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

Hey folks, this is quite exciting! Terry Taylor, the editor of a magazine which is put out twice a year for the Just William Society in the U.K., had been in touch with me a few weeks ago to ask if we could put together the story of my life. Daunting!

Not quite the whole story but a lot of it, starting with my being “discovered” as they used to say, on a bus in Chipperfield, and my beginnings as a child actor in wartime London with comedian Will Hay on BBC radio.

We performed the act for the King, Queen, and Princesses 4 days before the war ended. What followed was my being cast as “Just William”, and the downward spiral of my life as an actor to the present day. That’s 69 years! Here’s what he had to say:

Continue Reading Tooting My Horn as JUST WILLIAM

Me looking dazed after meeting Piers Morgan and Jerry Springer at the Britweek dinner at the Beverly Wilshire

Yes. It is now eight years since I started this site. My readers (I have a few, sustained without the help of advertisers) will have noticed that I am surrounded by eminent law-firms, and that this site is hosted by a very successful entrepeneur under the name of Lexblog. Why am I allowed to continue? They are not, after all, my peers, or at least, I am not one of them. So what am I? Do I serve a purpose, and why am I being allowed to continue? Continue Reading EIGHT YEARS ON! is it really eight years?

So another “great” law firm goes to the wall, and it just happened.  Readers can see it for themselves in most of today’s newspapers. The NY Times goes into detail with the filed document.

This has been an opportunity for me to direct people to this site in their comments sections, to read of the experience of Lynn (Redgrave) and me at the hands of Finley Kumble, and the malpractice litigation back in 1987. Only one LA Times journalist gave us a fair shake of an interview, as I remember, reporting on how Lynn was “waiting for her day in court“.

Find it by going to the topics pane on the left, A SPACE FOR REFLECTION, and clicking on “House Calls“. Much will be learned from our real life experience. Forget the textbooks of legal theory, drowned in the smelly waters of good intentions.

Some people, aka celebrities, are simple, brilliant, unsullied, and innocent souls.  They deserve to be left alone by the masses (aka us.)  Usually women, and who are we talking about?

Sandra Bullock comes to mind.  As does Barbara Walters, Betty White, Princess Di, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Helen Mirren, Angela Lansbury CBE, and Lynn Redgrave OBE. (the Brits with their intimidating honorifics know how to do this.)

Who, then, are these countless commenters who bestow their deathless pronouncements to protect their heroes at the end of any newsworthy story?  I believe they are fans, yes, but they think they are today’s Greek Chorus, who were a body of people invented by the ancient Greeks to add their voices and give meaning to the onstage events of life’s dramas. Note that the performers wore masks.

But THEIR voices are false. On the report of my attempted attendance at Lynn’s funeral, a fusillade of comments appeared after the Daily Mail’s report.  I repudiate their verdicts.

Continue Reading Beware the Beloved

This headline and story appeared in the press on May 4th, 2 days after Lynn’s death:

“Actor John Clark is leading the tributes to his ex-wife Lynn Redgrave, who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 67. The “Georgy Girl” star passed away at her New York home on Sunday, May 2, marking another blow to the Redgrave acting dynasty – her brother Corin Redgrave died last month, while her niece Natasha Richardson lost her life following a skiing accident last year. Now actor/director Clark has paid tribute to the actress, whom he wed in 1967. He says, “I hope she finds peace where she is. She’s back in the bosom of her family now and may she rest in peace.” The couple became parents to three children, Benjamin, Pema and Annabel, before they divorced in 2000. A statement from the grieving siblings reads, “Our beloved mother Lynn passed away peacefully after a seven-year journey with breast cancer. She lived, loved and worked harder than ever before. “

I’m asked where was I for Lynn’s funeral? Nobody saw me, why wasn’t I there? I’ll tell you that I WAS there, and why nobody saw me.

You won’t have read about this anywhere else, not People Magazine, not Page 6, not Splash News, not TMZ, and not the Daily Mail (correction: In their 5/24 edition, they lifted the news off this site, without attribution – plagiarized as their own work. Invoking comments like “that sh*t isn’t worthy of kissing the ground she walks on”. Ironic comment, as you’ll see…)

For context, you need to know that I have had no contact with our kids for a long time. While I’ve entertained them at my house in Hollywood, they have never wanted me to visit them on the East coast, and in fact ignored me when my daughter Annabel got married in New York last August.

I emailed my son Ben for the funeral whereabouts. He told me it was being held the next day, on Saturday May 8th at 10 in the morning at the First Congregational Church in Kent, Connecticut, and that his mother didn’t want me there. I emailed the pastor, the Reverend Melinda Keck, for clarification. She simply told me not to attend, and please understand. I advised her to check her counseling goals towards her flock, and caught the red-eye for New York. To not go, in my mind, would be to validate her behavior towards me, an attempt to turn me into some version of Jesse James.  Besides, I have retained a love and respect for her, as the mother of my children, and the subject of my professional life.  I wished to find my own closure by attending.

After a horrid sleepless flight squeezed into a corner bulkhead seat, I rented a car at JFK, and drove North for 2 1/2 hours, reaching Kent with a half hour to spare. It came on to rain, hard. There was a group already on the church steps, two police cars in front with their lights flashing, and paparazzi in the road.

Directed to park in the back behind the church, I locked the car, and proceeded to walk towards the front. I was stopped by a security guard, and asked my name. Upon getting the answer, he summoned 2 policemen. They told me they would not let me pass. I insisted that I had every right to attend, having been a loyal husband for 33 years, and I wished to pay my final respects. As I pushed my way past them, they got physical. I guess I’m lucky I wasn’t tasered. I fell to the ground, and lay there on the pavement in the pouring rain, uncovered, in my good clothes. I could feel a sharp pain in my chest, right where my pacemaker is installed from my heart attack 2 years ago, and then I passed out.

I briefly came to in an ambulance, siren wailing, with an attendant shoving his thumbs into my eyeballs, and asking if I could feel anything, before succumbing again. I awoke in the emergency room at what I later found out was the New Milford hospital, about 15 miles South of Kent. A barrage of tests were ordered, because I’d been unresponsive. My blood pressure was 220 over 180, and they faced a diagnostic challenge by giving me an EKG, a CAT scan and an Echocardiogram.

After a night spent in a hospital bed, I was dozing off when around the corner of my curtain appeared a smiling and anxious face, my son Jonathan, who I thought was in Ireland, followed by the face of my daughter Kelly (now Pema) and her daughter Lena (my granddaughter whom I had never met), plus an old friend from London I hadn’t seen in years, Janie. They’d heard the sirens from inside the church, and found out it was for me. See the first picture below.

The doctor then came, and said if I felt better, I’d be released at 2pm, and that’s exactly what happened. Jonathan came with Benjy, yet, bringing me one of his shirts – they’d cut mine off me – and drove me back to my still parked and locked car, where my entire family was waiting.

I was so pleased to see them, as you can tell by looking at the pictures below.

You will see Benjy, Pema, me, Annabel, Lena, Eduardo Garabal (“Eddie”, Annabel’s new husband) and Jonathan.

From there, they drove me to the grave site, where I took this picture, Lynn’s final resting place next to her mother.

Well, that’s the story. My story.

It became clear that the reason behind my banishment was that Lynn’s lover, the Maggot (and I reference him here) was going to be at the funeral, and was staying at Lynn’s house. They feared that if I saw him, I would try to throttle him. Silly, because I am quite civilized most of the time. Anyway, I drove back to New York and all over Manhattan for half of Sunday night, traffic free, for old time’s sake. Nearly every block held a memory for me. Then I took the early morning flight back to Los Angeles. That was my first time out of L.A. in twelve years.

What began as the worst day of my life, ended up as the best day of my life (at least, so I thought).