Babs Beverley of British pop trio The Beverley Sisters has died aged 91 after fighting cancer – three years after her sibling Joy passed away.
The singer became famous after a series of hits including I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Little Drummer Boy and How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?
Born Babette P Chinery in 1929, she was brought up with her sisters in Bethnal Green, London. Babs’ death leaves her twin, Teddie, as the sole surviving member of the vocal harmony trio.
The star had been suffering from cancer for five years and died on October 28, according to her agent.
Johnny Mans said she was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 and had been living in a care home in Brighton.
‘She still looked as gorgeous as ever,’ he told BBC News. ‘She will be sadly missed because they were legends in their own lifetime and people will still remember them.’
Known for their harmonising hits and matching outfits, the ‘Bevs’ garnered a vast fan base in the Fifties and Sixties, and became Britain’s highest-paid female entertainers after being formed in 1944.
They began singing aged 11, when they tossed a ha’penny coin to decide their various roles. Babs won and opted for the soprano harmony – which she would keep for the next 70 years.
The sisters later became known for their risque outfits – wearing see-through blouses on television.
A favourite of the Queen Mother, they played to sell-out crowds at the London Palladium, and were regular guests on shows such as Morecambe and Wise.
They were also the first British girls group to break into the US Top 10, where they were seen as the UK equivalent of the Andrews Sisters.
Through it all Babs, Joy and Teddie remained close – living in adjacent houses in north London and even winning a Guinness World Record as the longest surviving vocal group with no change to the original line-up.
They spoke, as they sang, in chorus and appeared on This Is Your Life and Desert Island Discs as a trio. They even all shared a birthday: the twins were born exactly three years after Joy, on May 5, 1927.
Babs married Scottish dentist, James Mitchell, in 1963 after dating for just five weeks. But the partnership did not last – they divorced four years later and had no children, according to The Telegraph.
Joy married in 1958, tying the knot with England and Wolves football captain Billy Wright. The partnership lasted until her death in 2015.
A year later, Teddie wed Peter Felix, a waterski champion, but they divorced after just over a decade.
Unlike celebrities of today, however, The Beverley Sisters’ personal lives remained just that.
A rare break in Babs’ media silence came in 2015, when she and Teddie gave an interview to honour their sister a week after she was laid to rest.
‘We vowed we wouldn’t say anything more after we got our MBEs in 2006,’ Teddie said at the time. ‘But this is for Joy,’ Babs added.
The sisters said they were too distraught to go to Joy’s funeral, a small, private, family affair.
‘It would have destroyed us,’ Babs said. ‘I don’t think we could have coped with kind people saying how sorry they were.
‘Because we still can’t quite believe Joy’s not here. Of course, we said our own prayers for her, but I know once I start to cry I’ll never stop.’
Fans paid tribute to Babs on social media.
Brian Coleman wrote: ‘Sad to see death aged 91 of Babs Beverley of the Beverley Sisters for so many years residents of Whetstone ever Professional and fabulous entertainers . Only Teddy left now…’
‘Spitfire Gin’ wrote: ‘RIP Babs Beverley. 91 and such a darlings [sic]’.
Another fan wrote: ‘Their songs brought joy to so many people’.
‘Goodnight Babs. RIP,’ Steven Leo Jordan added.