This day in Jewish history

1946: Helen Shapiro Is Born

A Jewish songbird who reached the height of her fame before she was out of her teens and later saw the light.

David Green
David B. Green
Share in Facebook
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Jewish songbird Helen Shapiro reached the height of her fame in her teens, and became Christian later in life.
David Green
David B. Green

On September 28, 1946, singer and actress Helen Shapiro was born in London. Shapiro probably reached the height of her success and fame in 1961, at the age of 14, when her first single, fittingly titled “Don’t Treat Me Like a Child,” hit # 3 on the U.K pop charts.

Later that same year, her songs “You Don’t Know” and “Walkin’ Back to Happiness” reached #1, and she soon was voted the “Top Female Singer” in the country. When she and her beehive hairdo toured the U.K. in early 1963, as the headliner of an eight-act bill, the show’s final act was the Beatles, then participating in their first national tour. (During the tour, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song “Misery” for Shapiro, but she never recorded it.)

Helen Shapiro, the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, grew up in Clapton (where the family attended the Lea Bridge Road Synagogue) and later Hackney. Her parents both worked in the garment industry. By the age of 10, Helen was singing with a school band called Susie and the Hula Hoops, whose guitarist was a boy named Mark Feld, who later performed under the name Mark Bolan (guitarist and singer of T-Rex, who died in 1977). Her last Top-10 hit came in 1963 (“Little Miss Lonely”), and by 1972, she announced she was giving up touring. Thereafter, Shapiro focused on an acting career, and she performed both on the stage and on TV soap operas.

On her website, Shapiro writes with affection about her Jewish upbringing, and explains how it was almost natural for her to become interested in Jesus, particularly after her Christian manager gave her a book by a Jewish man whose daughter had converted to Christianity, and who himself, in his attempt to understand how such a disaster had occurred, became a believer in Jesus himself.

Shapiro writes that she finally accepted Jesus in 1987, and urges all of her readers to “search the Scriptures and find out for yourself.”