06 June 2016

Corry Brokken (1932-2016)

On 31 May 2016, legendary Dutch singer Corry Brokken (1932-2016) has passed away. She represented the Netherlands three times at the Eurovision Song Contest, and was the winner in 1957. She also worked several years as a television presenter in the Netherlands and in Germany, but she appeared only once in a film. In later life she became a judge.

Corry Brokken (1932-2016)
Dutch autograph card. Photo: Ger Dijkstra.

Corry Brokken
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (SPARO), no. 1074. Photo: Phonogram.

Winner Eurovision Song Contest

Cornelia Maria Brokken was born in Breda, Netherlands in 1932. In 1952 she made her Dutch radio debut with the song I Apologize. Two years later Corry (sometimes written as Corrie) Brokken made her first record, De Autoscooter-Boogie.

In 1956 she represented the Netherlands for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest. Her song Voorgoed Voorbij/Over For Good did not win. That year the results of the jury were secret; only the winner was announced.

The following year she won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Net als Toen/Like It Used To Be. The melody was composed by Guus Jansen and the lyrics were written by Willy van Hemert.

And in 1958 she represented the Netherlands again with Heel de Wereld/The Whole World, but this time she came no further than a shared last - 9th - place with Luxembourg.

As noted by John Kennedy O'Connor in his book The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History, Corry is the only singer ever to have finished both first and last in the contest.

In 1958 she also appeared as a singer in the film Jenny (Willy van Hemert, 1958). It was the first Dutch feature in colour, and the only theatrical film by Van Hemert, who, besides as a song composer, would have a long and illustrious career as a TV director. His daughter, Ellen van Hemert, appeared in the title role of the film.

Corry Brokken (1932-2016)
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 5625. On the photo Corry Brokken with her only child, daughter Nancy, born in 1959.

Corry Brokken (1932-2016)
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 5616.

Song About a Prostitute

In 1960 Corry Brokken had a #1-hit in the Netherlands with the song Milord, which is internationally known in the Edith Piaf version. The song text about a prostitute was quite shocking for the then still conservative Dutch public.

In the 1960s, Brokken performed in the renowned variety show Sleeswijk Revue alongside the popular comic duo Snip en Snap (Willy Walden and Piet Muijselaar).

Between 1961 and 1972 Corry Brokken presented TV shows on Dutch television. During this period she regularly recorded her songs, including fine and successful Dutch interpretations of songs by Charles Aznavour, including the hits Mijn ideaal/My Ideal (1962) and La Mamma (1964).

The German versions of her hits were also popular in West-Germany. Between 1967 and 1970 she presented for the German TV station ARD shows like Varietézauber (Variety Magic) with such guests as Gilbert Bécaud, Caterina Valente and Hildegard Knef.

Corry continued to make records into the 1970s, and in 1976 she returned to the the Eurovision Song Contest when she hosted the show in The Hague.

That same year she started to study Law. Later she became an attorney and in 1988 she was installed as a judge in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch.

Corry Brokken
Dutch postcard by uitgeverij SYBA, Enkhuizen, no. 3. It was used for promotional purposes by Corry Brokken's record company, Philips. Photo: Arje Plas.

Corry Brokken
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam. Sent by mail in 1964.


In 1996 Corry Brokken made a comeback as a singer. In 1997 she announced the results of the Dutch vote at the Eurovision Song Contest.

She made the new cd Nooit gedacht (Never thought) and promoted it in a few TV shows. Since the cd was not a big success, she started to write her memoirs, Wat mij betreft (As for me). The book was a success and was reprinted four times in a short period. She also wrote a weekly column for the women's weekly Margriet.

In 2006 she was the guest star of the cabaret group Purper in their show Purper 100, and a dvd was presented with the highlights of her TV-shows: Een avondje uit met Corry Brokken/An Evening's Entertainment With Corry Brokken.

In 2009 she also published her second memoirs, Toegift (Encore), and she had a guest appearance in the popular TV sitcom Kinderen geen bezwaar/Children, No Problem (2009).

Corry Brokken was married three times. From 1956 on, her first husband was jazz musician Cees See, with whom she had daughter Nancy (1959). From 1968 till 1976 Brokken was married to variety show producer René Sleeswijk. In 1978 she married lawyer Jan Meijerink.

Corry Brokken died on 31 May 30 2016 at the age of 83. She was twice awarded the prestigious Edison award for her music, in 1963 and 1995.

Corry Brokken sings Net als Toen/Like It Used To Be at the European Song Contest 1957. Source: God Kveld Norge and Oslo! (YouTube).

Clip from Jenny (1958). Source: M Torringa (YouTube). Corry Brokken sings Weet je nog?

Corry Brokken sings La Mama. Source: Pietg (YouTube).

A clip from 1965 played very well on a television from 1955. You see Corry Brokken and The Shepherds performing Down By the River Side. Source: jssheep (YouTube).

Corry Brokken sings Net als Toen/Like It Used To Be in 1999. Source: senzate81 (YouTube).

Sources: AD.nl (Dutch), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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