paramount film.
The film, based on a story by John Prebble, cost Paramount about $1.5m and had its world premiere in Johannesburg during the years of apartheid. Emmanuel was among those who were appalled to learn that the Zulus who had taken part in the film were banned from seeing it, the Publications Control Board having deemed it "unfit for black African consumption".
In Wales, the heroism of the South Wales Borderers at Rorke's Drift (after which 11 VCs were awarded) has become something of a legend, punctured only by the irreverence of the comedian Max Boyce, who retells the story by making one of the soldiers say to Emmanuel, as the Zulu fighters relentlessly resume their attack, "For God's sake, Ivor, sing them something they can join in!"
Ivor Emmanuel was born in the steel town of Margam in 1927 and brought up in Pont-rhyd-y-fen, the industrial village in the upper reaches of the Afan Valley, where Richard Burton had been born the previous year. Welsh-speaking and steeped in the eisteddfodic tradition, he sang in chapels and village halls from an early age and, encouraged by his family, soon set his heart on a musical career. He took singing lessons and began to perform with local operatic companies, including the very fine one which was based in Port Talbot in those days.
But like most boys of his time and place, he had to earn his living from mining and at the age of 14 he went to work underground. His family was shattered when, in 1941, a bomb was accidentally dropped on Pont-rhyd-y-fen by an Allied plane in pursuit of a German bomber during a Luftwaffe raid on Swansea. Both his parents, his grandfather and his two-year-old sister were killed. The experience left an indelible mark on him and it was not until a documentary programme was made by S4C (Channel Four Wales) in 2001 that he was able to talk about it in public.
After the war, Emmanuel was a frequent visitor to the West End, where he was enthralled by the American musicals then taking London by storm. At his audition for the chorus of Oklahoma! at the Royal Theatre in Drury Lane Emmanuel sang "Some Enchanted Evening", trying hard to make his light baritone voice sound as American as possible.
He spent a year with the show and then another with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company before returning in 1951 to the Royal Theatre as Sergeant Kenneth Johnson in the smash hit South Pacific. Further opportunities came his way in a production of The King and I at the same theatre and in 1957 as the baseball-player Joe Hardy in Damn Yankees at the Coliseum.
In 1958 Emmanuel turned his career into television with TWW, the commercial company which had won the first franchise for Wales and the West of England. Its most popular light entertainment programme was Gwlad y Gân / Land of Song, in which he was given star billing with the young singer Siân Hopkins, whose sweet voice and girlish freckles chimed attractively with his resonant power and Italianate good looks. The talent of this pair, despite their having to sing surrounded by a cute kiddies' choir, made the programme, the first live bilingual musical show to be networked from Wales, compulsive viewing.
When the show was taken off in 1965, Emmanuel went on to do summer seasons in Blackpool, starring with entertainers such as Shirley Bassey and Morecambe and Wise, and also found work on the Queen Mary, sharing the spotlight with Max Jaffa. In the year following he went to New York to play Mr Gruffydd, the fine, upstanding minister in A Time for Singing, a Broadway musical version of Richard Llewellyn's novel How Green Was My Valley, but it ran for only 40 nights, after which his career in musicals was at an end.
Cabaret appearances and pantomime followed, in which his dancing and acting abilities stood him in good stead. For TWW he fronted programmes in which he met, sang and talked to local people in various towns in Wales and the west of England. He proved an adroit interviewer, his winning grin and easy, attentive manner bringing out the best in the people with whom he chatted.
It was during a cruise in the Mediterranean in 1963 that he fell in love with Spain. He bought a villa in the hilltop village of Benelmadena, near Mijas, but the idyllic life of the wealthy expatriate was not to be. His first two marriages failed, and in 1991 he lost £220,000 - his life's savings - when the Bank of Credit and Commerce collapsed. His friends rallied round and a collection was organised in Pont-rhyd-y-fen by his lifelong friend, Haydn Mizen.
Having decided to settle permanently in Spain, Emmanuel turned his back on the world of showbusiness in which he had made his name, exchanging it for a quiet life in the sunshine within sight of the sea. Homesickness for Wales was gradually overcome and he eventually lost touch with many of his erstwhile colleagues.
So complete was his disappearance from the billings that articles began appearing in the Welsh press that referred to him in the past tense. In 1998 Desmond Carrington spoke of him on BBC Radio 2 as "the late Ivor Emmanuel", after which tourists started appearing on his doorstep asking to see his grave. As late as 2002 there were messages on the internet from fans anxious to know what had become of him.
Now that rumours of his death can no longer be exaggerated, Ivor Emmanuel is remembered with affection and admiration, in his own country and in the wider world, as the soldier who sang "Men of Harlech" to such stirring effect in that effortless, mellifluous, Welsh voice of his.
Not for nothing does the sign just outside Pont-rhyd-y-fen proudly proclaim (with only slight exaggeration) that the village is the "Birthplace of Richard Burton, Ivor Emmanuel and Rachel Evans".
By Meic Stephens.
Posts : 95 Join date : 2010-01-10 Age : 68 Location : Taunton