Obama letter among Annie Ross memorabilia bequeathed to Scottish archive

Items marking the career of he Hollywood star and singer will be stored in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Archives and Collections in Glasgow.

Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert
Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert

A collection from the estate of award-winning jazz singer and actress Annie Ross have been bequeathed to an archive in Scotland.

The performance and personal items of the Hollywood star – who died four days before her 90th birthday last year – will be stored in the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Archives and Collections.

Among the collection is a 2010-dated letter from then US president Barack Obama, congratulating Ross on receiving the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master’s Award.

Letter from President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama wrote to the singer in 2010 (RCS/PA)

Ross was born in London to Scottish vaudevillians Jack Short and Mary Dalziel and got her big break at the age of 12 starring alongside Judy Garland and Van Heflin in Norman Taurog’s Presenting Lily Mars.

Programmes, playbills, posters, press cuttings and photographs – including a production still from the film – will also be part of The Annie Ross Memorabilia Collection.

Another item is a silver quaich from her brother, Scottish entertainer Jimmy Logan, inscribed with “Royal Scottish Variety Show/2nd October 1983” and “from the brother to the sister with love”.

Logan’s own archive was donated to the Conservatoire in 2005, with Ross having made it known she wanted some of her own memorabilia to be included in its collection based at The Whisky Bond in Glasgow.

Production still for Presenting Lily Mars
A production still from Presenting Lily Mars is among the items (RCS/PA)

Stuart Harris-Logan, keeper of RCS Archives and Collections, said: “We are honoured to accept these wonderful items from Annie’s luminous life and career into our collections, reuniting Annie with her brother Jimmy Logan.

“Annie was no ordinary talent, she was a magnificent, multi-award-winning entertainer who had a career that was so varied, long and colourful.

“Her enduring influence and popularity are her legacy, and that story is told with a clear voice in the archive of memorabilia she bequeathed to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“It’s fair to say that from the mid-1950s, Annie’s career as a jazz vocalist and performer just took off and never really came back down to ground again.

“She recorded no fewer than seven albums as part of the celebrated group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross with co-stars Jon Hendricks and Dave Lambert, and when she left the group, opened her own jazz lounge in London: Annie’s Room.

“An early booking was a young Nina Simone who, in 1965, was already breaking new ground with provocative and overtly political performances.”

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