The Weekly News
3rd November, 2018
By Craig Campbell
Photographs: From top: Liza Minnelli, Benny Hill, Tony Curtis and a recent snap of Annette.
WHEN you’re a teenage actress dreaming of stardom, it’s lovely to hear Liza Minnelli say that she envies you and what you’ve achieved.
That’s one of the countless amazing memories of Annette Andre, who went on to star in just about every hit TV series you’ve ever seen, not to mention movies.
Australian-born Annette, best known to some as Jeannie in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), was just a kid when the future superstar said: “I envy you.”
“You’ve got to be joking!” was Annette’s reasonable response, only for Minnelli to insist: “no, I’d give anything to do what you’ve done, and all on your own.”
“I don’t know if it was just shyness or insecurity, but she wasn’t quite like the Liza Minnelli she became,” admits Annette in an exclusive Weekly news interview.
Photographs: From top: Liza Minnelli, Benny Hill, Tony Curtis and a recent snap of Annette ⇒
“She was about 14, just starting out, and very insecure.” in some ways, it as a premonition, as Annette did indeed head to Europe by herself, and built an incredible acting career in England pretty much through her own willpower and talent.
From The heroes of Telemark to The Avengers, from Adam Adamant lives to up Jumped the Swagman, Crossroads and the prisoner, she would fill our small and big screens for many years. Now she has published a fascinating autobiography, Where Have I Been All My Life, and is doing one-woman shows in which she discusses her career and life.
One star who would have done anything to be an even bigger part of her life was the late, great Benny Hill – the comic, loved across the globe, idolised Annette and she was the love of his life, even if it was unrequited.
“Benny became a very dear friend,” Annette reveals. “He took me out in Australia a few times, saying he loved to go to different places for lunch. “We would chat and he made me laugh, but then he would talk to me fairly seriously. He didn’t treat me like I was a 20-year-old. in some ways, he wasn’t much older, but very reserved and shy. “it was a meeting of souls, and he told me: ‘When you come to London, you must get in touch, and I will give you work.’ that was quite true.
“He’d take me to dinner, and there was never any semblance of romance. I knew he liked me, but he never gave anything away until one day. i was standing up when he told me, and I had to hold on to the door frame to stay there. “it was a surprise and I didn’t know how to handle it. but in his own way, he pretended it was all fun, just a bit of joke. I didn’t realise just how much it affected him.
“I read something later by his brother, which said it had broken his heart. I really didn’t realise it had gone that far. Gradually we drifted apart. “t’s a sadness I carry to this day, that I was incapable of making things right with Benny.”
Her upbringing Down Under had left the young Annette decidedly naïve when she came to England. As she admits, she also got tongue-tied and maddeningly shy in the company of famous folk. Help arrived from Barry Linehan, the Irish-born comic and actor who is remembered for Coronation
Street among many other things. “I loved Shirley Bassey’s work, and I had the pleasure of meeting her,” she explains. “She did a show with my friend
Barr y Linehan, who knew her, and after the show, they were going to
dinner and invited me a couple of times.
“That was when Barry said to me: ‘You just sit there like a lemon all night! You’ve got to be able to talk!’ I tried telling him that I couldn’t, that I just didn’t know how to join in with these people.
“They were sophisticated people and I felt such a hillbilly. So Barry took on the job of forcing me into situations where I had to talk.”
One superstar she talked to was Paul McCartney. Annette shared a flat with his then-girlfriend, Jane Asher, and got to chat to the Beatles legend.
“We went up to Glasgow to do a TV series, and he used to phone Jane every night at 11 o’clock,” she reveals. “She always made sure she was back to take the call, but one night, we were late and she went out to the shops for a minute. I answered his call and had a quick chat with him.
“They were obviously keen on each other, and she was full steam ahead, so I suppose I assumed they’d marry. “But back then we were all very young and took things for granted. It was a bit of a shock when it didn’t work out.”
Tony Curtis and Herbert Lom, on the other hand, weren’t always the sort of gents you could enjoy a long, enthusiastic chat with. “We went to a big party and Herbert Lom was sitting there at a table all on his own, surrounded by people, but we never saw him talking to anyone.
“He was a nice man, not mean or anything, but he just didn’t seem able to deal with other people he didn’t know well. “With his fellow actors, he didn’t take the time to get to know you. Sweet to work with, but when the
work was done, he just walked off the set.
“Tony Curtis was two people, I found. There was the person you saw on the outside, the film star, cocky and brash and American, Brooklyn and all that sort of thing. Then there was Tony the actor, he was quiet, disciplined, deep
and soul-searching, wanting to talk with you about the characters, and it wasn’t exactly Tolstoy!
“But he made it feel that way, and it was good for me, to have someone come in and want to talk about the work. He was intense and wanted it to be right.”
She also bonded, to a point, with film legend Buster Keaton, though Annette agonisingly stopped herself behaving like a fan, and now wishes she had!
This was in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Keaton’s last film.
“I talked with him a lot,” Annette says. “He would be off set, waiting to do his scenes, even when he wasn’t needed too much. “His wife was there and very careful with him. Buster was ill, and having to have oxygen.
“He would go out and run on the spot with the unit while the chariot was racing around. He was 85, and he would fall down after it. “Everybody loved him, and he made a big deal of talking to me. “I think he realised I was shy,
and he made life very warm and brought me into the fold. “I have a photograph of me with him, but I could never bring myself to say: ‘Buster, could you sign this photograph for me?’”
One thing that was hard to get used to was “freezing”. One half of Randall And Hopkirk was deceased, of course, and in those days before computer
trickery was available, they had to resort to other means. Annette and the others would be halfway through a scene, and then have to suddenly stand stock-still, while the “Ghost” Marty Hopkirk, played by Kenneth Cope, was
added to the scene.
“They’d shout: ‘Freeze!’ and we’d stop, not moving a muscle until he was in position. Of course, we’d get bored and Ken would raise an eyebrow or grab you and we’d be in fits of laughter!”
Liza Minnelli was right – the amazing Annette Andre really has had a career and life well worth envying.
South London Press and Mercury
Sixties movie and TV star Annette Andre talks about her life on both screens
Actress Annette Andre, best known for playing Jeannie Hopkirk in cult ITV comedy drama Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) talks about her life at the Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury on Saturday.
The cult silver and square screen star will be in conversation with Sam Westerby about her stellar career and memoir Where Have I Been All My Life?
The former Battersea resident said: “I’m looking forward to it very much. I did a show there last year which is the first of that kind I’d ever done and I was a little apprehensive. But it seemed to go very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) followed the adventures of private detective Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and his dead partner Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope). It struck a chord with audiences in many countries including Mexico and Australia. She thinks it was a success because all the family could watch it.
“I honestly think it’s due to it being non-violent, not aggressive, yet maintaining the detective and crime element,” said the Australian-born performer. “And it was a quality production. Also because of the comedy element throughout the series. Over the years I have been told by many fans that the humour played an important part in their enjoyment of the series.
“Also, another point that comes up in conversations with fans is the clothes that I wore. I was lucky to be dressed by a couple of fashion houses quite well-known at the time. The clothes were stylish, using wonderful colours and keeping that unique 60s look.”
The California-based actress lived at Albert Bridge Road in Battersea for a couple of years in the 1960s and returned to live in the same area of South London in the late 1970s. She has fond memories.
“Battersea has a very special place in my heart,” she said. “I fell in love with it from the first time I lived there. Although it was the south side of the river, and regarded as a poor relation to Chelsea, for me it had so much character.
“It retained the sense of being a neighborhood, as well as having Battersea Park and the river in your backyard. We had wonderful little shops including an excellent fishmonger, a greengrocer and a health shop with big jars and barrels of herbs and spices, olives and dried goods, unlike today where everything is hermetically sealed and jars that you cannot open. And then it has my favourite bridge in the whole wide world, Albert Bridge.”
Annette’s screen credits also include The Avengers, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Prisoner, The Saint and The Persuaders.
Annette Andre – Randall and Hopkirk and Me takes place at the Museum of Comedy in Bloomsbury at 7.00pm on November 3. Tickets are available at museumofcomedy.com
INTERVIEW DE ANNETTE ANDRE PAR DENIS CHAUVET
French with English translation
A l’occasion de la sortie de ses mémoires le 16 septembre, WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL MY LIFE?, l’actrice Annette Andre a répondu à mes questions, qui donnent un aperçu très intéressant du livre.
Tout amateur de séries cultes britanniques se souvient des apparitions d’Annette Andre dans CHAPEAU MELON ET BOTTES DE CUIR, LE SAINT, AMICALEMENT VOTRE, LE PRISONNIER, LE BARON et la série MON AMI LE FANTOME.
Annette Andre, dont la carrière débuta à la fin des années 50, relate dans ses mémoires de nombreuses anecdotes et ses rencontres avec Richard Burton, Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, Maurice Chevalier, Patrick Macnee, Sir Roger Moore, Paul Newman, Sue Lloyd, Benny Hill et bien d’autres.
Annette Andre a un site personnel : https://annetteandreofficial.wordpress.com
Comment décririez-vous vos mémoires en deux lignes ?
Pour quelqu’un d’extrêmement timide, je me suis surprise à écrire un livre intime et assez révélateur sur ma vie personnelle et professionnelle.
Quels sont vos meilleurs souvenirs de tournage de séries ?
J’ai adoré travailler dans AMICALEMENT VOTRE (épisode ‘La danseuse’), non seulement à cause de Roger Moore, mais aussi avec Tony Curtis. Roger et moi avions travaillé ensemble merveilleusement plusieurs fois auparavant (ndlr : cinq épisodes du Saint), mais Tony, je le connaissais seulement à travers ses films. Je l’ai trouvé étonnamment perfectionniste et il a insisté pour répéter nos scènes à plusieurs reprises et créer de bonnes relations. J’ai senti que le talent de Tony en tant qu’acteur avait toujours été sous-estimé.
CHAPEAU MELON ET BOTTES DE CUIR (épisode ‘La Mandragore’) était l’un de mes premiers rôles dans une série télévisée en Angleterre et j’ai apprécié chaque instant de travail avec Patrick Macnee, en tant qu’acteur et ami pendant de nombreuses années.
Malheureusement, LE PRISONNIER (épisode ‘L’enterrement’) fut la série que j’ai le moins appréciée, principalement à cause du comportement inacceptable de Patrick McGoohan. Il nous a réprimandés, moi et d’autres acteurs, sans raison particulière, et un jour qu’il avait bu, il s’est emporté violemment contre notre metteur en scène, Bob Asher, un homme aimable et gentil, devant l’ensemble des acteurs et l’équipe de production car il était en désaccord avec une idée que Bob avait suggéré. Bob est sorti et il n’est jamais revenu sur le plateau. Je n’ai jamais pardonné à Patrick.
Quel est l’acteur qui vous a le plus impressionné durant votre carrière ?
Je pense que l’acteur qui m’a le plus impressionné est Buster Keaton qui a joué mon père dans le film “Le forum en folie” (1966). Il était une immense star, âgé de 85 ans, pas en bonne santé, mais il prenait le temps de s’asseoir et de me parler autant que possible. Il était le professionnel complet, exécutant tout ce que le réalisateur lui demandait sans jamais se plaindre, et cela consistait à courir sur place, à tomber et à esquiver les chars de course. C’était son dernier film. Il restera dans ma mémoire pour toujours.
Version originale :
How would you describe your Memoirs in one or two sentences?
For someone who is extremely shy, I surprised myself by writing an intimate and quite revealing book about my personal and professional life.
What are your best memories of shooting in a series?
I loved working in THE PERSUADERS, as not only was I with Roger Moore again, but also with Tony Curtis. Roger & I had worked happily together many times before, but Tony I only knew from watching his films. I found him surprisingly intense and he insisted on rehearsing our scenes multiple times & creating good character relationships. I felt that Tony’s talent as an actor had always been underestimated.
THE AVENGERS was one of my first roles in a TV series in England, & I enjoyed every minute working with Patrick McNee, as an actor & as a friend for many years.
THE PRISONER unfortunately, was my least favourite series, mostly due to Patrick’s McGoohan’s unacceptable behaviour. He berated me and other actors for no particular reason, & one day when he’d been drinking, he verbally destroyed our director, Bob Asher, a kind, gentle man, in front of the entire cast & crew because he disagreed with a direction Bob suggested to him. Bob walked out & never returned to the set. I would never forgive Patrick for that.
Who is the actor who impressed you most during your career?
I think the actor who most impressed me was Buster Keaton who played my father in the film “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Forum”. He was a huge star, 85 years old, not in good health, but he took the time to sit & talk to me whenever possible. He was the complete professional, performing everything the director asked with never a complaint, which included running on the spot, falling over & dodging racing chariots. It was his last movie. He will remain in my memory forever.
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.
The Mutual Interview with Annette
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