Archive for April, 2021

Prince Philip – Duke of Edinburgh – with the stars

On occasions the Duke of Edinburgh rubbed shoulders with the Film Stars of the day – or maybe that should be the Film Stars rubbed shoulders with him

Here he is Above with American actress Rhonda Fleming

ABOVE – Not sure of the occasion but this photograph is taken at Pinewood Film Studios with a young lady suitable dressed serving a drink to Prince Philip – is that Lord Louis Mountbatten on the far left of the picture ?

ABOVE – Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh having a jolly time at a function – Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to the Left of the picture – and I think that is Ginger Rogers on the right. No real idea who the lady in the centre is.

Anyway the Duke seems to be making them laugh.

A later photograph shows a very relaxed Roger Moore sharing one of his anecdotes with The Duke of Edinburgh – Cubby Broccoli seems amused by whatever has been said.

This is an occasion that Roger Moore would rake in his stride

In 1948, the Duke of Edinburgh, 27, was introduced to actress Pat Kirkwood in her dressing room at the Hippodrome Theatre in London.

That evening Philip drove Pat also 27, erratically to a Mayfair restaurant in his sports car — nearly causing an accident in the process – where the pair enjoyed dinner together at Les Ambassadeurs.

Afterwards they headed to a nightclub, where they stayed up until dawn dancing cheek-to-cheek.

Pat Kirkwood was later quoted as saying: “He was so full of life and energy. I suspect he felt trapped and rarely got a chance to be himself. I think I got off on the right foot because I made him laugh”

Philip and Pat are said to have enjoyed each other’s company a further six times – sparking alleged romance rumours.

But the time spent together soon turned sour when their friendship resulted in headlines worldwide such as “The Prince and the Showgirl”.

Pat Kirkwood always denied there was any affair, and even went as far to say their friendship “ruined her life” as the Palace refused to deny the rumours.

Her friends believe that her association with Philip is the reason she never received any official honours, despite 60 years of stardom.

Letters between her and Philip that came to light after her death in 2007, aged 86, referred to the gossip as a “ridiculous rumour” spread by “evil-minded” people, indicating an affair never happened.

  • Pat’s first husband was theatrical manager Jack Lister in 1940. The marriage broke down when Pat suffered a nervous breakdown and spent eight months in a New York sanatorium.
  • In 1952, she married Greek shipowner, Spiro “Sparky” de Spero Gabriele. He died two years later from a heart attack.
  • Actor, playwright and composer Hubert Gregg became her third husband in 1956. He wrote hit songs such as Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner. Their marriage ended 23 years later.
  • Pat met husband number four just two years later. Peter Knight, a retired lawyer and president of the Bradford & Bingley Building Society.

ABOVE – As I remember the very young Pat Kirkwood with George Formby in ‘Come On George’ one of his very best films

Another of the Duke of Edinburgh’s friends for a time was James Robertson Justice – I thought that he was a part of the ‘Thursday Club’ that met in London’s West End in the early fifties.

It has been claimed Philip was first introduced to the club by his good friend Baron Nahum, a society photographer, with the help of the actor James Robertson Justice and several others.

The Duke of Edinburgh at the ceremony where James Robertson Justice became Rector of Edinburgh University

The Duke of Edinburgh and James Robertson Justice on occasions went wildfowling together in the Wash close to Sandringham

Jack Mills a Holbeach Lincolnshire resident, had been told an amusing story concerning Prince Philip’s stay at The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton, from actor James Robertson Justice, who was a regular wildfowler in the area.

Prince Philip joined the actor during a morning shoot on the outmarsh in 1954.

Prince Philip had been ordered out The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton in the 1950s
Prince Philip had been ordered out The Bull Hotel in Long Sutton in the 1950s

Mr Mills, of Holbeach, said: “Arriving secretly the two of them laid out all their gear in the scullery before loading into the car.”

This created some problems for a staff member who had arrived early to clean.

Mr Mills said: “To her horror, she saw the clobber on the scullery floor and was unable to start work.

“She knew Justice well but had no idea who the other fellow was, and ordered them both to get out in no uncertain terms.”

She put them both in their place on this occasion

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Prince Philip with the Queen visiting Ronald Reagan and his wife – California

As we pay tribute to Prince Philip for his service over a lifetime to the Queen and Country we go back to a happy visit for them both to California when they met film star of the fifties and before, Ronald Reagan, and his film star wife Nancy.

Prince Philip, as always, was at his wife, The Queen’s side, during this memorable visit

I always remember this visit coincided with an enormous amount of rainfall and the Queen and Duke’s party had a real job even getting to the ranch owned by President Reagan and his wife Nancy.

I have the idea that they came on the Royal Yacht or at least it was nearby.

On her historic first visit to Santa Barbara, thousands braved cold rain to get a glimpse of her at the Santa Barbara Airport, Courthouse and Mission.

But what promised to be a festive occasion for her scheduled landing at Santa Barbara’s Stearns Wharf was washed out by a persistent rainstorm.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip left the royal yacht Britannia in Long Beach and flew instead on an Air Force DC-9 and spent six hours in Reagan’s home town.

The improvised arrival was shifted to a large Tracor Aviation hangar at the airport.

From there he motorcade sped through flag-decked streets to Highway 101 and the Reagan’s 688-acre Rancho del Cielo.

The parties had to use four-wheel drive vehicles to ford swollen crossings of Refugio Creek.

A horse ride at the ranch was scrubbed even though it wasn’t raining at the time. Lunch was enchiladas, chile rellenos, refried beans, tacos, rice, guacamole and fresh fruit.

The queen’s press secretary, Michael O’Shea, said she found the rugged trip through flooded creeks up the mountain “very enjoyable and very exciting.”

Ronald Reagan riding with The Queen

The Queen presents Ronald Reagan with an Honour in London

Ronald Reagan di not make that many films involving horse riding but below is one of them :-

The Last Outpost 1951

Ronald Reagan was always a good rider and would have loved to do more westerns in his career and it seems that he was really pleased to accept the role in The Last Outpost after he was give permission to ride his own horse which was named Tarbaby

The Last Outpost casts Ronald Reagan and Bruce Bennett who are brothers and who have split their loyalties during the Civil War. Fate has brought them together in the west with Bennett taking command of a Federal outpost in Arizona territory to deal with a band of Confederate raiders. Little does Bennett know that Reagan is commanding those raiders and little does Reagan know that the girl he left behind played by Rhonda Fleming is out west and unhappily married to trading post owner John Ridgely.

John Ridgely gets killed early on in the film, but not before he sets in motion a plan whereby he will be legally allowed to sell whiskey and arms to the Apaches.

Bruce Bennett plays the solid dependable brother, but Ronald Reagan has the dash and charm in his role

The Last Outpost is a good entertaining western with the cast giving fine performances

ABOVE – A Scene from ‘The Last Outpost’

and BELOW

A scene from another Ronald Reagan Western – and one I well remember ‘ Cattle Queen of Montana’ with Barbara Stanwyck.

I remember seeing this and being impressed yet again by the VERY wide screen – In ‘Superscope’

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Prince Philip – ‘The Queen in Australia 1954’ film

Today we learn of the death of the Queen’s loyal and devoted husband Prince Philip – someone who has been with her every step of the way throughout her long reign and before and someone she relied on both to support her and to advise her.

Her Majesty, The Queen is a woman who has served as Queen for 68 years and barely put a foot wrong in those seven decades.

She has today lost the love of her life, and the man who helped her throughout.

Britain today has lost one of its greatest servants.

We Thank You Prince Philip for your service to our country in both Wartime and later as The Queen’s most loyal husband and companion throughout your long life. Thank You again

We pay our tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh here by linking to a film made of The Queen and Prince Philip’s tour of Australia in 1954 showing to the world, in an era long before live Television, a cinema released colour film of the whole tour – made in Ferraniacolor

To put the success of this visit in perspective when the 27 year old Queen sailed into Sydney harbour on 3 February 1954, she practically stopped the nation. Her arrival at Farm Cove, attracted an estimated 1 million onlookers in a city with a population of 1,863,161 (1954 ABS Census). Those who couldn’t be there in person could listen to ABC radio’s nation-wide coverage of the historic occasion.

Here again as always Prince Philip was at her side

The Duke of Edinburgh had in fact  six decades as an official and very colourful Royal visitor to Australia.

As head of the Commonwealth, the Queen is the head of state in 16 nations, including the English-speaking, Westminster democracies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand.  


The Queen is always warmly welcomed wherever she has travelled in Australia.

On some occasions, however, the Duke has visited Australia without the Queen, such as when he opened the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, the 1962 Empire Games in Perth and the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra in 1965.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 16: The Queen And Prince Philip Chatting Together During The Royal Windsor Horse Show In The Grounds Of Windsor Castle.



He was also by the Queen’s side when she opened the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and the new Parliament House in 1988 as Australia was commemorating its bicentenary. 

ABOVE – This 1954 film— in CinemaScope and Eastman Color/Colour—covers the earlier-in-the-year six-months tour of the British Commonwealth by Queen Elizabeth and Philip, later joined by Prince Charles and Princess Anne toward the end of the trip.

This film includes visits to the Fiji Islands, Tongo, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Africa, New Zealand as well as Australia.

We see lots of native music and tribal dances and scenery in between shots of the Royal pair arriving and departing.

For many of these visits The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh travelled by the Royal Yacht – and they loved it. It must have been so exciting for them to sail from Australia to New Zealand then on to Fiji and Tonga through the Pacific Ocean. They would just be able to make those visits and then return to their ‘little home’ on the ocean

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Larry Parks – The Swordsman

Larry Parks had hit stardom in a very big way before this with ‘The Jolson Story’ a huge hit at the Box Office starring as the legendary Al Jolson

After ‘The Jolson Story’ Larry appeared in two swashbucklers for Columbia first this one and then quickly afterwards in ‘The Gallant Blade’ both faring very well at the Box Office

The Swordsman 1948 with Ellen Drew

ABOVE – Looks like a happy ending which I am pleased about

BELOW – Larry in the saddle

After these two films he went back and did ‘Jolson Sings Again’ another big hit financially. It has to be said that he was great as Al Jolson and the way he mimed to the songs was about as perfect as I have ever seen.

‘The Jolson Story’ and ‘Jolson Sings Again’ were close to being the biggest commercial successes of 1946 and 1949 respectively

Jolson Sings Again 1949

   
Larry Parks wed the love of his life, Betty Garrett, who he’d met at The Actors Studio and for him at least, it was love at first sight. They stayed married until Larry died of a heart attack in 1975.    Following the success of “Jolson” he went on to star in “The Gallant Blade” “Down to Earth” with Riat Hayworth, The Swordsman” with Ellen Drew and was voted 1947’s Bobby Soxers Man of the Year.

Then Larry and Betty put together a Song and Dance Variety Act to play The London Palladium after which the successfully toured England and Scotland to packed crowds.    
In 1949 Larry reprised his Jolson portrayal for the Hit sequel “Jolson Sings Again”, his performances reviving Al ‘s career and putting him back in the spotlight selling records to a whole new generation.   After this came “Emergency Wedding” with Barbara Hale, who had played the second ‘Mrs Jolson’, the first played by Evelyn Keyes.   

Larry then starred with Elizabeth Taylor in “Love is Better than Ever” (1952, which I think would have been better if it had been in Colour!)     Then with Betty they again took their Variety Act back to Europe and from there to Las Vegas playing at El Rancho  and The Desert Inn, at this time Larry was also Guesting on TV in ‘Dr Kildare’ and The Ford All Star Theatre. 

He went back to England in ’55 to make “Tiger By The Tail’ and then on returning to the USA, Larry took the Lead Touring in “Teahouse of The August Moon” for three years (when Marlon Brando was offered the part in the film, he went to watch Larry and visited him).

Following this he toured in “The Marriage Go Round, “Any Wednesday” “Bells are Ringing” “High Button Shoes”, “Plaza Suite” (which he loved and played again in 1970)”Cactus Flower” “The Tender Trap” some of these were with Betty Starring with him. he then did more TV  (Hitchcock, The Untouchables) and his last Film Role was in John Houston’s “Freud” with Montgomery Clift in 1962. He also continued playing Theatre with Betty and their two sons, Garrett and Andrew.

Above – A Scene from ‘The Swordsman’

ABOVE – The 750-seat Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened as a single screen theatre on November 15, 1937 with Leslie Howard in “Stand-In”. It was designed by architectural firm Kaplan & Sprachman. The Elgin Theatre added another auditorium on December 25, 1947 opening with Larry Parks in “The Swordsman”, making it one of North America’s earliest two-screen theatres.

Larry and Betty had put together a Song and Dance Variety Act and came to England with it and this must have been one of the venues

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Visit to Elstree Film Studios

Back in what would have been the summer of 1958, in the Fans Own Film Annual there is featured a very interesting article on two young ladies who were obviously film fans who were invited to pay a visit to tour the studios and see what was happening and, maybe, meet some of the stars.

The two young ladies in question were 20 year old Judy Pickering and 23 year old recently married Pamela Hoisington

Pam and Judy arrive at Elstree to a cheery greeting

Judy writes :

I think every film fan must have wondered sometimes about all the work that goes into a film before it appears on the screen. I don’t just mean how many times a certain scene is shot before the director is satisfied, or how much time is devoted to the arduous task of learning lines, but how long it takes to construct the sets needed for the film and the materials used, the job of obtaining unusual props, how costumes are designed and made, the work of the continuity girl, the time spent in hair-dressing, make-up, tea making – the list is never ending.

My friend Pam and I found the answers to a great many of these questions in our visit to Elstree Studios

Pam and Judy are greeted by Stanley Baker who is at Elstree filming ‘Violent Saturday’

Our charming host, Mr Toy Curtis-Bramwell, the Publicity Editor, met us at the main doors and led us into his spacious office with portraits of our favourite stars on the wall. He introduced us to Mr Bob Penn, our photographer. Together they showed us around the immense buildings and surrounding countryside that forms Associated British Studios.

First to the Props rooms which are housed in an enormous two-storeyed building

ABOVE – Pam among the bottles – plenty to drink there by the looks of it

This is just the start of Judy’s recollections of a very interesting day.

We will continue this with more details and pictures – we will see them finding memorabilia from ‘Tommy the Toreador’ a film that had starred Tommy Steele. It had been filmed to a great extent in Spain with the interior scenes done at Elstree

Filmed at Elstree
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