Starlettes Remembered at Chippenham Museum

2nd October 2019 / News archive

Chippenham Museum is inviting members of Chippenham Starlettes and those involved in the group’s 25 year history to share their memories at the museum on Saturday 9 November.

 The Starlettes Remembered day, 10am – 4pm with free entry, will be a chance to celebrate and mark the 40th anniversary of the group’s final performance, which took place in November 1979.

 Organiser Elaine Davis, Engagement Officer at Chippenham Museum said “We are always looking to develop our understanding of Chippenham’s past. Whether you performed with the group of enjoyed their shows, this is a chance to share your memories, reconnect with old friends and add to our collection”.

The Chippenham Starlettes were formed in 1953 by Betty Payne and Bill Hooper, as a dancing school for children. Within a year there were thirty members, and their first production “Dick Whittington” was seen at the Neeld Hall, Chippenham at Christmas 1954.

 Over the years membership grew and the group had its own orchestra, scenic workshop and wardrobe, each department with and organising committee. With Betty in charge of production and choreography and Bill pianist, accompanist and Musical Director, the Starlettes staged pantomimes and variety shows in the Neeld Hall for 25 years, raising money for many charities. The highlight came in 1964 when they were invited to perform at the Theatre Royal in Bath. This was such a success that the company returned each year until 1971.

 In 1979 Betty and Bill decided to retire when the company was still at its best.  There are many people in the town who remember this group fondly or who took part in one of their productions.

 Chippenham Museum has several objects in their collection relating to the Starlettes, including two 8ft genies created for a production of Aladdin. On Saturday 9 November join the group’s founder Betty Hooper and view a display of objects from the museum’s collection.

 ‘Starlettes Remembered’, a book of memories and photographs charting the success of the group, is available from Chippenham Museum’s shop (£6.95), with a special 20% discount available on the day itself.

 Chippenham Museum, a Chippenham Town Council facility, is free to visit and tells the story of the people and history of Chippenham and surrounding villages from prehistoric times up until the present day with a varied programme of exhibitions and events. The museum is open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, including Bank Holidays.