The iconic singer, actress, and songwriter, Petula Clark has gained recognition beyond the UK. Behind the scenes, she owes part of this success to Claude Wolff, her estranged husband and father of her three children, Katherine, Bara, and Patrick Wolff. They were married for many years before deciding to live separate lives despite not officially divorced.
Clark started her career as a child presenting on radio and later launched herself as a singer and actress. She is notable for songs like Downtown(1947) and I Know a Place( 1965).
She has earned a number of awards and recognitions including two Grammys, to show for 8 decades of dazzling fans, admirers, and followers as an entertainer. Also, her success story can be seen in more than 70 million sold albums.
The British Entertainer is Separated from Claude Wolff
Petula has been separated from her lifelong husband, French publicist, Claude Wolff for many years now. News about the status of her marriage became public in 2016 when she revealed that they are still married but living separately.
The singer cum actress also hinted at the craziness of being in love at the age of 83 but never revealed the identity of her boyfriend at the time.
Since she made such a revelation about her separation from Claude, Petula has managed to focus on her career. Regardless of this, let’s take a slow step and have a look into her love life with Claude Wolff whom she is yet to divorce at the time of writing
The pair have been married since since June 8, 1961. Based on their relationship timeline, they first met in France when Petula was invited to sign a contract at the office of the then Vogue Record Chairman, Léon Cabat . For them, it was love at first sight. More to this, she was told that if she recorded in French, he would work with her and she agreed. As they say, the rest became history between the two.
Notably, Petula learned French to enable her to communicate with Claude as well as her musicians. Aside from adjusting to the language, Petula also spent some years in France before they eventually bought a home in Geneva where they spent Christmas.
Since their first meeting, Petula and Claude’s relationship has involved both the romantic and professional angles. Apart from being her husband, he also doubles as her collaborator and publicist.
Other Details About Petula Clark That You Should Know
1. Her Father Invented her Stage Name from His Former Girlfriends’ Names
Petula was born Sally Clark on November 15, 1932, in Ewell, Surrey, England to Leslie Noah Clark and Doris Clark. Considering that her given name is Sally, you may be wondering how she came about her stage name. It turns out that her father invented the name Petula from the names of his ex-girlfriends, Pet and Ulla.
Moving on, her parents were both health professionals who worked as nurses at the Long Grove Hospital. She grew up alongside a sister in Abercanaid and during their childhood, the girls were affected by the harsh reality of the Second World War as they were forced to witness the blitz and firefights in the sky.
2. She Started Her Career as a Child During World War II
Many people who experienced the Second World War have not-so-fond memories of the time. However, this is not the case for Petula who found herself entertaining people on BBC Radio when she was just 8 years old. Reportedly, children were asked to send out messages to family members who were serving in the forces. While other children were often frightened each time the air siren went off, Petula found a way of calming them with the song Mighty Rose.
More on her time on the radio, Petula became a regular at the BBC and ended u making about 500 appearances in programmes. Her popularity increased when she toured the UK together with Julie Andrews. She had such an impact on the public that her image became a mascot for some of the troops who plastered her photos on their tanks for good luck.
Also, she discovered a passion for acting as a child when her father took her to the theatre in 1944 to see Flora Robson perform in the production of Mary Stuart. The play had a great impact on her and she decided that she was going to also be an actress. In 1944, she was cast as Irma in Medal for the General thus marking the beginning of her acting career.
Having cheered the troops during the war, she also sang at Trafalgar Square to mark the end of the war.
3. The 91-year-old Released Her First single in 1947
Petula started presenting on radio at a young age and released her first single Put Your Shoes on, Lucy in 1947. Following this, she continued to release more works. Notably, she chartered The Little Shoemaker in 1954, and two years later, she started recording songs in French, followed by hits in German, Italian, and Spanish. As mentioned earlier, she learned French to enable her to communicate well but before then, she relied on her sister to compose songs before she was able to speak the language.
Notably, learning a new language proved to be an advantage as songs she produced in separate languages like Downtown did quite well. To give credence to this, Downtown was quite a hit in the US and even reached No. 1 on the American Charts. It was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004.
Over the years, she has reached milestones that are quite a record; she was the first British female to sell a million copies of albums in the US as well as win the Grammy in 1996.
4. The Talented Entertainer Almost Got Married to Joe Henderson
The I Know a Place crooner almost got married to her former collaborator, Joe ‘Mr. Piano’ Henderson before they parted ways. Apparently, the two met back in 1947 at a publishing company and became frequent music collaborators.
Also, they were a romantic pair over a period of ten years but when it was time to get married, Henderson cut off the engagement because he did not want to become ‘Mr. Petula Clark’. You may be wondering what this means; during the time, she was enjoying more fame both at home and abroad, and marrying her would mean him living in her shadow. Considering that he was also a rising musician, he chose to call off the engagement.
Needless to say, they continued a professional relationship after their engagement was broken. In fact, Henderson wrote about their breakup in the 1962 ballad, There’s Nothing More to Say.
5. Petula Clark is the Mother of Three Children
The Grammy-winning singer is the mother of three children whom she had with her lifelong husband. Namely, her children are Katherine Natalie Wolff, Patrick Wolff, and Barbara Michelle Wolff. Pet’s children have been quite supportive of their mother’s career as they have encouraged her along the way. In 1981, they are said to have urged her to return to theatre leading to her appearance in The Sound of Music in London’s West End.
On their own, all three of Petula’s children are involved in the entertainment industry as singers and actors.