An intermittently Liberal anthology compiled by Jonathan Calder

Saturday, February 26, 2005  

"You Tickle Me Spitless, Baby"
Isidore Ostrer, one of three brothers, Jewish refugees from the Ukraine, who founded Gainsborough Pictures eked out a precarious early livelihood "playing dominoes for cash on trains between the Essex coast and Liverpool Street". The novelist and screenwriter Nigel Balchin was also the inventor of the Aero chocolate bar. Susan Shaw, a pallid wimpette of the Rank Charm School, was actually born Patsy Sloots. (Now there's a name that's both prosaic and eccentric!) When promoting her films in provincial cinemas, Jean Kent always brought along her own bouquet of flowers "in case they didn't have one". And, perhaps most haunting of all, at the age of 16 Dulcie Gray, sweet little Dulcie Gray, the darling of Shaftesbury Avenue coach parties, the quintessence of middlebrow gentility (her whispered nickname among film crews was "Gracie Dull"), escaped from her abominated Malayan home and, while still in her teens, "ran a girls' boarding school, ate opium, crushed monstrous black scorpions by the brace and wrote a popular song entitled 'You Tickle Me Spitless, Baby'." Dulcie Gray!

Gilbert Adair (reviewing Shepperton Babylon by Matthew Sweet), The Spectator, 26 February 2005

posted by Jonathan Calder | 12:19 pm