Once again it is my pleasure to join you on our weekly ramble down Memory Lane. I note a new survey of young people and their wish they had been alive in the 1960s. I am certain most of my readers were alive in that decade and I loved that decade, albeit my winklepickers nearly crippled my feet so I turned to the more comfortable brothel creepers. I know, it is so non-PC, so I am hoping my editor will allow a grave dodger a bit of leeway.

Do you remember the one penny arrowroot biscuit whilst sitting outside a pub with a glass of lemonade while your parents went in for a drink? Was that child neglect? Do you recall going to the cinema and enjoying a cigarette whilst watching the latest film and quickly getting out when the credits ran to avoid standing for the national anthem? The old Gate Studios in Borehamwood was taken over by Harkness Screens, who had to replace cinema screens every two years due to the nicotine staining.

Elstree Studios was producing Cliff Richard films such as The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. I hosted a plaque unveiling saluting Cliff at the Studio in 2008 - what a great chap and a music legend. I was appalled how the media treated him in later years. Alas, the media is just a joke when they go on one of their crusades in the so-called public interest but actually to try and maintain their flagging sales or ratings.

In reality they would have a field day with what went on in Hollywood during its golden age that makes today's scandals small fry. I remember meeting 1950s heartthrob Tab Hunter in a London hotel to talk about his career many years ago. He told me about his gay relationship with Anthony Perkins, best remembered today for the film Psycho and how tinseltown tolerated homosexuals as long as they were box office. In the 1950s the press bowed down to Hollywood and all sorts of scandals were covered up, even with the help of the Los Angeles police. Looking the other way in return for a brown envelope was nothing unusual. Can you imagine trying that today?

Tab told me his manager was responsible for developing the careers of other Hollywood pin-ups of the 1950s such as Guy Madison, Troy Donahue and many others in return for, shall we say, the casting couch. His manager's most famous discovery was Rock Hudson, who he turned from a simple truck driver into a major Hollywood star. Sadly in those days being gay was not good for a film star. At one point a magazine threatened to reveal Rock's secret life. The manager bought them off by sacrificing another of his clients, Rory Calhoun, who was making a mark in Western films but had a criminal record.

Tab was a real gent and great fun to meet. Sadly, he and all those he mentioned are now gone. Rock had a really sad end and by that time the media revelled in it.

Having met many stars over the past several decades I have struggled with whether to be honest about some of them or help preserve their public image. Personally I do not feel that is my role, although I always encourage them if they write an autobiography to be honest. The sad fact is after you are dead anybody can write anything about you.

One day I might write about the Hollywood star who asked me if there were any, shall we say, ladies of the night in Borehamwood and another who just by entering his dressing room at Elstree I could have 'got high', but my lips are sealed. Until next time it was a pleasure to have your company and take care as that bloody virus is still out there and if you are young please get that jab. Remember it is only a small prick. As Dick Emery used to say 'you are awful but I like you'.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios