Zavaroni ruined by illness
Zavaroni went from a
council house in Scotland to LA glamour.
Lena Zavaroni's 22-year battle with anorexia took the child
star from performances for the Queen and a US president
to a court charge of stealing a 50p packet of jelly.
She made her mark in the 1970s as a nine-year-old girl with
a huge voice who became famous after winning the
talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1974 for a record five weeks
in a row.
That unprecedented success led
her to perform in front of the Queen at
a Royal Variety performance.
famous song was Ma, He's Making eyes at
She grew up in a council house on the Isle of Bute, off the
Scottish west coast, and went on to
appear alongside Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli at a charity concert in Los
Zavaroni also sang for President
Gerald Ford at the White House.
She went to the Italia Conte stage school in London where
her friends included fellow child star Bonnie Langford.
Talking about the impact of her overnight success she recently
said: "Everything changed so quickly. I had never
seen lifts or escalators or even traffic lights.
"I went from a council house on an isolated island to a posh
hotel in Piccadilly, with shopping trips to Harrods."
Her talent came from her father Victor who was a club
singer, but her parents split after she hit the big time.
The singing sensation, who was just 4ft
10ins tall, battled with the slimming
disease anorexia nervosa from the age
At one point her weight plunged
to just four stone.
Recently she explained
the root of her illness. "When they
tried to fit me into these costumes,
they would talk about my weight.
"I kept wondering how they expected me to fit into these dresses.
I was a plump little girl and I was also developing
into a woman.
"I wanted to be just right
for them but I had to go to all these
breakfasts, dinners and lunches."
added: "I only became fanatical about not eating when
the pressure got too much. I just wanted to have a nice
Her career slipped and she retired from show business when
she married her one and only boyfriend, businessman
Peter Wiltshire in 1989.
She had been
introduced to him by her father and was engaged
within four months.
The couple settled in
north London, but the marriage lasted
only 18 months.
Zavaroni later claimed she had
never loved her husband but hoped the
experience would make her "grow up."
In 1989 her mother Hilda died of a
tranquillizer overdose. Later, a fire
destroyed all her showbiz mementoes.
When Zavaroni's marriage broke
up, she moved to Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, to
be near her father and his second wife
Once destined to earn millions,
she lived in a council flat on state
benefits of £48.20.
Earlier this year she
was accused of stealing a 50p packet of
jelly. The charge was later withdrawn but it illustrated
a miserable decline.~ BBC
ENDING FEBRUARY 16TH 1974
Lena Zavaroni-----Ma He's Making
Eyes At Me. Child star Lena Zavaroni was in her second week
on the chart with the first of her two top 40 hits. This was the biggest
of the two and peaked at number ten for the 'Opportunity Knocks' winner.
Six months later, Lena had been forgotten, until her anorexia condition
became front page news in the early '80's.