b. Pamela Guard, 16 February 1932, Romford, Essex, England, d. 21 November 1989, London, England. A popular singer in the UK during the 50s and 60s, Yana became a model while still in her teens, before being ‘discovered’ when singing at a private party at London’s Astor club. This led to engagements at several top nightspots, and a contract with Columbia Records. In the 50s her single releases included sultry renderings of ‘Small Talk’, ‘Something Happened To My Heart’, ‘Climb Up The Wall’, ‘If You Don’t Love Me’, ‘I Miss You, Mama’, ‘I Need You Now’ and ‘Mr Wonderful’. Her glamorous image made her a natural for television, and she was given her own BBC series in 1956. Later, following the advent of ITV, she appeared regularly on Sunday Night At The London Palladium. In 1958, Yana starred in Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Cinderella at the London Coliseum: her solo numbers in the show and on the Original Cast album were ‘In My Own Little Corner’ and ‘A Lovely Night’, and she duetted with Tommy Steele (‘When You’re Driving In The Moonlight’), Betty Marsden (‘Impossible’) and Bruce Trent (‘Do I Love You?’ and ‘Ten Minutes Ago’). Two years later she was back in the West End with Norman Wisdom in the London Palladium’s longest-running pantomime, Turn Again Whittington. She was something of a pantomime ‘specialist’, and throughout the 60s and into the 70s, was one of Britain’s leading principal boys. It is probably not a coincidence that the second of her three marriages was to the actor Alan Curtis, who is renowned for his performances of the ‘Demon King’ and other ‘nasty’ pantomime characters, although he is probably better known now for his PA work at important cricket matches. In her heyday Yana toured abroad, including the Middle East, and she appeared on several US variety shows hosted by Bob Hop e and Ed Sullivan. She also played small roles in the British films Zarak, with Victor Mature and Michael Wilding, and The Cockleshell Heroes, an early Anthony Newley feature. Her last performance is said to have been as the ‘Good Fairy’ in The Wizard Of Oz at an English provincial theatre in 1983. She died of throat cancer six years later.
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