Queer Places:
331 Kirkstall Rd, Burley, Leeds LS4 2HD, UK
7500 E McCormick Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Larger memorial image loading...Angela Morley (10 March 1924[1][2] – 14 January 2009[3]) was an English composer and conductor who became a familiar household name to BBC Radio listeners in the 1950s. She attributed her entry into composing and arranging largely to the influence and encouragement of the Canadian light music composer Robert Farnon. Morley won three Emmy Awards for her work in music arrangement. These were in the category of Outstanding Music Direction, in 1985, 1988 and 1990, for Christmas in Washington and two television specials starring Julie Andrews. Morley also received eight Emmy nominations for composing music for television series such as Dynasty and Dallas. She was twice nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Song Score: first for The Little Prince (1974), a nomination shared with Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, and Douglas Gamley; and second for The Slipper and the Rose (1976), which Morley shared with Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. She was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award.[5]

Morley was a transgender woman and began transitioning to live openly as a woman in 1970, at the age of 46.[1] According to her friend and colleague Max Geldray, she struggled with her gender identity throughout her life,[1][3] and according to her wife, Christine Parker, Morley probably tried hormone replacement therapy at some point before they met.[3] Morley underwent sex reassignment surgery in Casablanca in June 1970 and publicly came out as a woman in 1972.[3] She chose the new surname Morley as it was her grandmother's maiden name.[2][3] Morley was twice married.[2] Her first wife, Beryl Stott, was a singer and choral arranger who founded the Beryl Stott Singers, also known as the Beryl Stott Chorus or Beryl Stott Group.[2][3] Beryl Stott died prior to Morley's gender transition.[1][7] Morley met Christine Parker, also a singer, in London,[3] and they married on 1 June 1970.[2] Parker was a major support to Morley through her transition. Morley stated that: "It was only because of her love and support that I then was able to deal with the trauma, and begin to think about crossing over that terrifying gender border."[1][2][3] The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1979 following the success of Watership Down, and owned a house in the San Fernando Valley.[3] They moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1994.[4] Morley had two children with her first wife Beryl Stott: a daughter, Helen, who predeceased her in 1967, and a son, Bryan.[3][2][7][17] Morley had many friendships with fellow musicians and industry colleagues. While working on The Goon Show, she made the acquaintance of Peter Sellers, and would eventually share fond memories of him to his biographer Ed Sikov.[2] She and Max Geldray continued to be good friends following her transition.[2] She also noted that she was lifelong friends with Herbert W. Spencer from 1955, while working on Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, until his death in 1992.[3]

Morley died in Scottsdale, Arizona[4] on 14 January 2009 at the age of 84.[1][2][3][17] Her death was a result of complications of a fall and a heart attack.[17] Her death was almost exactly 50 years since her no. 1 hit with Shirley Bassey, "As I Love You".[3]

Morley is commemorated by a Rainbow Plaque placed by Leeds Pride at the entrance to the BBC Leeds building,[21] and also by a blue plaque at her birthplace in Kirkstall.[22]

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