Michaela Denis – a name from the early days of Television

One of the first travel type shows we got in the early days of television would be ones that featured Armand and his Wife Michaela Denis who, in those days, just seemed to travel around Africa, filming and producing fascinating documentary style programmes.

They were very popular – introducing to us places that seemed so far flung and unattainable – as they were in those days – and it opened our eyes to Africa and it’s wild life. Sadly it was not, of course Colour Television – I have not heard if Armand shot the 16 mm films in colour – if he did then maybe they would still be around to view again.

At the same time – or maybe a bit before this Walt Disney had cleverly brought out his True Life Adventures – and these were filmed in colour and released onto the Cinema circuit often as supporting pictures to the main feature.  These were very well received and as someone pointed out quite cheap to produce as the ‘actors’ didn’t get paid !!

ABOVE – Michaela in her New York days as a Fashion Designer. She would even then, save up for adventurous holidays and on one of them to South America, she met Armand which led to marriage and a new life.

They were married in Potosi, high in the Andes, by special licence.

ABOVE – This picture of Armand and Michaela Denis was taken near Mount Kenya in Africa where they later lived – and these two cheetahs were their pets.

My memories were of their programmes is that they always seemed to come from the Ngorongoro Crater in the Serengeti National Park

ABOVE – Back in South America, Michaela is getting first hand experience of the cosmetics used by the Colorado Indians in South America.

ABOVE – We have moved on to Australia – in the Outback where Michaela is washing the hair of a small aboriginal girl by a ‘billabong’

Back in Africa ABOVE to see Michaela giving a piece of fish to a beautiful crested crane.

Here Michaela is with an Aadvark in Kenya – I have never heard of such an animal. They are nocturnal with large claws apparently and dig quite deep holes.

Michaela Denis did not have much of an opinion of David Attenborough who she said was a ‘fool and a thief’ – mainly because he had started his ‘Zoo Quest’ programme on the back of their ideas and had quite blatantly copied a feature they were due to bring in on their next show.

Later in life and living in Kenya as she did, although she always maintained a home in London and came back each year for a time until the heat had subsided back home in Africa, she knew many of the English people who lived there, among them Joy Adamson who, it is said, she loathed because of the way that Joy Adamson treated her servants.

I may have mentioned this in a previous post – Armand Denis had helped with location filming of King Solomon’s Mines for MGM in 1950 in Africa and it was that that introduced him to a potential for capitalising on his talent for film making and his love of African Wild Life – and travel.

In fact Michaela Denis also doubled for actress Deborah Kerr on location in Uganda for King Solomon’s Mines

Four years after Armand died in 1971, Michaela Denis met and married her lawyer, Sir William O’Brien Lindsay, a former chief justice of Sudan, who died in his sleep a couple of months later. Rather a sad story.

Michaela died in 2003 in Nairobi. She was 88 years old.

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