Kathy Kirby in new film
THIRTY years after she was dubbed the British answer to Marilyn Munroe, Kathy Kirby only ever leaves her flat to visit the doctor or dentist, writes JENNY COOMBES. The Ilford-born former golden girl of pop – a big hit in the 1960s who at one stage was wo
THIRTY years after she was dubbed the British answer to Marilyn Munroe, Kathy Kirby only ever leaves her flat to visit the doctor or dentist, writes JENNY COOMBES.
The Ilford-born former golden girl of pop - a big hit in the 1960s who at one stage was worth around �5m and sang in the Eurovision Song Contest - spends her time watching old Hollywood films and chatting to precious visitors.
The singing superstar, now 70 - who grew up in Balfour Road, Ilford, and Tomswood Hill, Hainault, went to Ilford Ursuline School and even worked briefly for the Ilford Recorder as a proof reader - sparked decades of speculation and intrigue when she disappeared from the spotlight in the 1980s.
But now a new DVD is set to send Kathy hurtling back to our screens - with her first on-camera interview in 25 years.
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Kathy Kirby - My Story: The Golden Girl of Pop spills the beans on the reasons behind her disappearance and includes exclusive interviews with those who knew her in her prime.
They and Kathy speak frankly about the highs and lows of her career, including the death of her manager and lover Bert Ambrose, which sparked the tragic downturn in her fate.
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After his death in 1971, the singer discovered he had been gambling away her money and even pawned her jewellery. Destitute, she spiralled into depression and had to spend time in a mental institution.
She eventually retired from performing in the 1980s and gradually became more and more reclusive. She has remained in her Kensington flat ever since, refusing press interviews and relying on friends such as Essex cabbie "Taxi Tony" - who drives her to appointments - and James Harman - who deals with all her publicity.
James said: "The press always wanted to harp back to her dark days in the seventies so, in the end, she decided enough was enough. She thinks her legacy is quite secure. She is happy. She has lots of friends who visit. And she still has lots of fans who send gifts and notes."
So what will become of Kathy in the future? James insists she may not be out of the spotlight yet.
He said: "The offers have never stopped coming in so we shall see."
The Odeon Entertainment DVD can be bought from wwweonent.co.uk.
To win a copy of the Kathy Kirby DVD, see this week's Recorder.