Monday, June 04, 2007

BACK TO WORK
Story contd.

There were a lot of bookings for me when I got back from holiday. A variety of jobs - sweaters, tooth paste , shampoos, but Paula also wanted me to work in films and get ‘spotted’ so she put me up for a bridesmaid for Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall in ‘The Constant Husband’, and as a guest at the ball with Vivien Leigh in ‘The Deep Blue Sea’

Rex Harrison was adored by the film crew and behaved like an enfant terrible. As bridesmaids we stood for hours in a bunch with the stars. He and Kay Kendall were obviously attracted to each other- Rex, however did take one of the bridesmaids out to dinner. Kay teased him about his toupee; at one stage she had to hit him with a bouquet and wondered impishly if this would dislodge the rug. I found Kay’s looks extraordinary and tried to get my eyebrows to look like hers until Marta pointed out that the shape of our faces were different and it looked silly on me.

Rex and Kay became lovers then, tragically, Kay was diagnosed with leukaemia. Legend has it that Rex promised to take care of her for the time she had left and they married bur Kay died in 1959.

I was very excited at the prospect of seeing Vivien on the set of ‘The Deep Blue Sea’.
I admired her as an actress and thought her a far better film actor than her husband, Laurence Olivier. Sadly I didn’t recognise her at first as ill health had taken its toll and although she was still beautiful on stage and screen, in the flesh she was a shadow of her former self. Something I have noticed is that plain girls sort of grow into their faces with age, and become more attractive, whilst great beauties tend to fade. Vivien had no illusions about herself and said she felt like a large peach in her beautiful ball gown

Paula clearly had her spies on the set because afterwards she demanded to know what the director Anatole Litvak had said to me. What he said - in his heavy Ukrainian accent - to me and my dancing partner was,

‘If I hit your legs with this stick you are going out of shot so get back in!’

Poor Paula- I think I was a great disappointment to her – not least because I couldn’t blag (talk myself up at interviews and be economical with the truth).

One day I remember fondly, was when three chosen girls (me included) spent the day in a studio wearing four different glamorous costumes and miming a jingle whilst Dorothy Carless provided the vocals three times over. Then the voices were combined and the result looked as if we were a version of the Andrews sisters. We were miming

Who do you know?
Who do you know?
Who do you know?
Who doesn’t like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

It was such a fun day. The other girls were Maria – a beautiful Danish model and Celia – a descendant of Mrs Kepple. I have often wondered if she knew the Duchess of Cornwall, who is also a descendant. Dorothy Carless was a fantastic singer and told us her new young husband had insisted she had champagne for breakfast to put her in the mood. It was a champagne sort of day.

Many, many years later I was washing up in the kitchen of our holiday cottage in Yorkshire when I heard a familiar sound. I dashed into the living room and there on our old black and white TV were three girls cavorting and singing that old jingle. It was surreal. Why on earth would they be using an ancient black and white advertisement for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes now?

When we got back home I rang the advertising agency – I think it was J. Water Thompson. To my astonishment they said they had been trying to find me to ask permission to use it for some? Thirty year Anniversary. They had advertised in the Stage and even asked two morning TV presenters to ask on their show. I had no idea what had happened to the other girls; modelling was the only area in my life where I didn’t retain any friends.
I was happy to give them permission, a new contract was negotiated, and I got a very welcome windfall and a copy of the tape which gave the family much amusement.

However back to 1955 everything was going well, my bank balance was increasing, studios were booking me on a regular basis- something had to go wrong soon and it did.

17 comments:

sablonneuse said...

What an exciting part of the story - and then you imply there's going to be a black dog sort of incident round the corner . . . .

amy said...

another cliff-hanger!

Wendz said...

I am only just catching up on all your stories. My what a fascinating life you have had. Brilliant!

f:lux said...

I hope the director didn't hit you with that stick!

PI said...

Sablonneuse: isn't there always?

amy: sorry:(

Wendz: hope you enjoy it.

f:lux: not a real thwack - more a firm tap.

Kanani said...

I really like your recollections. More please!

And what happened to the big black dog?

PI said...

welcome Kanani: the big black dog(my way if saying I had the blues) was shown the door and he finally got the message.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I now wonder, was that ESP or was it that life was going so well, something had to go wrong.

Yoikes.

kenju said...

Pat, this is wonderful to read. If tht movie is on DVD and we rented it, would we see you in it? (meaning, was your part cut or not?)

I love the way Kay's hair looks in that photo.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Rex Harrison wore a toupee? Say it's not true!

I would love to see you in the movies, Pat, and in the cornflake ad. Where can we see you? Is there any way you could put the ad onto YouTube from the tape you got?

PI said...

Sam: it was a very good one and he was still known as Sexy Rexie. I wouldn't know how to begin to show the tape - it's difficult enough doing the photos.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Wonderful rememberances Pat...I always thought that Vivien Leigh was treated unfairly because she wasn't as "showy" as Olivier, but I thought her to be a BRILLIANT actress and on stage, as well....I remember seeing her in the two Cleopatera's in New York...Anthony & Cleapatera and Ceasar & Cleopatra, and she was extrordinary...Later I saw her do Tovarich...again, amazing...How wonderful that you got to work with her Pat...!

And I agree with you about Kay Kendall...tragic, tragic, tragic...What a beautiful creature she was....!
I must look for that film "The Deep Blue Sea"...!
I soi enjoy all these chapters you are so generously giving us...!

PI said...

Naomi: 'The Deep Blue Sea' by Terence Rattigan was, I think much better as a play. (In later years I dircted it for a theatre club and found it heartrending.)
I saw Olivier on stage a few times and although i marvelled at his technique he never touched my heart whereas John Gielgud in 'Ivanov' made my hair stand on end - three times:)

apprentice said...

You haven't faded at all Pat and you were never plain.

It is so sad that Vivien had such a trgic life dog by mental illness. She was an exceptional beauty.

I loved Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady -I'm a closet musical fan. My Mum dragged me to them all. I'm still waiting for my seventh brother to build me a barn while i frolic in gigham ;)

PI said...

Anna: I used to be a bit sniffy about musicals - preferring strong meaty drama but my D in L took me to see 'My Fair Lady' a few years back and I was rocked off my feet. I remember seeing 'Seven brides' in London during my modeling period.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

oh oh oh... now listen, don't you dare go on holiday or any day trips or indeed have any fun at all until you've posted the next instalment!!!

PI said...

Zinnia: OK - no holidays , no day trips but fun? We shall see.