Australian actress Annette Andre has been really seeing stars since she went to Rome last May. In less than four months Annette has:
Appeared in two films as Elizabeth Taylor’s maid in “Cleopatra,” and with Maurice Chevalier in the death scene from “Romeo and Juliet” for an Italian production, “Panic Button.”
Read of her own “engagement” to singer Frankie Avalon.
Signed a contract for a feature role in the musical “Vanity Fair,” which opens in London’s West End in November.
Three days after her arrival in Rome, 23-year-old Annette, of Randwick, Sydney, was signed by Twentieth Century-Fox to appear as Cleopatra’s maid in the world’s most expensive film. Annette took a small apartment beside the Tiber, and sunbaked on its terrace until the studio needed her.
Then she flew to the Isle of Ischia in the Bay of Naples to begin work on scenes. “Dream World “Ischia was a dream world,” said Annette. “The costumes were designed by Irene Sharaff and were gorgeous. My very simple Egyptian costume in pale blue and gold silk was exquisitely made.
“But I doubt if anyone will see too much of it or me ? in the film.
“Pamela Brown, the British actress, had a five month contract, and her part will last for 30 seconds. contract was for three weeks, so it will probably be a case of ‘There she is. There she isn’t!’
“Miss Taylor was very easy to work with and was always on the set, even when she wasn’t needed for a scene. She was always cracking jokes with the crew.
“Richard Burton, on the other hand, was rather reserved and spent as little time as possible on the set.”
As soon as she arrived back in Rome, Annette had a phone call from F.I.C.I.T., an Italian company which was producing “Panic Button” for Warner Brothers. Two Italian actresses had already been dropped from the role of an aspiring actress “Anna,” who has to enact the death scene from “Romeo and Juliet” with Maurice Chevalier.
Producer Ron Gorton asked Annette and 11 other actresses to audition. “Annette just walked into the part,” said Gorton later.
“As soon as she read one line we knew that she was Anna.”
A few days later Annette was on set with Chevalier in a dress she’d bought in Sydney.
“They hired me for five times its cost,” she said.
Her contract gave her third female billing to Jayne Mansfield and Eleanor Parker, and found herself sharing scenes and a screen kiss with Maurice Chevalier.
“Mr. Chevalier is one of the most lovable people in the world to work with,” said Annette. “He is just like a father to everyone. “And Eleanor Parker, the only other star I appear with in the film, just couldn’t be nicer.”
The Italian production company insisted on hiring Annette’s Australian – made dress which she had worn to the audition.
“It was in simple striped silk that I bought in one of the arcades in Sydney,” said Annette. “It cost me $7, but I was paid about five times that for the hire.”
Not a joke She was still working on the film when West End producer Lionel Harris, on holiday in Rome, phoned her. He wanted to audition her for a leading role in “Vanity Fair,” a musical by Julian Slade based on Thackeray’s novel. Annette thought it was someone playing a joke on her, until Harris explained that Sydney actor Lewis Fiander had told him about her success in Rome.
She won the part, and will make her first visit to England with a contract for a West End musical. To go to London, Annette had to turn down a part in an Italian film with Jeffrey Hunter, fellow – Australian Ron Randell, and Mylene Demongeot.
Annette’s “engagement” to American singer Frankie Avalon was announced in the Italian magazines after her agency asked her to pose with him for publicity shots on the Via Veneto and in the famous Villa Borghese.
Italian “sniper” photographers also took photographs and their magazines published them with the false announcement.
“I was embarrassed at first,” said Annette, “but no one takes the Italian magazines too seriously.”
One person who did take it seriously was her friend, Robert (“Bobo”) Bettoni, who appeared with Vivien Leigh in “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.”
Annette met Bobo on the set of “Cleopatra,” in which he played the part of Richard Burton’s lieutenant. “Bobo doesn’t like the idea of my going to London,” Annette confessed.
Annette made her screen debut when she was eight years old in an award winning documentary, “Spotlight on Australian Ballet.” When she left school six years ago, she had parts in several radio serials, and made her first TV appearance on Christmas Eve, 1956, in a musical “Christmas Party” on TCN9, Sydney.
She played feature roles in seven plays for the A.B.C., including “If It’s a Rose,” “Slaughter of Saint Theresa’s Day,” “Boy Round the Corner.”
On television she hosted “Rhythm Roundup” with Roy Hampson on ATN7, Sydney, and appeared in several variety programmes, including “Curtain Call,” where she met Maurice Chevalier. She also appeared in several episodes of the “Whiplash” series, in guest spots on TCN’s “Gaslight Music Hall,” and in comedy sketches in “The Mobil Limb Show.”
Australian Women’s Weekly
PUBLISHED: 8th September 1982
Combining the roles of actress and single parent, new mother at(0, the future holds fresh challenges for
this star of ‘Taurus Rising’. For actress Annette André, the old adage that life begins at 40 ad special meaning.
Annette, currently seen as Jennifer Brent in the fine Network series ‘Taurus Rising’, came to the realization that she was going to face being a single mother. Now. three years later, le has accepted her life and talks happily about her lovely three-year-old daughter, Anouska, and ; her successful acting career, and why she has refused to say who is the father of her child.
“Becoming pregnant was a surprise to me,” Annette said, reflecting on life back in London. “I gave birth three weeks before I turned 40. I couldn’t believe that I could fall pregnant at that age.
“My immediate reaction was what a disaster. I had to think very seriously about whether or not to have the baby at that time of life and I didn’t want to hurtle into a quick decision. But I knew that I couldn’t go through with an abortion.”
Until then the young girl from Sydney had enjoyed an extremely successful 18-year acting career in England and the United States. When she headed for London in the early 60s she was an unknown. Soon
after, her career blossomed as she got an “English look”.
She won numerous stage roles and became a television regular in series like ‘The Saint’, ‘The Avengers’ and “The Persauders’. She had a lead role in the TV series “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” and starred in the big American film ‘A Funnv Thing Happened On The Wav To The Forum”, alongside names like Buster Keaton, Phil Silvers and Zero Mostel.
Throughout those 18 years her name became linked with an array of men, including aircraft baron, with whom she had a lengthy relationship. She was “mates” with rebel soccer star George Best. All that is now behind her. Thanks to daughter Anouska and her role in ‘Taurus Rising’, she is settling down to an exciting new future.
“I think it was better at my age to be a single mother,” she said, cuddling her daughter in her arms. “I could never have handled this situation if I were younger.
“Being a single mother does tie you down, but 1 was lucky that I had done everything I always wanted to do. I miss the social life at times but I had already done it all before. I’m trapped, so what?
“You can have a marriage fail and it is preferable then to be on your own without children. On the other hand, Anouska has reached a stage where she is really growing up and it’s becoming a constant battle to keep her in tow. Sometimes I long for someone with authority and a deep voice to ask her to do things.
“I must play mother and father. Sometimes I try to be like a father by speaking to her in a deep voice!
“Also, it would be nice to have someone to sit down with and share problems. Her father and I are still very good friends but he is in England so we can only share things by mail. It isn’t quite the same.”
Annette returned to Australia with her daughter because she wanted Anouska to experience growing up here. She declines to name the father for personal reasons and points out that the decision not to be married was her own.
“Yes, he did ask me to marry him but I realized it was pointless,” she said.
“Even when I became pregnant our relationship was over and it would have been a disaster to bring a child up in that sort of emotional climate. I don’t believe in marrying for the child’s sake.
“That does not mean I am against marriage, I’m certainly not. I’m a bit choosy about men and, at my age, they are not easy to come by. Most are either married already, or never want to be.”
Anouska is like any other three-year-old girl. She is openly bashful, likes cuddling the neighbour’s cat and cuddles her toy baby seal and doll. If she has suffered any problems growing up in an environment without a father, it doesn’t show.
“I kept her father’s identity a secret because I thought if I didn’t say anything perhaps it wouldn’t create an interest,” said Annette.
“I thought it would be best for Anouska’s sake. She knows who her daddy is, I know who he is, so why should everyone else know?
“He has his own life to lead in England but if he wants to announce it to the world then that is his business.”
Working in a demanding role as an actress with a young daughter to support presents its extra share of responsibilities. “But I have no other ability from which I can make a living,” said Annette. “I try to raise Anouska as best I can.
“I am completely happy with her and wouldn’t change that for anything. She is my darling daughter and I am very, very lucky to have her in my life.”
‘60s and ‘70s TV star Annette Andre comes to London’s Museum of Comedy
Randall and Hopkirk star Annette Andre is most recognised for her longest role as Jeannie Hopkirk in the cult British television series.
Over the course of her career she’s been an extra on the epic 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra, acted alongside Sir Roger Moore, and appeared on the Benny Hill show. Now she spends her days painting and working for animal welfare charities in southern California.
The Australian actress talks to the Weekender ahead of her Q&A event at London’s Museum of Comedy, later this month.
Recently moving to San Diego from upstate New York, where the winters were brutal, Annette and her husband, producer Arthur Weingarten, settled in the southern Californian town of Carlsbad.
“The weather is a treat. I just love it here,” Annette said.
Moving to America was initially a culture shock.
“LA is very superficial. I find it hard to make real friends. My husband had a lot of friends; I was never too sure if I really liked them or not,” she said. “The East Coast I like; it’s sophisticated and the day to day culture of New York lent itself to me. The coast is a whole different ball game; we live close to the beach, it’s all very coastal. You buy a nice dress and wonder when I will ever wear it?”
The Sydney-sider’s acting career began in Melbourne where she lived in “theatrical digs” in South Yarra without a brass razoo to her name.
“I worked on a television play and had the best time. None of us had any money. We’d ask if someone had sixpence to borrow so we could take the tram and none of us ever did so you’d have to walk everywhere. People invited you to their houses for drinks and dinner. Sydney was much more like America where they like to go out,” she said.
Annette flew the coop at age 20, crossed the pond, and immediately adopted an English accent, which she still has today.
“I got the accent not long after I got to London,” she recalled. “I went out to a posh party and a man asked me where I was from and he said ‘oh, you’re from the colonies’ so I raced home and said I’m losing this accent straightaway. I took elocution classes. My grandmother was English, the whole family was very softly spoken so I really got the English accent but I can get the Australian back.”
In London, Annette spent her time living south of the river, in Battersea, “near the park and near the river.” But a sojourn in Italy came first for the Saint star.
This was one of the best perks of the job. “One of the prime things we had in our day, and I’m not sure it happens a lot now, is we worked with these wonderful people, older people, and new, young wonderful people, and you could really watch them, and talk to them, and learn from them,” she said.
After some television work, Annette flew across to the West End for a production of the musical Vanity Fair.
“I got an agent through that, then I got a call to do [ITC spy TV series] The Saint,” she said. “At the time I got there I was a nervous wreck, ready to have a breakdown because of the pressure to get it right on the first take. The director didn’t like actresses very much. The first scene was long and wordy. He started yelling at me and suddenly I felt a hand taking mine and it’s Roger Moore. He said ‘don’t take any notice. I’m going to have a word with him’ and Roger walked me through the whole episode. He became my idol. He has the greatest sense of humour. I loved being on the Saint. I had lunch with him a few years ago. He lives in Monte Carlo now, which is very glam; that’s Roger.”
Of her event at the Comedy Museum, Annette says she’s in the dark.
“Sam [Westerby, the host] doesn’t tell me very much. It’s hold your nose and jump in the deep end,” she said, laughing.
She appreciates the fans’ intricate knowledge of her body of work.
“They ask about Randall and Hopkirk a lot, also the Prisoner, and The Saint. I was once asked if I remembered a particular scene and where the location was where we shot and I had no memory of it. It’s amazing these fans have such knowledge. I’ve had fan letters and I see fans at the conventions and a few are on my Facebook. Generally people are so nice and polite and respectful,” she said.
Annette’s other screen credits also include The Avengers, Crossroads,The Ed Sullivan Show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum which featured Buster Keaton, The Benny Hill Show, The Dick Emery Show, and Maigret.
The Saint actress Annette André: ‘Roger Moore became my good friend’
THE Australian-born actress, 75, has happy memories of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) – and a special bond with Roger Moore
By Peter Robertson
Annette has happy memories of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) – and a special bond with Roger Moore.
“This is the role I’m probably best known for – Marty Hopkirk’s widow Jeannie in the original 1969 TV series of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). It was a great concept. Marty (played by Kenneth Cope, left) was murdered in a hit-and-run accident during an investigation, but returned as a ghost to help his fellow detective Jeff (Mike Pratt) solve crimes. This meant he could still see his wife Jeannie every day, as she worked as a secretary at the agency.
We all got on so well that we got more comedy into it than had been intended. We had great ideas for a second series on location but it wasn’t to be.
I still keep in contact with Kenneth but sadly, Mike died from lung cancer in 1976. Strangely, after we finished Randall and Hopkirk, my home in Battersea had a spirit living there who was fine with me but didn’t like other people.
“When I was first in The Saint, the director was vile and Roger really looked after me.”
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. At three, I had a lung problem so my mother got me into ballet. At 15, I was offered a place with the Australian Ballet company, but I wasn’t allowed to work until 16. So rather than wait, I began acting in radio and television dramas.
My work in the 1961 TV show Whiplash, starring Peter Graves, led me to small roles in the classic Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor movie Cleopatra, and Panic Button starring Maurice Chevalier. That got me an agent and a West End musical when I moved to Britain in my early twenties.
Then I was in a string of top TV shows including Benny Hill, The Avengers and Crossroads, and the 1966 movie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
‘When I was first in The Saint, the director was vile and Roger Moore really looked after me’. Fans of cult series The Prisoner remember me from that, too, but it made no sense to me – and I loathed working with Patrick McGoohan. By contrast, I adored Roger Moore, who became a good friend. When I was first in The Saint, the director was vile and Roger really looked after me. Years later, I did The Persuaders! with Roger and Tony Curtis, and I had a great time.
The casting director for the 007 movies once told me, ‘I never want you to be a Bond girl – you’re too good.’ I lost out to Ingrid Pitt for a part in the 1968 movie Where Eagles Dare, but at a party I met its star, Clint Eastwood, who said, ‘You were by the far the best and you should have had the role.’
I met the writer Arthur Weingarten in 1988 and we married a year later. Arthur is American so we relocated to southern California, where my new career is painting portraits and still lives – though Arthur likes to show off my showbiz memorabilia.
But because my daughter and my two darling grandchildren live in England, and I lived in England longer than anywhere else, in my heart I’m English.”
My First Job: Annette Andre – ‘I didn’t get stage fright on radio’
I trained as a ballet dancer from the age of four at the academy linked to the Australian Ballet. At 15 I was the youngest ever to join this prestigious company. But my joy was short-lived, as someone discovered that I wasn’t 16 yet – the legal age to work full time. I couldn’t face another year of lessons and decided to give up ballet and pursue an acting career.
I enrolled in a radio training school. My first radio role was in the long-running serial Kid Grayson Rides the Range. That led to my being signed by an agent who was instrumental in my segueing from radio to theatre and TV and a lead role in the first ‘live’ hour-long drama on Australian TV, a two-hander called If It’s a Rose.
Even though I had been performing on stage from a very young age (charity galas and as an extra in ballet productions), I still had to overcome the exquisite torture of stage fright when I did my first TV drama. For some reason, my radio work was anxiety-free, perhaps because my ‘audience’ was only the other actors grouped around the microphone.
My If It’s a Rose co-star was as nervous as I was and in Act II started calling me ‘Annette’ instead of ‘Maria’. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, the zipper on my costume got stuck and I had to play the rest of the scene facing the camera to hide the half-open dress. My ballet training came into play here, as I’d learned to overcome problems such as falling on stage and not let them affect my performance.
Looking back at all the wonderful actors I worked with at an early age, I wish I hadn’t been so shy and had extended myself to get to know them socially and not just as fellow actors. It took me ages to get over this almost overwhelming insecurity. I would urge anyone who suffers from this malady to take early steps to build self-confidence, either through self-help methods or professional advice.