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1 September 2014
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What's your name and where d'ya come from?

Cilla at the Cliffs Pavillion
   

Cilla perfroming at the Cliffs Pavillion, Southend. July 1980
© Sarah Evans


Audio Listen to Cilla being interviewed at the beginning of her career
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Priscilla Maria Veronica White was born on the 27th May 1943. She was brought up in a two-up two-down on Scotland Road by her Father, a docker and Mother, who ran a market stall .

She attended St Anthony's Junior & Secondary Schools before leaving at the age of 14 to begin a typing course at Anfield Commercial College. By the age of 20, she had progressed from student to full time Dictaphone typist, but Cilla had greater ambitions.

During her lunch hour, she was a hat girl at the Cavern, whilst at night she served coffee at The Zodiac (Duke Street). It was here that she met her husband to be Bobby Willis. Performances at the Cavern made Cilla a well known star in her own home town, performing alongside acts like The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

Cilla montage
Cilla proves that she's a star here to stay - from 1967 - 1988

Cilla was soon brought to the attention of Brian Epstein, introduced by John Lennon, who was keen to get her an audition. Cilla was very nervous and failed to impress even with the Beatles as her back-up. But luckily a second spotting at the Blue Angel Club secured her signing.

Love of the Loved was Cilla’s first UK single released in September 1963. But this was soon overshadowed by her next two ballads You’re My World and Anyone Who Had a Heart which in 1964 hit the #1 spot. Cilla went on to release 14 albums, two greatest hit packages and 37 singles, not bad for a girl from such humble beginnings.

In 1969, Cilla wed her manager and partner Bobby and ended the year with a top 20 release If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind, although her album fared less well. Although the seventies were not highly successful for Cilla musically, she began to establish herself as a television personality, capable of both variety and comedy.

Audio Listen to Cilla's famous hits
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This move towards television was put on hold during the eighties, when Cilla returned to the stage with pantos galore and promotional tours aplenty. This was all to change. In May 1984, the first episode of Surprise Surprise, a show making people’s dream come true was broadcast, catapulting Cilla into a prime time slot and winning a hoard of devoted followers.

This was closely followed by Blind Date, a match making show originally perceived as too sexy for a British audience, became Cilla’s longest running programme and is still regularly watched by 7 million viewers. In 1998 Cilla launched yet another prime time programme Cilla’s Moment of Truth. And after her personal tragedy, loosing her husband Bobby to lung and liver cancer in 1999, Cilla has bounced back giving a glittering performance at The Royal Variety Performance in 2001.

Fast approaching her 40th year in show business, Cilla continues to go from strength to strength and hopefully will still be providing us with a Lorra Lorra Laughs for years to come.
Cilla Facts

 
This Section
Cilla Black - profile
The changing faces of Cilla
Cilla's catchphrases
Current Journey
Liverpool Stars
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Cilla Black
Tommy Handley
Red Rum
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