My Friend Hall

I have added the names, which were not included in Jack’s account.

My next commission was to have a big effect on my wife's life and on mine. I went to the airport to meet a couple from Hollywood. The man was six feet and three inches tall and very handsome. He had been a dancer, actor, writer, director and producer all rolled into one. His name was Hall Bartlett. He dated many stars but preferred a married life not a dating one and his new wife was his fifth - although their marriage only lasted a year. She was called Lupita Ferrer and she was very beautiful and the biggest star in Venezuela. They had just released their new film, which she starred in and he directed and she was being photographed for publicity. The film, The Children of Sanchez, was all about a Mexican family living in poverty with no mother and a wayward father with the eldest daughter looking after all the children. After all the pre release work for the film, I took them for a tour of London and England. Our first stop was in Somerset. They were the guests of the Duke and Duchess. While they were chatting to the Duchess, I was enjoying myself talking to the Duke about his favourite pastime. He loved cricket and travelled all over the world whenever and where ever the England team played. He could have kept me all day discussing all the players, but I had to leave.

We travelled mostly around the south where I explained a little bit of English history and we visited the interesting sites. They had to return to London for the release of the film and they stayed at one of the finest hotels. I liked them and I could see that they liked me. One night we all went to the theatre to watch a play. There was a scene where a man was about to hit his wife. Lupita screamed out in Spanish. Everyone in the audience was startled, even the actors on stage stopped performing. She realised she was making a scene and kept quiet. As we went back to the hotel they were discussing the play and it was obvious she had not understood it. Her husband tried to explain, but she kept contradicting him. She asked me what I thought. Winking at him, I sided with her. She leaned over and kissed me. She was happy and so was I.

The next day I was to pick them up after lunch. I got there early and was chatting to the porter. Suddenly I heard my name being called. I turned and it was Margot Fonteyn. She ran down the stairs and hugged and kissed me. There were several people around who stared in amazement. They must have thought I was a relative. She had had lunch at the hotel and was being interviewed about her new book. I was hoping my passengers would come down so I could introduce them, but she was taken to some studio.

I took my new friends to see the Archbishop of Canterbury's home in London and from that side of the bridge there was a lovely view of the Houses of Parliament. I had my camera and took some snaps of them. On the north side of the river there were several artists selling all kinds of paintings including prints. I saw one who had prints of the Houses of Parliament so I asked him to paint the backs of my friends looking at the view and to add a seagull flying above to represent a famous film my friend directed and produced. A couple of days later we were sitting in a restaurant having dinner, I asked to be excused for a minute and went and got the large painting from the car. I had already written the title on it - Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I put the painting down and watched him. There was an intake of breath and he told me that it was the finest present he had ever had, although it had no monetary value it gave him great pleasure.

The following day I took him to a radio station for interview. On the way he told me of his wife's behaviour in the hotel. She had been looking for something that had been mislaid and as she kept looking she became more and more agitated and started swearing in Spanish. Her husband said, “Don't worry honey, I'll get you another one even better.” But she screamed, “I don't want another one, I want this one,” and started throwing things around breaking valuable antiques. Her Latin temper rose to its highest. When we returned she was waiting for us looking beautiful and smiling like an angel as if butter couldn't melt in her mouth. But the damage cost thousands.

Hall was becoming like family to me. I got a call from him to say that he was coming to London on his own. He explained that he had two children, both from his first wife, who was now married to a dentist and they were all very friendly. His children were two teenage girls. His older daughter wanted to be an actress and although she was at drama school in America she wanted to come to England to be coached the English way. He was coming over to find the best academy possible. We went to three which didn't suit and then we did find one that was acceptable and we found her some accommodation where she could board with other students. 

While he was in London he was making enquiries about getting a banker to help him with finances for a film he had in mind. Most of his films are based on true life and one had proved extremely difficult to film and was running out of time and money and the bankers told him to stop. They couldn't pay the film crews. But the crew liked him and the project so much that they told him to carry on without the bankers. They were sure the film would be a success and would get their pay eventually. The film he had in his mind was based on a story from a newspaper in a near-eastern country. It was about someone who saved the life of a young girl who was in the hands of the dictator who was running the country and wanted her for his harem. It made an excellent story but the film was expensive to make and it needed great stars to portray the characters. It was at the time when the whole of the film business seemed to be in financial difficulties and many were selling out.

He mortgaged his house and managed to borrow but he had to get actors who were not known stars. In fact the leading man thought he was a star and caused problems. Lack of money also limited the advertising and promotion he was able to afford. In the end the film just about cleared all expenses, mainly from sales in Australia where the story originated.

The daughter at drama school was doing quite well. She acted in some plays that my wife and I saw and I became a surrogate father to her. She loved England and everything English. I often visited her. She found a nice English lad at the academy who was very talented. Her mother came over to see her and we invited her to stay at our apartment. I cannot find out who this was. She was a caring lovely lady and I was surprised when I found out that she had been a famous star in her youth. She had been a child prodigy born with the gift of a wonderful voice. She sang with the great opera singers in concerts, being coached by the finest coaches. She appeared in some films but her career was handicapped by a shyster manager who sold her contract to a multi-billionaire for a huge profit. But the billionaire was involved in so many projects worth billions he could not find the time to take on the girl singer. For a while she only practised until she was invited by the famous stylist singer Perry Como to join his radio show, which meant giving up opera. While she was with me I took her around London and showed her the sights. Like her daughter, she loved England, especially pretty places. I took her to an old-fashioned tea place that had lots of antiques and we had an old-fashioned afternoon tea. She was thrilled.

In the evening we went to a hotel that once belonged to Gilbert of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, where in the evenings they had singers using scenes from the show. She enjoyed that. Later when she came to England again, this time with her husband we took them to a Hungarian restaurant that had gypsy music. The violinist came to our table and asked if there was anything we would like to hear. The husband whispered something to his wife and he told the violinist to play the beautiful aria from the Merry Widow, Viella. As he started to play Hall’s wife joined in. When she had finished, everyone stood up and clapped, some with tears in their eyes. My wife and I had never been moved so much. The lady owner of the restaurant came over weeping. She was ill with cancer. She kissed the singer and said, “When I die and go to heaven your beautiful voice will be with me.” My friend said, “No, I hope it will keep you alive.” Although she had so many compliments, one more was nice. When she was young she probably had the best compliment ever. Galli-Curci one of the greatest singers of all time told her that her voice was the best she ever heard in a young girl her age. She was a great friend of Diana Durban and went to the same coach.

They invited us back to their home in Beverly Hills and we had a glorious time. We were accompanied by my wife's sister, Phyllis, and husband. When we arrived my friend the director was away in Hawaii but he arranged for a car to meet us and take us to his sumptuous home. He had a butler to greet us and a special cook to prepare a magnificent meal with wines and champagne. His younger daughter came and entertained us. We were taken back to our hotel and told by the driver he would pick us up again on the next night. We were taken the next night to the finest hotel in Beverly Hills. The head waiter met us most cordially. He waited on us himself at first as though we were famous people. We could choose anything from the menu and any drink we liked. There were many known people there who must have been wondering who we were. When we were about to go, I wanted to tip the waiter, but he said it was all taken care of.

Years later we were in Los Angeles where my granddaughter went to university. He took us to his exclusive club. By then he was divorced again. I met him a few times more while he was writing a book. His daughter was married and had two children. He was a clever man, a Rhodes scholar, but he was living a luxurious life keeping his children and his old mother and he had had no income for a long time. He kept borrowing money from the bank using his house as security. I liked him and all his family but on one project he got my son interested and used him to pay for some scheme that went wrong and my son was the loser. That upset me. I did mention it once, but did nothing. He sent me his book, The Rest of our Lives, but died soon after from diabetes caused by a fire in his house. His daughter and her husband then forgot me and my wife.

This cause of death cannot be right. It says on the internet that he died from complications following hip surgery.