AT the ripe old age of 74 a devoted fan of the 40s crooner Nelson Eddy has fulfilled yet another ambition - she's seen her third book - not surprisingly a biography of her idol- in print.

Unlike fans of the Spice Girls - here today and gone tomorrow -Dorris Braithwaite from Daisy Hill, Westhoughton, is still 'Nelson Eddying' more than half a century later.

For the past three years she has been putting her encyclopaedic knowledge of the man to good use and written his biography - The Golden Voice of Nelson Eddy - a real labour of love for his biggest fan.

And to the envy of Nelson Eddy fans Dorris has been able to put her own insight into the book because her relationship with the star - perhaps best known for his screen partnership with Jeanette? McDonald - was not one way. Over the years she has had a postbag of letters and presents from him.

Dorris was a 13-year-old teenybopper when she became hooked on Eddy. After seeing him in the film 'Naughty Marrietta' she put pen to paper and wrote to her idol.

And, amazingly, he wrote back.

The transatlantic correspondence between the Hollywood giant and the young Northern lass continued throughout the war years and after.

Dorris gushed: "He used to send me letters telling me about his next film, who was in it, and what it was about. And he also used to send me boxes of tea when it was rationed over here."

Sadly, after receiving a letter from him in 1961, Dorris failed to write back. And this is one of her greatest regrets. "I just didn't have time to write back. I intended to do eventually, but before I had a chance he died."

And her other great regret is that she never met him. "He never came to Britain so I had to be satisfied with watching him in his films - over and over again of course."

Even though it's been more than half a century since his death Dorris is still as obsessed as ever.

On most days callers to her home will hear snatches of his hits like 'Rose Marie' or Falling In Love With Someone', coming from her stereo. And when she has a free moment she watches his old films on video.

And what better tribute from a devoted fan than to write the life story of her idol.

Despite considerable interest from publishers over the past two years Dorris failed to see her work in print. And so the sprightly pensioner took the initiative and published the book herself.

She recalls: "I wrote to Barbara Cartland about my predicament and she very kindly put me in touch with her agent who said that she would love to see the book in print but unfortunately it wasn't the type of book they commissioned."

Dorris's book is an affectionate tribute to the star, and contains extracts from some of the letters he wrote to his young devoted Northern fan.

It's available from Alison Books, St Andrew's Court, Bolton priced £7.50. And you can also borrow it from Bolton Central Library.

Dorris, a member of Bank Street writers' group, is also hoping to shift a few copies when she attends the annual Nelson Eddy Appreciation Society meeting next month in Blackpool.

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