DID you ever wonder if there are any sane successful actors? Maybe sane is a strong word, and maybe the one I'm looking for lies half-way between it and conforming. 111 tell you why in a moment. I started flicking through my personal list just to see if I was imagining things.
Take Peter O'Toole, for instance. He was in Dublin the other day with daughter Katie and was clearly a doting, depend. able Dad. But I'll tell you he still has that roving, zany look in his eye, like a bird on it perch, bothered at you getting too close.
O'Toole's madcap sorties are legendary and can't be written off as scripted by the Demon Rum, since on that score the lad qualifies for the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society.
Then, there's Peter Sellers, who seems to go round the world beating his head off on an invisible wall. 1 duck every time Richard Harris stretches out his arm to shake hands, just in case he changed his mind half way there.
At first sight, Alec Guinness seems as sedate and sound as a Sunday School teacher. But is he? He sometimes reminds me of one of those Agatha Christie old ladies, knitting away, waiting for the poison to work, chuckling, smiling, and not particularly hating the human race but anxious to keep it outside sniffing distance.
Cyril Cusack went on my sane list for a few minutes and then I crossed him off as he, too. had a touch of the Alec Guinnesses — that withdrawn, amused look that says he knows exactly which step has been sawn three-quarter-ways through.
I started thinking about all this when Dustin Hoffman won his no
doubt well-deserved Hollywood Oscar. I found myself thinking back to a programme we did some time ago on Elaine 'Evita' Paige. We invited Mr Hoffman to join in but, although he couldn't make the trip to London, he agreed to join the television programme from New York, When the moment came and, saving your presence, 1 directed Elaine's gaze towards the screen, there was the lugubrious hut hilarious Hoffman announcing that he had a tummy bug and claiming that he was speaking to her direct from the gents' loo of the Plaza Hotel — and afraid to leave it!
Why don't you compile your own list. If you get six good names on the solemn side of the sheet, I'll play push-halfpenny with Marlon Brando.
MANY years ago, I spent more weeks than I could afford in a little pension on the unfashionable side of Cap Fermi My wedded partner was recovering from illness arid more or less immobile. I had lots of time to go walking and, many a time, would press my nose against the gates of Somerset Maughan's villa, picturing the old boy toiling away, hour after hour, at his tapered prose.
Now, I read that he maestro would have his morning bath and breakfast, starting work about nine. At 12.30, he would finish.
Reluctantly. I surmise that there must be a snag, quite apart from those hours of boring sunshine left to fill.