Archive for June, 2013

Eunice Gayson – With Bond and Zarak

I have just purchased Eunice Gayson’s autobiography. I remember her from the fifties more so for her occasional appearances on the BBC TV panel game Whats My Line – although why I remember this I’m not sure because she didn’t appear in that many of them.

She did seem to be in BBC TV drama a lot in those days and was in a number of films from the late forties onwards.

However there is one particular story that should be told – her meeting – face to face – with Howard Hughes.  The film she had starred in along with Victor Mature had had its premiere in New York – and a very successful one at that – and probably, because of the film, she was featured in a big American magazine in an article headed ‘the most beautiful Engish actresses’ and not long after she was approached by an American man after a performance of the play she was in, asking if she had ever heard of Howard Hughes. Of course she had and he promptly asked her to ask her agent to ring a specific Hollywood number.  From the subsequent call, she accepted a free trip to meet Hughes in Hollywood. She was flown over there in a special private section of the plane and put up in luxury in Hollywood.

When eventually she did meet him at his office she describes him as ‘this rather emaciated man dressed in what looked like an all-in-one cotton suit, sporting a very bushy beard with very long nails. But far from looking as he sounds, he was actually quite well groomed; weird looking but well groomed’.

He then said ‘ Good Evening Miss Gayson. I’m Howard Hughes and I have been looking forward to meeting you.’  She asked if he had a specific film part for her but he didn’t have exlaining that this was just a general meeting. Eunice was aware that Anita Eckberg had signed up with RKO which Howard Hughes owned, and then she had virtually disappeared from the public eye. She then told him that she was tired and needed to retire.

After this she seemed to be escorted around Hollywood by various ‘minders’ and would have been  treated to almost anything she wished for but she did not latch on to this at all. Then it was made known to her that Hughes wanted her to sign a long term film contract. She told his  secretary that she was unsure. She phoned her agent and he explained that she would be a millionaire within 18 months if she accepted but she was still wary and was uncomfortable and wanted to return home to England. This proved more difficult than she had imagined as she seemed to be chaperoned by the Howard Hughes organisation wherever she went although she tried to escape through all sorts of ways including the laundry shute from her hotel.

When  all else failed she got permission to stay with her aunt in New York who was troubled by these events, and managed to get her to the airport to fly home. Even then there was a considerable worry because the airline was TWA – owned by Howard Hughes.

With the help of her aunt , she finally escapoed the clutches of Howard Hughes and his entourage and arrived back in England. One of the first things she did on her return was to change agents

This, to me, nearly  coincides with another seemingly unrelated story – but I wonder. Around this time, or actually a little before this, Richard Todd had flown to the USA to make the film ‘A Man Called Peter’ and his co-star was Jean Peters. However he said that he never seemed able to meet her or have any social time with her for the whole eight to ten weeks or so. She had flown in just before the filming commenced and seemed to have a female minder with her at all times. He only discovered after the film was made that she was in a similar situation, again with Howard Hughes – and she married him shortly after this incident.

Jean Peters married Howard Hughes in 1957 and A Man Called Peter was released in April 1955. The Eunice Gayson episode was in very early 1957, so in a way these two stories do have a link.

Jean Peters.

Jean Peters was a very beautiful actress – and this is another angle on the story.

In 1957, after her divorce , Jean Peters married Howard Hughes. Soon after that, he retreated from public view and became considered an eccentric recluse.    The couple had met in the 1940s before she became a film actress.  One source said said that Jean Peters was “the only woman [Hughes] ever loved.” He reportedly had his security officers follow her everywhere even when they were not in a relationship. The actor Max Showalter confirmed this, after becoming a close friend of Peters during shooting of Niagara (1953).

In 2004, Showalter said in an interview that Hughes’ men had threatened to ruin his career if he did not leave her alone.

During her marriage, which lasted from 1957 to 1971, Jean Peters retired from acting and social events in Hollywood.

In 1971, Jean Peters and Howard Hughes divorced. She agreed to a lifetime settlement of $70,000 per annum, adjusted for inflation, and she waived all claims to Hughes’ estate. Despite being divorced from her though, a handwritten will was found three weeks after Hughes’s death where he gave US$ 156 million to split equally between Jean Peters and Ella Rice (his other ex-wife). In the media, she refused to speak about the marriage, claiming she preferred to focus on the present and future.   She said that she hoped to avoid being known as ‘Mrs. Howard Hughes’ for the rest of her life, although knowing that would be difficult.”I’m a realist. I know what the score is, and I know who the superstar is.”

Later in 1971, Peters married Stan Hough, an executive with 20th Century Fox.  They were married until Hough’s death in 1990.

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The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959

Hammer Films were riding on a high when this film was made. Following on from The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy – both very good films and ones that did well worldwide and particularly in the USA.

 Peter Cushing starred as Sherlock Holmes with Andre Morrell another favourite of mine and I really don’t know why, along with Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville who is in mortal danger from the legendary hound.


Also cast was Ewen Solon, Miles Malleson and the great John Le Meseurier.

Miles Malleson appears as the local vicar who is an expert in spiders – this was a part written into the story for the film version only becuse it does not appear in the book at all.

The story opens with a sequence back in history which tells of the origins of The Hound of the Baskervilles when the wicked Sir Hugo brutally deals with his staff and particularly his women – one of whom refuses his advances and runs away. He pursues her with a pack of hunting hounds but they turn back in fear when they get into the marshes – there is obviously something that they don’t like.   Sir Hugo in his wild mood just carries on and attacks and kills the young woman – and at that point he hears the growl of a wild animal. He looks terrified and his end comes at that point although we do not see it.

See this excerpt in the Link below :-

This was Hammer Films at their best almost –

Shortly after their brilliant adaptations of the classic tales of Frankenstein and Dracula,  British Hammer Studios decided to have their take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective Sherlock Holmes with “The Hound of the Baskervilles” (1959). This turned out to be a splendid idea, as the Hammer formula works magnificently with Doyle’s work. Hammer once again teams up Horror’s greatest duo, Peter Cushing (as Sherlock Holmes) and Christopher Lee (as Sir Henry Baskerville).  In addition, the film features André Morell (who would also star in several other Hammer productions including “The Plague of the Zombies” of 1966) as Doctor Watson. Hammer’s trademark eerie Gothic atmosphere with foggy grounds, dark forests etc. fits the “Baskervilles” story like a glove.
The film begins truly creepy, with a prologue set in the early 18th century, when Sir Hugo Baskreville, a cruel nobleman who likes to play sadistic games with peasants, gets what he had coming when he makes the encounter of a mysterious beast. From then on, the wild, dog-like creature is known and feared as the ‘Hound of The Baskervilles’; according to a curse, this hound is supposed to return and kill any Baskerville who dares to enter the moorlands where Sir Hugo found his end… In the 1880s, the great detective Sherlock Holmes is told about the sudden and mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, a descendant of Sir Hugo.  Holmes and Doctor Watson travel to the Dartmoor in England  to investigate and to meet the new owner, Sir Henry Baskerville, who does not believe in what he considers to be ‘old wive’s tales’… at first…

The film does change the original story in some details, mainly by adding Horror elements that underline the Hammer-typical creepiness and Gothic atmosphere. Peter Cushing simply is the perfect choice to play Sherlock Holmes. This brilliant actor was fantastic in any role he played, of course, but that of the most famous detective in fiction is one of those that he is particularly predestined for. André Morell is great as Dr. Watson and Christopher Lee is, as always, good  in his role. Cushing and Lee truly were the ultimate duo in Horror cinema.  It is easy to see why Christopher Lee and the late Peter Cushing were best friends in real-life, when watching their ingenious work in any of the films they did together.   Directed by Hammer’s  Terence Fisher, “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is another great example for Hammer’s glorious style of eerie yet beautiful settings, haunting atmosphere and suspenseful storytelling. The settings and photography are wonderful as in most classic Hammer tales, and the entire film is greatly crafted.

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Marilyn Monroe – New revelations surrounding her death

Private eye ‘listened to Marilyn die’

Marilyn Monroe

THE publication of files belonging to one of Hollywood’s most notorious  private detectives has shed new light on the 1962 death of Marilyn Monroe  and her relationships with John F Kennedy, then the president of the United  States, and Bobby, his younger brother.

More than half a century after Monroe’s apparent suicide, a startling account  of her last day alive has emerged from the notes of Fred Otash, who had  installed bugging devices in her Los Angeles home.

“I listened to Marilyn Monroe die,” Otash claims in the notes recovered from a  suburban storage unit by his daughter Colleen more than a decade after his  death.

Files shedding new light on Marilyn Monroe’s last night alive  and her relationships with President John  F Kennedy and his younger brother Bobby have emerged 51 years after her  death.

Documents  belonging to the late Fred  Otash, one of Hollywood’s most notorious  private detectives, were uncovered by his  daughter Colleen after being found in a suburban storage unit.

According to Otash, who died in 1992, Monroe had a  relationship with the  brothers and complained about being ‘passed around like  a piece of meat’.

Otash, who had installed bugging devices in  her Los Angeles home, has long been  derided by Kennedy admirers for his claims to have listened to a tape of Monroe  and JFK in bed together.

But the notes published by The Hollywood  Reporter  magazine last week contained a detailed account of his bugging  activities and  what he heard.

Shortly before his death, he told an  interviewer: ‘They were having a  relationship … ‘ and in his notes, Otash claimed: ‘I listened  to Marilyn Monroe die.’

Fred Otash (January 7, 1922 – October 5, 1992) was a Hollywood police officer, private investigator, and author.

Otash worked for Hollywood Research Incorporated, which did business with the  magazine Confidential  He is also known for being hired by Peter Lawford to investigate the death of Marilyn Monroe.  Otash died at the age of 70 on October 5, 1992.  He wrote about his life in his memoir, Investigation Hollywood: Memoirs Of Hollywood’s Top Private Detective.


He recorded that on August 5 1962, she had a  violent argument with the Kennedys and that she felt  that she had been ‘passed  around like a piece of meat’.

The notes read: ‘She was really screaming and  they were trying to quiet her down.

‘She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets  the  pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbours from  hearing. She  finally quieted down and then he was looking to get out of  there.’

Otash only found out she had died later  on.

Otash claimed he had listened to Marilyn Monroe die after he had taped an argument she had with Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford. “She said she was passed around like a piece of meat. It was a violent argument about their relationship and the commitment and promises he made to her.




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Gerald Parkes – A Tribute

To many readers this is may not be a name that you will know.   However to people of North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire he was a very well known and well respected figure from the world of Cinema – not to mention one of the most knowledgeable people about films.

Mr Gerald Parkes – Above
I was so sorry to see the report that Mr Gerald Parkes the former owner of the Majestic Cinema in Scunthorpe Lincolnshire, has died. When, for many years I had an office on Oswald Road, he was a near neighbour and I would see him often to pass the time of day with. He also did an interview for Radio Humberside along with me – after we had had business dealings with Eon Productions who had made the Bond Film Goldeneye at that time. I remember him commenting about the Bond films and saying that many of the younger people who would see the film had never seen the Bond films- as he termed it – ‘PROPERLY’ and by that he meant that they had only seen them on TV and not as they should be seen – on the big cinema screen. I always remember that comment and think how true it is that many people have never seen films – properly !! One of his works colleagues summed him up by saying that ‘Mr Parkes strived to bring the magic of the golden age of stage and screen into the modern era’

Above – Gerald outside the Majestic Cinema in 1998

THE cinema world is mourning the death of Gerald Parkes, 69, the founder and  owner of Parkway Cinemas in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

With the nine-screen Parkway in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire  and the three-screen Playhouse in  Louth, he entertained  generations of film fans.

 Moving tributes have been paid to the much-loved entrepreneur who always had  a smile and a joke and was regarded as one of northern Lincolnshire’s greatest  showmen.

Only a week ago, in St Andrew’s Hospice, Grimsby, where he was cared for,  Gerald was presented with the MBE in honour of his lifetime’s service to the UK  cinema industry.

The one-time lighting boy who put the spotlight on The Beatles in 1963 at a  live show went on to become cinema company ABC’s youngest manager at The Ritz,  Keighley, in Yorkshire, in 1969.   Two years later he was in charge at  Harrogate.

It was a promotion which paved the way for a successful career in the cinema  industry and led to him establishing an independent business, along with his  wife of more than 40 years, Denise.

In Cleethorpes, he promoted live music and comedy nights, as well as live  links to grand operas and theatres throughout Europe.

He welcomed comedy stars such as Alan Carr and Jason Manford and jazz  performer Jamie Cullum to his stage at the Parkway.

Gerald Parkes had battled with cancer for two years and died on Thursday at  St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby.

His wife Denise and two sons Gerrard and Richard were by his side.

Just days before his death he was busy choosing the colour scheme for the  latest refurbishment of Louth Playhouse cinema – the latest part of the £200,000  investment in the popular art deco cinema in Cannon Street.

The Louth Playhouse – Above

Earlier last month, The Playhouse was awarded a Louth Pride of Place award by  the town’s Civic Trust.  He took over the cinema in 1996, boosting audiences  overnight and, having already run the Majestic Cinema in Scunthorpe, eyed the  opportunity to open a multiplex cinema in Cleethorpes.

This came in 2004 when the nine-screen Parkway opened after a huge building  programme.

Above – Gerald’s very own – Parkway Cinema Cleethorpes

It heralded a new era in cinema-going with plush seating and the latest  technology in picture and sound quality.

His insistence on giving all his customers the best experience possible  earned him a Lifetime Achievement award in 2011, marking 50 years in the cinema  industry.

He was also an executive board member of the Cinema Exhibitors Association,  representing independent cinemas.

The Cleethorpes Parkway was awarded Best New UK Cinema in 2007.

The following year Mr Parkes welcomed hundreds of supporters of When You Wish  Upon A Star charity when he hosted the regional premier of the Bond movie  Quantum Of Solace.

Guests raised more than £10,000 at the event and the auction held later at  The Beachcomber locally on Cleethorpes.

He and Denise founded the Parkway Entertainment Company Ltd in 1983. The  family business has grown to be one of the most successful independent cinema  operations in the country, with cinemas in Cleethorpes, Louth and Barnsley, and  plans for a new multiplex in Beverley.

Denise said: “We are particularly proud of our team at Parkway. We couldn’t  have got through without their support, and that of our family and friends.

“The doctors and staff of St Andrew’s were exceptional, as Gerald said – they  allowed him dignity at all times. Essential for such a proud man.

“It didn’t matter how poorly he felt, you could still see the twinkle and  cheeky smile, right to the end.”

Son Richard Parkes said: “His energy and determination was inspiring, for all  of us.”

Scott Marshall, managing director of Parkway Entertainment, said: “It is a  massive loss to the industry. Mr Parkes strived to bring the magic of the golden  age of stage and screen into the modern era.  His continued drive to do this  while adapting to the tastes of modern audiences shows his respect for everyone  who passed through his doors.

“It is my team’s responsibility to continue this legacy and maintain the high  standards he set.  He always said the show must go on and we will strive to  carry it on and expand it.

“He was a great guy to work with and a real gentleman.”

Editor’s Comment

The passion of a man can move mountains…and no one was more proof of that than the late, great Gerald Parkes.

His sheer enthusiasm and dedication to the cinema and film ensured that a generation has been entertained in Northern Lincolnshire.

There is little doubt that if it were not for him, the successful Cleethorpes venue may have stumbled…and who else would have had the drive to keep a great little cinema going in Louth.

It is clear that he loved what he did – his successful business was a by-product of his desire for the movies and the magic that came with the silver screen.

The world is a poorer place when the likes of Mr Parkes are no longer with us – but we thank him for his service to us all.

He passed away just days after receiving his MBE, awarded in the Queen’s New  Year Honours, at Grimsby’s St Andrew’s Hospice, where he was being cared  for.

  1. Gerald Parkes, pictured when his MBE was announced

    Gerald Parkes, pictured when his MBE was  announced

His death was officially announced to filmgoers this morning, who responded  with a round of applause in tribute.


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Son of Paleface – again


Bob Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003)

Son Of Paleface (1952) — directed by Frank Tashlin and co-starring Jane Russell and Roy Rogers (and Trigger, seen here) — is not only one of the best Western spoofs, but also it must be a strong contender for Funniest Movie Ever Made.

The original “Paleface” feature was pretty good, but this sequel is actually better, in large part due to the addition of Roy Rogers and Trigger. Rogers and Bob Hope are two of the most likeable performers that the movies have seen, and together they seem like old friends who have stopped by for an enjoyable visit. Jane Russell is also back from the original movie, though in a different role.
The story is good fun as long as you don’t take it seriously. It’s actually rather well-written, in that it accommodates all three stars with material well-suited for them.


Bob Hope gets plenty of one-liners and similar gags, and he pulls off even the goofiest of them with energy and aplomb.  Roy Rogers gets the chance to do some singing and to have some action sequences, and Trigger gets several good moments. Jane Russell is given a character that allows her to stay within the role of the tough, glowering beauty.
There are enough connections to the first movie to add to the enjoyment if you have seen it, but “Son of Paleface” could also easily stand on its own, and in fact overall it is probably the better film.

Towards the end of the film, is a chase with Bob Hope in the covered wagon, resulting in this great matte shot of the wagon careering along very close to a cliff edge – I love this shot –  above.   Maybe not the best matte in the world but pretty effective on screen.


Another great picture – above – shows Roy Rogers and Bob Hope with Trigger and Jane Russell laughing along in the background.


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