Archive for June, 2014

Walt Disney In England

Walt Disney in England.

In 1949, when Walt Disney made Treasure Island, his first all live-action feature, in England at Denham Film Studios,  he was not yet the instantly recognisable celebrity that he would  become but  his name was certainly well enough known, and so  he found himself in the middle of a crowd of autograph hunters in the centre of London as the picture below :-

                         Walt in London

Walt in England

The photo Below above was taken in England in the summer of 1951, during the filming of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men. Walt and Lillian’s visit to England that summer was the second of the extended trips to Europe they made with their daughters, Diane and Sharon. (The first such trip was in 1949, for the filming of Treasure Island.) That’s Robin himself, Richard Todd, at Walt’s right, and Maid Marian, Joan Rice, at his left.

                                  Walt with Richard Todd and Joan Rice

The above picture was taken at Burnham Beeches where scenes were being filmed.

In an interview, Richard  Todd spoke of Walt Disney as something of a “social climber.” For whatever reason Richard Todd was extremely well connected  in British  society of the day, to interesting and high-ranking people who Walt would have otherwise had difficulty meeting. One of them was Henry Tiarks, a  merchant banker who was married to a West End actress and whose daughter ultimately became the Duchess of Bedford.

Diane Disney Miller remembers that the Disney family were invited to the Tiarks home for lunch. “As I recall,” she says, “Dad was invited solo first, and went horseback riding with Tiarks around his grounds.” (Walt was of course an accomplished horseman, after his years as a polo player.) “Dad was amused when Tiarks indicated a neighbouring estate as belonging to ‘the fellow who lost us the American Colonies.’  Mother and Dad did enjoy their friendship.”

Walt Disney at Chingford, Essex in England  – Below :

Walt Disney at Chingford on Miniarture Railway

Walt Disney was a very keen miniature railway enthusiast and had his own  railway at his home in USA. One day whilst visiting London on business and as he had completed his work asking his chauffeur if he knew of any miniature railways in London, the chauffeur brought Walt Disney to Ridgeway Park in Chingford. That day the park was holding the Chingford Day celebration. Walt Disney drove trains around the track and allowed the press to take some photographs and generally had a good time.

When the public heard that Walt Disney was visiting the railway every body rushed over to see him, just as the Mayor of Chingford was about to open the celebration which he did almost on his own.

Note – The caption above gives the date as 1954 and on this same picture elsewhere I have seen 1952 – IN FACT I am fairly sure that this was taken during Walt Disney’s visit to England in the summer of 1951 to film The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men at Denham Film Studios.


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Francis Matthews has died

Actor Francis Matthews has died aged 86                     

YORK-BORN actor Francis Matthews, who found fame as gentleman detective Paul Temple  has died after a short illness at the age of 86.

Francis Joseph Matthews was born in York on September 2, 1927, and was the son of Rowntrees’ factory shop steward Henry Ernest Matthews and Kathleen, nee Empson.

He attended St George’s School in York and later St Michael’s Jesuit College in Leeds, before starting his theatrical career in the Leeds Rep.

In 1956, while shooting Bhowani Junction with Ava Gardner, he reportedly took the actress – then married to Frank Sinatra – to his parents’ suburban home.

Above – In Bhowani Junction with Stewart Granger and Ava Gardner

Said to be bored with studio orders to be seen out and about as pre-publicity for her films Ava Gardner rebelled and took up Matthews’ offer of tea with his Mum and Dad.

The actor’s sister later reported coming home from work to find the best china deployed and the world’s biggest film star sitting in the front room.

In 1962, Matthews met his wife actress Angela Browne when filming a BBC series in the Hebrides, and the couple married the following year.

Angela Browne 2

Angela Browne above in The Avengers.

In 1969, the BBC gave him the role which many still associate with him: playboy detective Paul Temple, alongside Ros Drinkwater as his wife Steve and George Sewell as their down-at-heel sidekick.

Sixty one-hour episodes were made in colour before the series ended in 1971, by which time he was a household name.

Angela Browne died after a short illness in 2001, but Francis Matthews continued to work with guest appearances in The Royal, Taggart and Jonathan Creek among others, until illness forced him to retire.

His last major performances included playing Herr Schultz in Cabaret in the West End aged 81.

Although he moved from York at a young age, Mr Matthews often spoke fondly of the city and regularly returned for many years to visit relatives.

He told The Yorkshire Evening Press in 1971 that he hoped to retire to York. Three years later when he appeared in Sign of the Times at York Theatre Royal, he told the newspaper: “It’s the first time at this theatre for me and the realisation of a boyhood ambition. I always wanted to work here and wrote letter after letter begging to be allowed to play here, but I never managed it. I still have aunts and uncles up here and after we’ve got this opening over, I hope I can visit them.”

Fifteen years later, while starring in The Old Country at the Grand Opera House, he told the Evening Press that York was still in his soul, and recalled briefly attending dance classes opposite the Opera House as a young boy.

He is survived by his sons Paul, Dominic and Damien, five grandchildren, his brother, the actor Paul Shelley, and his sister Maura. His brother Anthony had pre-deceased him.

His brother Paul Shelley took his 8 mm film camera onto the set of Dracula, Prince of Darkness starring of course Christopher Lee AND Francis Matthews and the fascinating footage he got is as below :

Francis Matthews – Above in 2004

I remember Francis Matthews for quite a number of roles BUT the one that stands out to me was in the brilliant TV serial Brat Farrar from Josephine Tey’s book. What a great story that is !!

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King Solomons Mines 1950


I remember my Mother and Dad taking us children to see this – and I also remember the publicity prior to its release which included a serialisation in one of the comics of the day. We were hooked before we even had a chance to see the film which in those days took about six weeks or more from its London release to arriving in the town in the North of England close to where we lived.
It was thrilling to see this on the big screen in Technicolor and we had a glimpse of the African jungle which we had no chance of seeing at that time but we would have read a lot about it in books of the day.
There have been a number of  film adaptations of H. Rider Haggard’s adventure novel, ”King Solomon’s Mines”. One film had been released in 1937,with Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Paul Robeson and then Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released this one in 1950, starring Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger.It took Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer nearly four years to get ”KING SOLOMON’S MINES” into production. They had originally planned to have Errol Flynn star as the Victorian hunter – Allan Quartermain but Flynn dreaded the idea of spending time away from any form of luxury, while on location in Africa. He ended up taking the leading role in MGM’s other adventure, ”KIM”, in which he spent his off-camera hours at a resort in India.
British actor, Stewart Granger, took the role of Quartermain . . . and became a major Hollywood star. The other cast members included Deborah Kerr as Elizabeth Curtis, the woman who hires Quartermain to lead a safari in search of her missing husband; Richard Carlson as John Goode, Elizabeth’s likeable older brother; Siriaque as the mysterious Umbopa, who is revealed to be King of the Watusi; and Hugo Haas as Van Brun, a former hunter who is wanted by British authorities for murder.
Directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton, ”KING SOLOMON’S MINES”was filmed on location in the Republic of Congo and Kenya, along with California.
Very loosely based upon Rider Haggard’s novel, ”KING SOLOMON’S MINES” the film tells the story of Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger), an experienced hunter and guide in 1897 Kenya, who is reluctantly talked into helping Beth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) and her brother Jack Goode (Richard Carlson) search for her husband, who had disappeared in the unexplored interior of Africa on a quest to find the legendary mines. They have a copy of the map that Henry Curtis had used in his journey. A tall, mysterious native, Umbopa (Siriaque), eventually joins the safari.
Inevitably during the gruelling journey, Elizabeth and Quatermain begin to fall in love.MGM castStewart Granger in many ways fitted the role of Allan Quatermain perfectly. He looked the part.
Deborah Kerr as Beth Curtis sets the journey in motion to find her husband.    Richard Carlson who was later to be The Maze and Creature from The Black Lagoon, played Elizabeth Curtis’ brother, John Goode.

This film was the third most popular film at the British box office in 1951.   It earned $5,047,000 in the US and Canada and $4,908,000 elsewhere. After production and other associate costs were deducted, the movie made a profit of $4,049,000, making it easily MGM’s most successful film of 1950.

“KING SOLOMON’S MINES” (1950)  Scenes from the Film below:-

Below are images from “KING SOLOMON’S MINES”, the 1950 adaptation of H. Rider Haggard’s novel. The film starred  Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr and Richard Carlson:


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Marilyn Monroe – A New Book


marilyn monroe, new book, death, life, sex, symbol, j f kennedy, president, murdered, affair
I can’t in any way corroborate the startling theories put forward in a new book – as detailed below but can add this to the story
In 2010 my wife and I were on a cruise liner across the Pacific Ocean and daily we had Lectures on various legal cases that had been investigated by the lecturer we had – who had been in the LA Prosecution Department there – and the very last lecture concerned the Marilyn Monroe case. He had been asked a few years before to analyse the remaining evidence that had been stored but there apparently was very little of it. However he did say that there had been  claims of noise overhead from an aircraft or helicopter the night Marilyn died mainly around Peter Lawford’s Oceanside home. Also there was a claim that one of the neighbours had seen a car drive up the road where Marilyn lived and the witness seemed to think he had seen Robert Kennedy there in a car the morning after she died. So it would seem that there is a great deal of doubt over her death. This Lecturer wasn’t able to throw any further light on the case but he felt himself that things had happened that night in 1962 that could not be easily explained – or for that matter proved.
Anyway much of what we heard on the cruise would bear out what is written in this new book.
The astonishing claims of a NEW book :
The Murder Of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed by Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin.

Details of the tragic final hours of Hollywood’s film star  are revealed almost 52 years after she died of a sleeping pill overdose at the age of 36 on Saturday, August 4, 1962.

“There was a premeditated plan to murder her on the part of Robert Kennedy, Ralph Greenson and Peter Lawford,” allege the authors.

The  star of The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot had been having a secret affair with JFK, and then his brother Bobby the book claims.

Desperate to quieten her screams, Robert smothered her face with a pillow while his henchmen pumped her full of sedatives.

 Then he had a doctor give Monroe a lethal injection and with his brother-in-law, British actor Peter Lawford, orchestrated a massive cover-up that led the coroner to declare her death a suicide.

That is the astonishing claim of a new book, The Murder Of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed by Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin.

“Marilyn has got to be silenced,” Robert Kennedy told Monroe’s psychiatrist Dr Ralph Greenson (with whom she was also having a sordid affair), disclosed Lawford in a secretly taped confession.

“Bobby was determined to shut her up, regardless of the consequences.”

But Monroe was spinning out of control, battling depression and anxiety as she struggled with the failure of three marriages, ageing in Hollywood where she feared typecasting as a “sex kitten”, and studios that were wearying of her diva antics.

Monroe lamented to her psychiatrist that the Kennedys were “passing her around like a football” and threatened to hold a press conference revealing her affairs.

According to the book, Robert Kennedy and Lawford arrived at the actress’s Spanish-style home in Los Angeles early in the afternoon on that Saturday, hoping to calm her down.

“Marilyn announced that she was in love with Bobby and that he had promised to marry her,” said Lawford.

Monroe refused to be tossed aside, vowing to expose the Kennedy brothers.

“Marilyn presently lost it, screaming obscenities and flailing wildly away at Bobby with her fists,” recalled Lawford.

“In her fury she picked up a small kitchen knife and lunged at him.

“I was with them at this time so I tried to grab Marilyn’s arm.

Above: Marilyn with Robert and JFK in May 1962

I believe we’ll still be arguing over this 100 years after Marilyn’s death but the reality is, the case is closed

Jay Margolis, author

“We finally knocked her down and wrestled the knife away.”Bobby thought we ought to call Dr Greenson and tell him to come over.”The psychiatrist arrived at Marilyn’s home within the hour.”Kennedy’s bodyguard gave Monroe an “intramuscular pentobarbital shot in the armpit to calm her down,” the book claims, “while he and Lawford searched for her little red diary”.They were desperate to find the diary that provided Monroe’s only proof of her affairs with JFK and Robert.Kennedy and Lawford left emptyhanded but Kennedy returned around 10pm with two bodyguards.Monroe found them searching through files in her office and began screaming.”She’s in the bedroom and Bobby gets the pillow and he muffles her on the bed to keep the neighbours from hearing,” said Hollywood private detective Fred Otash, who had bugged Monroe’s home and kept the incriminating tapes.As Kennedy stifled Monroe, his henchmen gave her an injection of sedatives.”She finally quieted down.”Yet the injections failed to silence an angry Monroe so Kennedy’s bodyguards allegedly stripped her and gave her an enema of crushed sleeping pills, finally rendering her unconscious.Kennedy and his men left at 10.30pm but Marilyn was soon discovered naked in the guest bedroom by her live-in housekeeper Eunice Murray, who called an ambulance as well as Dr Greenson.Monroe’s death was a foregone conclusion.”Lawford confirmed: “Greenson had thus been set up by Bobby to ‘take care’ of Marilyn.”Ambulance attendant James Hall claimed he found Monroe unconscious but breathing and she responded to resuscitation.
Was Hollywood’s most famous blonde silenced?
Lawford then returned and Dr Greenson stepped in to inject the mysterious dark fluid directly into Monroe’s heart.Hall said he had assumed that this was an adrenaline shot but he later learned that adrenaline is a clear liquid.”The dark liquid was almost certainly undiluted Nembutal, which the autopsy found in Monroe’s body,” says Margolis.”It would have paralysed her lungs and caused her death.”Dr Greenson killed Marilyn Monroe, incited by Bobby Kennedy.”Monroe died moments after she was given the heart injection but Hall insists: “We could have saved her. I felt sick.”Dr Greenson sent the ambulance away but waited more than four hours to call the police, while Lawford called private eye Fred Otash to clean Monroe’s home of all evidence that the Kennedy brothers had ever been there.The cover-up was thorough.”Peter Lawford moved Marilyn’s body, which the ambulancemen had found face up, and put her in her own bedroom face down, so that blood could pool covering up the injection sites,” says Margolis.”Everything was done to protect Bobby Kennedy.”The Kennedys spread the word that Monroe had killed herself in anguish after being fired in June 1962 from the movie Something’s Got To Give, co-starring Dean Martin, by producers angry with her tardiness and outrageous demands.However, she had been rehired three days before her death, for a $1million two-movie deal.When police arrived at 4.45am on August 5, almost five hours after Monroe had died, Dr Greenson pointed to an empty bottle of barbiturates beside the actress’s bed, where they were among eight pill bottles arrayed, and said she had committed suicide.Housekeeper Eunice Murray was allegedly coached, telling police that she didn’t find Monroe unconscious until hours later.The book claims that even Los Angeles police chief William Parker collaborated in the cover-up to protect the Kennedys in the hope that he would be named FBI chief.Robert Kennedy flew in a private plane to San Francisco overnight so that he could claim he was not in Los Angeles when Monroe had died.

By the next day the Secret Service had seized and sealed the telephone company records for Monroe’s home.

Despite evidence of injections on Monroe’s knees, armpit and chest, the coroner’s report stated “No needle mark.”

Mysteriously, all of Monroe’s autopsy tissue samples vanished from the coroner’s office.

Her incriminating diary, which coroner’s officers found in her home on the Monday, disappeared the next day, never to be seen again.

“The evidence is conclusive,” says Margolis.

“Marilyn Monroe was murdered by Dr Greenson on the orders of Bobby Kennedy.

She was not only killed but slandered in death by making it appear she had committed suicide.

“But so many people refuse to believe that it was murder or suicide and want to think it was an accidental overdose, which isn’t medically possible.

“I believe we’ll still be arguing over this 100 years after Marilyn’s death but the reality is, the case is closed.

“Marilyn Monroe was murdered.”

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D-Day The Sixth of June – Richard Todd.

Also starring Robert Taylor, Dana Wynter and Edmund O’Brien

It seems vital to post something here on the 70th Anniversary of the D Day Landings – and this film at times captures the invasion pretty well I would have thought.  SEE THE ORIGINAL FILM TRAILER BELOW.

 Richard Todd should also be mentioned today as he was the first paratrooper out from the  planes involved in the taking of Pegasus Bridge.  He did say in a radio interview that, as the first man out, he was able to get down on the ground and prepared before any of the enemy were alerted to what was happening. He also added that as he looked up a few minutes later many planes with gliders were under fire and a lot of them were being shot down.

As we know Pegasus Bridge was secured by the Allies.  Years later Richard Todd played Major John Howard who led the assault on Pegasus Bridge – in the film The Longest Day.

View in the Link Below the exciting Trailer to D-Day The Sixth of June :-


Below Robert Taylor chats to a fan about this film :-

My date with Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter

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Peeping Tom Star Karl Boehm dies

What a film this is -probably one of the most sinister and scary ever with Karl Boehm cast in the leading role as the repressed film cameraman who murders each of his victims in a truly horrific manner.

It has just been announced that Karl Boehm has died at the age of 86 – and I have to say after a long career in acting this is the film that he is best known for – certainly in England.

Anna Massey had a very good leading role in this film and she sadly passed away only a year or two ago.

In her autobiography in 2006, Telling Some Tales, she told of  a difficult early life and  her failed marriage (1959–1962) to actor Jeremy Brett. The couple had one son.  However after the early part of her life –  mainly unhappy – on August 1988 at a dinner party  she met  metallurgist Uri Andres. The couple were married from November 1988 until her death in 2011 – and so she found the happiness she longed for quite late in life.

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