Tributes to Welwyn Garden City music hall stalwart

PUBLISHED: 17:32 22 May 2013 | UPDATED: 17:36 22 May 2013

Joan Salmon

Joan Salmon

Archant

A STAR of stage and screen over five decades has died – but her legacy in entertaining will live on, her family says.

Joan Salmon, who was 79, was a stalwart of the drama and music hall scene in Welwyn Hatfield in her work with the Welwyn Thalians, Welwyn Film Studio and others.

Joan first moved to WGC when she was five, after being born in East London in 1933 into a family of professional music hall entertainers.

And her first professional engagement was in the film It Always Rains on Sunday, made at Welwyn Film Studio in 1947.

Her daughter, Linda Donovan (nee Salmon), said she retained her love of musicals to the end.

She told the WHT: “She was a really talented actress, and some of her roles were really heavyweight parts, but musical theatre particularly was really mum’s whole life.

“It was in her blood.”

She added: “In the last few years she had many health problems after brain surgery, but despite total short-term memory loss, she really did still remember and could sing the words to virtually every musical and all the popular music hall songs, right up to the day she died.

“When she could no longer sing, I sang to her, and even in the hours before she died, she could just about whisper a few words of the choruses.”

She is best-known for her five decades of amateur theatrical work, locally, mainly for Welwyn Thalians and at the Barn Theatre.

She made her debut for the Thalians in 1958 as Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, and went on to perform in a dozen more productions in the 1960s, including Carousel, The Boy Friend, South Pacific, West Side Story and Half a Sixpence.

Her stage debut at The Barn Theatre Club was in the 1968 production of Oh What a Lovely War.

The talented singer and dancer went on to perform in nearly 40 productions at The Barn in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early-90s.

She made her last performance in 1995 at the Barn as Mrs Trapes in The Beggar’s Opera.

Son-in-law Stephen Donovan said: “Joan was a real eastender, rough and tough, but also beautiful, and very glamorous – qualities that no doubt shone through on stage as well as in life.

“I would like to pay tribute to her as an inspiration to others.

“Many, many people have told us that as children they were inspired by Joan’s stage performances to go into musical theatre especially or to sing professionally.”

■ The funeral will take Place at St Francis of Assisi Church, Church Road, WGC, at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday, May 23), followed at 3pm by a reception at The Barn Theatre.


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