Peppi Borza

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Peppi Borza
BornGiuseppe Mario Chaly Borza
(1936-10-22)22 October 1936[1]
Portsmouth, England
24 July 1990(1990-07-24) (aged 53)24 July 1990(1990-07-24) (aged 53)
🏳️ Nationality
💼 Occupation
Actor, circus performer, entertainer, singer, dancer, songwriter, composer
📆 Years active  194?-1989

Peppi Borza (22 October 1936 - 24 July 1990) was a British-American dancer, entertainer, songwriter, composer, actor, and circus performer.[4][5][6]

Early life[edit]

Born to a circus performing family and brought up in Sarasota, Florida, Peppi performed in a double act with his sister Nita.[1][7][8][9] They were acrobats and performed with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny and Judy Garland, as well as appearing twice on The Ed Sullivan Show.[10][11][12][13] One of their acts was Stars of the Future, a balancing and tumbling act with Polack Bros. Circus.[14]


Having been told by many people including Sammy Davis Jr. that he had a good voice, Peppi decided to become a singer. This led to him coming to England, setting up the group Peppi and the New York Twisters and performing in New York. Despite recording several singles including The Skip (an attempt to start a new dance craze) and Pistol Packin' Mama, the singing career came to nothing. He also performed at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, teaching a young Cilla Black how to dance the Twist, having learnt himself from Chubby Checker. The dance was the inspiration behind his former group.[11]

In Britain, Borza became a long-time friend of singer Dusty Springfield (having first met The Springfields when they toured with Del Shannon[15]), accompanying her on tours, as well as being a dancer on Ready Steady Go!.[16][17] As the partner of her brother Tom, he participated in the composition of four songs with him: No Tears for Johnnie, Chain Gang Blues,[18] The Skip[19] and O Holy Child[20] (which Dusty recorded in 1964 as a Christmas charity single for Barnardo's). In 1965, Peppi co-wrote Matt Monro's single Before You Go.

He also worked as a composer on Dusty Springfield's The Christmas Album and several other projects, including with Matt Monro.[21]

Theatre and Screen[edit]

Peppi made a name for himself on stage in London and New York, appearing on Broadway in the original cast recording of Evita.[22][23] He played a Muleteer in the original West End production of Man of La Mancha[24] as well as the 1972 film version,[25] and appeared in Intimate Games (1976). His other roles include a pirate in the 1976 musical Peter Pan[26] and a policeman in Gilbert and Sullivan's 1983 musical The Pirates of Penzance[25] as well as playing a Vervoid in parts 11 and 12 of the Doctor Who saga The Trial of a Time Lord (segment: Terror of the Vervoids).[27][28][29][30] He was in the 1985 cast of On Your Toes at the Palace Theatre, London.

Among Peppi's final work was appearing in the 1987 West End revival of Follies.[31]


Borza died from AIDS. Dusty frequently visited him at the hospice, which cared for him towards the end of his life. Borza left money to his closest friend in his will.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Some sources give the birth year as 1938 in Florida but his official birth was registered in the Dec 1936 quarter in Portsmouth as Giuseppe M C Borza. Also, The Kansas City Times (29 August 1945) gives his age as 8 and Billboard - 11 Nov 1950 - page 52 mentions Peppi's 14th birthday celebration (other American newspapers I've seen list his age corresponding with 1936). In addition, I have seen travel records giving the birth year as 1936.
  2. "Pepe Borza | Theatricalia". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  3. "Jaxsta". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  4. "12 Apr 1946, Page 40 - The Akron Beacon Journal at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  5. "19 Nov 1948, 8 - The Baltimore Sun at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  6. "The Greatest Show on Earth | Sarasota History Alive!". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  7. "21 Jul 1961, 35 - The Tampa Tribune at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  8. "23 Aug 1945, Page 20 - Star Tribune at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  9. "10 Feb 1948, 28 - Courier-Post at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  10. "26 Oct 1950, 11 - The Shreveport Journal at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Biography in The Dion and Del Shannon Show programme
  12. "26 Oct 1950, 11 - The Shreveport Journal at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  13. "29 Aug 1945, 6 - The Kansas City Times at". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  14. Inc, Nielsen Business Media (1947-09-27). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Search this book on Logo.png
  15. 15.0 15.1 Valentine, Penny; Wickham, Vicki (25 October 2012). Dancing with Demons: The Authorized Biography of Dusty Springfield. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 9781444719024. Search this book on Logo.png
  16. Ancestry Thread
  17. "Let's Talk Dusty!" (PDF). Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. "Chain Gang Blues Sheet Music". Oktv. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  19. Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series Page 556. Library of Congress. Copyright Office. Search this book on Logo.png
  20. "Lyrics - O Holy Child". Rockol. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  21. "Peppi Borza | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  22. "Peppi Borza - PERFORMER". Playbill. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  23. Kerr, Walter (1979-09-26). "Stage: 'Evita,' a Musical Perón (Published 1979)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  24. "Production of Man of La Mancha | Theatricalia". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Peppi Borza". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  26. "HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: PETER PAN (TV)". The Pauley Center for Media. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  27. Books, My Old School (2014-12-17). "The Trial of a Time Lord Parts 9-12 (aka Terror of the Vervoids)". Doctor Who Cast & Crew Guide. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  28. "A Brief History Of Time (Travel): The Trial Of A Time Lord (Segment Three)". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  29. "BBC - Doctor Who Classic Series Episode Guide - Cast and crew". Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  30. "The Trial of a Time Lord ★". Radio Times. Retrieved 2021-03-07.
  31. "Sondheim Guide / Follies". Retrieved 2021-03-07.

External links[edit]

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