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Russell, Anna (b. 1911)

English-born contralto and comedian. Name variations: Claudia Anna Russell-Brown. Born Claudia Anna Russell-Brown, Dec 27, 1911, in London, England; dau. of Claude Russell-Brown and Beatrice Russell-Brown; m. John L. Denison, 1934 (div. 1946); m. Charles Goldhammer, 1948 (div. 1954); became US citizen (1957).

Studied cello, composition, piano and voice at Royal College of Music, London; was a contralto on Britain's concert circuit with moderate success; performed in Canadian troop show during WWII; while performing with Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1935), rendered humorous material professionally at conductor's suggestion; switched from traditional performances to her own comic compositions, satirizing excesses of classical music and operatic styles; turning a failed opera career into international fame as a musical satirist, debuted at NY's Town Hall to great success; was soon performing her own material in concerts across Canada, Europe, US and Japan; appeared with New York City Center Opera as the Witch in Hansel and Gretel, and reprised the role in the film version; also starred in a musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest (1957); recorded 3 albums for Columbia (1953, 1972), which included such famed routines as an analysis of Wagner's "Ring of the Nibelung" cycle and "How To Write Your Own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera"; lived and worked in Australia for about 9 years, returning to US (1983); at 74, gave a televised farewell performance in Baltimore, released an album, published autobiography, and retired to Unionville, Ontario (all 1985).

See also autobiography I'm Not Making This Up, You Know (Continuum, 1985); and Women in World History.

Russell, Anna (b. 1911)

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