Ever since I made the move from New York to S. California, I’ve been slowly unpacking and adding to an 1890’s wooden theatrical trunk I bought in a London antique shop ages ago.
It was in remarkably good nick and still had some of the transit labels recording its owner’s movements from one theatre to another – Theatre Royal Bath to Drury Lane London, Empire Liverpool to Abbey Theatre Dublin.
I’m very attached to this treasure from the past and I’ve filled it with a carefully chosen collection of photos, news clippings and reviews, theatre programmes and bits and pieces of memorabilia and clothing that have a personal meaning in my life.
I’ll be posting some of its contents now and then and hope that you’ll find them interesting and perhaps worthy of comment. I’d truly love to hear your thoughts.
“He Was the Kindest Man I’d Ever Met.”
This photo was shot on the set of “Panic Button,” a feature I did in 1962 while I was living in Rome. It starred Jayne Mansfield, Maurice Chevalier & Mike Connors, of the “Mannix” TV series, and directed by the well-known George Sherman who had worked with such stars as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and John Wayne to name but a few.
I played an aspiring actress, who was being coached by Maurice Chevalier, and I’m here to tell you that I was completely tongue-tied on our first meeting. Here was this living legend of stage and screen and there was me, still dripping wet behind the ears. But from the moment he kissed my hand and lead me through the first rehearsal, I was convinced that he was the kindest man I’d ever met. When I recently came upon this photo in one of my albums, it instantly brought back the memory of just how very special he made me feel.
For several years, I’ve been held captive by the past as I wrote my memoir. A good part of that time was spent foraging through my trunk where all of my photos, clippings and theatre programmes are stored. Often I’ve felt like an archaelogist digging through the layers of my life to reach a certain time or event caught in a photo or suspended in a yellowing newspaper cutting. This photo is at ground zero in my professional career. I’m eight years old, second from left, playing the role of “Cobweb” in a “Midsummer-Night’s Dream,” at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, 1947. It was my first paid performance and if memory serves, my first real crush on the actor playing Lysander.
Finally! My memoir manuscript has gone-off to the publisher, along with a slew of photos from my collection safely ensconced in my antique theatrical trunk. Here’s one that will also appear in the book. Mike Pratt and I surprised Ken Cope with his very own custom designed chair for his birthday. A happier ghost never lived.
I’ve been spending hours sifting through the dozens of photo albums I’ve stored in my trunk, selecting photographs for my memoir.
This one of Sue Lloyd and I strolling down from our flat in Clabon Mews with our Afghan hounds, Bonita and Coppelia, has always been one of favourites, as I think it captures the essence of our friendship. As you can see, those dogs are no light-weights!
As always, I hope you’ll let me know your response to this moment in my life, when Sue and I were flatmates and every day seemed to bring another adventure. And there were…quite a few adventures!
For starters, I’ve selected this photo of Benny Hill and I at the Blue Angel in 1964. I remember Benny taking me there after I’d recorded two episodes of his show at the BBC. If any of you have seen my appearances on the Benny Hill shows that I did over a couple of years, I’d really appreciate hearing from you. I remember what a joy they were to do, and how much I learned from Benny about the art of being funny.