Marie Murphy: Former showgirl who became pianist for pop star Ruby Murray
Marie Murphy - better known in her heyday as showgirl Marie Cunningham - has died at the age of 81.
Marie began her career as a dancer on the Big Bill Campbell Rocky Mountain Rhythm when she was only 15.
Campbell was impressed by her style when Marie was a junior support act to his show at the old Empire Theatre in Belfast and he persuaded her parents to let her join him to tour all over the UK for four years.
"Mother played the piano and the accordion and appeared on the old Light Programme of BBC radio with Big Bill who was an international star," recalls Marie's daughter Kathleen.
"Eventually she came back home and became a favourite in shows at the Opera House and the old Empire Theatre."
In her time Marie was one of the most versatile entertainers around, with a passion for showbusiness. She met and fell for tenor Frank Murphy when they were on the same bill at the Empire and they married in 1956 and were together for 47 years until his death in 2003.
Marie was the late pop star Ruby Murray's pianist and they toured many European countries together especially after Ruby had a Number 1 hit with Softly Softly.
When they were in Rhodesia the then leader Ian Smith invited Marie and Ruby for afternoon tea and they treated him to a verse or two of Softly Softly.
When Ruby died 16 years ago Marie played Softly Softly at her memorial service.
Marie is survived by daughters Clare, Kathleen and Sarah, son Frank, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.