Stars of the 1950's to the 1980's

Our Company in the mid 1970's was called Sharestar Limited, comprising of myself, Bob Sherman, Tony Greville Bell, David Hemmings and Robert Fowler.

 

In 1975 David Hemmings was in a Film called The Olde Curiosity Shop, along with Anthony Newley, David Warner & Mona Wasbbourne. Mona later starred with Bob Sherman in James Stewart's great stage play Harvey, adapted from the original film of Harvey in 1950, It played to packed houses at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London.

 

Tony Newley was married to Joan Collins, whose sister Jackie I was to meet at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Beverley Hills in 1983, not long after that I believe it closed, or was sold to Disney.

 

Bio of Anthony Newley

Born: September 24, 1931; London, England Died: April 14, 1999; Jensen Beach, Florida Also known as: George Anthony Newley (full name) Principal works film score: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971 (with Leslie Bricusse). musical theater (music, lyrics, and libretto): Stop the World-I Want to Get Off, 1961 (with Bricusse); The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd, 1965 (with Bricusse). Principal recordings albums: Idle on Paradise, 1959; Love Is a Now and Then Thing, 1960; Tony, 1961; In My Solitude, 1964; Who Can I Turn To?, 1965; The Genius of Anthony Newley, 1966; Newley Recorded, 1966; Anthony Newley Sings Songs from Doctor Doolittle, 1967; The Romantic World of Anthony Newley, 1969; For You, 1970; Pure Imagination, 1971; Ain't It Funny, 1972; Mr. Personality, 1985; Too Much Woman, 1992. The Life George Anthony Newley (NEW-lee), born in London on September 24, 1931, was evacuated during the Blitz, when the Germans were bombing London in World War II. He was cared for by George Pescud, a retired music hall performer,who introduced Newley to performing. In 1946, three weeks after enrolling at the Italia Conti Stage School, he was hired to star in The Adventures of Dusty Bates (1947). His next two films, Vice Versa (1948) and Oliver Twist (1948), made him a child star. Newley also worked in the theater, making his 1955 West End debut and his 1956 Broadway debut in Cranks, a musical revue. In 1959 the ballad "I've Waited So Long", from the film Idle on Parade (1959) starring Newley as an Elvis Presley-type soldier, was released, catapulting him to the top of the British pop charts. His most important work came in 1961, when Stop theWorld-I Want to Get Off opened in London. This was followed by 1965's The Roar of the Greasepaint- The Smell of the Crowd. Both shows were cowritten with Leslie Bricusse. As a popular nightclub singer, Newley performed all around the world. He released more than thirty albums during his lifetime, and he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989. He died of cancer in 1999. The Music Newley's major achievements came in collaboration with Bricusse. Together they wrote the books and scores for two major Broadway musicals and the songs for various films and other productions. Newley, who performed in these shows, was a renowned song stylist. His flamboyant and emotional style and his real-life Cockney accent made him a successful nightclub performer. For years he headlined in Las Vegas alongside Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra, and in 1977 he was named Las Vegas Male Musical Star of the Year. Many of his songs went on to be standards, sung by newgenerations of singers. In 1989 he was inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, the fourth Englishman to be so honored. Stop the World-I Want to Get Off. Newley cowrote this musical comedy with collaborator Bricusse. Although Newley is often credited with the lyrics and Bricusse with the score, the tasks were shared. The show was a look at the dangers of reaching for fame and riches instead of valuing the treasures already in your life. The main character, Littlechap, begins his career as a tea boy, marries the boss's daughter, and starts to amass wealth and fame. Along the way, as he goes through the seven ages of man, he loses sight of what really matters to him: the love of his wife. The show opened in London in 1961, starring Newley as Littlechap, in clown makeup, and Anna Quayle playing all the female roles. Many felt that the show owed its great success, running for 485 performances, to its startling and groundbreaking production. There were almost no sets, although it looked vaguely like a circus. David Merrick mounted the show on Broadway in 1962, and it ran for 555 performances. Three songs are considered standards: "Gonna Build a Mountain", "Once in a Lifetime", and "What Kind of FoolAmI?" Nominated for five Tony Awards, it won only one, best actress for Quayle. The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd. Following their success, Newley and Bricusse wrote a second musical, an allegory about the British class system. Newley, as Cocky, the lowerclass characterwhoplays by the rules, is always losing out to Sir, from the upper class,whochanges the rules of engagement so that no matter what the situation Cocky can never succeed. A third character, Kid, a young man trying to emulate Sir, helps to keep Cocky downtrodden. The show was supposed to play in London, but early performances were not popular. However, Merrick saw the show in Liverpool, and he brought it to the United States. It toured the country before opening in New York in 1965, and it was a success, mostly because of its stars, Cyril Ritchard as Sir and Newley as Cocky. It ran for 232 performances.Manyfound the show too heavy-handed and tedious, and others disliked the British music hall style. It did introduce some famous songs: "A Day Like Today" and "Who Can I Turn To?" The show was nominated for six Tony Awards, but did not win any. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Newley and Bricusse were asked to write the score for the 1971 film version of Roald Dahl's children's classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). The film and the music achieved cult status. A version of "The Candy Man", the film's major song, released bySammyDavis, Jr., reachednumber one on the Billboard charts, and it became Davis's signature song. The score was nominated for an Academy Award. Musical Legacy Newley's legacy is twofold, as a composer and as an interpreter of music. His contribution as a composer-lyricist lies in the avant-garde nature of his two well-known musicals. By helping to create the concept musical and doing away with elaborate sets, he led the way for shows such as Cabaret (1966), Hair (1967), and A Chorus Line (1975). As a performer, Newley had quite an impact on British pop singers. Newley had a pronounced Cockney accent, which he never tried to conceal. His great success on the charts in the early 1960's persuaded other singers that they, too, could sing in their natural voices and be accepted in both England and America. In 2006 David Bowie acknowledged Newley's influence on his career, saying that Newley was the first singer he had ever heard sing pop with a British accent.

At the 1977 Film Festival, we arrived late by car from London. With me were David Hemmings (Of Blow Up Fame) The Charge of the Light Brigade among dozens of other films). Anthony Greville Bell (A world War 11 decorated hero and Film script writer), and Chris Dillinger (No relation to you know who). Trying to get into the Carlton Hotel proved just about impossible, and at the door Hemmings saw David Bowie, we got in with him, and spent some time in the bar. A man in a black suit with black shirt was siiting close by, he got up and went to get a drink, Tony Greville Bell, remarked to us all, who does he think he is, the Man in Black? Bowie turned around and said, no he was a very famous writer called Truman Capote. That shut Tony up, as he could always be a bit caustic. It was at this same Festival that I met Cassius Clay and informed him I was Mohammed Ally before he was. This was pursuant to a Christmas Pantomine in the Army, where I was the resident Magician named Mohammed Ally, (by kind permission of King Farouk). It was also at about this time, that Cassius Clay was beginning to show signs of a speech problem. We all finished up that night going to Monaco to the Casino, George Peppard went with us.

 As I said earlier, I have met some well-known celebrities in various strange places; maybe this was because I travelled considerably and of course was involved with the entertainment industry for some time. However during the early part of 1960’s, after being de-mobbed from the army, through a number of circuities routes I became involved with real estate. Eric Sykes and Tommy Cooper decided to make a film called “The Plank” One of their locations was at Caversham Park near Henley on Thames, our development suited them due to the fact that they required houses that were in different stages of construction. I think it was on Galsworthy Drive that they chose a house we called the Dalkeith. The plot was for either Tommy Cooper or Eric Sykes to be filmed coming down from the second floor, they shot the film 5 times to make it look like it was a five story building, then the exterior shot showed them coming out of a two story house. Tommy Cooper, as all of the British people will know was one of the funniest magicians in the UK at that time, he can be googled and his magic was hilarious. As I remember, also being an ardent magician myself from a very early age, we got together during the ever waiting times for various scenes. Many years later I was to meet Tommy Cooper again, at the famous Davenports Magic shop, opposite the British Museum in Great Russell Street, London. (Now at Charring Cross). I was already inside the shop, along with about 6 or 7 other customers, Tommy walked in and got as far as the door front, and as he was very tall, he virtually blocked the entire door. Tommy did not have to say anything to make people laugh, his face did it all. The entire shop fell about when he looked in, with his normal blank look, he was so embarrassed that he turned around and went out. I followed and said Hi Mr. Cooper do you remember me from Caversham and the Plank. He immediately said yes, and then remarked I will never understand why the public always laugh at me and I have not done anything, he was truly bewildered. Tommy Cooper was to die in front of an entire audience of millions on TV at Her Majesties Theatre in London. The Actor David Threlfall has admitted it was tough filming Tommy Cooper's final moments as part of a new ITV drama. The actor - who also played Frank Gallagher in Shameless - also said it was 'chilling' footage of the comedian's death was still available to watch on YouTube. Cooper died aged 63 during a television performance on Live From Her Majesty's in front of millions of viewers. The actor told The Sun: "It's not romantic for me. I don't think he would have loved going like that." Footage from the comedy legend's final performance is available on YouTube. Warning, it is very disturbing.

Eric Sykes was born in Oldham Lancashire in the early 1920’s. His mother died giving birth to him. This caused a major setback in his early life in that he never felt the love of a mother. He describes all of this in his autobiography, I have just read called “If I Don’t Write It, Who Will”.

I was present when Eric and Tommy Cooper made the Classic short British film comedy, full of stars, about two workmen delivering planks to a building site. This is done with music and a sort of "wordless dialogue" which consists of a few mumbled sounds to convey the appropriate emotion. The Plank was partly made at Caversham Park Village in the late 1960’s.

I remember Eric Sykes arriving in a big black limousine to our site on Galsworthy Road. He seemed very distant and did not say much at all. Tommy Cooper on the other hand was quite different.

Craig Douglas, famous for his hit "Only Sixteen" was a friend of my girl friend Nan Wright who worked for London Management in the 1970's. Michael Grade was her boss. Craig lived near Harrods and we were occasional gusets at his home. You can see his famous song on the below link.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxXJ1OebPaI

John Mills, a giant of British Films a national and internationally known actor, Johnnie Mills was a huge image on the silver screen, but diminutive in real life. He was a frequent visitor to the St. James’s Club, just up from where I lived in St. James. In 1989 I was with Joe Zapata at the St. James’s Club, when one of the stewards came to our breakfast table, saying there was a long distance call from the USA. He brought a white telephone to the table, and Joe picked it up and said Joe Zapata here. The voice on the other end was familiar, and Joe’s eyes went wide, as he repeated several times yes sir, yes sir. Thank you for the call Mr. President. He had just been made the Ambassador to Spain.

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