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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