Best Known For
A world-famous singer with a big voice and a glamorous reputation, Shirley Bassey has recorded numerous hits, including three James Bond theme songs.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Shirley Bassey was born on January 8, 1937, in Cardiff, Wales. A singer since childhood, Bassey's bold voice, along with her perseverance, helped her move beyond her impoverished upbringing. Of mixed-race heritage (with an English mother and a Nigerian father), Bassey reached a level of international acclaim that few other black British performers had seen before her. She recorded numerous hits throughout her career, including the theme songs for three James Bond films: Goldfinger,
"Listen, baby, I sing for my supper. I bloody well don't have to cook it as well."
"But my singing was like this burning thing inside me and I had to go on with it."
Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.
Shirley Veronica Bassey was born in the Tiger Bay section of Cardiff, Wales, on January 8, 1937. She was the youngest of her parents' seven children. When Bassey was a baby, her father was sent to prison for the repeated sexual abuse of a child. This prompted Bassey's mother to relocate her family to Splott, a working-class neighborhood in Cardiff. Bassey's mixed-race heritage (her mother was English, while her father was Nigerian) made her stand out there. However, the family's poverty was an ever bigger problem.
In 1952, Bassey left school to work in a factory. She also sang in pubs, and, at 16, was cast in a musical revue. Those performances came to an end when she got pregnant. But, after giving birth and leaving her daughter Sharon in the care of a sister, Bassey soon started to perform again.
When agent Mike Sullivan heard Shirley Bassey singing, he was impressed enough with her powerfully expressive voice to begin managing her career. It was at this time that Bassey started to adopt the cleavage-baring tops and gowns that would become her signature look.
Bassey released her first single, "Burn My Candle," when she was 19 years old. In 1957, she had her first hit with "Banana Boat Song." Her worldwide popularity took off when she sang "Goldfinger" for the 1964 James Bond movie of the same name. She also sang the theme songs for two other Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker. These Bond songs, along with her interpretations of numbers like "Big Spender" and "I Am What I Am," made Bassey's career an unmitigated success.
Unfortunately, Shirley Bassey's family life wasn't as successful as her career. It wasn't until Bassey's daughter Sharon was nine years old that she learned Bassey was her mother. In 1963, Bassey gave birth to another daughter, Samantha. Just as with her first child, she wouldn't name Samantha's father. Bassey married twice, to Kenneth Hume and Sergio Novak, but both marriages ended in divorce. She was also estranged from her adopted son, Mark, for several years.
The most difficult blow for Bassey was the death of her daughter, Samantha, in 1985. The death was considered an accidental drowning, but, in a 2009 interview, Bassey admitted she had doubts about that conclusion. After receiving information that a convicted killer had stated he was involved with Bassey's daughter, the police reinvestigated Samantha's death in 2010, but found no evidence of criminal involvement.
profile name: Shirley Bassey profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Bond—James Bond—was introduced to movie fans with the release of the first 007 film, Dr. No, in 1962. The past five decades of James Bond films have included a gamut of soundtrack artists, including Paul McCartney & Wings, who performed the song "Live and Let Die" for the Bond film of the same name; Shirley Bassey, who sang tracks for the films Diamonds Are Forever and Goldfinger; Jack White and Alicia Keys, who performed "Another Way to Die" for Quantum of Solace; Gladys Knight, who sang the title track for License to Kill; Louis Armstrong, who performed "We Have All the Time in the World" (secondary theme) for On Her Majesty's Secret Service; and Adele, who sang the title track for the newest film of the Bond franchise, Skyfall.
James Bond Soundtrack Artists 23 people in this group
Famous Welsh People 16 people in this group
Famous Capricorns 497 people in this group