During May I was lucky enough to have a meeting with Jackie Hilkene during one of her visits to the UK – from her new life in Canada.
In many ways “same old Jackie” apart from a mix of Canadian and Gloucester dialect. Still a caring bubbly person, and a joy to be with.
We talked about her first foray on stage at Cheltenham when she was 14 years old, and a vocalist with her father`s big band. When she had all the attributes of an attractive young lady, except ………
“Don`t worry”, said mum – as she stuffed tissues into the vital area of Jackie`s halter neck evening gown. “No-one with know”.
Later that night Jackie appeared on stage, not only looking the part – but also feeling the part. Infact so into the part that her new role completely engulfed her – especially with her ample new bosom. So for her first number she appeared with her back to the audience, arms raised Shirley Bassey style, ready to belt into the new number.
And I worked – but only until a cavalcade of tissues rained down onto the stage.
Character building or what! – she powered out her song and just got on with things.
Because that`s just how Jackie is!
Later she joined a group called “Travelling Band”, and entered the world of old vans, humping equipment, and an eclectic mix of gigs. She also spent time at the National Youth Theatre, and then worked with various bands – such as Zucchi, Elite and China Dolls.
Mecca and Top Rank work came along at Bristol Tiffanys, Gloucester Tiffanys, Coventry Tiffanys, Top Rank Birmingham, and Top Rank Southampton.
One of her fondest memories was of the the night they were snowed in at Bath Tiffanys – when manager Andy Younger brought in wheelbarrows of snow – for a snowball fight.
Whilst working at the Top Rank Suite she met deputy manager Mike Hilkene (her maiden name was Malpass). She married Mike around the time she sang “The Lady is a Tramp” to Margaret Thatcher.
Both Jackie and Mike became well known within the industry, but when they moved to Isabella`s Leicester – the relationship began to falter – and Mike banned her from the club.
But the living accommodation was above – with its only exit being through the club – so she was well and truly grounded.
Isabella`s was a great success. Gary Lineker`s held his stag night there – and his wife`s her hen night
It was also the time that began Jackie her foray into healthclub and nightclub management.
She was so successful in management, that her story is well known. Her final club was Shanghai Sam`s Peterborough, where she took the business through the roof, met an ice-hockey player who made her into Mrs Jacqui Kaese -and now has two grown up sons.
The end of Jackie`s story?
She went on to form the Spotlight stage school. To work with Nicole Kidman, Jason Statham, Robert De Nero, Colin Ford and Justin Chatwin, and to make her way onto the big screen herself.
Her debut is in the forthcoming JK Rowling biopic – when Jacqui plays the book store owner where JK Rowling does her first “Harry Potter” reading.
And the rest of her story……….
We must wait and see …. but one thing is for sure……. in will certainly be interesting!
Great to meet you Jackie after all these years.