I’m (almost) glad I’m old enough to have seen some of the great stars of vintage Hollywood in person. Thank goodness, I (mostly ) kept notes at the time.
In 1984, at the Haymarket Theatre in London, I saw Claudette Colbert in the play “Arent We All”. It felt as if Claudette had come straight off the set of one of her Paramount comedies to play the merry widow out to ensnare Rex Harrison . All eyes were on Claudette as she laughed her way through this 1920’s comedy of manners.
I waited for Claudette at the stage door and she was gracious to everyone before stepping into her limousine.
In 1983, while in Hollywood staying at the fabulous Roosevelt Hotel, I attended the American Cinema Awards and managed to see Ruby Keeler,Virginia O’Brien,Penny Singleton, Shelley Winters and Robert Cummings (who imitated my accent!).
In 1990, in New York, I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I had come out of a matinee of “Gypsy” starring Tyne Daly, and was walking up the street and found myself outside Sardis which had just been hosting an event for 80 year old Jessica Tandy.
As I stood there, with only a few people around me, out stepped Joan Bennett, Fay Wray,Geraldine Fitzgerald and Jessica. !! All looked well apart from Joan who looked frail. I spoke briefly to Jessica and then they were gone.
Even earlier, in 1973, I will never forget standing at the stage door of the Albery Theatre in London, before the start of the afternoon matinee of “The Constant Wife”, starring Ingrid Bergman. Only my friend and I were at the stage door and I grasped a photo of Ingrid in the hope she would sign it.
Suddenly, around the opposite corner of the building, she appeared and I stood there in amazement as Ingrid Bergman walked towards me! I’m afraid I didnt do too well in conversation but I think Ingrid understood and talked about the photo before signing it. Then, such a thrill to see her on stage.
Another London stage door I stood at many times in the 70s was Her Majestys when Lauren Bacall was starring in the musical version of “All About Eve”, called “Applause” . One day she turned up with her son, Sam Robards who must have been about 12. Lauren was wonderful as Margo Channing.
I know I also saw, in London, James Stewart in “Harvey” and Charlton Heston in “The Caine Mutiny” but cant recall much other than the sheer excitement of seeing them in person .
One of my best memories is seeing and talking to Eleanor Powell in 1979 when she attended the annual gathering of the Jeanette MacDonald fan club in Los Angeles. Eleanor was lovely to her fans and I will never forget a small group of us in a room and Eleanor sitting on the floor while she talked to us!!
I feel privileged to have these memories and just wish I had written down every second.