1956 in music

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Shirley Bassey performs her first single, Burn My Candle (1956).

Burn My Candle, especially written for Shirley by Ross Parker, was released in February 1956 when Bassey was just 19 years old. The lyrics however, were presumably considered too risqué by the BBC, which banned the song from airplay.

‘I thought I was singing a Disney song,’ Dame Shirley said when interviewed by actor David Walliams for a BBC TV special that aired on December 24th, 2016. Disney indeed…

After 15 years of appearing in films, Esther Williams was threatened with contract suspension from MGM after refusing the lead role in The Opposite Sex (eventually released in 1956), a musical remake of 1939’s The Women. The role of Mary would have been rewritten to be an aquacade star (and was eventually filled by June Allyson as “Kay”, a nightclub singer). Williams redecorated her dressing room to accommodate returning star Grace Kelly, packed her terry cloth robes and swimsuits and drove off the studio lot. As a result of leaving her contract, Williams lost almost $3 million in deferred contract payments, which had been taken from her paychecks over the previous 14 years and put aside as both a nest egg and a tax deferral. She was, however, still able to collect on the $50,000 signing bonus from when she first signed her contract. (x)