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Betty Clarkson (Read 816 times)
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Betty Clarkson
Mar 31st, 2020, 12:11pm
 
We have received this tribute to Betty from a member of her family:-

Betty Clarkson – aka Gail Leslie
,


Betty Clarkson, known to her theatre friends as Gail, has died aged 99 following a short illness. This remarkable lady had a varied and busy career, leaving Edinburgh to start work as a dancer at the tender age of 15 with the Danny Lipton Trio (later Danny Lipton and the Liptonettes) in the 1930s and going on to form a duo with her husband George Clarkson.
After the war the pair worked for Combined Services Entertainment (CSE) for a year, travelling to Singapore, Malaya, Burma (Myanmar) and India where they had many great adventures.

Back in London, they continued performing as ‘George Clarkson and Gail Leslie – the Essence of Versatility’, an act comprising tap and Highland dancing in full kilts – touring around the country and abroad to Kenya, the Middle East the US and Canada and working with such folk as Betty Hutton, Howard Keel and Morecombe & Wise, Terry Scott and Bill Maynard to name but a few. After a two-year break from show-business running a restaurant in Canada, the pair returned to the UK where they appeared in Lionel Bart’s musical, Oliver. After filming ended, Gail started work as a dresser in the Costume Department, working on a variety of shows including the Six Wives of Henry the Eighth, starring Keith Michell, Annette Crosbie and Dorothy Tutin, the Morecambe & Wise Show (friends from their variety days), Dr Who and Blue Peter and many more programmes. Gail enjoyed many location shoots and travelled widely – memorably for her to Venice to film the series Casanova. She formed many fond and long-lasting friendships amongst her BBC colleagues.

After the death of her husband in 1970, Gail left the BBC for a brief period to work as Des O’Connor’s secretary but re-joined the Beeb after two years, again in the costume department, where she was based at White City and she worked on many popular dramas and sit coms of the 1980s until her retirement.

Moving back home to Edinburgh, she continued to fill her life with activity - joining the Grand Order of Lady Ratlings, of which she was immensely proud, attending balls and parties and other gatherings to raise money for the charity. More recently, Gail was contacted by Janice Parker, the Edinburgh-based artist and choreographer, to take part in her project ‘An Audience with...’ where former Variety era dancers who had performed at
the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh (formerly the Empire Palace Theatre) were brought together to talk about their experiences. Gail had a tremendous memory and could recall names and events and recount numerous marvellous stories from across her lengthy career
right until the end.

Gail is survived by her brother Bill Wemyss, sister-in-law Valerie, nieces Lisbeth Dow and Fiona Wemyss and their families.

Elizabeth Gemmell Leslie Clarkson (nee Wemyss) – Stage Name Gail Leslie:  Born 31 December 1920 died 25 March 2020.


Fiona Wemyss (Fiona(dot)wemyss(at)icloud.com)
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Re: Betty Clarkson
Reply #1 - Apr 11th, 2020, 12:02pm
 
Thank you for posting this. We knew her as Gail Clarkson within the Costume Department so it took a moment to recognise this article about her.
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