Philomena McGeachie Levy was born on 11th October, 1932, to a dancer mother Lily and a song and dance man, who also acted as stage manager at Glasgow Empire. They actually divorced when she was only 18 days old, but her childhood was spent around the theatre – and the showbiz bug bit hard. Despite her mother’s wishes, she ran away at the age of 14, touring with May Moxon’s Young Ladies, following in mother’s footsteps. After five years, she met Peter Elliott whose family was long established in the business and teamed up with him in a dancing act. This partnership lasted until Peter was called up to do his National Service.
They had developed a friendship with Tony Brent and it was at his suggestion that she developed her vocal talents and made singing her career. It was at this point that Philomena became Billie Anthony, recording her first sides for Columbia, a connection engineered by Brent’s manager Don Agness. They received a lukewarm reception, but her obvious talent earned her more releases. Brent helped her along by recording two duets, both of which are included in this compilation. At the time, Billie was in competition with Alma Cogan, Joan Regan and Rosemary Clooney among other star names, which made life difficult. For all that, she gave Clooney a tough time before her version of This Old House climbed to No 4, Rosemary making No 1. This was Billie’s most successful waxing, leading to her being dubbed Britain’s Blonde Bombshell. Despite recording some really fine material, and earning a sizeable following, the hit parade was always beyond her reach. It didn’t prevent her making many radio and television appearances, both in the UK and Europe, while her talents saw her touring with Harry Secombe in revue for most of 1957. From 1958 on, touring in variety, one night stands and a hectic spell entertaining the armed forces both at home and abroad, This, apart from a summer season with Hughie Green, formed her programme in 1959 but her career was approaching its end after a few short years. Her last record releases in 1960, when styles and tastes were changing, marked a slow drift into retirement.
In 1968, Billie gave birth to daughter Jessica and concentrated on motherhood for the rest of her life, which ended tragically early on 5th January, 1991 after a series of strokes. But left behind was a collection of great music from a fine singer, ours now to enjoy.