KENNETH MORE REFLECTIONS – A FAN REMEMBERS…

Kenneth More fan, Carolyn Jones is a research scientist at the University of Manchester, where she still works as an Honorary Research Fellow

Kenneth More fan, Carolyn Jones is a research scientist at the University of Manchester, where she still works as an Honorary Research Fellow

“When I was a teenager, probably about 12 or 13, I saw Genevieve and Doctor in the House at the cinema.  While all my contemporaries were rather smitten with Dirk Bogarde and other leading men, I was enchanted by Kenneth More.

There was something about his rakish personality that appealed to me.  For some reason or another, I wrote to him several times.  I cannot now recall the content of those letters, but in one I must have asked him about the colour of his eyes because he answered my question telling me they were trout’s eyes!

Kenneth More signed photo and response to fan Carolyn Jones

Kenneth More signed photo and response to fan Carolyn Jones

I know that I also wrote asking for photos of him in a Night To Remember and he sent me a card back telling me where I could obtain them.

Kenneth More response card (cover) to fan Carolyn Jone

Kenneth More response card (cover) to fan Carolyn Jone

Kenneth More response card to fan Carolyn Jones. Note this is an address card from the family home he shared with wife Mabel Barkby and daughter Sarah

Kenneth More response card to fan Carolyn Jones. Note this is an address card from the family home he shared with wife Mabel Barkby and daughter Sarah

Kenneth More signed photo to fan Carolyn Jones

Kenneth More signed photo to fan Carolyn Jones

I was so overjoyed when I got replies, and very touched that he would reply personally.  Sceptics told me he would never have signed them himself, a big star like that, but I am sure that he did –  the handwriting matched his printed signature for a start.  What a kind man to answer some stranger in that way, especially a young girl.

In my later years, when I look at those photos and his notes, I am always deeply touched and impressed and count myself extremely lucky. I was so sorry to hear of his death in 1982 and wanted to tell his wife how exceptionally kind her husband had been to me, so wrote a letter of condolence telling her of my experiences as a teenager.  I got a lovely reply back.  I treasure all these mementos of Kenny More, even though I am now well into my 70’s and a grandmother! I think he was a very special person and he will always have a place in my heart.

For me, his best film will always be Reach for the Sky, possibly because I have always loved Spitfires, and I found it so inspirational.  Last July I actually flew in a Spitfire at Duxford –  we looped the loop and did a barrel roll –  it was a dream come true!”

Carolyn Jones

'Reach for the Sky!' Fulfilling a childhood dream; Kenneth More fan Carolyn Jones gets ready for take off in a 1940s Spitfire at Duxford.

‘Reach for the Sky!’ Fulfilling a childhood dream; Kenneth More fan Carolyn Jones gets ready for take off in a 1940s Spitfire at Duxford.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: A TALE OF A TWO CITIES

Kenneth More on set for his last film performance as Jarvis Lorry in 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Photograph taken by Angela Douglas

Kenneth More on set for his last film performance as Jarvis Lorry in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. Photograph taken by Angela Douglas

One of the most unique objects captured in The Kenneth More Preservation Libraryis a little-known walking cane belonging to Kenneth More and used during the filming of his final screen role, as Jarvis Lorry in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

Sir Charles Blake Cochran (known also as C. B. Cochran), was a great impresario of British theatre, producing some of the most successful plays and musicals of the day during 1920s and 1930s. The cane originally belonged to Cochran until his passing when it was bequeathed to celebrated British actress Evelyn Laye CBE. Known to her friends as ‘Boo’, Evelyn is best remembered for her work on the London light opera stage, as well as stateside, appearing in multiple productions both on Broadway in New York and Hollywood, many of which were staged by Cochran.

Evelyn became close friends with Kenneth More and Angela Douglas during the 1960s, along with her husband Frank Lawton. Evelyn later gifted the cane to Kenny on September 20th 1969, only a few months after Frank Lawton had passed away at the age of 65.

In later life, and struggling with the onset of illness, Kenny found the cane invaluable for his balance during the filming of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, so much so it made it into the film as an actual prop for his character.

With Kenneth More’s passing the cane was donated by Angela Douglas to his beloved Garrick Club. It remains on the wall in the club’s lounge to this day.

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Silver top of walking cane with the inscription: Cockie’s Cane. Kenny from “Boo”, September 20 1969

Kenneth More's beloved Garrick Club

Kenneth More’s beloved Garrick Club

Walking cane images courtesy of The Garrick Club. Visit The Kenneth More Preservation Library here

FEATURES: KENNETH MORE: A MAN IN UNIFORM – David Parkinson

With Sink the Bismarck! on UK Blu-ray for the first time ever, film critic and historian David Parkinson takes us through Kenneth More: A Man in Uniform, an exclusive essay charting his service during wartime through to some of his most iconic military roles.

Kenneth More in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Kenneth More in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

You knew where you were with Kenneth More. Such was his reassuring presence on screen that audiences always had the feeling that things were going to turn out well in the end. Not that this made his films predictable. Far from it. But More exuded a confidence in himself and in his characters that transmitted itself to the rear stalls, none more so than when he was in uniform.

Ironically, the young Kenneth More had been rejected by the Royal Air Force and he had only become an assistant stage manager at the Windmill Theatre in Soho after his bid to become a fur trapper in Canada had stalled. Opened in 1932 and already celebrated for its nude tableaux vivants, the theatre also presented ‘Revudeville’ sketches and More became a member of the troupe after owner Vivian Van Damm had agreed to let him replace a comedian’s indisposed straight man. In 1936, More appeared before the camera for the first time when Ace Films recorded a clutch of skits for the shorts: Full Steam, Bottle Party (both 1936), Windmill Revels and Carry On London (both 1937).

He also landed a bit part in Basil Dean’s Gracie Fields vehicle, Look Up and Laugh (1936), which was filmed at Ealing Studios. But More spent the rest of the decade in repertory theatres, being acclaimed for his performance as airman CD Williams in James Parish’s melodrama, Distinguished Gathering (1938). However, when the Second World War broke out in September 1939, More joined the Royal Navy and attained the rank of lieutenant in seeing active service aboard the cruiser, HMS Aurora, and the aircraft carrier, HMS Victorious. As he told Michael Flanders in an interview for the BBC’s Omnibus in 1970, he was able to put his acting skills to good use in providing a running commentary for his shipmates below deck during engagements with the enemy. Indeed, he took great pride in the fact that there was never a trace of fear in his voice and he confided to Flanders that he felt he did his duty ‘damn well’.

Kenneth More’s beloved HMS Aurora (Arethusa-class). Source: Wikipedia

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Aerial view of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (R38), taken circa 1958-1960. Kenneth More served aboard during wartime. The ship is also mentioned in Sink the Bismarck as part of the Navy’s fleet. Source: Wikpedia

Kenneth More's wartime medals

Kenneth More’s wartime medals including campaign stars for Africa, Italy, the Atlantic and Pacific.

On being demobbed, More signed up with agent Harry Dubens, who would only represent actors with a good war record. While taking small parts on stage, More was also recruited by the BBC for a series of close-circuit productions designed to prepare performers and technicians for the resumption of live broadcasting. He played an RAF wing commander in They Flew Through the Sand, which was set in North Africa. More would reprise this role for the small audience of around 1350 licence holders shortly after he had made screen history in playing the German officer who is billeted on an elderly Frenchman (JH Roberts) and his niece (Antoinette Cellier) in the BBC’s first postwar drama, The Silence of the Sea, which aired on 7 June 1946. Adapted by Cyril Connolly from a novel that Jean Bruller had published covertly in 1942 under the pseudonym ‘Vercours’ (and which would be memorably filmed by Jean-Pierre Melville in 1949), Michael Barry’s production made innovative use of interior monologues that enabled More to create a sympathetic Nazi less than a year after the cessation of hostilities.

In between playing blinded war hero Julian Barrow in The Web (1946) and Captain Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra (1947), More branched out from the BBC to take the small part of a Lancaster bomber aimer in Peter Ustinov’s School For Secrets (1946), although he was quite unrecognisable in his flying uniform and outsized goggles. He was more visible as Lieutenant EGR `Teddy’ Evans in Charles Frend’s Scott of the Antarctic (1948), as the intrepid naval officer helped Robert Falcon Scott (John Mills) put together his ill-fated 1910-13 expedition to the South Pole. Indeed, Evans skippered the whaler Terra Nova before having to watch the final party of five disappear into the white horizon for the last leg of the trek.

But More readily disappeared back into anonymity when rent arrears prompted him to accept a £25 assignment as a prison warder in Alberto Cavalcanti’s For Them That Trespass (1949). As he was replacing a much taller actor at the eleventh hour, More and his ill-fitting uniform were confined to the background until Cavalcanti decided he needed someone to hand over a set of keys and More got a second day’s pay for the minimum effort. Next, he shrugged off being mis-billed as ‘Kenneth Moore’ to play the blackmailing Corporal Newman in Lawrence Huntington’s Man on the Run (1949), a rare instance of villainy that saw More threaten to expose deserter Derek Farr unless he supplemented his meagre Civvy Street salary as a gamekeeper’s assistant.

Michael Goodliffe and Kenneth More in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Michael Goodliffe and Kenneth More in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

He was back on the right side of the law in Michael Barry’s Stop Press Girl (1949), as he took the bit part of the police sergeant who is recognised by Gordon Jackson as his old army buddy ‘Bonzo’, while questioning Sally Ann Howes about her role in the smash-and-grab jewellery raid that she had succeeded in thwarting with her uncanny ability to grind mechanical objects to a halt. In Roy Ward Baker’s Morning Departure (1950), More was confined to shore duty as Lieutenant Commander James, as John Mills and his fellow survivors await rescue from the stricken submarine, HMS Trojan. However, he was very much out in the field (albeit out of uniform), as secret service agent Willy Shepley in Ralph Thomas’s The Clouded Yellow (1951), as he tracks Trevor Howard and murder suspect Jean Simmons through the Lake District to Liverpool with a mixture of admiration for and amusement at his erstwhile colleague’s ability to evade capture.

Kenneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Kenneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Sporting a smart Transatlantic Aircraft Corporation uniform, More got to flirt with stewardess Glynis Johns and attend passenger James Stewart as Dobson the co-pilot in Henry Hathaway’s adaptation of Nevil Shute’s No Highway in the Sky (1951). However, having given Stewart a guided tour of the control room, More’s good humour dissipates after the Farnborough boffin insists that the tail of the Rutland Reindeer in which they are flying is suffering from metal fatigue. On informing Johns that they are going to land at Gander Airport in Newfoundland, More calls Stewart ‘a ruddy little squirt’ and brands him an ‘inhuman swine’ after he sabotages the plane on the runway so that it can’t continue its flight.

Despite hoping that this 20th Century-Fox production would raise his profile in the United States, More discovered that he would not receive an on-screen billing. But British audiences were becoming increasingly familiar with his patented brand of jovial versatility, as his Channel Island artist overcame his conscientious objections to help undercover soldier David Niven rescue a prize pedigree cow in Ralph Thomas’s Appointment With Venus (1951) and his Irish stoker competed with George Cole and Robertson Hare for the affections of Joan Collins after they’re shipwrecked on a desert island in Noel Langley’s Our Girl Friday (1953). Although he doesn’t wear a uniform in either film, More displays a quiet form of heroism that is drolly subverted in Wendy Toye’s Raising a Riot (1955), as his high-ranking naval officer is forced to take compassionate leave in order to care for his three children in a country windmill after his wife is called to Canada to nurse her ailing mother. Reduced to wearing a pinny in his thwarted bid to instil some military discipline, More confirmed Picturegoer’s contention that he was a ‘contemporary actor who reflects the mood of today’.

Yet, while he had proved himself to be a dab hand at comedy as Ambrose Claverhouse in Henry Cornelius’s Genevieve (1953) and Richard Grimsdyke in Ralph Thomas’s Doctor in the House (1954), More reinforced his reputation as a fine dramatic actor in the 1952 stage version of Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea. Indeed, he was so impressive as ex-RAF pilot Freddie Page that he retained the role in both a 1954 BBC adaptation and Anatole Litvak’s 1955 feature, which saw More receive a BAFTA nomination and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. Although he has left the service by the time the story begins, Page is seen in flying gear getting a ticking off from a brass hat after performing a victory roll at the air show where he first meets future lover Hester Collyer (Vivien Leigh). However, their liaison is undermined by his growing frustration at being ‘chairborne not airborne’.

During filming, both producer Alexander Korda and Leigh’s husband, Laurence Olivier, had advised More that he would be mad to turn down David Lean’s invitation to headline his adaptation of Richard Mason’s novel, The Wind Cannot Read, in favour of playing Group Captain Douglas Bader, who had overcome the loss of both legs in a 1931 flying accident to serve in the RAF during the Second World War and attempt an escape from the infamous POW camp at Colditz. But, when Richard Burton turned down the role for the lead in Robert Rossen’s Alexander the Great (1955), More signed up for Lewis Gilbert’s take on Paul Brickhill’s biography, Reach For the Sky (1956), which transformed his career after it won the BAFTA for Best British Film and became the biggest earner at the British box-office since Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind (1939). More met Bader when they played golf together and he fully lived up to his conception of ‘a Rudyard Kipling fellow’. But, in toning down Bader’s bluster, More captured a form of middle-class masculinity that Films and Filming considered ‘a symbol of everything we like to think of as English’.

Kenneth More in uniform as 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller, on the set of A Night to Remember (Rank)

Kenneth More in uniform as 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller, on the set of A Night to Remember (Rank)

Having flipped the class coin as the butler who becomes the head of the household after yet another shipwreck in Lewis Gilbert’s adaptation of JM Barrie’s stage classic, The Admirable Crichton (1957), More displayed further courage in extremis as Second Officer Charles Lightoller in Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember (1958), a deeply moving account of the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic that incorporated clips from Herbert Selpin’s 1943 German film, Titanic. Few actors in this period endured such misfortune at sea and Henry Cornelius’s Next to No Time (1958) was notable for the fact that More finally reached his destination as a milquetoast engineer who undergoes a dramatic personality change while crossing the Atlantic aboard the Queen Elizabeth.

Although he was now one of British cinema’s biggest stars and a fixture on the annual box-office polls, More remained modest about his status. He would later joke to Flanders that he was convinced his peers dismissed him as a ‘same actor, different clothes’ journeyman. But More remained a firm favourite, whether he was sporting a tin star and toting a six-shooter as Jonathan Tibbs in Raoul Walsh’s cod Western, The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), or stepping into the shoes of a murdered spy as a tweed cap-wearing Richard Hannay in Ralph Thomas’s take on John Buchan’s The 39 Steps (1959). Yet not every project during this period came to fruition, as More’s hopes of playing a captain caught up in the Indian Mutiny in a centenary adaptation of the John Masters novel, Nightrunners of Bengal, fell through, while he declined the opportunity to wear another Nazi uniform in handing the lead in Roy Ward Baker’s POW thriller, The One That Got Away (1957), to Hardy Krüger.

 

enneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Kenneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

More continued to don a range of uniforms, however, as he swapped the army khaki and pith helmet worn by Captain Scott in J. Lee Thompson’s North West Frontier (1959) to escort a maharajah’s son and his American nanny (Lauren Bacall) across turn-of-the-century India for the naval blue donned by Captain Jonathan Shepard in Lewis Gilbert’s adaptation of CS Forester’s Sink the Bismarck! (1960). Rather than prowling the bridge, however, More was confined to the operations room at the Admiralty to plot the pursuit of Günther Lütjens (Karel Štepánek), the German admiral who had ordered the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to sink Shepard’s last command. However, More returned to action man mode as William Blood in Basil Dearden’s Man in the Moon (1960), in which he climbed into aircrew overalls and a space suit to play an everyman immune from disease who is covertly trained to become an astronaut.

As More approached his fifties, times began to change and the type of character at which he excelled was supplanted by angry young men with socio-political axes to grind. A decade earlier, More had eagerly supported the workforce takeover of a factory in Bernard Miles’s Chance of a Lifetime (1950), but he turned down the strike-breaking Richard Attenborough role in Bryan Forbes’s industrial relations saga, The Angry Silence (1960). Moreover, his reluctance to take a concerted crack at America left More looking vulnerable after he was fired by the Rank Organisation for heckling Managing Director John Davis at a BAFTA function at the Dorchester.

This jape also cost More the David Niven role in J. Lee Thompson’s blockbuster adaptation of Alistair McLean’s The Guns of Navarone (1961) and he had to settle for a return to navy blues to play the plain-speaking Lieutenant Commander Robert Badger in Wendy Toye’s mild comedy, We Joined the Navy (1962). Such was his status that More was invited to join the all-star cast of the multi-directored D-Day reconstruction, The Longest Day (1962). But bearded Juno beachmaster Captain John Maud was more of a guest slot than a pivotal role and two years were to pass before More returned to playing military types, as Major Colum Fitzgerald and the demobbed Wilfred Racy in a pair of small-screen presentations, The Scapegoat and Old Soldiers (both 1964).

Kenneth More Radio Times cover feature for The Scapegoat (BBC)

Kenneth More Radio Times cover feature for The Scapegoat (BBC). Another performance in uniform

As his cinematic fortunes dwindled, More rebuilt his reputation on television. most notably as Jolyon in the BBC’s epochal adaptation of John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga (1967). The same year, he returned to uniform as Wing Commander Frederick Yeo-Thomas in the Corporation’s The White Rabbit, which recreated the exploits of the recently deceased George Cross-winning SOE veteran in Occupied and Vichy France. However, BBC Controller of Features David Attenborough had acquired the rights to the story on the proviso that the five-part series was shown once before the tapes were wiped. Consequently, one of More’s most lauded later performances was lost forever, while plans to make a biopic of Yeo-Thomas, with either Richard Burton, Dirk Bogarde, James Mason or John Mills in the lead failed to materialise.

Bogarde and Mills guested in Richard Attenborough’s debut feature, Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), which saw More return to German uniform to play Kaiser Wilhelm II in the opening photo shoot sequence that culminates in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the various crowned heads and politicians striding across the map of Europe to arrange their alliances. Remaining in a Great War setting, More switched sides to play Colonel Freeman in Alberto Lattuada’s Fräulein Doktor (1969), in which he employs a firing squad in a bid to trick captured spy James Booth into revealing details of German agent Suzy Kendall’s mission to assassinate Lord Kitchener.

As Group Captain Baker in Guy Hamilton’s Battle of Britain (1969), More is busy reminding Section Officer Susannah York that gas mask holders are not to be used handbags and that the air raid trenches are not unisex when the Luftwaffe launches an Eagle Day attack on RAF Duxford in June 1940. Joining York behind some sandbags, More curses ‘Bastards!’, as he surveys the damage caused by the audacious daytime assault. This would be his last appearance in military uniform, although he would play retired brigadier Salt Lumley in John Jacobs’s Anglia TV adaptation of Frederick Bradnum’s Radio Four play, Goose With Pepper (1975), in which his idyllic rustic retirement is disturbed by a visit from Company Sergeant Major Goosely (Nigel Davenport).

Moreover, as GK Chesterton’s Roman Catholic sleuth, More also wore a dog-collared clerical uniform to solve the 13 cases in ITV’s 1974 series, Father Brown. He would continue acting for another six years on stage and screen, notably undermining the regime imposed upon a conquered Britain by the victorious Nazis as soap opera writer Peter Ingram in the BBC series, An Englishman’s Castle (1978). However, More was forced into retirement as his health declined and he died in July 1982.

It has sometimes been suggested that Kenneth More outlived his era. Yet, like so many of his contemporaries, he reinvented himself as a television actor and drew some of the best notices of his career for his later stage work. Six decades after his film heyday, the characters More played on the big screen – particularly those in uniform – have acquired a timeless quality that epitomises the best of a British spirit rooted in decency, dignity and courage. Acting with seemingly effortless insouciance, he invariably made parts his own and there was plenty of his own personality in even the historical figures he played. Over 80 years have passed since More started making films, but few have matched his achievement or surpassed his popularity.

With a career in journalism spanning over 30 years, David Parkinson is one of the UK’s most respected film critics. He is a contributing editor at Empire magazine and writes for the Radio Times, the BFI website and the Oxford Times. As an author his work includes: History of Film and 100 Ideas That Changed Film.

enneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Kenneth More and Dana Wynter in Sink the Bismarck! Image courtesy of Eureka Entertainment

Sink the Bismark! is available now for the first time ever on UK Blu-ray courtesy of Eureka Classics. You can order a copy here 

NEWS: SINK THE BISMARCK! Starring Kenneth More -available for the first time ever on UK Blu-ray

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One of Kenny’s finest screen performances has been released for the first time ever on UK Blu-ray as part of the Eureka Classics range.

Alongside Golden Globe winning actress Dana Wynter (Invasion Of The Body Snatchers) and a host of excellent British actors, Sink the Bismarck! is considered by many to be one of the finest British war films ever made and was the seventh most successful film released in Great Britain in 1960.

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Continuing his partnership with Academy Award nominated director Lewis Gilbert (Reach for the Sky, The Greengage Summer), Kenny stars as Captain Jonathan Shepard, Chief of Operations at the Admiralty in London, who leads the real-life story of the Royal Navy’s task force mission to hunt and sink Nazi Germany’s greatest battleship – the Bismarck, scourge of Atlantic shipping, which is pinned down at her anchorage in Norway. In the Spring of 1941, Bismarck makes a break for freedom and the safety of air cover from the Luftwaffe with devastating consequences.

Based on the book The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck by C. S. Forester (Horatio Hornblower, The African Queen), and receiving great acclaim for its authenticity and nail-biting combat sequences upon release, Sink the Bismarck! features actual combat footage, as well as real-life cruiser HMS Belfast (now preserved in London), utilised for filming to depict the Royal Navy warships involved in Bismarck’s pursuit.

With a 1080p presentation on Blu-ray, stereo and original mono options, and a brand new and exclusive interview with film historian Sheldon Hall, this is the definitive UK release of a British screen classic.

Sink the Bismarck! is out now. Click here to order.

Artwork and film images courtesy of Eureka Entertainment.

“a first-rate film re-creation of a thrilling historical event” – Variety

“this fine film fully captures the tensions, dangers and complexities of battle” – Radio Times

“a viewer could not ask for greater authenticity.” – The New York Times

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Original British ad for Sink the Bismarck!

 

 

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: POOH, PIGLET, KENNETH MORE & ME – ANGELA DOUGLAS

Kenneth More and Angela Douglas

Kenneth More and Angela Douglas

In the first of a series of articles focusing on digitised items from The Kenneth More Preservation Library, Angela Douglas tells the story surrounding a very special treasure.

“This book is very personal to me. Not so much the story, but the memory attached to it. Winnie the Pooh was one of Kenny’s favourite books growing up and he kept a copy all throughout his adult life. One day by chance we happened to talk on the subject and I replied somewhat timidly how I had never read the story. ‘What? It’s a must!’ Kenny replied. ‘We have to get that corrected!’

Not that long after a copy was presented to me and I have had it with me ever since!

 

“No “Shrimp” can ever go through life without having discovered Pooh, Piglet and co…”

Kenneth More

We had got together the previous year and our love for each other was instantaneous. It had nothing to do with who he was. In fact I remember saying to him ‘you could be Joe Bloggs for all I care!’ He laughed, ‘I am Joe Bloggs!’ From that moment forward this was the name which he chose to sign off cards and mementos to me. You will see that from his dedication in this book. It’s the first time it has been seen by the public.”

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Visit The Kenneth More Preservation Library here

Angela Douglas’ debut novel, ‘Josephine‘ is out now. Find out more here

FEATURES: KENNETH MORE REFLECTIONS – Christopher Timothy

Christopher Timothy

Christopher Timothy

Exclusive to KennethMore.com, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, Christopher Timothy, shares a few thoughts on Kenneth More.

On 12th August 1975, Anglia Television aired a one-off drama written by David Ambrose and adapted from a BBC radio play by Frederic Bradnum.

Directed by John Jacobs, ‘Goose with Pepper’ tells the story of retired Brigadier Salt Lumley (Kenneth More), and his shock at being confronted by his past in the form of former Sergeant-Major, CSM Goslett (played by Nigel Davenport).

This hour-long production not only starred Maria Aitken (Pat), Kenny’s wife and actress Angela Douglas (playing his daughter Sarah), Clive Morton (Sir George), but also the young and upcoming actor, Christopher Timothy (in the role of a Sergeant), who would shortly rise to fame on the BBC, playing celebrated Veterinary surgeon James Herriot, in the iconic television series ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

Kenny and Angela make the TV Times front cover promoting ‘Goose with Pepper’

Kenny and Angela make the TV Times front cover promoting ‘Goose with Pepper’

For Christopher Timothy, ‘Goose with Pepper’ was a chance to meet and work with one of his screen heroes, and to this day he has fond memories of the experience.

Christopher Timothy:

“Kenneth More was very much a part of my youth, a proper British film star, and in the 70’s I played a small part in a play for Anglia TV starring the great Kenneth More!

He was a star alright, without being in the least bit starry!

As well as a serious talent, he was so easy and enjoyable to work with. Charming, jolly, patient and very generous of himself.

He was a true gent and a delight, I am glad I knew him, albeit briefly.”

Actor Christopher Timothy is currently on screen in another iconic BBC’s television series, EastEnders.

FEATURES: KENNETH MORE REFLECTIONS – A DAUGHTER REMEMBERS

In an exclusive article for KennethMore.com, Kenny’s daughter Sarah Glaister shares some personal memories of her father.

Kenneth More and daughter Sarah at home in Queen's Gate

Kenneth More and daughter Sarah at home in Queen’s Gate

“The address was Kingston House North in Princes Gate opposite Hyde Park – Flat 8. We lived here from when I was 2 years old to when my mother and father (Kenneth More) separated in 1963. I remember how the study was lined with books, his encyclopedia Britannica’s proudly on display together with his volumes on Churchill. Behind his chair was his tropical fish aquarium which he loved.

Kenneth More's personal collection of Churchill's official memoirs

Kenneth More’s personal collection of Churchill’s official memoirs

The Greengage Summer. Susannah York (left) looks on with Elizabeth Dear and Sarah playing with their dolls

Kenneth More and daughter Sarah at the family home, Wargrave

Kenneth More and daughter Sarah at the family home, Wargrave

I have many memories of my father when I was young and my parents were together. I think one of my favourites was when he was filming The Greengage Summer (aka Loss of Innocence (1961), because I went on location with my mother and father to France during production. I loved all the children in the film, especially Elizabeth Dear who became my friend during filming.

I was always in the car whilst they were on set, and if they were actually filming I used to hide on the floor in the back so they wouldn’t see me!

I visited film sets often over these years, but this one in particular is the one I remember the most. I must have been about 7 years old.”

See more pictures of Kenny and Sarah together in the main gallery.

FEATURES: REMEMBERING KENNETH MORE – Allan Hunter

Kenneth More at the top of his fame in the 1950s

As part of a new series at KennethMore.com, Glasgow Film Festival Co-Director Allan Hunter pays tribute to Kenny…

‘It is forty years this month since I met Kenneth More. That Edinburgh day was a stinker; cold and miserable with rain thumping down. There were less people than you might have expected for his signing session at a central bookshop. More was every bit as affable and approachable as you would have hoped. He was the one asking questions about how far I had come and what my interests were. His personal charm merely reinforced the impression you would have gained from watching his countless screen appearances. I have still have my signed copy of More Or Less.

There was hardly a bigger star in British cinema during the 1950s than Kenneth More. There was something utterly dependable about him. If there was a crisis you could trust that his common sense, decency and calm confidence would be enough to save the day. Perhaps that explains why he was so good at portraying real life life heroes and born leaders. Movie stars can seem largely than life but More felt like a member of the family or someone you could share a pint with at the local pub. His acting was understated and unfussy. There was no bluster or grandstanding, just a humble striving to present a performance marked by honesty and humanity.

More received four BAFTA (Best British Actor nominations) for Genevieve (1953), Doctor In The House (1954), The Deep Blue Sea (1955) and Reach For The Sky (1956). The latter contains his performance as irrepressible flying ace Douglas Bader and probably remains his best known film.

Those nominations reflect the range of his talent. He may have been a stalwart of British war movies but he was also an extremely polished and pleasing light comedian, spot-on as the unflappable gentleman’s gentleman in The Admirable Crichton (1957) and providing lots of fun way out west in The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw (1958). Personal favourites among More’s films would have to include the very fine Titanic story A Night To Remember (1958), the rousing adventure North West Frontier (1959) and coming of age drama The Greengage Summer (1961).

Reputations come and go. What once seemed groundbreaking now feels old hat. More seemed to fall out of favour in the 1960s, eclipsed by a new generation of British stars, the rise of kitchen sink dramas and the arrival of angry young men. It is clear now that his best work has stood the test of time and deserves to be remembered, revisited and savoured.’

Allan Hunter is co-director of the Glasgow Film Festival. Follow him here on Twitter

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FEATURES: ODE TO SHRIMP BY KENNETH MORE

Kenneth More and Angela Douglas larking about in Sussex

Kenneth More and Angela Douglas larking about in Sussex

In the 1970’s a book was to be compiled featuring poems by several celebrities, each written with someone special in mind. Many people were sought to contribute including Spike Milligan. When Kenny was asked whether this might be something of interest to him, he jumped at the chance to write a poem in honour of his wife, Angela Douglas.

The book it seems never came to pass, but Kenny’s original poem survives in the estate’s archives and can be found below.

Kenny has signed his best wishes along with his home address on the reverse side of the poem.

KENNY MORE

HAS TO REMEMBER

“SHRIMP”

ALL DAY

A shrimp is a fish,

Or nearly so,

But does it have a mate?

I met a girl called Angela

I met her on a ‘date’

Now, ten years later, she’s my wife

*There’s a funny thing,

A little shrimp, that’s almost a fish,

Led to a wedding ring!

*Kenny was an admirer of Max Miller, who was well known for using the phrase “now there’s a funny thing”. No doubt its use here by Kenny is a direct reference…

Poem to Angela Douglas by Kenneth More

Poem to Angela Douglas by Kenneth More (front)

Poem to Angela Douglas by Kenneth More

Poem to Angela Douglas by Kenneth More (reverse)