Laila Westersund was a Swedish singer, comedian, and revue artist who was famous for her appearances on stage, on tv, and in film from the 1960s until the early 2000s.
She was born in Trollhättan. Her father was a farmer, and later a labourer. His great interest in music was a source of inspiration for Laila Westersund, and they often appeared on stage together. Her mother functioned as her manager for a long time.
Laila Westersund made her stage debut at the age of four, but her real artistic breakthrough came in 1961, with already the well-known song “April, april”, the chorus of which she whistled. Her first widely noticed performance of the song came at Folkparkernas Artistforum, a revue which started the careers of many entertainers who would come to grace the stages of local folkparker, public recreation spaces created by the Swedish labour- or other social movements. It was at this time that she was given the nickname of Yrhättan (the tomboy), or sometimes even Yrvädret (the wild storm) from Trollhättan. From the 1960s onwards Laila Westersund was a loyal folkpark-artist who, following 25 years of tours and appearances, was awarded the golden needle, an honorary award given by the folkpark movement.
Laila Westersund is primarily known as a revue artist and a comedian. In the mid-1960s she began to work with with Hagge Geigert at the Lisebergteater. This theatre became her permanent workplace throughout most of her career. Laila Westersund was self-taught and she frequently highlighted how working with Geigert had been of particular importance to her. He composed pieces for her which made reference to and developed her own particular acting style, based on her energetic personality, her clear connection with the audience, and her particularly good sense of timing. As the primadonna in Geigert’s revues she delivered several of her most popular imitations and monologues, such as the “sex object” monologues where she, whilst dressed in dirty overalls, described what it was like to be objectified by men. Towards the end of the 1990s Laila Westersund suffered from burnout, but she made a celebrated return at Lisebergsteatern in 2004, appearing in a play written by Krister Classon called Stulen kärlek.
Laila Westersund made her film debut in 1962 when she appeared in Raggargänget, directed by Ragnar Frisk. She then appeared in several films by the comedy group Galenskaparna och After Shave. Laila Westersund’s tv appearances included the show the charade show Gäster med gester, the comedy series Jonson och Pipen and voice-over work on the animated children’s show Skrotnisse och hans vänner.
She was musical and could play several instruments, including the accordion, drums, and piano. She also sang on several albums. Laila Westersund’s musical breadth can be seen by comparing her two hits on the Swedish chart Svensktoppen: “Singel och sand” from 1964 and “Körsbär måste vara söta” from 1974. She could move seamlessly between popular waltz tunes, frenetic poptunes, swinging dance music and smooth jazz.
Laila Westersund appeared at folkparker, theatres, and pubs across Sweden. She worked with Gösta Bernhard, Tjadden Hällström, Eva Rydberg, Georg Adelly, Owe Thörnqvist, and Carl-Gustaf Lidstedt, amongst others. She received various awards throughout the duration of her career, including the Gothenburg city gold merit badge, and prizes awarded by the actor associations Stallbröderna and Stallfåglarna.
Laila Westersun died in 2011 following a period of illness. She is buried at Götalundens Cemetery in Trollhättan.