St Joseph's College, Upper Redlands Rd, Reading RG1 5JT, Regno Unito
Stafford Court, Kensington High St, London, Regno Unito
Bushey Jewish Cemetery, Little Bushey Ln, Bushey WD23 3TN, Regno Unito
Alma Angela Cohen (19 May 1932 – 26 October 1966), known professionally as Alma Cogan, was an English singer of traditional pop music in the 1950s and early 1960s. Dubbed the "Girl with the Giggle in Her Voice", she was the highest paid British female entertainer of her era.
Cogan lived with her widowed mother in Kensington High Street (at 44 Stafford Court) in a lavishly decorated ground-floor flat where she frequently entertained other celebrities. Regular visitors included Princess Margaret, Noël Coward, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Michael Caine, Frankie Vaughan, Bruce Forsyth and Roger Moore.
The teenaged John Lennon used to mimic her savagely during his time at the Liverpool College of Art; Lennon's wife Cynthia recalled, "John and I had thought of Alma [as] out of date and unhip." But after Lennon actually met Cogan on the TV pop show Ready Steady Go! in 1964, they became close friends, so much so that Cogan's sister Sandra later said that the pair had a serious romance that had to be kept secret because of Alma's family's strict Jewish faith. After Cynthia Lennon died (in 2015), John Lennon's biographer published her previously unreleased quotes regarding Cogan:
John thought I didn’t know anything about him and Alma, and I never let on. Now that I think about it, with all the emotion gone out of it, I can see the attraction. Alma was about eight years older than John and very much the Auntie figure. Don’t forget that Yoko was also older than John by about seven years. Like Yoko in so many ways, Alma was a very compelling woman. You couldn’t really say that either of them was beautiful, could you, not in the conventional sense. When Alma died from ovarian cancer, aged only 34, John was inconsolable.
Cogan was close to the other Beatles as well, especially Paul McCartney, who first played the melody of "Yesterday" on her piano; he also played tambourine on her recording of "I Knew Right Away".
Her last romance was with Brian Morris, who shared her faith. They were engaged to be married.
Cogan tried to update her image by recording some Beatles numbers and a spin-off from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ("Love Ya Illya"). But by 1965 record producers were becoming dissatisfied with Cogan's work, and it was clear that her health was failing. Her friend and colleague Anne Shelton attributed this decline to some 'highly experimental' injections she took to lose weight, claiming that Cogan was never well again after that.
Cogan embarked on a series of club dates in the North of England in early 1966, but collapsed after two performances and had to be treated for stomach cancer. She made her final TV appearance in August, on the guest-spot of International Cabaret. The following month she collapsed while touring Sweden to promote Hello Baby, recorded exclusively for the Swedish market. She died of ovarian cancer at London's Middlesex Hospital on 26 October, at the age of 34.
In deference to family custom, her death was observed with traditional Jewish rites, with burial at Bushey Jewish Cemetery in Hertfordshire.
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