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Sally Ann Howes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sally Ann Howes
Sally Ann Howes 1965.JPG
Howes in 1965
Born (1930-07-20) July 20, 1930 (age 90)
St John's Wood, London, England
Years active1943–present
Maxwell Coker
(m. 1950⁠–⁠1953)
(m. 1958⁠–⁠1966)
Douglas Rae
(m. 1972)

Sally Ann Howes (born July 20, 1930) is an English actress and singer who holds dual British-American citizenship. Her career on stage, screen, and television has spanned over six decades. She is best known for the role of Truly Scrumptious in the 1968 musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical in 1963 for her performance in Brigadoon.

Childhood and early film career


Howes was born in St John's Wood, London, the daughter of British comedian/actor/singer/variety star Bobby Howes (1895–1972) and actress/singer Patricia Malone (1899–1971). She is the granddaughter of Capt. J.A.E. Malone (died 1928), London theatrical director of musicals, and she had an older brother, Peter Howes, a professional musician and music professor. Her great-grandfather, Captain Joseph Malone, was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1854 at the Charge of the Light Brigade. Her uncle, Pat Malone, was an actor on stage, films, and television.

Howes moved to the family's country house in Essendon, Hertfordshire, for the duration of World War II. She was a show-business baby who lived a quiet, orderly childhood, where she grew up with a nanny and was surrounded by a variety of pets and her parents' theatrical peers, including actor/writer Jack Hulbert and his wife, actress Cicely Courtneidge, who had an adjoining house.

Thursday's Child

Her first taste of the stage was school productions, but as she came from a theatrical family, another family friend, an agent who was visiting the Howes family for dinner, inevitably became impressed with her and not long after suggested the young Sally Ann for a role in a movie. Two hundred young girls had already been screen tested without success, and the producers were desperate to find a talented little girl to play the lead, and they asked her father to please rush in some pictures on the recommendation of the agent. The movie, Thursday's Child, was written by playwright and screenwriter Rodney Ackland, also a close neighbour to the Howes family, and it would become Ackland's directorial debut. Thursday's Child (1943) launched her career.


A second film, The Halfway House (1944), led to Howes being put under contract by Michael Balcon of Ealing Studios, and this was followed by many other film roles as a child actress, including Dead of Night (1945) with Michael Redgrave, Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945), Nicholas Nickleby (1947), My Sister and I (1948) and Anna Karenina (1948), with Vivien Leigh.


At the age of 18, the Rank Organisation put her under a seven-year contract, and she went on to make the films Stop Press Girl (1949), The History of Mr. Polly (1949) with John Mills, Fools Rush In (1949), and Honeymoon Deferred (1951). She married Maxwell Coker in 1950.[1]

Musical theatre

West End

On a teacher friend's recommendation, Howes took singing lessons – not only to bring out her natural talents, but in an effort to lower her speaking voice, which was quite high. While still in her teens, she made her first musical-comedy stage appearance in Fancy Free. In late 1950, she starred in a BBC TV version of Cinderella.

The same year, Howes accepted her first professional stage role in the Sandy Wilson musical Caprice. She terminated her contract with Rank, where she had been unhappy with the film roles she'd received, and with being "lent out" to other studios. She was finding gainful employment in television and radio, and looking to flex her singing talent, something Balcon and Rank had overlooked. Caprice was followed by Bet Your Life with Julie Wilson, Arthur Askey and Brian Reece, with whom Howes was also simultaneously on radio.[2]

She was in a TV version of The Golden Fool.

In 1953, she starred in the West End in the musical Paint Your Wagon with her father, Bobby Howes, which ran for 18 months. It was followed by Summer Song, also in the West End, firmly establishing Howes as a leading musical comedy star. [3]

Then came her critically acclaimed performance in the stage drama A Hatful of Rain. In the early-to-mid-1950s, Howes's career expanded to include television appearances, modelling, commercials, and product endorsements.[4]

She became a popular celebrity in the UK. She appeared as a comics character in TV Fun serial comics and annuals, as a young, wholesome teacher in the wild American West (at a time when Western TV shows were very popular). She appeared on many magazine covers, most notably Life (3 March 1958), when she took over Julie Andrews's role in My Fair Lady on New York's Broadway.


Howes was offered the part twice before: first, to join the musical's US touring company (which she declined); and second, to replace Andrews on Broadway – which, at the time, conflicted with Howes's commitment to film Admirable Crichton (1957). My Fair Lady creators Lerner and Loewe were persistent, though, and Howes accepted the third time, with a year's contract, and at a higher salary than Andrews. Howes was an instant hit as a very fiery Eliza Doolittle.

In January 1958, Howes married Tony-winning composer Richard Adler (The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees). The following December, she appeared in Adler's musical television adaptation of O. Henry's short story The Gift of the Magi (1958), which Adler wrote expressly for her.

Adler and Bob Merrill also collaborated on a musical version of W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage so Howes could play Mildred.

She appeared on many TV shows, including those of Perry Como and Dinah Shore, and Jack Paar's The Tonight Show in 1962. She appeared on The Bell Telephone Hour, The Kraft Music Hall, and The United States Steel Hour, and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show four times.[5]

When her contract in My Fair Lady was over, she returned to Britain to tape six 1-hour installments of The Sally Ann Howes Show, a variety show for the British commercial television network.

Howes was invited to sing for US presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. She became a frequent guest panellist on game shows and was known for her quick, spontaneous answers.

She returned to Broadway in 1961 in the short run of Kwamina, another musical Adler wrote for her, where she starred opposite Terry Carter. Its theme of interracial romance proved controversial at a time when civil rights were hotly contested, and it has not been revived on Broadway since. Howes's father was also on Broadway that year, in a short revival of Finian's Rainbow.) That year she did Jane Eyre for TV.[6]

In 1962, she starred in a short revival of the musical Brigadoon at the New York City Opera and received a Tony nomination, the first performer to be nominated for a revival performance.[7] She recreated the role in a private White House performance at the invitation of President and Mrs. Kennedy.

In 1964, she starred on Broadway opposite Robert Alda and Steve Lawrence in the energetic What Makes Sammy Run?, with over 500 performances.[8]

Howes later called her marriage to Adler a mistake. "We were both in show business but our values were very different. And his career was plummeting and mine was going great guns. And I made another mistake – I began turning down work because I thought if I was working and he wasn't, it would increase his insecurity."[2]

She returned to familiar territory on TV in 1966 with Brigadoon opposite Robert Goulet, Peter Falk, and some of her Broadway cast; it won six Emmy Awards.[9]

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

In 1967, Howes began the long shooting schedule for what would become a classic children's film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). She starred as Truly Scrumptious, the beautiful aristocratic daughter of a confectionery magnate. For this leading role she was paid £44,939, compared to her male co-star Dick Van Dyke's fee of £615,425. (Source: UK National Archives) At the time Dick Van Dyke was a major draw, having won three Emmy's for The Dick Van Dyke Show, and a previous Tony and Grammy award.

Later career


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang did not, however, restart Howes' film career or launch a career for her in episodic television, despite several guest-starring roles in Mission: Impossible, Marcus Welby, M.D., Branigan, and The Men From Shiloh. Even the pilot Prudence and the Chief, which was a spoof on The King and I, did not get picked up as a TV series. In addition, musicals were now failing at the box office and that avenue was closed to her. As a result, she returned almost exclusively to the musical stage, appearing in only a few more films and TV productions.

"I would have liked a film career, but I didn't pursue it – I just loved connecting with an audience," said Howes. "The theatre is a drug. The problem is that to be remembered, you have to do films."[2]

Later theatrical career

In the 1970s, she toured Britain with The King and I and later the USA with The Sound of Music. After her debut with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera in 1972 with The Sound of Music, she returned to Britain to star in the stage drama, Lover, which was written specifically for her.

In the 1970s and 1980s, she began to cross over from standard musicals to operettas. She performed two summers with the Kenley Players in Blossom Time and The Great Waltz, and she later added Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow and then two seasons of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music at the New York City Opera. She also added the role of Gertrude in Hamlet to her repertoire.

In the 1980s, she twice appeared in BBC TV's long-running Edwardian Music Hall programme, The Good Old Days, to great acclaim.

She later said "The moment you hit 45... your career changes. You have to rethink everything, and you have to adjust. I was always aware of it because of the people I was brought up with with. We saw careers go up and down and be killed off. I've never been prepared for anything, I've always jumped into the next thing, and therefore it's been a strange career. I've enjoyed experimenting. I've been so fortunate to be able to change – do cabaret, do concerts, or lectures."[2]

In 1990, she debuted her one-woman show, From This Moment On, at the Edinburgh Festival and at a benefit for the Long Island AIDS Association at the John Drew Theatre in East Hampton, New York. Her last film was the 1992 miniseries Judith Krantz's Secrets. That marked her 50th year in film.

Recent projects include her narrations of Cubby Broccoli, The Man Behind Bond on the release of the DVD Diamonds Are Forever in 2000, The Making of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang The Musical (2002), and her appearance in the documentary, After They Were Famous – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2004).

Except for occasional lectures, charity functions, and some Broadway openings, she is semi-retired, although she still hosts events or performs two or three times per year. Over the period September 2007 to January 2008, she toured the USA in the Cameron Mackintosh production of My Fair Lady, appearing as Mrs Higgins. When she is not performing, she is an artistic advisor for the Palm Beach Theatre Guild, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, Florida.

Personal life

Howes adopted her second husband Richard Adler's two sons, Andrew and Christopher (a Broadway lyricist who died at age 30 of cancer in 1984).[10]

She has been married to Douglas Rae since the early 1970s.




Television films, miniseries, series, musicals and specials

Early TV appearances included a guest appearance in Cafe Continental with her father when they faced the camera together for the first time. Other appearances included Kaleidoscope, and her own Sunday night series called Short and Sweet with Harry Jacobson at the piano. She appeared in the 1951 Festival of Musical Production, which was written for her and entitled The Golden Year.

  • Cinderella (1950) (TV – BBC) – 26 December 1950
  • Hallmark Hall of Fame playing "Della Young" in episode: "The Gift of the Magi" 9 December 1958
  • The Sally Ann Howes Show (6 variety shows – UK) 1960
  • The Fifth Column (1960)
  • Jane Eyre (1961)
  • Play of The Week in episode: "After Hours" – 1961 with Christopher Plummer
  • Play of the Week in episode: "The Old Foolishness" (episode No. 2.24) 6 March 1961
  • The Sally Ann Howes Special – A General Motors Special, A CBS Special for the opening of Lincoln Center – 23 September 1962
  • Brigadoon (1966)
  • Prudence and the Chief (1970) (TV pilot)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972)
  • Female Artillery (1973)
  • The Good Old Days BBC TV – two appearances in the 1980s
  • Great Performances playing "Herself" in "An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner" (episode # 18.5), 23 & 24 October November 1989
  • Judith Krantz's "Secrets" (1992) (miniseries)
  • After They Were Famous playing "Herself" in episode: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" 24 December 2004

Television guest appearances

  • "Cafe Continental" – variety show 1947–1953. Appeared with her father as a guest star.
  • "Saturday Spectacular" / "Startime" – variety show broadcast from Prince of Wales Theatre – 1950s?
  • "Have You A Camera?" playing "Herself" with Royal photographer, Baron – mid-1950s.
  • "Toast of the Town" playing "Herself" (episode No. 11.20) 9 February 1958, (episode No. 17.37) 21 June 1964, (episode No. 19.12) 28 November 1965, (episode No. 20.23) 12 February 1967
  • "Sunday Night at the London Palladium" – March 1959
  • "The Perry Como Show" – 17 May 1958, 15 November 1958, 3 June 1959
  • "The Bell Telephone Hour" in episode: "A Night of Music" 9 October 1959, "Holiday in Music" 30 September 1960, "Music hath Charms" 20 January 1961, "A Measure of Music" 19 January 1962
  • "Dinah Shore Show" -"Herself" – 8 May 1960
  • "The United States Steel Hour" in episode: "The Leonardi Code" (episode No. 8.19) 17 May 1961
  • "To Tell the Truth" – various appearances 1962–1965, Daytime and nighttime versions
  • "Password" – various appearances 1962–1965, Daytime version
  • "The Match Game" – various appearances 1963–1964, Daytime version
  • "I've Got a Secret" playing "Guest Panelist" 24 June 1963
  • "The Merv Griffin Show" – 1963 or 1964
  • "You Don't Say!" (gameshow) – 1963, 1964 or 1965
  • "The Price Is Right" – (with host Bill Cullen) – "Guest Star" – 1963 or 1964
  • "The Miss U.S.A. Pageant" (hostess) – 4 June 1965
  • "The Miss Universe Beauty Pageant" (hostess) – 24 July 1965
  • "Fanfare" playing "Herself" 28 August 1965
  • "Bob Hope presents the Chrysler Theatre" playing "Allison Lang" in episode: "The Enemy on the Beach" (episode No. 3.10) 5 January 1966
  • "Run for Your Life" playing "Rhona" in episode: "The Savage Machines" (episode No. 1.29) 2 May 1966
  • "The Dean Martin Show" playing "Herself" 6 April 1967
  • "Everybody's Talking" playing "Guest Panelist" 22–26 May 1967
  • "What's My Line?" playing – various appearances 1968–1970, Daytime version
  • "The Hollywood Palace" playing "Herself" 5 April 1969
  • "This Is Tom Jones" playing "Herself" 22 May 1969
  • "Mission: Impossible" playing "Beth" in episode: "Fool's Gold" (episode No. 4.5) 26 October 1969
  • "It Takes Two" – "Guest Panelist" – 25 May 1970
  • "The Hollywood Squares" – "Guest Panelist" – 23–27 November 1970
  • "Bracken's World" playing "Isabel Blue" in episode: "Miss Isabel Blue" (episode No. 2.15) 25 December 1970
  • "The Virginian" playing "Martha Clayton" in episode: "Tate, Ramrod" (episode No. 9.20) 24 February 1971
  • "The Virginia Graham Show" – guest appearance approx. 1971
  • "Marcus Welby, M.D." in episode: "The Day After Forever" (episode No. 4.23) 27 February 1973
  • "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" playing "Herself" 19 October 1998
  • "Theatre Talk" – regarding "James Joyce's The Dead" – 20 January 2000


In the late 1940s and early 1950s, she appeared on many radio programmes including: "Ignorance is Bliss," "Geraldo's Open House," "Taxi" with Jerry Verno, "Desert Island Discs," "Talk Yourself Out of This," and she appeared twice on the "Calling All Forces" show.

  • "Arthur's Inn" – radio variety program with Arthur Askey & Brian Reece – June 1952
  • Marle Becker's "Out-FM" show, heard on WBAI-FM (99.5) (or on the internet at from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. – 1 October 2000

Other live performances

  • Royal Variety Performance – at the Victoria Palace Theatre – 29 October 1951
  • London Palladium "Midnight Cavalcade 1954" – A Gala Night of World-Famous Stars in aid of the Actors' Orphanage, the Charitable Funds of the Grand Order of Water Rats & the J.N.F. Charitable Trust – Thursday, 18 March 1954
  • London Palladium "Night of 100 Stars" – A Midnight Revue in aid of the Actors' Orphanage – Thursday, 23 June 1955
  • Grand opening of the Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA – 21 September 1971
  • "Golden Gala" – London Palladium – A musical spectacular from the London Palladium to mark the 50th anniversary of Equal Voting Rights For Women. Princess Margaret was the guest of honour. 2 July 1978
  • "Cinderella's Star Night" – Charity gala at the Prince Edward Theatre, 31 January 1982.
  • "A Royal Night of One Hundred Stars" – one night performance at the NT Olivier Theatre – in aid of the "Save the Children Fund." 17 March 1985 (Sunday 8:00 pm)
  • Memorial service for Alan J. Lerner – was a speaker/singer at St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden – 1 September 1986
  • A Celebration of Shakespeare "Hamlet Travestie" – Action Against Aids, at the Sadlers Wells Theatre – Howes sang "So in Love" from "Kiss Me Kate" – 12 April 1987
  • "An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner" – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. (Recorded Live – recordings available). – 7 June 1987 (Sunday)
  • "An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner" – Opera House, Manchester – 27 March 1988
  • Being Alive – A Celebration of the Genius of Stephen Sondheim – at the Drury Lane Theatre, on 4 June 1989, 7:00 pm
  • "Let's Do it" – all star celebration of Noël Coward/Cole Porter – 1 night event at Barbican Centre Concert Hall – 19 October 1989
  • "Kids at Heart" – at the London Palladium – a fundraising evening for Medical Aid for Free Romania. – 20 January 1991
  • "A Glamorous Night with Evelyn Laye and Friends" – one-night gala at the London Palladium – Sunday, 26 July 1992
  • "A Time To Start Living" – A Celebration of the great Elizabeth Welch – Shaftsbury Lyric Theatre – A World Aid's Day Gala, a fundraising event for Crusaid – 6 December 1992
  • "Jack in Review" – charity gala concert in tribute to Jack Tinker, the theatre critic with the Daily Mail newspaper. London Palladium, London. Friday, 28 February 1997, 2:30 pm. Howes sang "Alice Blue Gown."
  • Cabaret at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room in New York City – late 1990s – the cabaret may have been the inspiration for her album "Mary Lea, Songs My Sister Loved and Sang."
  • "A Cultural Affair" – New York Pops Gala, A Cultural Affair honours New York City Commissioners of Cultural Affairs Schuyler Chapin – 15 May 2000
  • Broadway Honours BMI Composer Lehman Engel – Merkin Concert Hall – hosted by Sally Ann Howes. 2 April 2001
  • The 12th Annual New York Cabaret Convention – "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" – 24 October 2001 – was booked for but cancelled due to the events of 9/11.
  • Lansing Town Hall Celebrity Lecture Series – guest lecturer in "The Best of Broadway" – Lansing, Michigan – Monday, 20 May 2002
  • Age Cannot Wither – Rosemary Harris, Sally Ann Howes and Hayley Mills appeared in A Benefit for Shakespeare Globe Centre USA called "Coward X2"- presented at University Club, 1 West 54th Street, in New York City. – 17 March 2003 (Monday)
  • Town Hall Celebrity Lecture Series, 11:30 am, Michigan League Ballroom (University of Michigan) – guest lecturer in "The Best of Broadway" – Wednesday, 15 October 2003
  • Port Huron Town Hall – guest lecturer in "The Best of Broadway" – Monday, 8 December 2003
  • The 16th Annual New York Cabaret Convention – Mabel Mercer Foundation – "Music From the Movies" – 20 October 2005
  • 23rd Annual S.T.A.G.E. event – Side by Side by Side by Side by Sondheim – 10 & 11 March 2007, Wilshire Theatre, Los Angeles.
  • "I'd Like To Teach The World to Sing" – charity gala concert in tribute to vocal coach Ian Adam at Her Majesty's Theatre London, 24 February 2008. Howes sang "Send In The Clowns."[11]


She has several Broadway, West End, TV and Film cast albums available including:

She can also be found on the albums The Best of the Telephone Hour, Cole Porter: A Remembrance (1965), An Evening With Alan Jay Lerner (1987), and the three Christmas songs she recorded, Toyland, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, and O Little Town of Bethlehem can be found reissued each year on various compilation Christmas albums. The last known recording she made was a gift album for a party for a friend, called Mary Lea, Songs My Sister Loved & Sang (1998) for which she holds the production rights and copyright.

Product endorsements and modelling

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Sally Ann Howes lent her face to many products,[citation needed] a few of which are mentioned here:

She did some modelling in the 1950s and early 1960s, and can be found in the following publications:

  • Weldons Knitting Booklet No. 319 (c. 1953) — the ad includes a photo of Sally Ann Howes modelling a jersey and mentions she starred in the new Jack Hylton musical Paint Your Wagon.
  • TV Guide ( 13–19 October 1962) – "Sally Ann Howes With Fall Fashions" (pages 22–24)[12]

Further reading

The following publications feature portions about her career and life. For magazine articles and covers, see her biography on the Internet Movie Database: Sally Ann Howes at IMDb.

  • Adler, Richard, You Gotta Have Heart.
  • McGovern, Dennis; Winer, Deborah Grace (1993), Sing Out Louise!, Schirmer Books.
  • Kleiner, Dick (1970), ESP and The Stars, Grosset & Dunlap.


  1. ^ British Actress Married New York Times 11 Mar 1950: 9.
  2. ^ a b c d She's truly a delight; From Broadway to the big screen, West Palm's Sally Ann Howes approached her career as she did life: 'I always thought it a sin to be dull.' Scott Eyman Palm Beach Post Staff Writer. Palm Beach Post;21 Mar 2013: D.1.
  3. ^ Sally's a Big Girl Now: Once she was known only as Bobby Howes' daughter, but... H. D. Answers; London Vol. 125, Iss. 3235, (May 1, 1954): 5.
  4. ^ The Life Story of SALLY ANN HOWES Picture Show; London Vol. 69, Iss. 1792, (Aug 3, 1957): 12.
  5. ^ Music for Diversified Tastes: Bell System Resumes Channel 4 Shows Sally Ann Howes Wins the Night's Honors By JACK GOULD. New York Times 10 Oct 1959: 43.
  6. ^ 'Jane Eyre' Seen on 'Family Classics' New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]28 Apr 1961: 63.
  7. ^ SALLY ANN HOWES TO STAR IN SHOW: She Takes Role in Revival of 'Brigadoon,' Due May 30 Elkins Plans to Produce 'Another Play' to Be Staged Miscellaneous News By SAM ZOLOTOW. New York Times 9 Apr 1962: 34.
  8. ^ Sally Anm Howes Will Do 'What Makes Sammy Run?' Los Angeles Times 23 Sep 1963: C17.
  9. ^ Sally Anne Howes in Julie's Footsteps Los Angeles Times 5 Aug 1966: c9.
  10. ^ Fein, Esther B. (2 December 1984). "Christopher Adler, 30, Dies; Lyricist For Maclaine Show". The New York Times.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Sally Ann Howes With Fall Fashions". TV Guide. 13–19 October 1962. pp. 22–24.

External links

Preceded by
Originator of role
Actress to portray Truly Scrumptious
Succeeded by
Emma Williams
This page was last edited on 7 July 2021, at 01:17
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