Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought With Good Manners

Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought With Good Manners

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Andy Merriman

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  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 192mm x 22mm | 240g
  • Publication date: 25 September 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845135857
  • ISBN 13: 9781845135850
  • Illustrations note: ports.
  • Sales rank: 73,018

Product description

Margaret Rutherford was without a doubt one of Britain's best-loved comic actresses. But behind the kindly, serene front Rutherford presented to the world lay a life of trauma and repeated nervous breakdown - the legacy of the legacy of family tragedy that saw her father murder her grandfather during a bout of mental illness and her depressive mother later kill herself. Andy Merriman's acclaimed biography intrigued and shocked readers with these revelations when it was published in hardback. Now out in paperback, it is also a portrait of one of our most individual actresses. Rutherford appeared in such thoroughly English classics as Blithe Spirit, The importance of Being Earnest, Passport to Pimlico and I'm All Right, Jack! But above all she was Miss Marple, in four films - and entirely created for the screen the role of Agatha Christie's elderly and fearless private detective that subsequent actresses like Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan have continued. Rutherford first played Miss Marple at the age of 70, and insisted on wearing her own clothes to feel right in the part. Above all, this was a vulnerable woman whom no-one failed to like and respect, notable again and again for quiet acts of kindness, whose life story has great appeal to everyone who appreciates both classic English comedy and simple human decency.

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Author information

Andy Merriman is the author of several books, including Greasepaint and Cordite, the story of the young entertainers sent out to war to dance and sing, Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners, Hattie, the authorised biography of Hattie Jacques, and A Minor Adjustment, a book about his daughter who has Down's syndrome. Andy, who writes for radio and television, lives in London with his wife and three children.

Customer reviews

By Michael Aanderton 03 Jul 2011 4

Although The Misfits was produced by United Artists, it was actually filmed on a backlot at Paramount Studios. During the production, Marilyn Monroe took the opportunity to visit Margaret Rutherford who was also at Paramount filming On the Double on an adjacent soundstage. Marilyn spent a leisurely 30 minutes or so in Margaret's dressing room and the two actresses seemingly enjoyed each other's company. According to Margaret, Marilyn was relaxed and chatty and played child-like with a toy kangaroo which Margaret always took on her travels as a good-luck charm. However, Margaret would not allow any publicity agents or press photographers into the dressing room, therefore the reason as to why no information regarding their conversation was ever reported. Obviously, the formidable Madame Arcati of Blithe Spirit was certainly well-aware of just how vulnerable Lorelei Lee of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes really was when it came to falling victim to the manipulation of the American media! Marilyn Monroe's adoration toward applauded British performers began while she was working with Dame Sybil Thorndike in The Prince and the Showgirl and it can easily be assumed it was her sincere respect and admiration of Britain's theatrical elite which was what really motivated her to seek and secure a meeting with Margaret Rutherford. A few years later, Margaret wrote that she had sensed a deep sadness within the soul of the waif Marilyn Monroe and had had an unexplainable feeling that the beautiful Hollywood superstar was destined to be destroyed. Margaret's biographers (including Andy Merriman) are always at a loss in their attempts to illustrate the event of the rendezvous between the two actresses and it was not until almost six years after Marilyn's death that Margaret finally spoke publicly about the meeting. It was also rumored that Margaret Rutherford had given serious thought to the possibility of appearing in a movie with Marilyn Monroe but such a venture was, unfortunately, never to materialize. Interestingly, Alfred Hitchcock had once expressed a yearning to direct both Monroe and Rutherford. If only the opportunity to gather them for the same production could have come to fruition!!
- Noel Risby

Review quote

'...Madness, murder, suicide and odd sexual arrangements... An eccentric, delightful surprise.' Independent on Sunday 'Merriman paints a fascinating picture of Margaret's emergence as a national treasure' Daily Mail '[A] splendid biography' The Spectator