HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer uses his super-stardom to recall the Hollywood Super Stars of yesteryear. Tonight: Madeline Kahn.

Mel Brooks may well be one of the funniest men I’ve ever met. It pains me to say he is one of the least able chefs. When dining at the Brooks residence one is well-advised to go with biscuits in your pockets. This way, you can nibble them for sustenance while you try stealthily to deposit whatever slop is put on your plate anywhere but the lower front hole of the face, known popularly as the mouth.

I was in the middle of one such depository, sliding what had once been a young lamb when I realized to my horror that instead of the potted plant at my side I was actually shovelling said refuse into a rather elegant pill box hat. The owner looked at me for one second and then smiled, with dazzling intensity: ‘You owe me a lid, boy-o!’ she said. It was the one and only Madeline Kahn.

At that time Mel had hired her to play Lili von Schtüpp in Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. She’d appear in a number of his movies as well as with Gene Wilder in Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother. She was perhaps the most comically gifted actress of her generation, although I’ll also remember what a belter of a voice she had. I’d seen it knock the feathers off a parrot at sixty yards. In her early life, she’d sang opera, though she insisted this was just for the bucks and she refused to take credit for her many talents.

In the end, I bought her a new hat. The next time I saw her at Mel’s place, she recognized me and asked ‘What’s that in your pocket?’

Alas! It was a packet of digestive biscuits.

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HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer uses his super-stardom to recall the Hollywood Super Stars of yesteryear. Tonight: John Vernon.

When I first met John Vernon I didn’t know I was meeting John Vernon. A handsome man, like a hungover Richard Burton – which is to say like Richard Burton – came up to me and said in a light Canadian accent: ‘Hello! I’m Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz.’ As quick as lightning I told him: ‘That won’t do. You’ll have to change it.’ ‘Any suggestions,’ he gamely replied. ‘Adolphus Agopsowicz of course,’ was my immediate response.

Cooler heads prevailed alas and the world knew him as John Vernon. If you’ve ever seen a film made from 1965-1995 you will have seen John. Prolific and often – unfairly in my view – cast as the villain. From Dirty Harry to Animal House, Outlaw Josey Wales to Herbie Goes Bananas, John showed up, purring like villainy itself had been mixed with ginger and gravel, popped into a blender with something feline and poured over ice.

His leonine head and steely blue eyes made him perfect for the crafty official, the charmer who would stab you in the heart while caressing your nether regions. And he was good at playing villains too.

He amassed years of TV work as well. I remember when he got his first job in Bonanza, he was so happy he actually bought me a drink. An earl grey laced with Armagnac. I had it framed. Of course we had a lot in common. Both RADA trained, as a party trick we would have ourselves blind folded and still find our way back to Los Angeles from places as far afield as Las Vegas or Seattle.

John died, as we all must, but I’m sure when he got to meet the big Executive Producer in the Sky he said with a twinkle in his eye: ‘I was a Cuban in Topaz’.

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 HOLLYWOOD – Survivor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Sir Edwin Fluffer, reflects on the man Hollywood used to call ‘the intellectual’s Fatty Artbuckle’: Orson Welles.

It was an unusually warm night in the Hollywood hills. Decent folks were at home in their beds, indecent folks like yours truly were in somebody else’s. Outside you could hear the crickets on the lawn. In the distance a Dorothy Lamour was barking.

I’d just finished filming Three Cheers For Charlie so a few drinks seemed in order, one thing led to another, and I passed out with my head in one of the Gabor sisters, maybe Zsa Zsa, but most probably Eva. Dear Noel Coward gave me a fireman’s lift, carried me back to his mansion, threw me down on the bed, and apparently was back at the bar before the ice in his drink had melted.

I lay there, the room spinning, wondering what on earth my life had come to… It didn’t take long for me to realise that it probably wouldn’t get any better than this, so I vowed there and then never to regret a single moment. In retrospect that was the worst decision I ever made, but at the time shimmying down the drain pipe, hailing a cab, getting driven to Cary Grant’s house, breaking in through the bathroom window and pinching his entire collection of Faberge eggs seemed like a good idea. Noel was furious when I turned up back at his place with my pockets stuffed full of stolen priceless Russian antiquities, but it was already too late. Cary had called the police, and we had to hide them somewhere, so poor Noel had no choice but to force feed them to Erich von Stroheim. 

It was a good twenty four hours before we got them back again, but by then the trail had gone cold, the cops has called off the search and we were in the clear. The eggs were rinsed off under the cold tap, but beautiful as they were I must admit that some of their sparkle had worn off for me. After that Noel always called Erich ‘the goose who laid the golden egg’.  

I did ask Ian Fleming if that was where he got the idea for The Man With The Golden Gun, but he said no. I know for a fact that he got the idea for Thunderball when he saw Charlie Chaplin slip over trying to get out of the pool, but that’s another story…

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 HOLLYWOOD – Survivor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Sir Edwin Fluffer, reflects on the going to what insiders refer to as ‘the rubber arse’, AKA rehab.

After the wrap party for Apache Chaps Go Hell For Leather the judge made it a condition of my bail that I go to one of those drying out clinics for an extended lie down. To be perfectly frank one wasn’t looking forward to it all that much, but as soon as the studio said they’d pick up the bill I grabbed my toothbrush and headed out the door.

If truth be told I was still a bit pissed when I got there, largely due to the fact that I bumped into Errol Flynn on the way, but they checked me in and showed me to my room. It wasn’t unpleasant, and the flowers on the mantelpiece were a nice touch. They died as soon as I drank the water in the vase, but the receptionist said she’d send up more.
I’d describe the catering as ‘nutritional’ if you know what I mean, and the wine list was frankly appalling.  After a few minutes I decided there was only so much fun you could have on your own with a toothbrush, so I went out into the corridor to knock on a few doors and see what the other guests were up to. Not much as it turns out. Jiminy Cricket had done nothing since Pinocchio, and Bambi’s mum hadn’t worked in two years. I didn’t even recognise Dumbo The Flying Elephant. His boyish charm had been worn away by years propping up a bar on Hollywood Boulevard. He’d lost his teeth and tried to retain some dignity by wearing a pair of fake tusks; it was tragic really.
But it was the Tin Man I felt most sorry for. Apparently his oil can was always full of scotch, and they’d had to break his fingers to get it out of his hand. By that stage I couldn’t take any more. The bars on the windows wouldn’t budge an inch, but then I remembered that lovely scene which was sadly cut from the final edit of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and I managed to smuggle myself out in a laundry basket.
I still think that that movie would’ve got the critical attention it deserved if they only kept the scene of me and Death playing Twister. But that’s another story…

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 HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to the place actors call ‘the wooden arse’: the theater.

There comes a time in every actor’s life when the work dries up and you have to tell everyone that you want to return to your first love, the theatre. Friends will be terribly supportive, but in all honesty it is what Audrey Hepburn used to call ‘a massive fricking ball ache’.

Theatre directors will absolutely insist you know all the lines off by heart and you have to work nights. The money’s not nearly as good as the movies either, but they’ve got you by the short and curlies and you pretty much have to take whatever crumbs fall from the table. It’s either that or television. I still remember when Sam Peckinpah fired me from The Wild Bunch because I swore at Ernie Borgnine and I was forced to do a play to clear my bar tab at the Garrick. It was one of those Shakespeare jobbies, all thee-this, thou-that, and forsooth-the-other; so naturally I assumed it was Hamlet and rolled on to stage for my big entrance only to find it was King Lear

The whole thing had the potential to go tits up, but I’d spent an entire afternoon trying to learn the words and I was determined to have a go. 
In the end the critics were not very kind, but they didn’t hold a grudge and gave me a Tony to make up for it. At the ceremony I dedicated the award to Van Heflin after he bet me $20 I wouldn’t get the word ‘flange’ into my acceptance speech. 
But that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to the figure insiders call ‘the pointy arse’: the Director.

Of course, many actors will tell you that what they really want to do is direct, and some of them are jolly good at it too: The Cable Guy by dear little Benny Stiller has got to be one of my favourite movies of all time! I never once imagined that I’d end up behind the megaphone myself, but when the chance came I seized it with both hands. The fee was simply huge, and having appeared in several of Bobby Altman’s films I thought it would be money for old rope and I was right.
Some people have written entire books to explain their theories about how directors work, but it really is quite simple. All you need is an attractive young lady in a nice frock, turn the lights on so everyone can see her, and that’s it! You really can’t go too far wrong. 

I was fortunate to have the divine Jane Fonda as my leading lady, and she was good enough to wear her own clothes, so that helped ease the pressure on the budget that I’d accidentally spent entirely on champagne. We managed to film the whole thing in a single morning which was quite fortunate as I was meeting Jessica Tandy for lunch and neither of us were fit for anything once we got on the brandy. 
We allowed a good half an hour for editing and post production, and I sent my tuxedo off to the dry cleaners ready for a star studded premiere followed by drinks and a game of Twister. To this day it remains a great sadness that we were never able to find a distributor with the foresight and vision to risk their shirt on a theatrical release, but when it went straight to video Jane Fonda’s Workout was the most enormous success. We did talk about a sequel, but sadly nothing ever came of it. The idea was that Jane Fonda’s Leotard League would see her team up with Diane Keaton and the one out of The Golden Girls who I thought was a bloke, to play a crack squad of crime fighting aerobics instructors.
But that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to what insiders call the ‘Big Fat Arse’: Marlon Brando.

Of all the neighbours I’ve had in the Hollywood hills the worst was undoubtedly Marlon Brando. It wasn’t the noise from his late night parties or continually having to return his ball after he kicked it over the hedge. What did for my nerves was that blessed lawnmower.

Brando was richer than a Roman Emperor, but I’ll tell you this now: he’d skin a fart to save a penny. Of course it was Chaplin who introduced the ride on mower to California, and by the weekend we all had one. Even Carole Lombard got one and she only had a patio! 

But Brando insisted on still mowing his lawn with some old piece of junk he’d found in a skip. His estate must’ve run to several hundred acres and it’d take him weeks to cut it. Once he’d finished it was time to start all over again! 
I’d look out of my window in the morning and see him pushing that old thing through the grass and my heart would go out to him, but even when Vincent Price said he’d pop over with his strimmer he said no and carried on. 
It was years later that I found out the reason why he wouldn’t let us help him. Once he’d cut the grass he’d rake it all up, and sell it to Lloyd Bridges for his horses.  Bridges told me he only paid 15 cents a bag, but Gary Cooper said it was nearer 20. I’d like to say that Brando gave the money to charity but he didn’t. Most of it was lost bailing himself out of an arms deal in Botswana that went very badly wrong. He showed me some of the letters and the whole thing was a terrible mess, but then he’d wink at me and say ‘never mind Neddy! I’ll be alright while I’ve got my lawnmower!’ 
He also had a rare white shark that he kept in his garage, but that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to War Movies.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that war can be an utterly ghastly affair. It really does have a tendency to drag on a bit. That said war movies can be very jolly indeed. I’ve been in more than I care to remember, and would’ve starred in The Dirty Dozen as well if they hadn’t already hired too many actors. I said they should just change the name to The Filthy Thirteen, but the studio wasn’t interested.

War movies are a bit like actual wars really in that ideally you want to end up on the winning side. When you get the script have a flick through, and if you have the line ‘for you my friend ze var iss over’ or anything like that then you’re in trouble. The best thing to do is find someone in the costume department and bung them a few quid in the hope they’ll give you the other team’s uniform. It worked for Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, that’s all I’m saying.

There’s also a fair chance that you’ll have to do a bit of marching. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds as long as you can remember the hokey-cokey! Basically there’s a chap at the front with a moustache, you all line up behind him, and he starts shouting out the moves. When he says ‘left’ you put your left leg in, when he says ‘right’ you put your right leg in, and you just carry on from there really. Burt Lancaster was a lovely marcher, despite his many failings as a human being. His secret was he had not one, but too wooden legs. He’d screw them on, the director would shout ‘action’ and he’d go for miles! The rest of us would have trouble keeping up! It was a great sadness that he got set upon by a family of beavers, ending an otherwise glittering career. To this day I still maintain that he could’ve marched in the Olympics he was that good.

The finest war movie ever made has to be Pearl Harbour, and were Stanley Kubrick alive to have seen it I know he would’ve agreed with me. It was my idea to cast the late Elizabeth Taylor as Pearl, and for my money it was one of her very finest performances. Goodness knows how many hours she had to spend in make up, but it was worth every moment, and with characteristic grace she refused to be credited for the role. We all laughed when she insisted on being paid in bitcoins, then we found out that the fortune she made from that was what funded her fracking operations in the North Atlantic.

But that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the dog they called the ‘barking arse’: Lassie.

Robert Mitchum had just been telling me how he single-handedly introduced the tin can to Venezuela when there was a knock at the door. The room was full of the smoke from Bobby’s jazz cigarettes so it took me a while to answer, but imagine my delight to find none other than Lassie standing in the porch!

Naturally I invited her in for tea, but there were more urgent matters at hand. Through a series of excited barks it soon became apparent that Dean Martin had fallen down a well, and it was up to Bobby and I to rescue him! 

I helped Mitchum to his feet, had a quick brandy and a couple of sandwiches, and we set off to find Dino. I will be honest and say that the search got off to a slow start. Neither of us knew of any nearby wells, and we did get distracted for a couple of hours in one of my favorite cocktail bars. After a while Bobby said we should forget about the wells altogether and so we started lifting up the man hole covers from the road to see if we could find Dino trapped in the sewer system. 

The traffic is quite dangerous on Hollywood Boulevard and although we did try to explain the urgency of the situation to passing motorists few if any were sympathetic to Dean’s plight. Lassie ran off as soon as the police arrived, and I regret to say that we never managed to locate Dino. 

I was told several years later that in fact he was at home in bed with a slight migraine the whole time, but it’s like Lassie said: better to be safe than sorry. I wish she’d been as safe around Rin Tin Tin, but that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Cary Grant.

Over the years I’ve been deeply honored to work with so many talented actors, some big, some small, but the only one who could convincingly pull off both was the wonderful Cary Grant.

The first time I saw ever saw Cary he was standing on the opposite side of that giant parking lot at Warners.
‘It can’t be him’ I thought, ‘he looks tiny!’ 
But as he walked toward me something happened that I can only describe as magical. With every step he appeared to get taller and taller until by the time he was stood next to me shaking my hand Cary Grant looked every inch of his full six feet. I was gobsmacked! 
‘How did you do it I Cary?” I asked. 
‘What, this?’ he grinned, and as he walked back to his car again he got smaller and smaller. 
‘See you on set Neddy!’ he shouted and I was left there dumbstruck.
Over the years this little routine became Cary’s party piece. 
We’d marvel at his height over cocktails, then he’d say ‘right, watch this,’ open the patio doors and walk down to the end of the garden. By the time he got to the fence he’d become a fraction of his normal size. 
Myrna Loy went to her grave convinced it was witchcraft, but over a particularly fine brandy late one night Cary let me into his secret. It turns out that before he left England for Hollywood he was in the circus, and Cary had picked up this trick from an old gypsy lady in return for a ten bob note. On a visit back to Blighty I did try to track her down, only to discover that she’d passed away many years before and taken her secret with her. 
I was eventually charged with three counts of grave robbing and the studio had to hand over rather a rather large sum of money to get them dropped, but that’s another story…


HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Has Hollywood ever produced greater friends than Bette Davis and Joan Crawford? No it has not. I think I’m right in saying that I was married to one or possibly even both of them in the 1950s, and can claim some if not all of the credit for their most famous film. If King Vidor tries to tell you different you just say that Sir Edwin Fluffer calls him a liar. Then knock his hat off and run away.

I was doing a jigsaw puzzle with darling Bette one night when the doorbell rang. I opened it to none other than Miss Joan Crawford and straight away from the look on that famous face I could tell what had happened. Kirk Douglas’s dog, Chaplin, had made a mess on the sidewalk and unlucky Joan had stepped right in it! 

I brought her inside and poured a stiff brandy which I downed in one, then leapt into action. Joan’s shoe was off in a trice, double bagged, and thrown out with the garbage. The poor darling was still in a terrible state of shock so I insisted she sit down while I had another brandy. Then something happened which changed the world forever: while Joan started helping with the puzzle by separating all the blue pieces which we thought were either the sea or the sky, Bette noticed a script on the table. Kirk Douglas had popped it through the letterbox while he was out walking that filthy dog of his by way of an apology for getting me fired from Spartacus. The idea was that we’d play the warring brothers in Whatever Happened To Tiny Terrence? Bette read it from cover to cover, took out a pen, changed the name in the title to Baby Jane and passed it to Joan saying ‘when do you want to start?’ It was then that disaster struck. 
The brandy had all gone by now and as they helped me up I trod on poor Joan’s foot! To make matters worse I insisted she borrow a pair of my shoes to walk home in, and the only thing we could find to match her ballgown was a pair of brogues. 
She said they rubbed a little, but stupidly neither Bette nor I thought anything of it. Two days later it was all over the front pages: Joan Crawford Has An In-Growing Toenail! People tried to be kind, but I knew it was all my fault, and to this day I still can’t forgive myself. George Sanders never spoke to me again. 
The result was that when they came to film Baby Jane, darling Joan had to shoot all her scenes in a wheelchair. 
Even now I can’t watch that picture without wondering what would’ve happened if I’d given her a pair of loafers, or even my moccasins with some spats for extra protection. 
The last time I ever saw her she looked at me and said ‘Neddy, don’t hold it against me’, so I stood back a bit and put it away. I once held it against a young Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell punched me in the face, but that’s another story…


HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Doris Day.

It was Doris Day who first introduced me to cocaine. Except it wasn’t actually cocaine, it was M&Ms. And it wasn’t Doris Day, it was young Jack Nicholson. I don’t know why I said that now. 
Anyway, the year was nineteen hundred and sixty something and I found myself at a party hosted by that lovely old darling Dennis Hopper. This came as quite a surprise to me as I thought I was meeting Fred MacMurray for pancakes, but that’s Hollywood!

Jack showed me into a dimly lit room and invited me to take a seat. That led to some confusion, but I brought the chair back and sat down. He had that look in his eye and I knew that mischief wasn’t far behind. ‘Whaddaya think of these then Neddy?’ he drawled, and with that Jack removed the napkin that was covering a bowl in the middle of the table. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There must’ve been three or four packets of M&Ms in there, and all the colours of the rainbow! Apart from indigo and violet, they don’t make those.

And these weren’t peanut M&Ms, we were talking 100% pure chocolate! 
Jack picked one up and popped it in his mouth, his eyes rolled back in his head and he let out a long ‘damn that’s good’. I’d never tried them before myself, so ‘when in Rome’ I thought, and I did the same. It was delicious! 
‘Fill your boots man,’ laughed Jack. He could tell I was enjoying it, so I had another. And another. And another… I didn’t like the orange ones, they seemed to taste a bit funny to me, but before I knew it I must’ve had half a dozen or more. 
Just then Dennis walked in! He saw Jack and I exchange guilty glances. 
‘You guys ain’t hogging all the M&Ms are you?’ he said, and with that he picked up a whole handful and shoved them all in his mouth at once! Two hours later the bowl was empty, the party was over and I went home. 
John Carradine said he’s give me a lift, but I walked. 
And now whenever I’m in a store and I see a packet of M&Ms I’m always reminded of that night.
I tried Shelley Winters once as well, but that’s another story…


HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Clint Eastwood.

Over the years I’ve come to regard young Clint Eastwood as the son I never had. He reminds me so much of my own children when they were growing up: ‘shut up, stop telling me what to do, you’re not my real Dad!’ He even forgets my birthday! 
But despite all of that I’m as proud as punch of young Clint. 

I first met him more moons ago than I care to remember when I was a guest star on his smash hit TV series Rawhide. Gabby Hayes had dropped out at the last minute because he’d recently bought a new couch and had to wait in for it to be delivered so I filled in as the grizzled prospector. 

Myself and Clint (right)
It all went very well apart from one regrettable incident when I set fire to Clint’s poncho, and from that day to this the bond between us has never been broken. Occasionally the fates have conspired against us, like when Lee Marvin replaced me in Paint Your Wagonbecause I got the hiccups trying to sing Wandrin’ Star, but the good times have more than made up for the bad. The picture that most people remember our inimitable double act for was Every Which Way But Loose. I starred as Clint’s comedy sidekick Clyde, and it was actually my idea to wear the gorilla suit. 
There was one scene I just couldn’t get right, and after accidentally pouring petrol over Sondra Locke for the seventeenth time Clint yelled ‘for Christ’s sake Edwin, it’d be easier to use a trained monkey!’ Well! We just fell about laughing. 
When I rang him to say that I was unavailable for the sequel because Ernest Borgnine was taking me go-karting, Clint said that was alright because they’d actually decided to use a trained monkey anyway. 
I thought he was very good, but apparently the monkey fell out with Geoffrey Lewis after getting caught cheating at Monopoly. 
But that’s another story…

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HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Marlene Dietrich.

I knew Marlene Dietrich before the operation, and I have to say that she was a lot more fun in those days. An ingrowing toenail is no laughing matter, just ask Claude Rains, but there was something about her that changed and in her later years she was largely absent from the screen. Our last and first picture together was Witness For The Prosecution, based on the play by Agatha Christie. I got the moustache wax out and greased up ready to give my best Hercule Poirot only to be told in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t in it. 
To be perfectly honest with you I think that the director missed a trick there, but he had what I’d call an ‘artistic temperament’ and he also insisted on setting the whole thing in a courtroom rather than on a train.
I was convinced that audiences weren’t ready for an Agatha Christie with no Poirot and no Orient Express, but dear old Marlene said ‘give it a go, darlink’ and so I did. As my character spent most of his time in the dock I didn’t really think it necessary to wear any trousers as it can get rather warm under all that lighting, but then Charlie Laughton said ‘if Neddy’s not wearing his breeches then neither am I’ and off they came! 
Where are my gaspers?
Marlene thought this was all a tremendous lark, put Charlie’s trousers on and refused to take them off! We had the devil’s own job getting her out of them, and in the end Elsa Lanchester had to sit on her chest while Henry Daniel and I tried to grab her legs. The trousers were quite badly ripped, but what annoyed Charlie more was that he had a packet of cigarettes in one of the pockets. We looked everywhere for them! It must’ve been nearly twenty minutes later when we eventually found them under Norma Varden. Unfortunately when the producer heard out about the damage to Charlie’s trousers fingers were pointed and I got the blame. Yours truly was sacked and Tyrone Power took my role and played it much better than I ever could.  
Every year on my birthday Marlene would send me a new pair of Oxford bags, but I didn’t see the funny side.
I sent her a chipmunk wearing a kilt one Christmas, but that’s another story.

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