Well it has not been a happy few days in showbiz since we last shared the ramblings of this column together.
Yet again, a well-known star has been named in an allegation of criminal activities dating back decades and spread across the media. This time it is Sir Cliff Richard. I had the pleasure to organise and host a plaque unveiling in his honour at Elstree Studios in 2008.
I am shocked how the police handled this and how the BBC happened to be on hand when a raid was made on one of his homes. I am all for justice but I have perhaps the mistaken belief that in this country our legal system is based on innocent until proven guilty. How that equates with media and tabloid coverage before a person is even arrested, let alone charged, I know upsets many people.
If the celebrity is not subsequently charged they are tainted with a ‘well there is no smoke without fire’ attitude and if they do end up in court, how do you find a jury? They would surely be influenced by the media coverage.
I know one or two stars of yesteryear who must be grateful for being dead, who otherwise, with just cause, would be facing court actions today.
It was also a tragedy to read of the death of the very talented Robin Williams, who is the latest Hollywood star to commit suicide, and sadly unlikely to be the last.
I never met Robin but I understand he was a real gent and a caring human being, albeit
pursued by his personal demons.
He seemed to have everything and I imagine most readers find it odd that Robin took his life, leaving his family behind. Apparently he was suffering from severe depression and, although sober when he hanged himself, was tormented by money and career worries, plus a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. That proved a lethal combination and once again showed that you can have all that many of us dream of but sometimes it is not as simple as that. Hopefully he is now at peace and has left a legacy of great screen performances.
At least Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall enjoyed a full life before being struck down by a massive stroke weeks before her 90th birthday. She was still working and enjoying a career that stretched back to 1944.
That year she met Humphrey Bogart, who was apparently her first lover, and he became her husband and sometimes her co-star. They enjoyed a few years together before his untimely death from cancer in the late 1950s.
I think in later decades Lauren would get annoyed by interviewers who kept asking about Bogart and casting her as a professional widow while she had a life and career of her own. I did visit their old house in Beverly Hills and was amused that the present day owners had purchased and positioned a police car in the drive to deter film fans.
Lauren came to Elstree Studios in 1974 to be part of the all-star cast of Murder on the Orient Express. She gave a witty performance.
I met her at Elstree in 1989 when she was appearing in a low-budget movie entitled Tree
of Hands, which co-starred Peter Firth and Paul McGann. Lauren told me that her family were originally Jewish emigres to America from Russia and that she never forgot her roots.
About 20 years later, the Academy finally awarded her an honorary Oscar but it was awarded at a private event as the Academy had apparently discarded such awards from the televised show.
They have apparently decided that the young audiences television craves are not interested in seeing names of yesteryear they have never heard of being given awards.