Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

People We Like: David Hemmings

What an extraordinary life and career he had. The boy soprano for composer Benjamin Britten - he was the first to play Miles in his opera of THE TURN OF THE SCREW when 12 - until his voice broke; then a jobbing young actor bobbing up in films like THE SYSTEM in 1964; and then, to the chagrin of Terence Stamp, becoming the image of the '60s for Antonioni in BLOW-UP. When I first saw it aged 21 it was like watching oneself on the screen - that was how we looked and dressed. His Nolan in Richardson's CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE is also iconic, I had a poster of him in that hussar uniform on my wall then [see below, with that timeless BLOWUP image].

A varied career followed of highs and lows, marriage to Gayle Hunnicutt (ended by his affair with Samantha Eggar), he romanced Kim Novak when they were both on EYE OF THE DEVIL (before she left and was replaced by Deborah Kerr), and then directing television series in America, such as "The A Team" and the like. There were drink problems and other marriages. He then directed the very intriguing (on paper - its actually a very dull film) JUST A GIGOLO in Berlin in '78, notable for being Marlene Dietrich's final screen appearance, with David Bowie, Kim Novak, Maria Schell, Sydne Rome, Curt Jurgens. Bowie (in Berlin) and Dietrich (in Paris) were intercut quite well but it is obvious they are not in the same shots, its certainly one of the more intriguing Euro-puddings. Hemmings then went back to acting in middle age, with it seems no vanity at all, with that extra weight and those eyebrows! in films like Scorsese's GANGS OF NEW YORK, Scott's GLADIATOR and LAST ORDERS [with that cream of English talent: Courtenay, Hoskins, Caine, Winstone, Mirren - it must have been fun on set].

David died suddenly in 2003 on location. It was certainly a fully lived life, luckily he completed his engrossing biography in time and he appeared in an interesting documentary on Benjamin Britten, looking back warmly to that part of his life. An early girlfriend of his, actress Jane Merrow, was someone I knew slightly back in the mid '60s. He will always though be the guy with the camera ...

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