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Phyllis Marshall

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Phyllis Marshall

Phyllis Marshall (1921-1996) was a Canadian-born jazz singer and actress who voiced Catgut in The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Born in Barrie but raised in Toronto, she began her performing career as a teenager, singing on CBC radio with the likes of Percy Faith. By 1938, she was already singing in nightclubs, and in 1947, Cab Calloway hired her as a backing vocalist for some of his New York recordings.

Continuing to work in Canada, Marshall was chosen to appear on The Big Revue, a variety show which debuted in 1952, on the first night of Canadian television programming. She went on to appear regularly on Cross-Canada Hit Parade through the 1950s, and thus became notable as the first Canadian black television star.

The BBC tapped Phyllis Marshall for an eponymous 1959 special, by which time she was working concurrently as an actress. She appeared in the television musical Cindy Ella and such CBC dramas as Paul Bernard, Psychiatrist and Night Heat. In 1981, she guest starred on the puppet series Today's Special. In her later years, she focused her energies on fundraising for various charities. The pale green gown worn by Phyllis Marshall on Cross-Canada Hit Parade is currently on permanent display, along with such diverse items as the puppets from Sesame Park, at the CBC Museum.

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