YANA

Dedicated to Yana : Pamella Guard

YANA : BIOGRAPHY PAGE

Welcome to the Biography Page of Yana

Below there is a brief history of Yana's career, along with a special Biography courtesy of Don Wicks, as well as some interesting pictures and items about Yana over the course of her music and stage career.

Two more Biographies of Yana are also included for completeness, which provide an insight into Yana's life and career.  The pictures and images also help to show Yana's extensive work both on stage and in her recording career.

YANA:  A VERY TALENTED TELEVISION AND STAGE PERFORMER

Yana came to fame in the mid 1950s, and had a spectacular career on television and in stage shows until the early 1980s. Her career included her own television show, many record releases, and a varied stage career in variety and pantomime.

Yana was born Pamella Guard, 16 February 1932, Romford, Essex, England, and died on 21 November 1989, London, England. Yana was a famous singer and actress in the UK during the 50s and 60s, and Yana became a model while still in her teens, before being discovered when singing at London's Astor club during a private party. This appearance resulted in engagements at several other venues, and a also to a record contract with Columbia . In the 1950s, her record releases included songs such as:- "Small Talk", "Something Happened To My Heart", "Climb Up The Wall", "If You Don't Love Me", "I Miss You, Mama", "I Need You", "Too close for comfort", "Blue Star", "Papa and Mama", "In the morning", "I'd give you the world" and "Mr Wonderful".

Her glamorous image made her ideal for television, and Yana was able to be offered her own BBC series in 1956.  On ITV, which opened in September, 1955,  Yana appeared regularly on the immensely popular variety show "Sunday Night At The London Palladium". 

 In 1958, Yana starred in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the London Coliseum. Yana sang solo songs in the show, and on the Original Cast album, the songs she sang were "In My Own Little Corner" and "A Lovely Night". Yana also performed a duet with Tommy Steele , ("When You're Driving In The Moonlight"), with Betty Marsden, ("Impossible"), and with Bruce Trent , ("Do I Love You?" and "Ten Minutes Ago").

Two years later, Yana appeared in the West End of London with Norman Wisdom in the London Palladium's  pantomime, "Turn Again Whittington". Yana was a pantomime regular,  and throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s,  Yana was one of Britain's leading pantomime "boys". Yana married three times, and the second of her three marriages was to the actor Alan Curtis, who is renowned for his performances of the "Demon King" and other pantomime characters. Yana also sang a version of "White Christmas" with Dave King on his television show.

 The talented and beautiful Yana was a frequent visitor to television. In the 1950s and 1960s, as mentioned above, Yana had her own T.V. show, in which she sang her most famous song "Climb Up The Wall".

 

 Yana also appeared on the Dave King Show. However, in 1957,  Yana was also in the news when she offered to lend her open-top sports coupe car, with its personalised number plate YG 1 to Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet Astronaut, when he visited the UK after becoming the first man in space. (Yana's real name was Pamella Guard, also known as Yana Guard, and Yana always liked to ensure her name was spelt "Pamella", and definitely not Pamela or Pam.)

Yana also appeared in two films, being "Zarak", (1956),  and "The Cockleshell Heroes", where she sang some of her best-known songs,  such as "Climb up the Wall".

To date, Yana's songs from the 1950s have not been compiled into a dedicated Yana CD, although two songs "Climb up the wall"  and "If you don't love me" have appeared on a compilation CD of 1950s girl singers called "Lipstick, Nylons, Petticoats and Stilettos" - Brit Girls of the 1950s, and also "Small Talk" has appeared on the CD "Female Vocalists of the 1950s".  (See below). 

Many of Yana's record releases from the 1950s remain extremely hard to find, despite Yana being a major television and stage star for many years.

Sadly, Yana, died  at the age of 57 in 1989 from cancer of the oesophagus. Her last appearance on stage was said to be in 1983, but she faded from the media in the 1960s, and concentrated on her stage work. She will be remembered fondly by everyone who knew her, and by those who saw her perform on television and in the theatre.

ALADDIN: THEATRE ROYAL, BRIGHTON

COMPILATION CDs FEATURING YANA

BIOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF DON WICKS

THE ABOVE IS COURTESY OF DON WICKS

Many thanks to Theo Morgan for supplying the above Biography of Yana, which is provided courtesy of Don Wicks' book "The Ballad Years".

 

SOME MORE OF YANA'S MEMORABILIA

MORE GREAT BIOGRAPHY FOR YANA

Here are some more excellent biographical details of Yana and her early career, courtesy of Whirligigtv Music Forum. This biography includes Yana's many appearances across the UK, her cabaret and Service appearances at home and abroad, and in pantomime and shows, dating from the time when Yana was first discovered as a star at London's Astor Club in 1953 :

BELOW:  YANA WITH COMEDY DUO JEWEL AND WARRISS:

WHIRLIGIGTV MUSIC FORUM BIOGRAPHY OF YANA

Yana is probably best known for her 1956 seductive invitation to 'Climb up the wall', as well as being voted "one of the six most beautiful women in the world". Born Pamela Guard on 16th February 1932 at Romford Essex, the early 1950’s found her working as a hairdresser and model in London.
Although not especially successful, she was making a living in a glamorous job which occasionally took her into West End clubs like the Astor. And it was there that one day in 1953, some friends told owner Bertie Green of Pamela’s ambition to be a singer. He chatted to her about it and offered the chance to "have a go" at his club. At first declining, she later accepted the offer and one evening sang three songs. The enthusiastic applause that followed not only pleased her, but also prompted Bertie to offer her a contract.

So with the new exotic sounding name of Yana, this tall slim beauty with her individual voice became one of the attractions to visitors at the Astor Club. Some dancers may have found the face (and figure) familiar as advertising posters of her, dressed in a black nightie holding a rose, had recently adorned the walls of underground stations. One visitor at the Astor was the influential Lady Ulicke-Browne and she invited Yana to move to the more sophisticated and up market Pigalle that she owned.
Yana asked Bertie Green if she could go and he said he would think about it. Soon it was her 21st birthday and at a party given by the club Bertie gave her a present that also enclosed the return of her contract. So early in 1954 Yana opened in cabaret at the plush Pigalle Restaurant in Piccadilly, becoming so popular she stayed resident there longer than any singer had before.
On 9th July 1955 she appeared on BBC TV’s 'Saturday Night Date' the first production by Josephine Douglas, later to be associated with 'Six Five Special'. In October 1955 Columbia put her on record with 'Small talk' a song from the musical 'Pyjama Game' currently starring Joy Nichols at London’s Coliseum Theatre.
In December Yana supported Bob Hope on a tour of American Service Camps in Iceland. This was soon followed early in 1956 with TV and cabaret appearances in the U.S.A, Canada and Mexico, doing in total over 200 shows.
She had small parts in three films 'Cockleshell Heroes' and 'The Ship that Died of Shame', both in 1955, and 'Zarak', all about the leader of a band of outlaws roaming India’s northwest frontier, played by Victor Mature with Anita Ekberg in 1956.
Television included several appearances on ITV’s 'Sunday Night At The London Palladium' and 'Startime' and on the 25th June 1956 she was on BBC TV’s 'Tin Pan Alley Show'.
On Monday 2nd July 1956, at the Glasgow Empire, Yana made her debut on the variety stage and began a tour that over the following weeks took her to most of Britain’s major cities. In September, a song she had been singing on stage since her Pigalle days finally got onto record, now for H.M.V. It was the afore mentioned 'Climb up the wall' and although never becoming a chart hit, it certainly got a lot of air time. Not least because on 10th October she began her own fortnightly 'Yana Show' series on BBC TV that ran until Christmas. She even sang it in the Victor Mature, Anita Ekberg film ‘Zarak’.
Renowned for her constant companions, four white poodles, Yana with her shapely statuesque beauty was a natural for the visual medium, although she was often accused of being cold and aloof.
From 4th February 1957 Yana topped the bill, "looking like a dream in a skin tight white dress", at London's Prince of Wales
Theatre for two weeks in a show that included singer Gary Miller, the Bob Cort Skiffle Group and comedians Jimmy Wheeler and Dickie Henderson. Other variety during the year included a summer season in 'The Big Show of 1957' at Blackpool Opera House with Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss. Then came another tour, sharing the vocal honours with that Canadian he-man with the 'big' voice Edmund Hockridge, that lasted until Boxing Day, when she replaced Joan Regan (leaving to have a baby) in 'We’re Having A Ball' at Manchester Opera House with Max Bygraves and The Kaye Sisters.
Yana’s second disc for H.M.V, early in 1957, was the Peggy Lee hit, 'Mr Wonderful' from the show of the same name. Her fourth and apparently last single recording came a year later in May 1958, one of pianist Joe Henderson’s compositions 'I need you'.
Back on tour in variety with Ted Hockridge by February 1958, in May she was off on a round of service camps in Cyprus and Malta, but returned home in time for another summer show, this year visiting coastal resorts with fellow singer Jimmy Young in Harold Fielding’s revue 'Music for the Millions'. Starting on 7th June at Llandudno their journey took them to Bournemouth, Margate and Southsea.
Royal recognition came in November 1958 when Yana was chosen to appear on the Royal Variety Performance at the London Coliseum. On a show compered by Max Bygraves, the vocal opposition came from Eartha Kitt and Julie Andrews.
Just a few weeks later she was back at the Coliseum, playing 'Cinderella' with Tommy Steele as Buttons, Jimmy Edwards the King and Kenneth Williams and Ted Durante as the ugly sisters plus Betty Marsden and Bruce Trent. This spectacular production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s adaptation ran for 16 weeks and the songs were issued on a Decca long playing record.
Yana began 1959 with ITV’s big New Year variety show 'The 1959 Show' on 1st January and when the panto season was over she returned to the road, including a tour of Granada theatres with Michael Holliday. For the summer season she joined Bob Monkhouse at Southsea South Parade Pier. Further TV appearances included 'Top Numbers', 'Startime', 'Music Shop' and in June her story was told on ITV’s series 'The Story Of A Star'. She repeated her 'Cinderella' pantomime success of the previous year at the Bristol Hippodrome with Jimmy Edwards and Ted Rogers.
1960 included a summer season, "looking a million dollars and giving a first class performance" in 'The Time Of Your Life' at Blackpool’s Queens Theatre with George Formby, Jimmy Clitheroe and Toni Dalli. This she followed with seven weeks in Coventry Theatre’s 23rd Birthday Show with Arthur Askey, Roy Castle and The Dallas Boys.
Yana continued to appear in cabaret at home and abroad, while regularly playing summer seasons and principal girl in pantomime, her 1960 one being the role of Alice FitzWarren in the London Palladium’s most successful and longest running panto, 'Turn Again Whittington' with Norman Wisdom.
After fading from view she was re-discovered working behind the counter in a Boots chemist shop and returned to the stage as the Good Fairy in 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' at Crewe in 1983. She then appeared on television and did some cabaret work. Three times married Yana died on 21st November 1989 from throat cancer.


Another Biography and Photograph of Yana is shown below: This biography contains some critical acclaim of Yana, and the source is not known:

 

A BIOGRAPHY OF YANA : SOURCE NOT KNOWN

Yana was a 1950s singer : she performed on record, stage , television , and film . Above she is shown in a pin-up pose for the weekly Picturegoer magazine in 1956 .  YANA was born in Essex, England in 1932 . In the 1950s she was model, singer and television and film personality however she is remembered more for her pin-up glamour than her other talents.Her real name was Pamella Guard . It was in 1953 that she first performed professionally , a short while after singing informally in a the Astor in London.   At that time the American singer Billy Daniels who was very popular with young British audiences was expensively billed at London's cut above the rest Astor Club where at one performance model by profession Yana was a member of his audience. By then, Yana's baby doll figure had already made her a young woman to be seen with.

 A popular feature of Daniels' act was to invite certain members of his the audience to his microphone to sing. . Yana was one such audience member. She took the stage and sang the then ever popular song, "Baby Face" and was well received.

Yana's early working life had involved modelling . The Gaby Young Modelling Agency had considered her a "perfect five foot two" , which was a very high opinion Other modelling work was for D.H. Evans and for Selfridges. Without doubt she was quite a looker .

 Astor Club owner Bertie Green, must have been impressed enough by her looks and voice to offer her singing work and soon afterwards a BBC producer Bill Lyon-Shaw ( possibly a mate of Mr Green ) booked her to perform in the programme Variety Parade.

At that time she signed management contracts that took her into a life of variety shows, tours and obligatory summer and winter seasons, film making and a two years agreement binding her to the making of gramophone records .

 Unfortunately, her few recording stints proved to be unhappy experiences.

For whatever reasoning her recording company's A&R producers chose not to allow her a a voice in choices of material to record . She discovered that for her recording was a mere contractual obligation that she must comply with. She was not allowed enough time for song learning and practice and the studio sessions were too brief for adequate orchestral rehearsal .

In the 1950s ( and even today ) the mere making of gramophone records did not imply any significant financial gain to an artist - and so it was for Yana . By 1959 her share of record royalties had amounted to less than a hundred pounds

 Her first gramophone recording was for Columbia Records the songs being "Small Talk" bw "Something Happened To My Heart" .Later she recorded titles for HMV , that company's song titles being"Climb Up The Wall" - Writers : Hosseine and Cimbel ) - Publisher : Chappel & Co London, bw "If You Don't Love Me" .

 "I Miss You, Mama" bw "I Need You" ;

 "Too Close for Comfort" bw "Blue Star" ;

 "Papa and Mama" bw "In the Morning" and

 "I'd Give you the World" bw "Mr Wonderful".

 She also recorded a song , titled "The London I Love" for the sound track of the film "Cockleshell Heroes" - 1954. That song is not available on commercial recordings whether 78, 45, or CD - However, it is available on the film's DVD sound track. 

Yana's personal part in "Cockleshell Heroes " was a trivial aside to the film's storyline. She was given the part of a naval ranking competing in a talent contest. Her song, titled, " The London I Love" possessed schmaltzy similarity to once popular Anne Shelton or Vera Lynn and other performers' wartime ballad songs.

Although Yana performed the song well its corny lyrics probably caused the song's omission from the released U.K. issue as its inclusion would have attracted criticism.

In the United States , where the song was a part of the issued print, the laddish look of Yana's screen character would not have impressed. By the 1960's she was working in variety and pantomime. Her initial public appeal had faded. Being by then into her 30s she presumably had to reconcile herself to acceptance of lesser engagements. Even so, she still possessed a considerable personality, stage presence and vocal talent .

However, the public's taste in popular music had changed much in the years since her disc debut - ballad songs were less popular and only the best written had potential as best sellers even if they could be well produced and performed . Yana it, must be judged, did not have such songs offered - probably because her management was itself contractually mired, contentedly backward looking.

Yana was just five feet two inches tall.

In 1956, the UKs Independent Television (ITV) produced a show starring her. Perhaps it was only as production of the programme began that it was realised that Yana was not a taller woman. To present an illusion of her being substantially taller she was almost always pictured descending down a curved flight of stairs : in that way she was made to appear significantly taller than her five feet two inches. Yana herself did not like the television show. She was shown as a mere creature .  The programme was not popular and was critically dismissed as being "The Yawna Show" . It is to be hoped that in the "vaults" of EMI a few more recordings are preserved that are unknown and that will be issued sooner or later. Yana died during 1989 aged 57.

 

 

 

YANA'S  AUTOGRAPHS & PICTURES