Well I hope you have survived those awful temperatures. Personally it was a struggle but we are able to rise above such things. Sitting in my garden I could not decide between wearing my pith helmet or a knotted hankie to cover what some unkind readers describe as my receding hairline! I have worn a shirt throughout but let standards slip by not tucking it into my trousers and please note I do not own shorts.
I recently read in a national newspaper that actor Benedict Cumberbatch allegedly earned £240,000 for posing with and signing autographs for fans at a 2017 convention. Whether that is correct, it is true that stars today can make a nice little earner by turning up at film and television conventions to meet fans. Some Hollywood stars can charge several hundred pounds for a 30-second meet and greet experience and television stars, especially of cult series, can easily charge up to £100 for an autograph or a selfie. As far as I am concerned if you are worth that and fans are happy to pay then why not, as it is what we call market forces.
For most people a chance to meet their idol is worth every penny and for old actors or those out of work it can be a valuable source of income. That is important insofar as older stars never earned the mega money of today and taxes were a lot higher.
Personally I have never paid for an autograph but I have lived a charmed life. My first star autograph was obtained at Elstree Studios in 1960 and it was the Hollywood legend Gary Cooper. Since then I have met hundreds of actors and actresses and have amassed several decades of autographs and photos with the stars but they now linger in my storage at Elstree Studios. I hope one day we will have a film and television heritage centre in Borehamwood and they will make a nice display free for anyone to see. If not I guess my executor will consign them to be sold off, which will sadly be a slice of Elstree and Borehamwood history gone.
A couple of weeks ago I was accorded a VIP visit to the soon to be open massive Sky Studios Elstree by the management. They are a lovely group of young people with interesting titles. We had a private chat about how I might be able to help with a particular project, so no names, no pack drill. I really hope it might result in some of my dreams coming true but time always tells. However, whilst I am still alive and kicking I like to believe dreams sometimes can come true. I know these kids at Sky read my column so carpe diem.
Lastly it was lovely to get a phone call from the widow of MGM veteran Alf. I quoted his remark to Liz Taylor about her flashy ring last week. He was a lovely man and luckily years ago I interviewed him and many other veterans on camera as a joint project between Elstree Screen Heritage and the University Of Herts. I will not quote what he said about Sophia Loren and her nose but it is all recorded. Until next time, take care.
- Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios