Born: January 19, 1928; Died: September 12, 2013.
Joan Regan, who has died aged 85, was a popular singer who had a number of hits in the 1950s and 60s and had her own BBC television series.
She appeared with many of the big stars of the Sixties including Cliff Richard and Perry Como but was most famous for her partnership with the pianist Russ Conway.
Her voice was sometimes compared to Vera Lynn's and her message was always upbeat. "I like to sing songs with a positive message," she said.
She was born in Romford in Essex to Irish parents and married an American friend of her brothers when she was 18. They moved to California and had children, but the marriage did not work out and Joan returned to the UK with her two sons.
It was while she was working part time for her brother-in-law in his fruiterer business that she became friendly with the local bank manager. He was a fan of her voice and encouraged her to make a recording which led to a deal with Decca as a solo artist in the early 1950s.
Her first single was Ricochet, an up-tempo number backed by the RAF Orchestra. It reached number eight in the charts and helped establish her as a star and a touring artist. It was on these tours that she first worked with Russ Conway, who became a lifelong friend and collaborator. "He and I completed gelled musically," she said.
Other hit records followed Ricochet, including Someone Else's Roses, Happy Anniversary, If I Give My Heart to You and Open Up Your Heart, on which she was accompanied by her five-year-old son Russ.
By this time, she was a regular at the London Palladium, appearing with Billy Dainty, Max Bygraves and many others, and in 1957 she married the Palladium's box office manager Harry Claff. However, the marriage ended after Claff was arrested and imprisoned for embezzling from the theatre.
"Harry paid the penalty for what he did," said Regan, "and right to the end, he maintained that he had only borrowed the money from the Palladium and was going to pay it back. I still cared for him but we did get divorced."
In 1968, she married again, this time to a doctor, Martin Cowan, and in the 1980s they moved to Florida.
In 1984, Regan slipped in the shower, hit her head and suffered a brain haemorrhage which left her temporarily paralysed. It took two years for her memory, and her singing voice, to return.
She made many television appearances throughout her career and had her own BBC series Be My Guest which ran for four series.
She is survived by two sons and a daughter. Her husband predeceased her.
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