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Category Archives: Eric Lindsay

Mark Canter, England’s Erté without a doubt!

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Mark Canter

Mark Canter came into our lives many years ago when Danny Carroll (later Danny La Rue) brought him into “Heaven and Hell” for a coffee. Ray and I found him very quiet because Danny did most of the talking, as usual. But through the years we slowly got to know him and realized the wonderful talent he had for designing and creating costumes, and also his amazing wit, humour, and fun for life. This was all prior to the “Casino de Paris” days.  We were just two actors who ran “Heaven and Hell Coffee Bar” in Old Compton Street.

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To my mind, Mark was England’s Erté, a costume designer ‘par excellence’. His costume designs made Danny La Rue look as though he really had star quality and talent; far, far more than he really actually had. When you were to compare him up against the likes of Sonne Teal and Ricky Renee, truthfully, there was no comparison. 

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From the drawing board to the finished costume

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Mark was such a very clever and witty man. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh! My friend Joe Castle played such a big part in Mark’s life for many years. They were together until Mark passed away.

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Mark and Joe

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A Costume Design for Barbara Windsor.

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I was very lucky to have Mark design each and every costume for me for “ZEE & Co”.

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Mark, Ken Dodd and Joe in my dressing room in Liverpool.

Mark had designed all the costumes for my act. The photo above is when he and Joe came to the Adelphi Theatre to see the show. Basically, Ken Dodd gave me my chance at that time, and I stayed with him for almost a year. Ken had never seen costumes like them before. He was flabbergasted, as he so often mentioned to me. I am so grateful to Mark Canter and his costumes, which were completely black and silver for “Zee & Co.” They all contributed a great deal to my act becoming an international attraction through-out the world.

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Black velvet, beaded with diamanté

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A Mark Canter Creation for our appearance in “Dick Whittington” at the London Palladium.  He stuck to the black and silver theme which was part of our act. I insisted that Mark Designed my costumes, and they agreed!  “Quelle suprise!”

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A few more of Mark’s Designs

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When Danny opened his Club in Hanover Square, Mark designed all his costumes. As Danny’s star rose, so did Mark’s, but the strangest thing was that Danny, and also his partner Jack Hanson, never ever gave Mark the full credit that he so rightfully deserved. If a reporter or the BBC wanted to interview Mark, Jack or Danny would always make up an excuse that made it impossible for the interview to take place.  This was a regular occurrence. Somehow. they never wanted Mark to get his rightful credit. Were they frightened that they might have lost him if he became too famous? The costumes that Mark designed for Danny were stunning!

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Another Mark Canter Costume

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Apart from designing for Danny, Mark also designed for Barbara Windsor and Shirley Bassey and Diana Dors, and a whole Jewish and Arab contingency for which all the dresses were made by Darnell of London, one of the top Houses in its day. And the dresses cost an arm and a leg.  Also, for a short time Mark branched out into the Fresh Meat business by designing costumes for us at the Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club. He’d never seen so many tits in all his life! We did a Shakespearean edition on Shakespeare’s 400th Centenary, for which Mark designed the costumes. They were fantastic, true to the period, and, remember, they all had to come off in pieces!  Oh how we laughed at dress rehearsals. I remember one instance in particular When I produced a Dracula number (If I didn’t know about Dracula who should?). I had already had such trouble with the Gold Brothers when I told them that I was going to use a coffin on stage. The pair of them nearly died! (Then I would have needed two coffins!) No way were they going to have a coffin on stage at the “Casino de Paris”. So, I compromised and made up a frame and covered it in black velvet. It looked exactly like a coffin and it kept the Golds happy. With all the hassle I had with the brothers, I forgot to tell Mark a few things. Come dress rehearsal, I said, ”This is where she picks up the crucifix and the stake.’ From the back of the stools, I heard a loud scream. It was Mark. ‘What crucifix? What stake?  Eric, why the fuck didn’t you tell me beforehand?  You tell me now?’ But, Mark being Mark, within half an hour there was crucifix, and a stake. That was Mark, he could cope with anything. Oh, how we would laughed later that evening! I would always say,  ‘What crucifix? What stake?’  Of course, they both finished up starkers in the coffin in the end! No!!! Not Mark and the Golds! (Although it would have been interesting because rumour had it that Elliott Gold was built like a donkey!)  No!  But, Dracula and Audrey Crane, his lady disciple. Oh, how we laughed that day!

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Mark and Ray, forever the Actor!

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I remember one story Mark used to relate. He took his gold watch that he had bought at Kuchinsky’s (a very fashionable jewellers in the 60s) in Knightsbridge back to be repaired because there was a slight problem with the movement, which needed adjusting. After being allowed in by the uniformed guard, because the front door was always locked. Too many robberies! The young man behind the counter removed his eyeglass after examining the gold watch thoroughly. He hummed and hawed a little, and said to Mark, ‘You know the watch is quite a few years old and really it’s not in its first bloom of youth.’  Quick as a button Mark replied,  ‘Neither am I, but I’m not ready for the scrap heap yet!’ With that, he swept out the shop, with gold watch in hand, leaving the poor salesman with egg on his face for thinking he might have talked Mark into swapping the watch for a new model. The guard quickly opening the door in case Mark let his vent out on him!  That was the wit of Mark Canter, he always had an answer!

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Mark and Ray. “Halcyon Days”

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A Mark Canter Chinese creation

When I had my show, “Zee’s Summer Magic”, for John Redgrave Productions in the Isle of White, Mark Canter designed a complete set of Chinese costumes for my Chinese sequence for the whole company. This is just one of the costumes. There were too many to mention.

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Another Mark Canter Design from the drawing board to creation

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Another Mark Canter Creation

Danny La Rue was known for his costumes, which were all the creations of Mark Canter, but really Danny was just the clothes horse! They were all the genius that was Mark Canter,and long may they flourish!

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Mark was such a very clever man, with such a razor sharp wit. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh!

“God Bless You Mark.” Never Forgotten!

What Crucifix? What stake? Have the laugh on me, Mark!

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 This design is not Mark Canter’s. It’s from the Ivy Restaurant menu, which I purloined, (being very theatrical), but I thought it would round off the blog very nicely.

N.B.   I have removed the Marlene Dietrich photos for the time being , until I find the Mark Canter ones.

 

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I Lost The Plot!

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

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When I was in New York with Angie, she tried to get tickets for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, but they were like gold dust and those that were for sale from the “ticket scalpers” cost an arm and a leg.  ‘So, I told her to forget it!’ We went to see “The Boys in the Band” and “Anastasia” instead.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was in London one day and by chance happened to pass the Box Office of the Palace Theatre and thought, ‘I’ll chance it!’

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I went in and asked the young man in the Box Office if by chance there was a ticket for either a Wednesday or Saturday when Parts 1 and 2 were performed on the same day.

‘Sorry,’ he said, ‘you’re out of luck.’ (Long pause, while he studies the computer screen.  Then! Another, long pause)  All this time I’m holding my breath! ‘But I do have by chance, a return for same seat 3rd row, Grand Circle. (Posh name for the Upper Circle!)  ‘It’s a good seat! For 2 consecutive nights. Part 1 on Thursday and Part 2 on Friday.’  Before he’d finished talking!  ‘I’ll take them!’ I said.

So I left the theatre as happy as Larry, even though I was going to sit in the Upper Circle! I was going to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”! The critics both in London and New York raved about the play.

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Security Notice for everyone.

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The jam packed crowds waiting and queuing to get into the theatre.

On the Thursday night, I did all that was necessary, queuing at the side of the theatre, going through the barrier, and bag searched before entering the theatre. Then I took my place 3rd row Grand Circle and it was as he said, ‘A good seat!’ I could see everything. Part 1 was about to start.

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The programme for both nights.

No! I’m not going to tell you the story! That is a No! No!  You have to see the play.  All I can say is that the play, the staging, in fact the whole production is quite brilliant. Amazing, and I couldn’t wait to see Part 2 the next day.

On the Friday I had already arranged to have lunch with Joe Castle at Joe Allen’s in Covent Garden, and over a bottle of Pino Grigio.  We talked about the “good old days” and about his partner, Mark Canter, who had sadly passed away.

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Happier times.

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Joe Castle and Mark Canter

To my mind, Mark was England’s Erté, a costume designer par excellence. His costume designs made Danny La Rue look as though he really had star quality and talent; far more than he actually had. When you were to compare him up against the likes of Sonne Teal and Ricky Renee, there was no comparison.  Mark was such a very clever and witty man. He would always have us in stitches. Oh, how we would laugh! As a matter of fact, I have to do a blog on Mark alone, with photos, costumes and his designs.

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Mark Canter

We talked about Ray Jackson, my partner, who I lost at such an early age. It’s practically 30 years since he died, and I’m still here. Unfortunately! Also all the wonderful times we all had together. We laughed a lot and had a wonderful lunch, and to finish it off we had coffee and another large glass each of Pino Grigio. I told him I was seeing Part 2 of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” in the evening, which I couldn’t wait to see because the plot and also the staging was so brilliant. Oh! We had a great time!

After lunch, which was a joy, Joe said he would take me to Balthazar, a restaurant in Covent Garden, to see his friend Brian Silva, who happens to be one of the top barmen in the business and runs the bar in the restaurant.  There we each had a large glass of champagne and Brian gave me his wonderful book of cocktails called “BRIAN SILVA Mixing in the Right Circles at the BALTHAZAR”. Brian told us to wait whilst he sorted his staff out because he was coming off duty and he wanted to take us for a drink. Another!!! I explained that I had to be at the Palace Theatre to go through security by about 6pm, so it could only be a short one. Ha! Ha! ‘No problem!’, he said. ‘You’ll have plenty of time.’ So off we trotted to a great open-air bar near the Palace Theatre, and the three of us had each a very large glass of white wine. By this time I was quite merry and we said our goodbyes, and I went on my way.

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Well!!! (pause)  I duly queued and they searched my bag again and they let me into the theatre. There I was back in my old seat 3rd row Grand Circle (Upper Circle in the good old days!). Basically, it seemed, there was the same crowd that had been there the night before. The same guy sitting next to me on my left.

Part 2 of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” duly started and I was intrigued with the story. Then everything seemed to fly by me in flashes. I’m not sure whether I fell asleep or just nodded off. I couldn’t have snored otherwise the guy next to me would have nudged me to wake up. But anyway, I think I woke up at the interval, and I really couldn’t tell what had happened in the first part. I’d really and truly lost the fucking plot. So I spent the rest of the time when the second part started trying to figure out what had happened in the first part. I finished up none the wiser. I was well and truly fucked and pissed. I really haven’t a clue about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Part 2, which means that I have to go back to the theatre and try to book just for Part 2 again!

Next time I will definitely not have lunch beforehand!

 

 

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I’ve talked about “Zee & Co.” so often. Well, here it is!

I’ve talked about “Zee & Co.” so often. Well, here’s a chance for those who never saw my Act ( and there must be millions of the General Public, and those who are too young) and also those kind and wonderful people who follow my Blog. To see it!

Remember these T.V. performances were filmed in 1980-81, before the Age of Electronics and all those gimmicks that can now be added to Illusions. This is just plain Magic, and also you have the opportunity of seeing the lovely Angie, (who I talk about all the time), in action.

I’ve also added Cannon and Ball into this video, because at the time they were at the peak of their career, and it was a great privilege for me to be included in their T.V. Special that we performed live from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. We then went on to do a season with  them at the Apollo Theatre, Coventry. They are well worth watching.  Enjoy! ! !

 

 

 

 
 

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Treat yourself to a room on the Amtrak Train. Something I’ve always promised myself, for years. Well, don’t bother!!!

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Grand Union Railway Station

I Took the Amtrak Train from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida from the Grand Union Railway Station, New York as a gift to myself. This time I booked a room. That’s a laugh! You can forget it! Big mistake!!! Fortunately, I listened to the Amtrak Assistant at the Office who insisted that I send at least 2 sets of luggage on in advance. Because, as she said “There is not a lot of room in the room.” How right she was, and thank God I did. Otherwise I’d have been up shit creek without a paddle!

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The Room without 1 Suitcase and 1 Holdall.

The room is supposed to be for 2 people. I can tell you that if a married couple did the trip and shared the room, they would be starting divorce proceedings the moment they arrived at their destination! To use the toilet come shower you would have to climb over or knock out the other person. Once inside this combined toilet come shower, you would just have to pray that you don’t suffer from claustrophobia or have diarrhea! What do people do who are a little on the large size? I really dread to think! The toilet seat is so small (only for little bums) that you sit there with both cheeks clamped together. Everything you have to do in that room has to be at your own risk, and I’m sure there is a notice there to that effect.

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THIS IS THE TOILET COME SHOWER WITH THE DOOR OPEN

In the main room (that’s another laugh), there is a lighted button which says call for Attendant. There are only two rooms in total on the train. But does the Attendant come? Oh! No! He’s busy sitting in the Restaurant Car talking to the rest of the other Attendants. So you need to go and find him should you require anything.

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Come time to turn down the bed, by the time the double bed is made up there is a 6 inch gap between the wash-hand basin and the bed.

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Have you ever tried to squeeze through a 6 inch gap? By the time you are through, you need the kiss of life! I’m sure that you would be better off and have more room in a prison cell!

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So all those wonderful moments that I dreamed about as a child when I would go to the cinema with Rose. Those great moments in the old B Movies when the Gangsters would shoot it out and Romance also took place, all in on an Amtrak Train in a private Room. All those moment couldn’t have happened on this train or this room!

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All my hopes of living through those wonderful moments were dashed to the ground. Here I was on the luxurious Silver Amtrak Train in a cubby hole! The rooms on the Amtrak Train in the movies didn’t exist. They must have had some Dramatic License when they made the Films and just stretched the Rooms!  In the 60’s Ray and I went from Miami to New York on Amtrak, and at that time I booked couchettes thinking it was a room. It wasn’t it was bunk beds ( I didn’t know any better) But it finished up like a scene from “Some Like it Hot”, except we didn’t have Marylyn Monroe or Tony Curtis or Jack Lemmon to accompany us and liven things up! 

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Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot”

That trip was awful! So, this time I made sure and booked a room, and what happens I’ve done it again!

The room was definitely made for very, very, very little people   Even Janet Krankie would have found it a tight squeeze, and that was without Ian. Well maybe she could have always sat on his knee as Wee Jimmy and they could have done their brilliant Vent Act.

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Janet and Ian as Wee Jimmy doing their Vent Act.

But that wouldn’t be possible with the Political Correctness that they have these days.  There! It just all goes to show you! Another dream shattered!!!

If I would have known what the Train Journey would have been like. I would have caught the Train with “Anastasia”!

 

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Sir Ken Dodd R.I.P. My Tribute to Doddy.

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It is with deep sadness that I heard of the death of Ken Dodd.

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Eric and Ken in Liverpool 1979

Because without Ken Dodd there would never have been any International Illusionist “ZEE & CO.” Ken Dodd gave me my break, my first chance as an Illusionist. In fact, he gave me everything! He told John Redgrave, who was the producer of the show at the time during rehearsals, “Whatever he wants give him!”, and he did.

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I’m  happy to say that I worked with Ken for almost a year and enjoyed every moment of it. I got to know both Ken and Anne really well. All this was in 1968/69. He was to me a very kind gentleman and a brilliantly ‘clean’ comic who I used to watch nightly when he was doing the first nightly show of two.  The second Show went on for an eternity, Ken loved the Stage so much , he never left it! The Management even had to cut the Finale, which was lucky for us. Early night, so we could go out to a Restaurant. Ken was generous in every possible way (except where money was concerned!), but that’s another story. As you know by now, I can’t make a story short! I am inclined to go round my ‘arse to get to my elbow’ as the poet says!

Zee in the Ken Dodd Show in Scarborough 1988

Being with Ken for nearly a year gave me all the time to perfect and hone and polish the act. Within 2 years we, “Zee & Co”, were at the London Palladium, and during all this time Angie was with us. In fact, she was with us for nearly two years earlier, before Ray and I had even started, whilst we were trying to sort out the act. My beloved Angie who, God willing, I will be seeing later this year in New York.

How It All Happened

I had already done a Gala Charity Show at the Adelphi Theatre in London on a Sunday, where I had a load of photos taken. They looked really good and impressive. Which was more than the Act was at the time. Liberace and Danny La Rue were in the audience that night and also Barclay Shaw the Brilliant Puppeteer and Illusionist. He was appearing at the London Palladium with Liberace at the time, and he told me ” Eric the Act, the Illusions, everything is excellent.  But you yourself have to develop, your own style. Become Zee!”.  Style, style, style puzzled me? What did he mean by style? But I learnt fast, and truly developed a style that became “Zee”! I was “Zee”!  Thanks to Barclay Shaw, I’d finally got it!

ERIC-ZEE, LIBERACE AND DANNY LA RUE BACKSTAGE AT THE ADELPHI THEATRE.

Liberace, Me and Danny La Rue

My Agent at the time, Anne Zahl, had booked me a TV appearance on “The Good Old Days” at the Theatre Royal in Leeds. The Theatre ran a Variety Show all through the week and televised “The Good Old Days” live on a Sunday Night. Each act had just one hour to set up and rehearse. That is impossible for an Illusion act! Add to that  having to perform live in the evening show, and working with Two New Boy Assistants, and of course Angie  and Ray (who were both in as much of a state as I was), and you have a recipe for disaster!

It was  terrifying!  The Leeds Theatre Royal was the oldest music hall in England and had the worst stage rake (which means a slope a very dodgy slope) on any stage in England.  Of course, Anne had forgotten to tell me this, and all my Illusions were on wheels! No brakes!!! So no sooner had we got on stage than everything started rolling into the audience. We didn’t know how to stop them.   In fact, we couldn’t.  Well to cut a long story short, it was a disaster!  Fortunately, they cut me out of the show when it was shown, and quite rightly so. Well, going back to Ken, Ann Zahl told me that I should go and see him, and Ken, who was playing at the time in a Summer Season at the Royal Opera House in Scarborough, Yorkshire, and he really loved magic. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t contact him herself. Maybe she had seen the “Good Old Days” and heard and been told, that they had cut me out of it!  I don’t think she wanted to be my Agent any more.  Understandable!

I was very dubious about going all the way to Scarborough, Yorkshire without an appointment, and waiting outside the stage door when he might not even see me. It was not really me! It was definitely not really me at all! But then again? (Thinkssssss!!!) Oh fuck it!  I’ll go! and thank God I did!      

After waiting at the stage door for an eternity, he saw me. He was intrigued with my past history as an actor, owner of the Casino de Paris, and all those Nudes, and my photos. He told me that he was reopening The Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool, which had been closed for years, for Christmas 1968. The show would run for eight weeks, as a matter of fact it was so good it ran for ten or it could have been 12 I can’t remember!, and he would give me a contract for the whole run of the show at the princely sum of  £135 a week for the Act, which included Me, Ray, Angie, Two New Boy Assistants, my Leopard Scorpio, Suki the Chinchilla Cat and all the Illusions. He said, “Either you are very, very good or very, very, very bad!” If the truth be told, I would have done it for nothing!

Whilst waiting to start rehearsals, Ken phoned me one day to tell me that a few magicians, (The Bastards!)  had told him that my act was terrible, so bad that it had been cut out of the showing of the “Good Old Days”. So true! ( But then, that was what Magicians, are like. Evil Fuckers!) Ken, was a little worried, understandably, and thought that although he felt really right about me, he would like to give me a two week trial. I told him, “That if the boot would have been on the other foot. I would have done exactly the same”.   Two weeks, it was going to be.

So Ray and I, and Suki, booked a Suite at the Atlantic Palace Hotel overlooking the River Mersey,  Scorpio resided at the Royal Court Theatre.  By chance in the next door suite at the Hotel, was Cilla Black and Family, she was doing Panto in Liverpool.  So we were in good company. Believe me the Suite cost a lot more than the princely salary that Ken was paying me.  When I got to  know Ken better, he asked me whether he could come to the Atlantic Palace Hotel, because he’d never been inside the Hotel, and he would like to see our Suite, and of course have a drink. Would you believe it!  With all his money, and he still lived in Knotty Ash in the same house that he was born in!, and when we played in Scarborough. He was back there for a second season, because he had been so successful. He would drive all the way back to Knotty Ash, Liverpool, every night, so that he wouldn’t have the expense of staying in a Hotel. He just had this quirk, he just couldn’t spend his money. I did offer to spend it for him!  To that he cocked a deaf one! I used to say to him, “If you’ve got it, spend it! Life is too short!” I must have known something. But that’s another story!

When we finally opened, “Zee & Co.” proved to be an enormous success because we were presented properly and Ken let me close the First Half of the Show as agreed, and I had second billing as agreed. Even so, all this time I was worrying about the two weeks trial. Would he keep me on, or wouldn’t he? Ken never said a word during the whole two weeks, and I wouldn’t ask for fear that he would say I had to go. Everybody I spoke to said “Of course you’re staying on”, but Ken himself hadn’t told me anything. So, on the Friday night before my two weeks was up I finally plucked up the courage and I knocked on his dressing room door and asked him whether we were staying.   “Of course laddie,” he said. “Whatever made you think you weren’t?”

What a load off my mind that was  (Magicians eat your heart out!)

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So to you, Sir Ken Dodd, I thank you a million times for your kindness and generosity of what you gave to me. Ken Dodd, you were a great man! You gave me everything that was good for “Zee & Co.” I bow my head to you. May you always stay ‘tickling’ them up in Heaven!

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“God Rest Your Soul!”

Royal Variety Performance party at the Intercontinental Hotel, London, Britain - 04 Dec 2006

Lady Anne Dodd, nee Jones, and Ken. Thank God he married her! She deserves it, (also the money!) and may she stay blessed always.

Eric x x x

A little something extra, the brilliant Barclay Shaw with his wonderful act that he did at the London Palladium, with Liberace and Toto the Clown.

Liberace, Barclay Shaw and Toto the Clown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“San Simeon” My Folly!

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Let’s start with the Definition of the word “FOLLY”. 

A lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight. A foolish act or idea, and an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking. Which includes: “Ricky Renee’s”, “Stringer’s Last Stand” Eric Lindsay’s “Folies de Londres”, etc. etc. etc: and last but not least “San Simeon”.

Stupidity and extravagance, that goes into making up part of the definition of Folly, and I regret to say all these things pertain to me. I think I must be the idiot who invented the word Folly

When Ray and I decided on moving to Spain after the run of the Magic Castle Show at the Cambridge Theatre in London.

Ray wanted to buy an apartment on the Costa del Sol in Spain.

I wanted to build a house, because the cost of building on the Costa del Sol was so reasonable at the time. Who was I fooling! Folly!!!

I didn’t know it didn’t include, the excavation, the retaining walls, the paving to the villa, a swimming pool, the land fill, you name it, it didn’t include it.  

The house I designed was a brilliantly extravagant and picturesque structure that was built to my fanciful taste, and I have to say I planned it well. In fact it was my ‘Folly’! It had white marble floors throughout, Cazares stone Paving and Retaining Walls. Solar Panel Heating. You name it the Villa had it.

SAN SIMEON FRONT AND ENTRANCE

A view of the layout of the villa. It was large!

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The main entrance to San Simeon, looking through to the center atrium.With the barbeque.

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On closer look the two candelabra in the entrance were an exact copy of those in the film Sunset Boulevard. Ray loved that film, so I had them made.

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Inside the villa to the center atrium

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The atrium set for a dinner party. This was a usual occurrence during the summer months. Otherwise we would eat on the terrace or in the dining room.

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The Terrace from Scorpio’s Cage, so he could see me constantly. It also overlooked the Pool. This is me on the front terrace, with my Agent Jamie Phillips who happened to be staying.

SAN SIMEON SCORPIO'S CAGE AREA

Scorpio in his cage with all mod cons and a dormitory for him to sleep. Also he could watch the comings and goings of all ad infinitum.

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Here I am feeding Scorpio by hand in his cage, which I did every day. That is how tame he was.

SCORPIO IN SPAIN 2

This is a photo of my beautiful tame leopard Scorpio.

SAN SIMEON FRONT OF VILLA FROM STREET VIEW 1

Front view of the villa from the road. The little roof to the right of the terrace was where Scorpio’s cage and dormitory was. The Hollywood Double Staircase led down to the Pool Area.

SAN SIMEON FRONT OF VILLA FROM STREET 2

A secondary view of the Villa from the road.

Paying so much for the land was Folly, because the Builder that was recommended to us, by ‘friends’ (who most probably got a cut) robbed us and the plot of land that we original picked for the house, was in a different position to where our builder intended to build it. Most probably he got his plot a whole lot cheaper. Everything was completely different to where we had originally agreed. It was all a disaster!!! 

 

He refused to return our deposit.  Big fiasco! Money lost!!! (That was a time when I really needed Sadie’s Frank, or someone who could do maybe knee caps!)

So it meant getting another builder and starting all over again.

Ray tried to talk me out of it and normally when he made his case I would always listen and do as he said. After all he always knew best.

But I didn’t know he was ill and he hadn’t the strength to stand up to me to make his point.

So I went ahead and designed my dream house.

Idiot that I was. What a stupid action and idea it was on my part.

SAN SIMEON LOUNGE 1

The lounge, looking through to the dining room. 

SAN SIMEON SPAIN. THE LOUNGE

The other end of the Lounge leading to Ray’s bedroom.

SAN SIMEON SPAIN. THE LOUNGE

The dining area

SAN SIMEON ERIC 22

Me with my “Soungeroff Clown”

SAN SIMEON KITCHEN 22

The Kitchen

SAN SIMEON KITCHENNO 1.

The full Kitchen

So by now you must fully understand the definition of the word Folly. My Folly!!! A popular name for a very costly structure that I had built. Where ignorance is bliss it is Folly to be wise.

Thesaurus explains it as; a building or project that costs a lot of money. How right they were! What the Hell! 

SAN SIMEON STUDY & I OF THE 4 MASTER BEDROOMS

This was my Study that I built for myself, full of Magic.

Zee had this wonderful contract to Star in a new Revue at the Scala Cabaret in Barcelona and also Madrid, which was Spain’s equivalent to the Lido Cabaret in Paris. So for the whole time I would be working in either Barcelona or Madrid the Villa was being built. Or so I thought and by the time my contract was over, the villa would be finished.

Ha! Ha! Who was I kidding. The only thing that would be over was that everybody would be dead!

SAN SIMEON STUDY & I OF THE 4 MASTER BEDROOMS

Ray’s Master Bedroom with Bathroom en suite 

If I say so myself, the Villa was beautiful, and finally when it was finished. Finally! Finally! Finally!

My parents had died, Ray had died, his Mother had died, and I was left alone in this fucking big Villa with Scorpio my Leopard and Suki who was on her last legs, and the Villa still wasn’t completely finished. The swimming pool had yet to go in.

SAN SIMEON TERRACE AND POOL AREA 1

When the swimming pool, at long last, which was the last thing to be finished, and if I say so, finished it was a work of art.

SAN SIMEON TERRACE AND POOL AREA 22

Everyone now was dead,  including Scorpio who was put down as he had accidentally ripped my throat open (my fault completely), and also Suki from old age.

By that time I had lost it completely and I was drinking quite heavily.

Uncannily, the pool was finished exactly to the day one year later that Ray had died.

Was that an omen or what?

A fitting epitaph!

SAN SIMEON TERRACE AND POOL AREA

The mosaic was King Neptune on a Chariot drawn be three Sea Horses. It was quite beautiful.

Ray couldn’t swim so I designed the pool with two shallow ends, with the centre that was just 6ft. So that if Ray had had problems in the deep end that once he had started struggling he would have been in shallow waters. Little did I know that he would never see or use the pool?

 

Please note: All these photos were taken post Ray’s death.

San Simeon

(Ray loved the name)

William Randolph Hurst built San Simeon and everyone said it was a Beautiful Folly. It was a Castle on the Grand Scale.

Whilst the Castle was never completely finished, it stands as the remarkable achievement of one man’s dream.

So in my very small way I was doing the same thing and had the gall to name it the same as his fabulous Castle!

I designed a Villa built around a center courtyard, very Spanish. There were four Master Bedrooms with Bathrooms En Suite one in each corner of the house.

There was one for Ray, one for his Mother, one for my parents, and one for myself. There was also a covered 3 metre Terrace running around the House, perfect for keeping the Villa cool,and shaded from the sun.

 As time and the years passed and I had lost all my loved ones, I grew to hate the villa and Spain. I knew that I had to break away from a dream that had become a Folly. So I packed everything up and returned to England with Ray’s Urn. The removal firm lived up to their name, and in transit, removed half my possessions’ including most of my silver and valuables. Except those that I had managed to pack into my car.               But that’s another story…………….  

 

 

 
 

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Homage to Ricky Renee

RICKY RENEE PORTRAIT

It is with great sadness that I have just heard of the death of Ricky Renee.

Although there was no love lost between us, because too many bad memories occurred during the time that Ray and I spent with him in the late 60’s. when we opened the club for him called “Ricky Renee’s” in Covent Garden.

Ray and I never saw, spoke or had any contact with him whatsoever, from the day that we closed  “Ricky Renee’s” Club. As they say time heals all wounds, so what is the point of bearing malice and animosity when the same is going to come to all of us.

RICKY RENEE WHAT A TALENT!

He had it to his fingertips, the man and his persona was perfection itself and I have to hand it to him, he had such style.

Whereas Danny La Rue had meagre talent, but a brilliant business brain in the shape of Jack Hanson, Ricky Renee was all talent and unfortunately no business brain.

We gave him the best of everything, Douglas Darnell designed his costumes, the club setting was sumptuous, and he had a cast of the best West End performers supporting him. But it wasn’t to be! The Gods were not with us!

RICKY RENEE DRESS.

This is the way I best remember Ricky, glamorous!

The dress was solid bugle beads on chiffon. The coat was silk, trimmed with a white feater boa that went on for yards. The whole ensemble cost a fortune and was made by hand by Douglas Darnell. In fact, Shirley Bassey, who was then married to Kenny Hume, saw the show and immediately ordered a copy of the dress and coat from Douglas! When the show closed, Ricky being theatrical, as we all are, walked off with the dress and coat. That was last we saw of him, the dress and the coat, much to my chagrin! He must have worn it till it fell to pieces; judging from all the photos that I saw of him in it in later years.

ricky-renee-pose-1 BOTH

The tiger was a rug that we had at home.

RICKY RENEE'S CLUB LONDON. NEW 2

The finale of the show, Ricky as a man on my very expensive glass floor.

RICKY RENEE HALF AND HALFfe3170458286c0358166dde903be0ceb

The photo shoot to get this shot took hours.

ARTHUR HELLIWELL AND RICKY RENEE

One of the top reporters of the day, Arthur Helliwell of The People newspaper happened to be a friend of ours. Arthur was one of the toughest reporters going. He interviewed Ricky and gave him a glowing report, but all too late! It wasn’t to be!

Ricky Renee in 2002 old

Ricky in later years. I have no idea of the date, maybe 2002. He still looked good.

R.I.P. RICKY

So another great one has bit the dust.

 

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