BACK TO WORK
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.