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Sam Kydd – A New Book

Sam Kydd’s son Jonathan, discovered an unpublished autobiography and writings. diaries and scripts in his mother’s loft when clearing out the family home after she died in 2012.

He has compiled and edited Four Volumes from this archive

Sam Kydd was in Walt Disney’s ‘Treasure Island’ in 1950 made at Denham Film Studios in Technicolor BELOW:

This was just one of over 200 films that he appeared in.

His son Jonathan, went into the acting business but nothing like as successfully as his father

ABOVE – Sam Kydd visits Grantham in Lincolnshire. He had an invitation from Councillor Fred Foster his former P.O.W. colleague – they were both held in a POW camp in Poland in the War – to visit the town in 1966 and he seems to have scored a hit with these youngsters

A few years later in 1974, Fred Foster was one of the guests on the ‘This is Your Life’ show for Sam Kydd.

In an interview, Jonathan Kydd does not speak well of this show, and more or less says that in his opinion, it didn’t do justice to his father’s life. Apparently there were three or four men who had been POW’s with him – including Fred Foster – and when I listened I thought that Jonathan was a little disparaging against this brave man referring to him as ‘ a mayor of Grantham’ – what if he was ? that would be an important position in a lovely town that I know well.

Don’t forget actor Richard Todd lived there for years

Jonathan Kydd seemed to lack the warmth on camera that his Dad had.

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Yellowstone Kelly – Clint Walker

I have just come across more film stills from this Western with Clint Walker – it has remained a very popular film mainly I think because Clint Walker himself gained a lot of popularity from his TV series ‘Cheyenne’ – certainly in the UK

In ‘Yellowstone Kelly,’ Clint ‘Cheyenne’ Walker plays a fur trapper who prevents war between Indians and U.S. Cavalry, and who survives only to find true love in the arms of a beautiful and talented newcomer Andra Martin.

Plenty of action in this film the cast includes : John Russell as the chief Ray Danton as the Indian: Claude Akins as the tough sergeant and Warren Oates making his debut as a soldier…

It has a good story line which is coupled with outstanding Technicolor photography ‘Yellowstone Kelly’ has to be seen – preferably on the big screen which is not so easy these days.

I hadn’t realised that Clint was almost ‘dead’ in 1971 following a skiing accident where a ski pole punctured his heart in a fall on the ski slopes.

He was rushed to hospital and declared ‘dead’ until a doctor detected a faint heartbeat – he was operated on and his heart was repaired so well that he lived for almost another 50 years.

ABOVE – an action scene

Scenery is beautiful. Clint Walker is outstanding in the role and the pairing with Ed Burns proved to be a good choice. Very enjoyable to watch with a good story.

Beautiful scenery and this one should be a must for Western fans.

There is a scene at the end of Yellowstone Kelly, where Kelly ( Clint Walker) tells Sioux Chief Gall ( John Russell) “This place no longer smiles on your people, take your warriors and leave.” It sums up the film perfectly.

The story is how the old way of life for everyone including the trappers like Kelly, is coming to an end. Rather sad really

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Samantha Eggar on Sir Donald Wolfit

Samanthat Eggar, at the age of 19 played on stage alongside the great actor himself in ‘Landscape with Figures’ where he, Donald Wolfit played Thomas Gainsborough which in a play written by Cecil Beaton.

She describes working with him, as one of a number of young actresses, who she says saw him as old school – he was 57 at the time – and they played him up and teased him and as she is quoted ‘behaved appallingly’ to such an extent that following a couple of incidents he did not speak to her.

Later in life she says that she realised just what Donald Wolfit had done for the British Theatre, touring with productions of Shakespeare, educating people in the classical actor-manager role for virtually no money. She then added ‘he really was a wonderful actor’

Their paths did cross again when he played a barrister in the film ‘Dr Crippen’ with Donald Pleasance in the title role and Samantha Eggar as Ethel Le Neve.

In a more recent interview she mentions the play with Sir Donald Wolfit – and she says :-

 It was Landscape with Figures, written and designed by Cecil Beaton. We opened that in Brighton, at the Theatre Royal. It was about the life of Thomas Gainsborough, the painter, so you can imagine what we all looked like on stage.

We were dressed as Gainsborough portraits, as if we had stepped right off his canvases. So it was just glorious-looking.

Sir Donald Wolfit played Gainsborough, and Mona Washbourne played his wife. I played Lady Hamilton, a part written in by Cecil. We played that particular one all around: at Bath, at Nottingham, we went to Dublin Theatre Festival with it.

Sir Donald Wolfit as Artist Thomas Gainsborough with actresses Ann Firbank (lower right) and Christine Finn  (upper right) who play his Daughters  in the play Cecil Beaton 

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I’ve Lived Before – 1956

This is a very good, interesting, and thought provoking film. I didn’t know much about it in fact had never heard of it, until I came across a review in a 1956 Picturegoer magazine.

It is a little known film with Jock Mahoney, plays a commercial pilot John Bolan, who had a fascination with flying since he was a little boy back in New York. At the age of 12 in 1931 young Johnny got into the cockpit of a bi-plane and flew and landed it like a seasoned pilot. It was the first time that Johnny was ever on a plane let alone less flying it.

A number of years later when, as the pilot of an airliner, he was about to fly his plane to New York, he walks along the aisle of the plane, turns round, and looks at the passengers and his eyes immediately fall on an older woman passenger and he is clearly unsettled by her.

His mind then fills with memories of a past life that he had led. John sees himself as a Peter Stevens a WWI US Army pilot who was shot down over France on April 29, 1918.

It’s that tragic memory that almost causes John to crash his plane with him and all on board. However thanks to the co-pilot they land safely.

John is the only one on the plane who is injured. In hospital, after the incident his thoughts of a life before leads him to leave and go investigate if there really was a Peter Stevens who was killed in an air battle over France in 1918.

Seeing his good friend and lawyer Robert Allen ( Simon Scott ) about the matter Robert checked out the information that John gave him and sure enough there was a Lt. Peter Stevens and he was shot down over France in April 1918.

John now finds out who that passenger who brought back those memories of WWI and finds out that her name is Jane Stone played by Ann Harding, and he goes to Philadelphia where she lives to find her. He is determined to find out from her if she knew Peter Stevens and, to John’s surprise, Jane says that not only did she know Peter Stevens but was engaged to marry him!

Then the revelation by John being Peter, in another life, leaves Jane in shock and she asks him to please leave.

John who never believed in, or even thought about, reincarnation now is firmly convinced that he lived before and lived the life of Peter Stevens. Nothing that the doctors or psychiatrists at the hospital say can convince him otherwise.

The only thing that can positively prove that he was Peter Stevens in another life is for the reluctant Jane Stone, who is persuaded by John’s fiancée Lois Gordon (Leigh Snowden), to come to New York. John needs Jane to confirm events between her and Peter that only she could possibly verify as being fact.

With that both John and Jane can put the case of Peter Stevens to rest one way or another.

It is an intelligent film about a mysterious subject – reincarnation.

At the film’s climax we have the scene where John and his fiancee are seated with Jane Stone and the Doctor – John McIntire – and Jane asks John some question such as – who was Peter’s best friend and he does not know the answer and then another question and again he does not know the answer.

The Doctor then asks Jane if she can ask him much more persoanl questions – and she asks him a question that only Peter could have answered – Where did he propose to her. John answers and describes the place and the scene in detail. She asks him what the song they had sung together which he knows correctly. Finally she produces an item from her handbag and asks the Doctor to hold it – she then says that no-one else has seen this since Peter died – John describes the item in detail – a broach – and also gives the inscription on the brooch word perfectly.

Jane then leaves calmly and we are left to ponder – an uncanny moment and yet it is strangely satisfying.

One good reason to see this film is to see the gorgeous Leigh Snowden. Pictured ABOVE. She made very few film and retired from acting before she was 30, after she married accordianist Dick Contino and dedicated herself to raising a family

ABOVE – Ann Harding commands your attention as much at age 53 as she did at age 28. She is truly timeless.

ABOVE – An advertisement for the film

ABOVE – Jock Mahoney pilots the airliner on the flight that nearly ends in disaster because of his pre-occupation with what he has found out

ABOVE and BELOW – In conversation with Leigh Snowden whilst in Hospital

This is a story that I do think could – and should – be re-made. The Second World War could be the original Wartime setting and the rest of the film some years later, in relatively modern times.

I must admit in this film though, Jock Mahoney is given a much more demanding part than we have seen him in before – and he is up to the job. Leigh Snowden as his girl friend is both attractive and sincere. Ann Harding, a very experienced actress is excellent as is the Doctor John McIntire – both of these having quite big and important roles.

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An interesting visitor to Hollywood

Mr and Mrs Krushchev, the Russian leader visited the 20th Century Fox Film Studios. The date was 21 September 1959.

I remember this new being in all the Newspapers in England as well as the TV channels – there were only two

ABOVE – Mrs Krushchev with Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra

Twentieth Century Fox had invited Khrushchev to watch the filming of Can-Can, a Broadway musical set among the dance hall girls of fin de siècle Paris, and he had accepted. It was an astounding feat – a Hollywood studio had persuaded the communist leader of the world’s largest nation to appear in a a publicity opportunity which also included luncheon at its elegant commissary, the Café de Paris, where the Mr Krushchev and his wife could dine with the biggest stars in Hollywood.

Mr Krushchev on the set of ‘Can Can’ 1959

Only 400 people could fit into the room, and nearly everybody in Hollywood wanted to be there.

The demand for invitations to the Khrushchev lunch was so strong that it overpowered the fear of communism that had reigned in Hollywood since 1947

A handful of stars—Bing Crosby, Ward Bond, Adolphe Menjou and Ronald Reagan—turned down their invitations as a protest against Khrushchev.

The only husband-and-wife teams invited were those in which both members were stars—Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh; Dick Powell and June Allyson; Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher. Marilyn Monroe’s husband, the playwright Arthur Miller, might have qualified as a star, but he was urged to stay home because he was a leftist who’d been investigated by the House committee and therefore was considered too radical to dine with a communist leader.

However, the studio was determined that Marilyn Monroe attended and she did

“At first, Marilyn, who never read the papers or listened to the news, had to be told who Khrushchev was,” Lena Pepitone, Monroe’s maid, recalled in her memoirs. “However, the studio kept insisting. They told Marilyn that in Russia, America meant two things, Coca-Cola and Marilyn Monroe. She loved hearing that and agreed to go….She told me that the studio wanted her to wear the tightest, sexiest dress she had for the premier.”

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Television through the Fifties – Chan Canasta

Chan Canasta appeared on our Television screens very regularly throughout the 1950 s. I can’t remember much about him but I do remember the name and how famous he was at the time.

Butchers Film Service called him The Amazing Mr Canasta when they filmed him in a half-hour supporting short for the cinemas in 1952.

The Film got a release in the UK and USA as part of a programme

The title seems perfect – ‘The Amazing Mr Canasta’

He referred to himself as a mentalist but never a conjuror or magician.

Chan Canasta was one of those few sensations of the Fifties whose fame was made by the BBC the only television channel of the time.

The specialised arm of mentalism, where everything is in the master’s mind, was rarer. The audience would gasp with amazement

Chan Canasta was born Chananel Mifelew in 1920 in Krakow. His father was a Russian emigre, proud of his boy, who went to Krakow University at the age of 17.

He was Polish and Jewish and all of hi family perished in the Holocaust.

After studying philosophy and the natural sciences for a year, he left Poland for Jerusalem, where he started to study psychology. The next year brought the Second World War, and he volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force. He saw action in the Western Desert, North Africa, Greece and Italy, finally becoming a British subject.

Demobilised, he began seriously to study the science of extra-sensory perception. On the side he read up parlour magic and taught himself to entertain a few friends.

He developed the rare power of immediate photographic recall, which enabled him to do amazing things.

For instance he could instantly state the number of vowels on a page selected at random from a book by a volunteer from the audience, or to forecast accurately the sequence of playing cards in a suddenly shuffled deck.

Not every trick worked. Indeed, the occasional failure was actually encouraged by Chan Canasta, who believed his audiences enjoyed the suspense and reacted to the odd error as if it proved his magic was no trick.

BBC Television discovered Canasta in 1951. John Freeman hosted the half hour show. He was the editor of the New Statesman so , in a way, he gave the show the seriousness that would be required for a scientific experiment.

Quite a few well known guests were included on the show including Sylvia Peters

Chan Canasta – from his Television Show

It seemed impossible that a man, even a professional mentalist, could transmit his thoughts through the television camera into the homes of a million or more viewers via their television screens – but this is what Canasta did – or seemed to do. With the use of what he called his “tube- destroying machine”, he said, he would use his power of thought to switch off every television set in the country which was tuned in to him. “Concentrate,” he told his audience, “concentrate.”

In homes across the country television screens went black with (the Fifties television trademark) the diminishing white spot that eventually popped off into nothing. Forty suspenseful seconds passed before the screen leaped back into life, showing a smiling but apologetic Canasta admitting that his stunt was “only a leg-pull!” He then showed how one of his cameras was trained on a screen in the studio, which was suddenly switched off, then on again. The audience applauded but not so the angry viewers, who rang the BBC under the impression that Canasta had ruined their sets.

Chan Canasta became something of an international celebrity. American television welcomed him, and he appeared on such programmes as those hosted by Ed Sullivan and Jack Paar. He shot to the top of the bill at the London Palladium, and echoed this triumph far away at the famous Desert Inn in Las Vegas.

In 1962 he returned to London to star for the new commercial television station Associated-Rediffusion. Dan Farson hosted these late-night half- hours, which again featured guest personalities and a small but fascinated audience. Humphrey Lyttelton, the jazz man, remarked: “The man is a phenomenon.” Farson said: “Canasta has a fantastic command of psychology.”

In his television career, Chan Canasta performed in some 350 programmes. He gave his last one in 1971 as a personal favour to Michael Parkinson. By this time he had taken up a new sideline as a painter, with successful selling shows in London and New York. He signed his pictures “Mifelew”, his real name. But it is as a perfectionist performer that millions will remember him.

“I want to prove that nothing I do is phoney ” he added

Chan Canasta was married twice – later in his life, he was with Maureen Endfield the widow of the film director Cy Endfield, possibly she was his second wife, I am not sure.

Of course we all remember Cy Endfield as the Director of ‘Zulu’ one of the biggest grossing British Films

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Signing Autographs –

I watched an old Carry On Film over the Bank Holiday and for some reason I started to look at the lives of various of the stars.

Charles Hawtrey for instance, was latterly very reluctant and often rude when approached to sign an autograph and on one occasion was so incensed that he tore up the paper one of the fans had given him to sign. Mind you, it is said that he was quite often the worse for drink in his later years.

So I then embarked on a quest to look out pictures we had of some film stars signing for the public and here are a few

It seems that, in the picture above, Charles Hawtrey is in more friendly and benevolent mood when he chats to some young ladies in the Theatre sales kiosk in Londonderry, Ireland, just before going on stage

Most of the actors approached would be only too pleased to meet the fans and chat to them and sign whatever they wanted. After all, it is part of the job really.

ABOVE – Richard Todd signs autographs in Bristol

ABOVE – Mario Fabrizi – from ‘The Army Game’ has his moustache curled by usherettes before making an appearance in Acton

The lovely June Thorburn ( above ) signs her autograph for some lucky lads in Leyton, London

Liz Fraser signs a poster at the ABC in Woolwich. I hadn’t realised that she was in ‘Fury at Smugglers Bay’ but she indeed, was.

Left to Right ABOVE – Norman Rossington, Shirley Anne Field, Albert Finney, Brian Pringle and an ABC Executive at a glittering occasion in Manchester for the film ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’

ABOVE – Jess Conrad signs Autographs in his Office
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Roger Moore in ‘The Alaskans’

Roger Moore was in Hollywood at this time having had some success before going there with ‘Ivanhoe’ for British Television and quite a few films to be fair

He had made a film with Lana Turner in Hollywood and then he was offered ‘The Alaskans’ by Warner Brothers which was to have been a big budget TV production, but it didn’t quite happen that way.

Although the series was made on one of Warner’s biggest sound stages, there was never any location work. Plenty of big and impressive sets and fake snow – and when they did venture outside filming was done on the Studio backlot. Dressed in furs to keep out the Alaskan cold, the actors were faced with 80 degrees temperatures – so conditions not so good.

Roger ensuring his hair was in place

ABOVE: Roger Moore with his actor friend Gustavo Rojo

Roger has to keep fit at the gym

Roger Moore with his actor friend Gustavo Rojo

One of his co-stars in The Alaskans was Dorothy Provine and her and Roger became very close friends – she was. he says, not like a lot of the actresses in that she was quite and retiring – somethning that appealed to him.

At that time he was married to Dorothy Squires and she certainly didn’t approve but she had a concert schedule in Britain, so Roger was left to his own devices.

Warner Bros were looking for a big name alongside him but settled for Jeff York who had featured in the Davy Crockett films for Walt Disney and had been under contract to him. Roger said that Jeff was good and the two got on well, but if things got boring on set and he hadn’t anything to do, he would sidle off to the Pub close by and partake of the liquid refreshment which he liked.

The Alaskans

Roger Moore, Dorothy Provine and Jeff York – The Alaskans ABOVE

ABOVE – Roger with the lovely Dorothy Provine

On the set of ‘The Alaskans’

I am not sure whether or not ‘The Alaskans’ was ever shown on Television here in England – I would have thought it likely that it had though

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The Veils of Bagdad 1953 – with Victor Mature and Mari Blanchard

I have just come across this one as someone is trying to sell a 16 mm print of the film which to be honest tempted me to put in a bid. It is not a film I know but with Victor Mature starring it has to be good.

Apparently this was filmed just before ‘The Robe’ – a huge success at the Box Office World Wide which doesn’t surprise me – it was a superb film

‘The Veils of Bagdad’ had its release held back until after ‘The Robe’ itself was released – maybe they figured that Victor Mature would be an even bigger attraction after that – I am pretty sure that they would be right. As I have said before, Producers liked Victor Mature because every picture he was in made money

Filmed in Technicolor

ABOVE and BELOW The Press Book for the Film

I have read that Maureen O Hara was lined up for the film, but for whatever reason she withdrew and so Mari Blanchard was drafted in.

This has prompted me to look a little deeper into the life of this actress who as a child suffered with polio which led her into regular daily swimming sessions for several years. After this she ran off and joined a local circus – she was born in Long Beach – where she helped with the elephants and then to the trapeze. That didn’t last too long before she went back to the Santa Barbara College and between studies she joined a model agency. Her picture in a Kodak advertisement in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ brought her to the attention of Paramount Pictures who signed her to a contract in 1949.

However this did not work out and she was dropped by the studio – but following the success of ‘Veils of Bagdad’ she got a new contract with Universal-International which put her into the same salary class as Tony Curtis and Shelley Winters.

Mari Blanchard in ‘Son of Sinbad’

She then makes ‘Son of Sinbad’ with Dale Robertson in 1953 but later that year misses out on the lead role in ‘Saskatchewan’ to Shelley Winters.

It is reported that in ‘Son of Sinbad’ she refused to dance because she considered her outfit too revealing. She appeared then in ‘Destry’ with Audie Murphy in which she sings.

In 1954 Mari Blanchard starred in ‘Rails into Laramie’ with John Payne – avery good looking film in Terchnicolor which I featured on here quite recently

In an around the middle of 1955, she was frequently in the company of Lance Fuller – about the time that he would be making one of my own favourites ‘The Secret of Treasure Mountain’ but later that year she was often seen with George Raft – my first thought is that he would be way too old for her.

The in early 1956 she dates the singer Mel Torme.

In 1957 she co-starred with Lex Barker in ‘Jungle Heat’ but the reviews I have read were not so good – however one commented that ‘Mari Blanchard really looks good’ I am sure that she did !

Later in November 1956 she is filming ‘She Devil’ and is rushed to hospital for an appendix operation.

In September 1958 she and her travelling companion Gwen Davis, were shown around Madrid by Victor Mature and Bruce Cabot. and later that year in November she is scheduled to appear in the TV Series ‘Belle Starr’

A few years later in 1963 she develops cancer – very sad for such a young woman.

She continued to appear in films and Television throughout the Sixties – in fact she appeared with John Wayne in ‘McLintock’ in 1963 but in May of 1970 she died aged 43 at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California

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Jean Simmons Car for Sale

Just prior to their marriage Stewart Granger had bought his future wife this now iconic car – a Bristol 402. This was back in 1949

In 1949, Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons were two major film stars

The British couple – who married just 12 months later – acted alongside each other in films including Adam and EvelyneYoung Bess and Footsteps in the Fog but also bought a pair of matching cars.

One of those two vehicle is going to be sold and is being offered to the highest bidder next month, with Jean Simmons’ Bristol 402 – one of just 24 built and 12 known to have survived – and it is going under the hammer at a UK auction, with experts predicting a sale figure of £200,000.

The two cars were bought from Surrey car dealer Tony Crook, who later went on the spearhead the Bristol Cars marque. Each one cost £3,500, which was around the same price as a decent-size family home at the time.

The couple used the matching cars extensively to promote 1949 romantic hit, Adam and Evelyne, in which they starred together.

Jean Simmons drove the car regularly while living in Surrey but eventually left as her fame rose and moved to Hollywood. 

While filming Caesar and Cleopatra, Jean Simmons had developed a crush on Stewart Granger, and they later became sweethearts, though Granger was 16 years older and married. In 1949 he suggested they star together in

Adam and Evelyne, in which a penniless orphan is raised with the support of a mysterious benefactor. It proved a perfect showcase for the couple, and demonstrated Simmons’ expert handling of romantic comedy.

Stewart Granger departed for Hollywood later in 1949 after being signed by MGM, and in 1950 Simmons joined him when cast by Gabriel Pascal in a screen version of Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion with Victor Mature – he was later with her again in ‘The Robe’ where he gave a superb performance.

Stewart Granger and the actress Elspeth March had divorced in 1948, and in December 1950 he and Jean Simmons eloped to Tucson. That same year she had been in four British films, all successful. In So Long at the Fair, Trio, Cage of Gold and The Clouded Yellow.

In 1952 Jean Simmons signed a non-exclusive contract with 20th Century-Fox. She immediately starred in three prestigious movies. In MGM’s Young Bess (1953) she was a radiant Queen Elizabeth I; in The Actress (1953), based on the autobiography of actress-writer Ruth Gordon, she was a stage-struck teenager, buoyed by the fine performances of Spencer Tracy and Teresa Wright as her parents. Jean adored Spencer Tracy as both actor and friend, and The Actress was to remain her personal favourite of her films, partly because working with him was “sheer heaven”. She and Stewart Granger were to name their daughter Tracy after him.

I always felt that it was this that sparked the number of girls being called ‘Tracy’ at the time

Jean Simmons was one of the great beauties of British cinema, and she had a talent to match. She played Ophelia to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948) when only 18, and won her first Oscar nomination.

Early roles included her memorable cold young heart-breaker Estella in David Lean’s Great Expectations (1946), disdainfully advising young Pip, “You may kiss me now if you wish”.

She was slave girl in Black Narcissus (1947) but it was not the major part be any means

In 1950 she topped a poll as the most popular British actress. Shortly afterwards, she went to Hollywood, where she and Deborah Kerr were the only two British actresses of the time to achieve truly international stardom – a few years later they were joined by the Anglo-Dutch Audrey Hepburn. Her first marriage, to the actor Stewart Granger, ended in 1960 when she divorced him to marry director Richard Brooks, who later recalled, “Every man I would meet would say to me, ‘I have always loved your wife.'”

When I remember the films of Jean Simmons – the one that comes to mind immediately is ‘The Blue Lagoon’ filmed in Technicolor in Fiji where she played one of two youngsters who grow up shipwrecked on a desert island

In ‘The Robe’ (1953) she was a Christian in love with a centurion (Richard Burton) who presided over Christ’s crucifixion. Burton confessed to being one of several leading men who fell in love with Simmons but found their advances rejected.

Jean Simmons was one of the great beauties of British cinema, and she was also a talented actress.

Audiences were captivated by Jean Simmons from the moment she first appeared on the screen, climbing on to a dance band stand to sing a spirited “Let Him Go, Let Him Tarry” in the popular movie about the RAF in wartime, The Way to the Stars (1945), and she was to swiftly become one of the UK’s biggest box-office draws.

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