Why, you're Petula Clark, our latest Mystery Guest!
The lovely Pet, of course, is known to all as the beauteous bird who cajoled us to go "Downtown" in 1964. At the time the mystery photo was taken, in the mid-Fifties, Pet was already an industry veteran: she was a child star of film and radio in the 1940's, and one of England's most successful pop stars of the 1950's. "Downtown" came at a time when Pet's career had hit the doldrums, and was a complete reinvention and rebirth for her; its massive success, and its identification of Pet as part of the hip, British Invasion-fueled "mod scene" (particularly in America, where audiences had no prior knowledge of her earlier successes) came when the singer/actress was nearly 35!
The fact that the second most popular guess was Gale Sondergaard (who, circa '55, was...well, circa 55), and that the photo in question stirred spirited debate about the age of Helen Reddy (relative to that of a sequoia), tickled us to no end, and merely serves to prove that, buried under the heavy pancake and yards of crinoline and tulle, La Clark looked older in the 1950's!
. But hey, that ain't no way to treat a lady.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and by the 1970's, Petula was once again no longer flavor of the month on the charts. She was still in demand as a concert performer, though, and made several successful West End musical performances; she also did a rather astonishing amount of product endorsements, for some rather alarmingly ugly, unfabulous products:
We adore Petula for her very British dash of practicality mixed with her innate theatricality, but really - a Sunbeam? Even Zsa Zsa Gabor and her VW Beetle seemed more plausible. At least Pet got to cavort with some cute male dancers for Burlington Socks; but one wonders if her chateau ever recovered from the hideous Sanderson wallpaper and curtains she (hopefully) received for free. But no matter. We still love Petula Clark, we still sing along to "Downtown" (and "Don't Sleep in the Subway," and "A Sign of the Times," and even "My Love"), and we've decided to just name the prize for these contents The Labuanbajo, since he seems to be on a roll of late. This is your song, darling!