Category Archives: Video Showcase

Send In More Clowns

Shirley Bassey loves clowns and had a big collection of them
As a follow up on the previous blog From The Archive 1975 , by request of many, more about Send In The Clowns, plus 3 more live versions from the 1985 Cardiff concert and the 1987 Berlin concert and audio only from the 1977 concert in Japan. The song was also featured on the 1975 and 1976 BBC shows. Send In the Clowns was performed by many other singers too and I once read a poll where they asked all the singers who sang it if the knew what the lyrics meant but nobody really did. But you can find the explanation of the lyrics in THIS PREVIOUS POST. (Featured image by John den Outer) On the previous blog somebody wrote a wonderful comment and in case you haven’t seen it you can read it now here below; (By Eddie Gordon). As a music fan who has been collecting records for well over 50 years and worked at every level of the music business, with some great success too in the UK and the US, my ears tell me that Shirley Bassey is the most talented singer Britain has ever produced. Her pronunciation is beyond compare, maybe Judy Garland at her best came close. Just listen to Shirley on one line ‘the fool on the hill’ to hear how she brings those words alive. I’ve worked closely with some legends of the last 40 years including Diana Ross and Donna Summer plus had hits with some major pop, euro, dance, rap-hip hop artists, have seen Dolly, Barbara, Whitney* live in concert but nothing compares to the girl from Tiger Bay. *Whitney Houston’s performance of the US national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl, shows what an amazing vocalist she really was in her prime. (its on Youtube).This 1987 sold-out concert in Berlin, Germany is testament to her unique ability to emotionally deliver the lyrics of a song so even a large and relatively non-English speaking audience embrace the song. The audience applause gets louder and more appreciative song by song, culminating in a finale of clapping that lets Shirley know how much they enjoyed her performance. Personally, alongside the likes Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Maria Callas and Miles Davis (the jazz giant), Shirley Bassey singing her vast repertoire of songs so perfectly is what makes life, in these difficult times, something to love the world for.

Send In The Clown From Live In Japan 1977

Dame Shirley Bassey Does Tennis – Video Compilation

JANUARY 1975 – Not necessarily known for her tennis prowess, Dame Shirley Bassey is however known for her glamorous dress sense. She refuses to let her style standards slip, even when on the court, accessorising her short tennis dress with a gold necklace and white turban.
JANUARY 1975 – Not necessarily known for her tennis prowess, Dame Shirley Bassey is however known for her glamorous dress sense. She refuses to let her style standards slip, even when on the court, accessorising her short tennis dress with a gold necklace and white turban.

DSB on the tennis court in January 1988
DSB on the tennis court in January 1988

 Dame Shirley at various tennis courts over the years. DSB is self-confessed avid tennis fan and loves to play too. In an interview she once said that she used to beat Sergio while they were married – on the tennis court!-

Dame Shirley Bassey arrives at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club
Dame Shirley Bassey arrives at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club

Rolex Masters tennis tournament
Rolex Masters tennis tournament

Early nineties
Early nineties

DSB with Liz Brewer & Pierce Brosnan in London 1997
DSB with Liz Brewer & Pierce Brosnan in London 1997


The Growing Jewel Gown

The history of another of DSB’s gowns sold for charity at Christie’s.

Courtesy of our Gowns Guru, Ian.


The Black Velvet ‘Jewel’ Gown

(Lot 12 Christie’s picture page 38, also in this week’s 1982 tour brochure pictures. Also on various Album covers)


This stunner was designed by Doug Darnell in 1957.


It was first worn by Dame Shirley that year as a strapless sheath gown.


This gown was a big favourite of DSB and worn many times over the years.



It was remodelled in the 1980’s. Dame Shirley wore it in 1985 at Carnegie Hall at the first concert she gave after the death of her daughter, Samantha. It had been remodeled with straps and a trailing skirt.


DSB wore this gown many more times in the 80’s, for her Live at Her Majesty’s show in 1984 and on her U.K. tour in 1988.

We fans used to joke that the diamonte jewel on the hip of the dress kept getting larger, which indeed it has over the years, since the first picture in 1957!

It’s at the Swarovski museum in Austria with the Diamond Dress.


Here is the description and notes from the Christie’s catalogue:

A dramatic stage gown by Douglas Darnell, the black velvet fitted bodice and bias cut skirt with low-cut back, the thin shoulder straps studded with Swarovski aurora borealis crystals, the dress embellished at the left hip with a stunning three-dimensional stylised orchid of Swarovski aurora borealis crystals of varying sizes, each petal with pendant crystals, the flowing train and lower skirt lined in silver silk tissue.

Weight: approx. 2kg.

This gown is one of Dame Shirley’s favourites, and has been worn by her on numerous occasions over the years. Consequently, Darnell has had to remodel the gown several times, and in its present incarnation it differs in appearance from the earlier photographs illustrated.

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One of the photographs shows Dame Shirley wearing an early version of this gown on stage in 1957 whilst performing her first hit The Banana Boat Song.


The other shows Dame Shirley wearing the gown on stage at Harrogate during her U.K. Tour, April-May, 1988.

It is also illustrated on the covers of the 1970 Philips album Spotlight On, and the 1960s Columbia Records album Shirley Bassey Favourites.

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Dame Shirley has great affection for this gown and has particularly poignant memories of wearing it on stage as revealed in conversation with Douglas Darnell:

DSB: This [gown] I wore when my daughter died… [1985] …I went to Carnegie Hall and I walked on stage in that…and the audience stood up [applauding] for 5 minutes…

DD: I told you they would…I said just wear black, and that’s it – apart from the chandelier on the hip!

DSB: When I wore that gown I felt I had to go the doctor and have it lanced! [laughs] …something was growing on my hip [more laughter] …It is stunning

DD: This dress originally had a straight skirt. I put a new skirt on it …and changed the bodice

Darnell also told us that he altered and enlarged the elaborate orchid embellishment keeping the original version at its core.


Photographs courtesy of London Features, Columbia Records and Dave Spencer.

Final Price




And finally, from my eyewitness report on the auction: (by Peggy)

“It grew out of my hip and I had to go to the doctors to get it removed. It started as a tiny Swarovski diamond and just – grew. I ran out of medicine – drugs – drugs – drugs.” Shirley showed a tremendous sense of humour all evening, making little quips from her front row seat. She often had the auctioneer and bidders in stitches.


Images displayed with kind permission of Christie’s Images Ltd. © 2002


The Midnight Blue Gown

Dame Shirley wearing the midnight blue dress during a performance screened on London Weekend Television, circa 1986.


The Midnight Blue Organza Gown

Thanks to Ian, the official Gowns Guru to this blog 🙂

(Christie’s catalogue page 28, lot 5 item 3, also in various tour programmes)

This gown was designed by Murray Arbeid in 1985, it is unusual for Dame Shirley to wear a full skirted gown, but I think she liked this one because it was very light to wear and it looks very elegant.

It is an off the shoulder gown of midnight blue organza, the bodice is embroidered with clear beads and a silver thread, the full skirt is layered and has silver lame piped along the edges.

I remember DSB wearing this on the show ‘Live at Her Majesty’s’ in 1986, and on the Jimmy Tarbuck show in 1987 singing ‘New York’.

The last time it was worn was for a comedy slot on the Bruce Forsyth special in 1991, when Dame Shirley literally brought the house down singing ‘In the Still of the Night’!

 Final price for the three gowns in Lot 5 was £7,000

In the 1980’s, Princess Diana purchased a number of evening dresses from Murray Arbeid

Image displayed with kind permission of Christie’s Images Ltd. © 2002