A SPACE FOR REFLECTION

I appeared in a few of Pathé Pictorial’s onscreen newsreels, seen before the feature in the old days (with perhaps a cartoon), or to pass the time while waiting for a train. Now we can watch many of these old clips again.

This is great news! With funds from the National Lottery, they have digitized their inventory.

I’m writing a play which includes my childhood actor days back in the forties (I’ve been accused of being Britain’s Justin Bieber back then!)   There’s going to be a reunion in London, and I hope to be at the Cinema Museum to join them. You can skip what follows if you wish, otherwise you might find it of interest:

Three of us young kids were chosen for this newsreel, because we were “making a name for ourselves“.

It’s fun to see, and then go fast forward to our adulthood, and see how it panned out. First there was me, no secrets here. Then there was Peter Katin, a still living and busy concert pianist.

Finally, Victor Feldman, and if you are a jazz enthusiast, you know who he is, or was. Sadly, he died a few years ago. I ran into him at a club in North Hollywood one evening, asked him if he remembered when we last met, and he said he couldn’t remember anything that far back! He was considered the young Gene Krupa on the British scene, but then went on to other instruments. An all around musician.

Here are some others:

This is the only remnant of the radio Will Hay Programme that I can find. That the BBC didn’t preserve those shows for the record is shocking.
My transition from Will Hay to Just William.
Here were the actors of yesterday, now living at Denville Hall, London, followed by the promising stars of tomorrow.

My play will be attempt at an autobiography as told from the stage, hopefully entertaining. I plan to use some frames as stage projections.

And if you got this far, thanks for indulging me.

John, I see you were born in London in 1932 and attended Watford Grammar School. Given that you started working for the BBC in 1944 you must have planned to be an actor from a very early age. Was that always your ambition? Did you have early training?

Three nos. I had no plan to be an actor, no ambition, and no training. When I went to Kings Langley’s Rudolph Steiner school (locally known as the “do as you like” school), at the age of ten, I was cast in the annual school play, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed outdoors in the garden. But that was it, and I hated doing it, it seemed kind of gay; I was not turned on to acting, and had no thoughts along those lines. 

Your first show on BBC radio was The Will Hay Programme in 1944 where you acted as D’Arcy Minor, the swot of St. Michael’s. How did that come about? And was it fun working with Will Hay?

My family lived in Chipperfield, Herts, in those days, and I was coming home on the bus after school one day in August, when a man came up to me who I recognized, for he lived down the road. His name was Alick Hayes, and he asked me if I was a good reader. I told him yes, and he said could I come over later, meet his wife Zillah, have a cup of tea, and read him something out of the Evening Standard, so after supper I did. He tested me for fluency, to see if I could read without stumbling, and he was pleased that I could. He then explained that he was a BBC producer, and was about to start a new BBC radio comedy series, but the young actor he was going to use had just got sick, and he had an emergency, and maybe I could help out.

The show was The Will Hay Programme (The Diary of a Schoolmaster) and the part was that of a very clever young swot who said very long multi-syllabic words instead of shorter ones whenever he answered the schoolmaster’s questions. Mr Hayes wanted me to play it, just the first show, and he said it would save him from having to find another actor quickly from an acting academy. It was going out live in front of an audience from the Paris Cinema, a basement BBC studio off Piccadilly Circus, in just three days’ time.

I raced home, told my parents, said please let me do it, it sounds like fun, and it pays money. So my mother took me up to London next day, and that is where I met Will Hay and the rest of the cast – one schoolmaster and three students, so-called. Smart was the cheeky one (played by the very professional actor Charles Hawtrey), Beckett the dumb one (Billy Nicholls, on his day off from the RAF), and D’Arcy Minor, the studious swot (me). The joke was that I was the only real schoolboy (eleven years old). Will Hay was repeating the same schoolmaster act he had done in several of his films (Good Morning Boys, 1937, etc). It will be remembered that the comedy came out of the fact that he was a hopeless teacher, and the students took over.

That first day I remember well. Continue Reading Just William Society Magazine interview

June 1st. 2013

I see that my late ex will be having an Off-Broadway theatre named for her at a June 3rd 2013 ceremony in New York. The 45 Bleecker Street Theatre will thereafter be called the Lynn Redgrave Theatre. I am pleased for her. I plan to be there, and to become re-acquainted with my children and old family members and friends.

This has given me occasion to reflect on our life together.

Lynn and I, over the course of a little under 33 years, made a change in the landscape for the life of actors, for the better, I do believe. We never went looking for trouble. It came to us, and instead of burying it, we fought back.

REVIEW

First was a lawsuit against the Gate Theatre in Dublin. We put on a play starring Lynn and Dan O’Herlihy, my first directing job actually. We ran for 3 sold-out weeks (the longest they’d book us), the best box office in their history. Our deal was to split profits, which were excellent. Instead, they took half of our gross receipts. Discovery revealed that the Irish government, the owners, had years before ordered the management to make the theatre available to outside Irish companies for free. We lived locally, hired Irish actors, financed the show, and of course paid all the costs of our production. A 4-wall deal. We lost the case because their manager got me to initial a contract clause over my shoulder while I was directing a scene. The judge held me to it. We left Dublin soon after, leaving an Irish Equity with a smile on its face, for we had broken the Gate’s hold on their previous minimal actor’s salaries. It’s worth mentioning that despite (or because of) using an Irish attorney, brother of a prominent Irish actor, we lost and didn’t get our money back.

Then we headed West, back to my home town of New York, where we were soon greeted with a lawsuit filed against us by U.S. Equity who extorted 5% of my wife’s self-paid salary as dues, from a year’s tour we took across America with our own show, financed by us and directed by me. We had posted Equity bonds at each date, and they refused to return them. Again, we lost. Because of Vanessa’s political views, Lynn was under watch, and the release of her green card was held up. Equity rules defined a green card holder as actually holding it in her hand! The judge said this was a stupid lawsuit, but was forced to rule in their favor.  They returned the bonds less 5%. But, in a form of revenge you might say, we made a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, who summoned the leaders of all of the performing unions, and found that Equity alone had been breaking the law for years, penalizing foreign stage performers for daring to peddle their art in America. They had constructed a punitive discriminatory dues structure, in order to discourage them. This time we won because they won. Now foreign actors are treated equally, and have a smile on their faces too, because it has led to a relatively free exchange of actors between America and England and elsewhere. Certainly audiences have applauded this development. We however, were deprived of financial satisfaction because we were outside the Statute of Limitations (3 year rule.) Yul Brynner received hundreds of thousands of dollars which nearly broke the union, but he was very nice, he invited me to lunch with him at the Bel Air, and gave me a bunch of daffodils for her, by way of his thanks.

Next came our famous lawsuit against Lew Wasserman and MCA/Universal, when Lynn was fired for wishing to breastfeed our daughter Annabel at work. Our thoroughly compromised WMA agent didn’t help, nor did our attorneys, and UTV’s press department went to work. Our suit was quietly dismissed by a corrupted judge headed for retirement. I wrote about it in the “Housecalls, what really happened” topic on the left. Expensive yeah, and actor mothers and fathers were eternally grateful for causing all Film and TV companies to provide facilities for employees who were new mothers and their babies. That was the only positive to come out of that case. In the event, they were ordered to reimburse our attorneys’ fees. They didn’t. They’d faxed notice of a hearing to our locked office while we were performing Love Letters up in San Francisco, and avoided payment due to our non-appearance, thanks to their famed “I always win” attorney Gale Title. No transcript was made of the proceedings, so Lew kept all of our attorney fees, and we never knew how he managed to make that happen.

Next, Lynn and I were asked to lead the Players, Edwin Booth’s 1888 gift to actors on Gramercy Park, by our close friends Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon. I’d been a member for many years. The club was in dire straits. No proper books, so we gave them 20 grand to construct a proper set. Then our tough love for them proved to be too much, and we were summarily ejected. They’re still floundering. I see that steps are being taken by insiders for a clean sweep to improve its chances of survival. For my trouble, I’ve been called John Sleeper Clarke.

This gives me pause. The comparisons are striking! Booths = Redgraves! Consider: Separated by about one hundred years, it produces quite startling results. Junius Brutus cf. Sir Michael = Shakespearean actors, patriarchs and family founders, both. John Wilkes cf. Corin and Vanessa = fiery political trouble-makers, both. Asia cf. Lynn = good writers, recorders of their family stories, both. John Clarke cf. John Clark (me), married to those same sisters. We are the link by our same name. We are both lawyerly, both wicked comedians, both into management, and as Asia wrote to her brother Edwin “He lives a free going bachelor life and does what he likes.”  Sorry, no comment from me there, and he’s dead! Enough already.

COMPLAINT

To bring us up to date, I am here to say that the tradition is still alive, even though Lynn isn’t. I still choose to live dangerously, sui juris, out of some kind of personality defect, contrariness, orneriness, or just some kind of survival instinct from bad ad litem experiences – it’s not for me to say. But today I filed a Complaint with the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau, and the Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs against The Breakdown Services, Ltd. This is only a start, but hopefully it will lead to a satisfactory finish. Their stranglehold on the casting process is a scandal. Read it here:

I am a British born professional actor age 80, and have been a union member in England, Canada and America since 1944 (SAG/AFTRA, US Equity, ACTRA, Canadian Equity, British Equity). I am and have been a U.S. citizen since 1965. I do not use a “manager” or an “agent” because of past conflict of interest problems with them, and the experience of a major lawsuit against the William Morris Agency. I get my own acting jobs, but am effectively prevented from doing so.

I need to avail myself of full casting information from the Breakdowns, aka “Breakdown Services” (hereinafter “BS”), which is a monopoly service employed by all big and small movie and TV production and theatre companies. Scripts and story lines are received by BS from these companies, and from them, BS creates a breakdown of story plots and characters. This information is supplied EXCLUSIVELY to agents and/or managers electronically for money and profit, which is their business practice.

Actors, the subject of these notices, are shut out from seeing all, I said all, of them!

The owner/founder of BS, Gary Marsh, told his audience at a seminar he gave the evening of March 20, 2013 at the premises where I live at Oakwood, Barham Blvd. Hollywood, to a group of child actors and their mothers that he has criminal lawsuits pending against actors who have bootlegged his information. I have done this in the past. He told me that I could not buy their services at any price, only managers and agents, and between them they set the rules. I asked him if I could receive this information if I became a manager, and he said I could not qualify because I am an actor, and if I “wear 2 hats”, I would still be denied. There were at least 20 witnesses.

If you think that Mr. Marsh is not serious, look what he did to Mr. Brian Burke. He got himself a judgment of $1.3 million, and put Burke behind bars for 20 days for not obeying his court order! That’s an abuse of power, Mr. Marsh, a terrible abuse of actors who are trying to find available  work which you keep secret except for your paying privileged customers, aka agents and managers. You claim that it is the production companies and casting directors who make your rules. That, Mr. Marsh, is BS! The best of BS!

I believe that all actors are protected from this kind of discriminatory anti-competitive practice by government law, such as The Sherman Act, of July 2, 1890, ch. 647, 26 S 209, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1–7. Permit yourself to read it, Mr. Marsh, assuming you respect the laws of the United States.

Breakdown Services operates and reaches across state lines from coast to coast, and abroad. There is no competitive service anywhere. 

As settlement, I DEMAND

That the Breakdown Services provides this information ONLINE, so that ALL ACTORS across the world have access to it, at NO CHARGE. Any cost or expense should be born by the Breakdown Services, and passed on to the production companies. It is their joint problem. Together, they created it.

This complaint will soon appear online for the inspection and I hope support of actors. No, not their managers, and not their agents, and not the production companies. They’ll hate it. Actors don’t wish to be “protected from themselves” (see Gary Marsh’s Q&A link above) and will care, and, I’m pretty sure, SAG/Aftra and Equity will care too. I hope the brave ones will flock to support the request. This is not to denigrate Breakdown Services, for they do a fine job. We just want them to open up to us, the central sine qua non of their business, and stop insulting our intelligence.

Follow along and let me know you support this complaint, so that regulators are assured that we actors and directors WANT to know what jobs are available, 100% of them, not just for our enablers (managers and agents) to know, if you employ them at all, but ALL of us. Actors have voices off camera too, in our free society. Let them be heard loud and clear.

My Twitter handle is John Clark@johnclarknew. Click on it. I need feedback!

I hope it will not be necessary to file a lawsuit against Breakdown Services, because I don’t like lawyers either. And this would need one. I’m also too old to see it through the byways of the U.S. legal system. Here’s another example of what I’m talking about.

 

JULY 12, 2013

This is all about the colon. First there were lawyers. Then there were doctors…

Keeping fingers crossed. This ACTORVIST patient ain’t finished yet! Wife nearby.

 

JULY 16, 2013

Well, I’m still alive. Still in what’s called “recovery”.

Interesting people, doctors. They are pretty well all specialists today. They have their own turfs. And I find they don’t talk to each other a whole lot. I have to think about heart, lung, blood, liver, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and now my gut. I get back a mixture of good news and bad news. I think the key is having a good, open primary physician to be able to talk to. But they’re very very busy these days, there’s not enough of them, and they seem to be very hard to get ahold of. I’ll know more next week, I guess.

Nevertheless, I go home tomorrow.

 

February 13, 2013

We must assume that Dorner’s life has ended. He left quite a trail, and many loose ends, which we now have to pick up and make sense of. I plan to resurrect the record of his days in court, under the watchful eye of, and rejected by, Judge David Yaffe, who has just resigned, bowing to the pressure of the corruption exposed by 70 year old Richard Fine, whom he consigned to 18 months of solitary confinement in Men’s Jail, and was released last year. In a way, Yaffe started this whole thing.

We owe the following profound description and overview of what went down to Darwin Adikia, who posted it at CNN.com. It is very much worth reading, and shows how we are all involved, like it or not, by what we do, and by what we don’t do.

Continue Reading Christopher Dorner (cont’d)

February 7, 2013
Reading ex-officer Dorner’s manifesto is a chilling experience. He is obviously sincere, and his points are well taken. Many in society feel just as he does, whether perceived as wronged by co-workers or lawyers or the courts or family or loved ones. They too have seen their efforts to get satisfaction frustrated at every turn. But it is not given to normal and sane people to act out as he is doing. We have psychiatrists to prevent that kind of thing.

Dorner will probably be cornered and shot on sight, as in Bin Laden. He won’t be taken alive to express his truth from the dock, which would be a pity. We could all learn from what he might say. We all have our truths, and we will want to hear his.

Now we read of 2 ladies in a pickup minding their business which was to deliver the L.A. Times along a street in Torrance very early in the morning. They were ambushed by cops, then wildly shot at in a fusillade of bullets, nearly losing their lives. A case of very mistaken identity. The police thought they saw a large black man driving a truck of the wrong make and color.

I may be too late now, but I have a word of advice for what Mr. Dorner should do next. He should hole up in a house somewhere, then call the media, then call the police to come and get him. Then he should emerge with his hands up for all to see, maybe waving a white flag. Then he has a chance to not get shot, appear in the dock and express himself, and possibly get a measure of satisfaction before he’s put away, probably for life, where he might become a very good writer.

I have reproduced his statement here, unedited, but spell checked. He’s an intelligent man, well read, and a liberal! And many many showbiz and other notable people will see that their names are listed, his favorites and his unfavorites, among some shrewd observations.

**********************************

Feb 4, 2013 9:14:04 AM
From: Christopher Jordan Dorner /7648
To: America
Subj: Last resort

I know most of you who personally know me are in disbelief to hear from media reports that I am suspected of committing such horrendous murders and have taken drastic and shocking actions in the last couple of days. You are saying to yourself that this is completely out of character of the man you knew who always wore a smile wherever he was seen. I know I will be vilified by the LAPD and the media. Unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name. The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command staff, and executive positions.

The question is, what would you do to clear your name?

Name;
A word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to.

Name Synonyms;
reputation, title, appellation, denomination, repute.

A name is more than just a noun, verb, or adjective. It’s your life, your legacy, your journey, the sacrifices and everything you’ve worked hard for every day of your life as an adolescent, young adult and adult. Don’t let anybody tarnish it when you know you’ve lived up to your own set of ethics and personal ethos.

Continue Reading The Dorner Manifesto, unedited

What do the names Weiner, Spitzer, Edwards, Schwarzenegger, Clinton, Gingrich, Strauss-Kahn, Woods, Boehner, Craig – the list goes on and on – what do they have in common? Why, an inability to keep their trousers zipped. Their stories detail the circumstances where men have lost sexual boundaries to the detriment of assorted reputations, and in some cases jobs and marriages. And to the intense glee of the media and the public in this most hypocritical of all societies.

And all they were doing was displaying an inability to control what Bernard Shaw dubbed the “Life Force”.   Mark Twain  wrote “The very thought of  it excites him; opportunity sets him wild; in this state he will risk life, reputation, everything … to make good that opportunity and ride it to the overwhelming climax.”

Well, I have a solution to this, a solution guaranteed to curb this kind of uncontrolled behavior.

Continue Reading MALE SEX PROBLEMS

I was not invited to my ex-wife’s funeral, not even after 33 years of what I esteem to be a good marriage. She did not want me there, and when I went anyway, my son Ben put me in the hospital with the help of the local Kent, Connecticut guards “obeying orders, mein herr.”  Awaking, relieved to find that I was not dead too, things did work out for the better.  Now I’ve had time to reflect.  Was I right to go, or wrong? I believe the Irish have it right; friends, enemies, everyone’s welcome, and it’s party time!

I asked “Ask Amy”.  She said I was nothing more than a hooligan [maybe I am, but a proud hooligan I hope].  I asked my neighbor, who should know more about these things.  He does, after all, run the local “Hollywood Forever” cemetery.

Continue Reading Funeral questions