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Culley, Ida Fernley
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- Culley, Claudette
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Ida May Fernley was born on March 8, 1897 to parents Charles Robert Fernley and Mary Woods. She married Henry Francis "Harry" Culley on May 16, 1914. She died March 14, 1983.
She learned piano by ear, and at the age of 7 demonstrated pianos at the Canadian National Exhibition. Later, she played piano accompaniments to silent movies at a theatre on Clinton Street in Toronto, where she met Harry Culley.
In the 1930s and 1940s, she was part of a two-piano, four hands team called the Black and White Spotters under the stage name "Claudette" with her husband Harry Culley. They performed regularly on radio shows on CKCL, CFRB, and CBC from the 1930s to 1950s. The duo also travelled to United Kingdom (1936-1938) where they performed on BBC radio, Radio Luxembourg, and accompanied Hollywood stars Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons on a tour, including performances in South Africa. They also accompanied British comedian and film star George Fromby when he toured Canada. They stopped performing as a duo in 1948 when Harry Culley accepted the position of musical director of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Ida Culley continued to perform as a soloist throughout her life, including entertaining water veterans at Sunnybrook Medical Centre in her 80s.
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Created November 1, 2021.
Jim Emmerson, "Ida Culley famed pianist accompanied radio stars" [obituary], Toronto Star (March 16, 1983).