January 18, 2012

WGBH Studios, Boston. August, 1985

“My wife, the actress, Coral Browne” is how Vincent Price always used to introduce her. She was not as well known in the USA as she should have been (and regrettably she turned down playing Joan Collins’ mother on Dynasty because, she told me, “They don’t let you rehearse for American TV.”) But she did play the memorable Vera Charles in the movie Auntie Mame and had an enviable stage and screen career in Britain, even running the besieged Savoy Theatre all throughout the Blitz. (Some think her best performance is as herself in Alan Bennett's An Englishman Abroad.) Coral was revered for her wit, savage though it sometimes was. When we became friends, I felt blessed. I once asked her (at lunch in the green room between taping the scripts I had written for Vincent’s Mystery! introductions on PBS) about her relationship with photographer Cecil Beaton whose recently reviewed diaries had mentioned her. “Careful,” warned Vincent. “Yes?” Coral urged me to continue. I told her the review had hinted at a sexual liaison. “Yes,” she said. Then I naively mentioned that I had always thought Beaton had been gay. She smiled at me and said, “Well he may have been gay, darling, but he was like a rat up the drainpipe with me.” Coral was Australian.

1 comment:

  1. Coral, you bloody little bewdy! Good to see she was as great off-screen as she was on.