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Tag Archives: Ray Jackson

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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Mel Brooks and his London Stage Version of “Young Frankenstein”.

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I decided to see “Young Frankenstein” before it closed because I was enamored with the film, which I saw four times, and I think that Mel Brooks is a genius, a brilliant comic, a great writer, and a very clever film director. All that in just one small package which spells ‘MEL BROOKS’!

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Mel Brooks

Well I should have saved my money. The best thing about the Show was the Curtain.

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Nimax Theatres Ltd., I believe, is the company that owns the Garrick Theatre.

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 The Garrick Theatre

Instead of acquiring another theatre, as they seem to do like like a baby octopus, they should spend some of their shekels on cleaning up and refurbishing the Garrick Theatre. It is a disgrace! When you sit in the dress circle you expect the seats to be comfortable. Not at the Garrick! The padding has practically worn down to the wood, and those that are in a fairly good condition are even worse, because you can finish up with a spring hallway up your arse!

Last year when I saw Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon in “The Painkiller” at the Garrick, I sat in the dress circle, maybe it could have been the same seat, and finished up with arse ache!  That was a ‘Real Painkiller’ and how appropriate! What a pun that is!

Well, things haven’t improved!

The usherettes stand at the doorway chewing gum and selling programmes, and they do not move. They’re busy talking! and talking! and talking! I think it was about the boys make-up!  They are not interested in showing you to your seat. I was told ‘Row D, Centre!’ by he or she or it. I didn’t know what it was!  All I do know is that usherettes are supposed to usher, move their arses, and take you to your seat. Not stand in the entrance talking and chewing and looking very bored. No wonder the show is coming off!  Most probably they are in the same quandary as the audience because they also don’t know where the rows are. I entered the theatre and couldn’t see a bloody thing! Remember I’m 88, no spring chicken! After stumbling around I found Row D. The aisles and quite a few seats are not numbered. Just a few have faded numbers. So you finish up counting from a number you can see to find your seat.

Nimax Theatres Ltd., do the bloody theatre up!!!

‘This is a fine start to my evening’s enjoyment’, I thought.

The Show itself was not good or really that funny. It was more like a No.1 touring version of the original West End production. In fact, I’ve seen better in the provinces. All I could think was that when Mel Brooks saw it, he quickly collected his money and caught the next plane back to the U.S.A. Very wise!

MEL BROOKS CAST PHOTO 2018-10-02_15-38-56They were the best of the bunch, and even they seemed to be tired!

 I was so disappointed with the show that I left at the Interval.

I don’t blame the cast or the production. If the seats would have been comfortable and the usherettes would have done their job, maybe I would have seen the whole show from a different prospective

But I have to blame the two usherettes and Nimax Theatres Ltd., who started it all, and got me really pissed off, and put me into such a bad mood!!!  What a disaster!!!

I haven’t talked much about the show, because truthfully  there was nothing really  much of importance to talk about.

42nd STREET DRURY LANE.

NOW “42nd. Street” at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. WOW!

That’s, what you call a Show!

I went from the ridiculous to the sublime! The show and the cast are fantastic! You just cannot fault it.

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With a cast of over 50, it is a gem and should run for years.

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I couldn’t believe that this was the same theatre that I played in when I was ‘ZEE and CO.” with Cannon and Ball when we made the T.V. Special so many, many, many years ago.

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Lulu was excellent, you couldn’t fault her.

I left the Theatre a very, very, very happy bunny!  That is what Show Business is all about!  Great Theatre! Wonderful memories of when I was working there. and seeing a wonderfully spectacular show.

 

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The Two PeopleWho Hold A Very Special Place In My Heart

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The Statue of Liberty, New York

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Ray and Angie

It was such a joy for me to return again to New York, just to see my beloved Angie once again. The happiness of seeing her once more, gives me such a warm and glad feeling in my heart. She has never changed, just the same sweet girl who I first met many years ago through George Kovari the Magician. When I think about it, it was George who literally forced me to engage her to become my principle assistant in “Zee & Co.”, and I thank God that he nagged and badgered me, and cajoled me, and insisted that I take her. I am indebted to him forever, otherwise a part of my heart would be empty and I would have lost out completely!

(This is a note that Angie gave me)

ANGIE'S ENVELOPE

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              Ray and Angie in our flat in Barons Keep

I’ve written so much about Ray, that you must be sick and tired of me mentioning him. But unfortunately he is just stuck there in my heart, and always will be.  Not a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of him. It’s nearly 30 years since he died, and I’m still here!!!     I’m beginning to sound like bloody Queen Victoria, and truthfully, and unfortunately for me, that is the way the dice has been cast!

ANGIES LETTER NO.2.

My first night there we ate Dinner again at the delightful ‘Trattoria del Arte’, with Randy her husband who took time out to see me from his busy work schedule. The food was excellent as always, plenty of Pino Grigio Wine which happens to be my favorite. It was there that she showed me the photo of herself and Ray, which she promised to have copied for me, before I left New York.

The noise in the Restaurant of the New Yorkers enjoying their food and talking happily was something I had forgotton about. It was so loud but everybody was enjoying themselves and having a good time, and that really is what life is all about. I had just forgotten that I was back in New York.

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New York at Night

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The Lights of Broadway

Angie took me to see 2 shows whilst I was in New York.

“Boys in the Band” and “Anastasia”

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The “Boys in the Band” I was so disappointed in, for one thing apart from the 3 principles.

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I couldn’t hear a lot of what the rest of the cast were saying. Of course! At my age I could be going deaf! It wasn’t a bit like I remembered it, and to be truthful I didn’t really enjoy it. I was told later by my very good friend Judson Barteaux when we met again for lunch, when I was in Fort Lauderdale, that part of the script had been changed “Political Correctness” why is it that a part of a play or even more seriously part of the World’s History and Heritage is just being changed and lost forever? This is a question that bothers me constantly. We are losing our very existence. Why, do people want to change everything? When it’s not even for the better!

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Anyway to round off the evening we went to Sardi’s for dinner, this happens to be one of my favorite Restaurants in New York. Very Theatrical!

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The following night we saw “Anastasia”.

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Fabulous!

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Now, that was another thing altogether!

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The Broadhurst Theatre

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Christy Altomare who plays Anastasia is outstanding.

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The Court of Tsar Nicholas 11 of Russia.

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Anastasia’s arrival in Paris

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The Train Station in Moscow, where they take the Train to Paris and the Train Journey. I’ve never seen anything like this on any Stage before. Can you imagine a train ride from Russia to France? Unbelievable! ! !

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The Train twists and turns through the Russian Countryside and all the various countries they pass by, and the various weather conditions, and the foliage changing with the climate. There are Maps showing their route as they go on their way through to Paris.

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The Train Journey through the Russian country side.

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The final arrival of the Train through a Forest of Red Maple Trees in full blossom leading, parting, and opening into Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Has to be one of the most beautiful scenes, to be seen on any Stage.

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The whole Show is quite amazing! It has to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on Broadway. You just cannot fault it.  It is perfection! When it comes to London see it and enjoy it. It should be No.1 on your bucket list.  

After seeing such a wonderful Show which was so amazing, Angie and I went to Joe Allen’s, another one of my favorites. Great food at this Restaurant. Theatrical also! Can’t help it the Theatre’s in my blood!

JOE ALLEN NEW YORK STREET

Then a last lunch at Barney’s with Angie and Randy. The time passed so fast. I would have loved to have spent more time with her. But time seems to go so quickly these days, and I’ve been around for such a long, long, long time!

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Barneys New York

NB. (I have to explain that Barney’s is a sort of cross between Fortnum & Mason and Harrods all rolled into one. Quite Ritzy!)

That is where Angie gave me the the framed photo of her and Ray in Barons Keep, and the following morning I caught the Amtrak Train to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Which is another story. You wouldn’t believe it!!!    To be continued:-

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in George Kovari, Ray Jackson

 

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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.

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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.

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This is a photo of my beautiful tame leopard Scorpio.

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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.

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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.

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The dining area

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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.

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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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Ray Jackson Remembered

RAY AND ERIC IN CANNES + 2

Ray Jackson

Today, October 25th, 2017, is the 28th anniversary of Ray’s death. 28 years! Where has the time gone? I have no idea! All I know is that the pain and ache is still here. When I think about him, which I do every day, it is as though it happened yesterday. The hurt is still there.

I feel as though I’m Queen Victoria pining over Albert, except I haven’t got a John Brown or an Abdul Karim to help me out.                                                                          More like Macauley Culkin. “Home Alone”! That’s just the way it is. That is my lot!

I miss him so much – talking to him, his wonderful sense of humour, and the laughter and oh! So very much! So very much! But most of all, he was my friend. I trusted him with my life. Never in a million years did I think that I would live this long. On the 13th of November I shall be 88 years old. Loneliness is a terrible thing, but please, dear reader, don’t feel sorry for me. My life is wonderful and really I’m very happy and content, but alone. There is a part of me that is lost and will never come back.

I remember, going back in years, it was either in 1995 or 1996 or even 1997, I’m not really sure of the date because really at that time I was so confused. Ray’s death had hit me so badly that I wasn’t sure of anything anymore or really what was happening. Even though it was nearly 10 years since he had died, it was as though I had an open knife wound in my heart that would not heal. I was forever on the move, all the time traveling between the villa in Fuengirola in Spain and the flat in London. Not working. Just on the move. It was like going from the sublime to the ridiculous every time I left Spain, but it brought me down to earth with a bang every time I was back in London, and all this time Ray, or I should say his ashes in a very unattractive urn, traveled with me. It would be on the mantleplace in Fuengirola or on the fire surround in London. It was all somewhat a little macabre. In fact it was very macabre, and many people said so, but I could not let go. I just could not believe that I had lost him forever.

Somehow I had to have him with me at all times and either flying to Spain or driving there, the urn travelled with me and I would talk to it. I think really I was either losing it mentally or I had already lost it! In fact I was always fully expecting the customs to open it thinking I had a stash of marijuana in there.

Whenever I was in London I would meet up with Daphne who was our cleaner when we were living in Barons Keep, and we had always kept in touch whether we were in the States or later in Spain. We would go to a pub in Soho Square and get quietly pissed talking about the old days and when Ray was alive. We spent good times together. Daphne was a spiritualist and when she was cleaning Barons Keep would collect hair from a hairbrush or comb and the odd nail clippings, both Ray’s and mine, and send them off to some crazy lady living in the country who would give her mangled readings about our hair or nails. Ray and I always took the letters with a pinch of salt, but Daphne believed it and it made her happy. She was forever telling me that her husband would die soon. The woman had told her that he hadn’t long to live, and she would be free. It deemed he was a burden to her. In Barons Keep when she was cleaning we always had a coffee together before she started work. When I wasn’t there, Ray would take over, although he wasn’t too keen on it as he used to say, “she talked too much”. On one of my returns to London post Ray, I got a call from Daphne’s daughter-in-law. She told me that she had been trying to telephone me for months, and, to cut a long story short, “Daphne had died”. The first thing I asked was whether her husband was still alive and she told me he was well and very much alive. So much for the clairvoyant who read hair and nails!

Well, I decided to talk to Ray (the urn, that is!). Daphne’s daughter-in-law told me that her ashes had been scattered in the Rose Garden of Remembrance at the Mortlake Crematorium

 

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MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM

I went there to see where they had strewn Daphne’s ashes. Daphne’s daughter-in-law had given me complete instructions as to the exact spot, by a rose tree on a certain path, in the Rose Garden. It was such a beautiful day and it was so beautiful there just by the Thames, peaceful and tranquil.  Ideal for Ray.

LONDON TOWER BRIDGE2018-02-24_15-03-26

Tower Bridge the main source of the winding Thames.

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A subsidiary of the winding Thames

    It was so ideal, that I thought that at long last I had found a spot for him to rest.

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THE CLOISTERS AT MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM

Well, I went back to the flat and talked to Ray (the urn, that is). I knew that he must have been as sick as I was with all the travelling backwards and forwards, and I told him that it was time I let him go and that it was quite beautiful where Daphne was and at least he would have company and someone to talk to, even though she might drive him mad now and again.

 

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A ROSE FROM THE ROSE GARDEN

So the deed was done and I had his ashes spread by the rose tree, so he could talk with Daphne and have a wonderful view of the Thames. They kept the urn at the crematorium. Talk about recycling, it wasn’t even theirs. I paid for it when Ray was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium!

So I had put Ray to rest. I wasn’t happy about it, but it had to be done, and he was in a beautiful spot and, God Bless him, he at least had Daphne to keep him company. In my mind I thought that when my time came I could have my ashes spread in the same spot (That all sounds so good and easy. Ha! Ha! Don’t believe it!). On my last visit, I am always taken there by my very good friend Shane Collins.

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SHANE COLLINS

Shane who is as famous as a Theatrical Agent as he is Theatre Producer and Director. He has received numerous awards for his brilliant productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. Too many for even me to remember. Whenever I am in London I stay with Shane and as I don’t drive any more (too old), he always takes me to the Mortlake  Crematorium.  I had asked him to spread my ashes in the same place as where Ray was when I pop my clogs. Don’t you believe it! The rose garden with all the paths had gone! In it’s place was a green field – no paths, no rose trees, nothing! With a big sign that said keep off the grass!  “Fuck it!”, I said to Shane, “When no-one was watching, go into the middle of the field and chuck my ashes towards the Thames, making sure, of course, that the wind was behind him. I didn’t want him to finish up with a mouth full of Eric Lindsay

 

PLAN OF MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM ROSE GARDEN

This is a plan of the way the ROSE GARDEN was, and Ray’s ashes where laid between 36R2 and 37R1 up in the top left hand path 36 – 37. Well when I was last there, there was nothing but lawn and a big fucking notice which said.

“KEEP OFF THE LAWN”

Well, sod that for a lark!

DO I BELIEVE IN EUTHANASIA?  YES!    

I have seen and read too much of the old people’s care homes, government-run or private. They are all the same, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. There is a total loss of all dignity and privacy.

When the time comes, I would like to be able to control my own destiny and death. The only thing that I would really wish for is to die on the 25th of October, the year doesn’t matter. Then, when and if I am remembered by friends it will be linked with Ray’s name, and the toast will be to the both of us, and we will be together at last.

So rest assured dear reader that for the time being I certainly won’t be popping my clogs this year or even in the near future. It’s just that I have to plan to wait for the 25th of October to come around one year in the future. 

Meanwhile I will stay very much alive and happy.

RAY JACKSON FOR NEW BLOG + 1

Ray Jackson.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Eric Lindsay, Ray Jackson

 

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