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Maudie Edwards was born at 16 Florence Street, Neath in 1906. Florence Street was part demolished to make way for the fly over into Neath. All that exists is one side of the road. Her father was a semi-pro local comedian and singer called Ned Edwards. with a four year old Maudie and her older sister, May he established an act called Ned Edwards and His Two Little Queenies. They would perform at Vints Palace Theatre in Neath. Vints Palace was destroyed by fire in the late 1930's. It is now the site of the main Post Office in Windsor Road. Maudie appeared and spoke the first words in the very first episode of Coronation Street on December 9th 1960. Elizabeth Maud Edwards (Maudie) rose to become one of Wales’ best-known and well-loved entertainers. She could sing, dance, act and was also a gifted comedienne, throughout her career she performed with some of the worlds greatest entertainers including “Old Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra, and Peter Sellers, she made her film debut in the movie “Flying Doctors” in 1936, which though the film is forgettable it did have Donald Bradman – the legendary Australian cricketing legend - appearing in a Cameo role as himself. Maudie Edwards had amazing self-confidence and a tremendous belief in herself and had the unique ability to become one with any audience who would all claim her as their own. Her use of different dialects helped her greatly with this. She

had a signature tune, which was played before each of her radio broadcasts, and the words went something like:

 

"I bring you the voice of the people,

From over the hills and dales;

And the voice of the people is brought to you

By a voice that comes from Wales"


She regularly appeared on radio with Welsh Rarebit, with listeners of 10 million every week she became a household name. At the height of her success she had a chauffeur driven rolls Royce.  And she provided the singing voices for Margaret Lockwood in the 1945 film “I’ll be your Sweetheart”, for Diana Dors in “Diamond City” in 1949 and then again for Gene Tierney in “Night in the City” in 1950. It was in 1950 that Maudie achieved her biggest compliment when she was asked to appear with Frank Sinatra at The London Palladium on July 10th for two weeks she gleefully accepted and it was a great moment in her life. The little welsh girl from Neath on stage with the world’s best-known star at the time. Max Wall was also on the bill. It was around this time that her association with the Grand Theatre Swansea began shortly after appearing in the Pantomime “Red Riding Hood” between 26th December 1950 and 24th Feb 1951 – which also starred Ossie Morris and Stan Stennett, fellow Welsh Rarebit’s - she was asked to stage a repertory season in June 1951. It was a great success and she did another season in 1952, which was again well received by the Swansea public. Her final appearance at The Grand came in the Pantomime “Mother Goose” which ran from 26th Dec 1952-17 Feb 1953. This was due in no small part to a quarrel between Maudie and the Theatre’s then manager over money. Maudie was told to leave and the actor Terence Dudley (one of her company of players at the Grand) was asked to fill her shoes. She was livid and took the Grand to court for breach of contract, a case she eventually lost. In revenge she took most of her company with her and set up a rival repertory season at Swansea’s Palace Theatre in High Street.


In 1952 the Palace reopened as a theatre with The Maudie Edwards Repertory Company. This came about as a result of a major quarrel at the Swansea Grand Theatre. Miss Maudie Edwards, a well-known Welsh actress, had accepted an invitation to stage a repertory season at the Grand in June 1951 – this was a replacement for the Arts Council Company, which had withdrawn. Maudie Edwards did two successful seasons under an arrangement whereby she and the Grand’s owners shared the box office income on a percentage deal. During her third season at the Grand a dispute over money arose. Her contract was not renewed. Instead, a contract was offered to her assistant, the actor Terence Dudley. He would form a new company under his own name and take over from Maudie Edwards. She was furious, and immediately sued the Grand Theatre’s proprietors for breach of contract. She lost the case. Since hell hath no fury like an actress scorned, she hatched a brilliant revenge scheme. She raised enough money to renovate and reopen the Palace Theatre, and she took the balance of her loyal company and many of her loyal Swansea audience to the theatre she had opened in opposition to the Grand. Swansea, struggling to support just one repertory company, now had two. Neither, of course, could succeed. However, Maudie Edwards survived at the Palace long enough to see the Terence Dudley Company go under, and long enough to consider she had got her own back on the Grand Theatre.

Married to Ralph zieller a Jew whose family owned a gents outfitters in Neath next to the Gwyn Hall. She performed at the Empire and Palace in Swansea as well as the Grand. After the breakdown of her marriage to Ralph Zieller she later married retired colonel Bill Foukes

After her last film burke and hare in 1972 she retired to Putney were she spent her last years travelling the world extensively

She had on ongoing feud with Dorothy Squires they despised each other

Was there a nagging doubt that she hadn’t achieved the level of success she deserved?


Maudie Edwards 1906 - 1991

In 2007 a local Neath artist and Actor with Neath Little Theatre Paul Rees was Commissioned to paint the Subway underneath the flyover in the Melyn to celebrate its past. Maudie Edwards was one of the subjects. Ironically where he painted Maudie is almost exactly to the spot where she was born.

Maudie topped the bill with Frank Sinatra for two weeks in 1950, Ava Gardner was apparently jealous of her.

Ned Edwards and his two little queenies

(Maudie is on the left)

16 Florence Street, Neath Maudie's family home

Vints Palace was destroyed by fire in the 1930's. The main Post Office in Windsor Road, Neath now occupies its site.

Audio clip of Maudie Edwards’ act

Maudie’s appearance on the first episode of Coronation Street in 1960