From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Shirley Abicair (born 26 October 1928) is an Australian-born singer, musician, TV personality, actress and author.

Early life[edit]

Shirley Abicair was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Some sources show her year of birth as 1935, but a contemporary account shows she was 23 or 24 on arrival in Britain and, as she had completed tertiary studies in Australia, the earlier date seems more likely. She was the only daughter of a Wing Commander in the RAAF.


She resided in Adelaide prior to pursuing studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and/or Sydney University (as with her year of birth, accounts differ), where she studied philosophy, languages and the arts.


While studying in Sydney she began singing at parties and private functions to support her studies, accompanying herself on the zither. Self-taught, she is said to have found the zither whilst rummaging in a cupboard as a small child. She then entered and won a Sydney radio talent quest. This led to offers of engagements on radio and in theatre and cabaret.

In 1953, she left Sydney for London. She was photographed by a newspaper photographer looking for pretty faces while disembarking at London Airport. Her photo was spotted by a radio producer in the newspaper and within weeks this led to her appearing on BBC Television. Not much later that year she had her own programme in which she sang and played the zither. In December, she also appeared in the title role of the pantomime Cinderella with George Martin, the Casual Comedian, at the Brixton Empress Theatre. The zither was, along with her Australian-ness, to become her trademark. She released her first record "Careless Love" that year. During 1954 she co-starred with comedian Norman Wisdom in the film One Good Turn.

In 1956, she recorded (with the other George Martin producing) the title song for the soundtrack of the classic Australian film Smiley. Through the middle/late 1950s she hosted (with help from her puppet friends, Australian indigenous children, Tea Cup and Clothespeg), a series called Children's Hour, a children's TV show. In the process she became an unofficial ambassador and promoter of Australia to a generation of British children. This Australian image was reinforced by her release of records with titles such as "(I Love You) Fair Dinkum" and "Botany Bay". Her rendering of the Australian folk song Little Boy Fishing off a Wooden Pier , released in 1956, become a regular on the BBCs Children's Favourites request program[1]. During 1959 she returned to Australia briefly to record a series of television documentary films she had conceived, based on Australian folk songs, entitled Shirley Abicair in Australia, for the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) TV network.

In 1962, she toured the Soviet Union, and in the same year she gave a recital at the Festival Hall in London. Later that year in October she visited the USA for performances. It was in 1962 as well that her children's book, Tales of Tumbarumba was published. In June 1963 she returned to the US, appearing on the "Smothers Brothers" TV show and the panel game show To Tell the Truth.[2] 1965 saw her put out an EP, "On the Nursery Beat", which was a number of nursery rhymes put to a Mersey beat. During 1965 she did a tour with British comedian Frankie Howerd to entertain British forces stationed in the Malay Peninsula and Sarawak, Borneo, during the unrest there. This tour was filmed and later released as a TV special "East of Howerd". During 1966–67 she released a number of more mature songs on record including her version of the Gerry GoffinCarole King song "So Goes Love'" and Paul Simon's "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall". She had previously, in the early 1960s, released three albums of folk songs.

She joined up with harmonica player Larry Adler in 1968 to do a children's theatre show. She began her own one-woman theatre show in 1969 at the Arts Theatre in London.

In 1971, she moved to Oregon in the United States, where she appeared in a series of college concerts with the American writer Ken Kesey. Shirley Abicair currently lives in London and divides her time between Britain, the USA and Australia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LITTLE BOY FISHIN' OFF A WOODEN PIER - Lyrics - International Lyrics Playground". Retrieved 2018-05-22. 
  2. ^ "To Tell the Truth Episode Guide 1956-67". "To Tell the Truth" on the Web. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  • Australian Encyclopedia - Sixth Edition - 1996 - Vol. 1 - Pub: Australian Geographic Society - ISBN 1-86276-014-4
  • Sleeve Notes from LP - "Shirley Abicair Sings Songs From Many Lands" - 1960

External links[edit]


None of the audio/visual content is hosted on this site. All media is embedded from other sites such as GoogleVideo, Wikipedia, YouTube etc. Therefore, this site has no control over the copyright issues of the streaming media.

All issues concerning copyright violations should be aimed at the sites hosting the material. This site does not host any of the streaming media and the owner has not uploaded any of the material to the video hosting servers. Anyone can find the same content on Google Video or YouTube by themselves.

The owner of this site cannot know which documentaries are in public domain, which has been uploaded to e.g. YouTube by the owner and which has been uploaded without permission. The copyright owner must contact the source if he wants his material off the Internet completely.

Powered by YouTube
Wikipedia content is licensed under the GFDL and (CC) license