Archive for April, 2016

65 Years ago Today – a Weather shock for Walt Disney

65 years ago today  that would be 30th April  1951, Richard Todd, famous film actor, opened his curtains that morning to prepare for the first day of filming on Walt Disney’s superb film ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie men at Denham Film Studios just a short distance form his home in Pinckneys Green, close to Maidenhead.

As with all of Walt Disney’s films much preparation work had been gone into to ensure a minimum of delay in filming BUT on this day of all days, the weather caught them out.  Richard peered out of the window to see a covering of quite deep snow.

Richard Todd training for Robin Hood 1952

Above – Richard Todd as Robin Hood on the set at Denham

He went down to Denham Film Studios where they were intending shooting outdoor scenes out at Burnham Beeches but this had to be abandoned.From that moment on, the Disney organisation made sure that whatever happened, they would have other scenes ready to do if such an eventuality occurred again.

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Richard Todd in WUTHERING HEIGHTS with Yvonne Mitchell

Way back in December 1953, when the only Television channel was BBC – Richard Todd had been approached to play Heathcliffe in a production that went out live – On Sunday evening 6th December 1953 at 8-40 pm and then again on Thursday  December 10th 1953 this time at 7 pm – of the same week. With no facilities for recording at that time, they all had to do the play again in the studio.

Wuthering Heights - Richard Todd 1953

There were of course many studio sets and the actors had to scamper from one to another avoiding all the wires and cameras which inevitable were around.

I have a recollection of this production as a child but I hadn’t realised that until a few years ago that Richard Todd had been the star – but I do remember a scene where the older Heathcliffe was looking out of an upstairs window on a snowy wild night and Cathy’s hand gripped his – and in fact I think that is how it ended with him dead at the window clutching something in his hand,

Looking at the cast – Rene Ray was in it as was Peter Bryant.

 

Yvonne Mitchell was voted Television Actress of the Year 1953 by the Daily Mail for her role as Cathy in this production and consequently Nigel Kneale and Rudolph Cartier who produced Wuthering Heights were again teamed together for that very famous TV production of 1984 starring also Peter Cushing.

yvonne mitchell

Sadly she died quite young in 1979

This comment on one site says a lot - ‘Yvonne Mitchel was quite wonderful in Yield to Night, playing a prison guard looking after Diana Dors’ character, they worked really well together. I also loved her in Woman in a Dressing Gown made the following year.’

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Rita Gam

This actress is someone I remember and know as she quite often seemed to be featured in the Picture Show or Picture-goer magazines which were around in the early fifties here in England.

I hadn’t realised  that she had been a great friend of Grace Kelly – and in fact was a Bridesmaid at the famous wedding of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Rita Gam was a film actress primarily of the 1950s who has the distinction of having been one of Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids during her wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco.  Probably her best remembered role would have been as the  sleek, furious, Herodias in the 1961 Biblical epic King of Kings, starring Jeffrey Hunter.

 

 

 

 

 

Rita has died aged 88 in California.   RITA GAM has died on 22 March,2016, at the age of 88.

Gregory Peck,Rita Gam

Rita’s film career was brief, she made around a dozen films, mainly in the 1950s. She was born Rita Mackay in Pittsburgh, taking the surname Gam from her stepfather.

Her exotic looks resulted in casting in films like SAADIA, SIGN OF THE PAGAN and MAGIC FIRE.

Her debut film was Ray Milland’s THE THIEF in 1952 but she never got the casting chances that might have propelled her into a longer Hollywood career. She did numerous TV shows and was active in the theatre.

(She appeared again with Gregory Peck in the 1971 western,SHOOT OUT.)

As a young actress in the early 50s in New York, she met Grace Kelly and they became friends – Rita was a bridesmaid at Grace’s wedding.

Rita was married to director Sidney Lumet for a number of years.

Rita Gam, Grace Kelly

 

 

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