American tennis legend Billie Jean King smiled for the cameras, shouldered her rackets and made her way back to her Manchester hotel.

There would be no play again in the 1964 Northern Lawn Tennis Tournament at Didsbury.

A weekend of torrential rain meant the courts had not even been marked out.

Smiling through the rain - Billie Jean King at the Northern Tennis Tournament at Didsbury, June 1964

Smiling through the rain – Billie Jean King at the Northern Tennis Tournament at Didsbury, June 1964

For King, a wet Manchester in June was a huge contrast to the California sunshine where the future world number one had honed her game.

Then playing under her maiden name of Moffitt, the 20-year-old was at the start of her brilliant tennis career.

She was studying history at Los Angeles State College, but still managed to win reach the Wimbledon Ladies Singles’ Final in 1963.

Tennis stars Nancy Richey, Carole Caldwell and Billie Jean King at their Manchester hotel, June 1964

Tennis stars Nancy Richey, Carole Caldwell and Billie Jean King at their Manchester hotel, June 1964

King, who was unseeded, lost 6-3, 6-4 to the formidable Australian champion Margaret Court. But she knew she’d be back.

Her next tilt at the Wimbledon title came a month after the rain-lashed Northern Tournament. It was hardly the best preparation.

Instead of playing competitors like fellow Americans Nancy Richey and Carole Caldwell, King was sitting with them back in her hotel!

Billie Jean King in action against Margaret Court, July 1963

Billie Jean King in action against Margaret Court, July 1963

King once again lost to Court 6-3, 6-4 at Wimbledon – this time in the semi-finals.

The defeat just made King more determined. She decided to play tennis as a full-time professional and never looked back.

King went on to win 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 in singles, 16 in women’s doubles and 11 in mixed doubles.

Bobby Vee, Dusty Springfield and Big Dee Irwin share sweets at the Manchester Odeon, March 1964

Bobby Vee, Dusty Springfield and Big Dee Irwin share sweets at the Manchester Odeon, March 1964

The Manchester weather was no problem for another high profile visitor in May 1964 – the iconic soul singer Dusty Springfield.

She appeared at the Odeon on the same bill as Bobby Vee and Big Dee Irwin. Our photo shows them backstage during the interval sharing sweets thrown on stage!

The three were on a 29-date UK tour along with The Searchers. Top-price tickets to the shows cost 10 shillings and sixpence.

Dusty Springfield in furs after her single I Only Want to Be with You hits the charts, December 1963

Dusty Springfield in furs after her single I Only Want to Be with You hits the charts, December 1963

Springfield first came to prominence with the folk group The Springfields which she formed in 1960 with her brother Tom.

She went solo in 1963, going to No. 4 in the UK charts with her single I Only Want to Be with You.

During 1964, she made the American Top Ten with Wishin’ and Hopin’ and reached No. 3 in the UK with the classic anthem I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself.

A big fan of soul music, Springfield hosted the first national TV performances of many top-selling Motown artists from 1965.

Maggie Smith and Noel Coward at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, October 1964

Maggie Smith and Noel Coward at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, October 1964

While Springfield was playing the Odeon, Jamaican singer Millie Small was in Manchester rehearsing her bluebeat hit My Boy Lollipop for Top of the Pops.

At that time, the popular TV music programme was recorded at the BBC’s Dickenson Road studios in Rusholme.

My Boy Lollipop, the first bluebeat hit in British history, sold 600,000 copies and peaked at No. 2 in the charts.

It was held off the top by Don’t Throw Your Love Away by The Searchers and Juliet by The Four Pennies.

Singer Millie films Top of the Pops in Rusholme, May 1964

Singer Millie films Top of the Pops in Rusholme, May 1964

World famous movie star and singer Judy Garland was in Manchester in August 1964 for the opening night of Lionel Bart’s musical Maggie May 2 at the Palace Theatre.

She was accompanied by her tour promoter Mark Herron, whom she later married in an impromptu ceremony on a freighter off the Hong Kong coast.

Garland was still married to her third husband Sidney Luft at the time, so the official wedding had to wait until November 1965. They divorced six months later.

Finally, one of the stage’s greatest women of achievement – Dame Maggie Smith – was in the city in October 1964 in Noel Coward’s play Hay Fever at the Opera House.

Judy Garland and husband Mark Herron backstage at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, August 1964

Judy Garland and husband Mark Herron backstage at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, August 1964

Our photo shows her with the writer and impresario at the cast party. Coward’s play High Spirits was also being performed at the Palace Theatre.

Smith was 30 at the time and had already won two Evening Standard Best Actress Awards for The Private Ear in 1962 and The Public Eye in 1963.

She won the Best Actress Oscar in 1969 for her unforgettable performance in the title role of the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.