Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Victor Spinetti Up Front...: His Strictly Confidential Autobiography

Victor Spinetti Up Front...: His Strictly Confidential Autobiography
Antonio G. Pereira © 2012 Antonio G. Pereira

Victor Spinetti, after a very successful run of one man performances of his show, 'A Very Private Diary!' http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/news/2008/10/31/why-i-turned-hollywood-down-by-victor-spinetti-91466-22156166/ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/showbiz-and-lifestyle/news/2008/10/29/victor-spinetti-s-theatrical-tales-91466-22137051/ , does a free and open to the public performance on the stage of The Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center, on Saturday Jan. 10th, 2009 at 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon. The place is packed to the rafters with Theatre People, Beatle Fans, the Press, and Victor puts on one hell of a performance! Funny, witty, poignant, thought provoking, every word you can think of to describe a thoughtful, creative artist; who with effortless, easy command of the stage, has the entire audience in the palm of his hand, from beginning to end. He stays afterward to sign autographs for everyone who would like one, despite having come down with a cold, and despite the fact that an already forecasted oncoming horrendous, punishing blizzard will hit New York by early evening. All true and experienced by yours truly, who was one of those fans in the audience that glorious, magical day http://observer1984.blogspot.com/2009/01/victor-spinetti-very-private-diary.html . Well, let me tell you, 'Victor Spinetti Up Front,,,: His Strictly Confidential Autobiography' http://www.dramabookshop.com/book/9781861059437 http://www.dramabookshop.com/book/9781905798254  , is the next best thing to having seen Victor live in performance. A very good writer, the premier portions of his autobiography cover his early life. As his one man show's main focus was on his career in theatre and films, and the people he knew connected therein, his childhood in Wales and subsequent experiences in the Army (which are related in detail in the book) are quite startling (and at times disturbing) to read. His father Joe, who in the early 20th century left an already Fascist leaning pre-Mussolini/Hitler/Franco-Nazi Axis Italy, to go to Wales, was a driven, hard working but very distant, callous and ultimately insecure individual. At the outbreak of World War II, Joe along with other Italians who had settled in Scotland and Wales, were sent off to what amounted to, 'Internment Camps'. It was up to Victor Spinetti's mother Lily, who was Welsh, to run things until her husband was released. Although always close to his mother, Victor relates that there was always a certain coldness between his mother and father, which we learn, he eventually finds out the reason for, when he gets older. On advice from a good friend (actually two) on his return from the Internment Camp, Victor's father enrolls him in the Monmouth School For Boys (located in Monmouthshire, SouthEast Wales, County of Gwent, near the Monnow and Rye Rivers, where both English and Welsh are spoken), and his life begins to change as he discovers his true calling there; which is the Arts. After a near fatal experience in the Army a few years later, due to Spartan and dangerously unhealthy living conditions in the barracks, which leads to Pleurisy and a Collapsed Lung, followed by blatant Military Medical Incompetence, which ends with a full Army Disability Pension (to cover up the Medical Incompetence), Victor gets a Grant to attend The Cardiff College of Music and Drama; and his fate is sealed. And from here on, Victor Spinetti's life comes in line with his one man show, 'A Very Private Diary'. His breakthrough into acting in both theatre and films in London. Early friendships with a young actor named Sean Connery (this was before Connery made his breakthrough film, 'Another Time, Another Place', with Lana Turner), Director Joan Littlewood (in whose Theatre Workshop he starred in many productions), his late partner {and actor in his own right} Graham Curnow (in whose memory he dedicated his autobiography), his subsequent friendships with The Beatles (especially with John Lennon, with whom he developed a deep friendship bond that culminated with their co-authorship of and Spinetti directing The London National Theatre's production of Lennon's two books, 'In His Own Write' and 'A Spaniard In The Works', as 'The John Lennon Play: In His Own Write' {Lennon seems to have always clicked with very creative artist types, e.g. Stuart Sutcliffe, his first wife Cynthia, Peter Cook, Eleanor Bron, Victor, Alma Cogan, Yoko, May Pang}) Some of the stories Victor tells about people he casually meets, like the old couple in The Colony Room (a private drinking club in Soho in London) and 'The Swedish Shipping Millionaire', in Winston's Nightclub (also in London) and what eventually transpires when they 'invite him home', leave you dumbfounded with your jaw slowly dropping open. And there are the stories of kindnesses that people have shown him. Once during the filming of, 'A Hard Days Night', which was a breathtaking spontaneous gift from The Beatles for his sister Gianina when she was getting engaged, and again from Elizabeth Taylor during the filming of 'The Taming of The Shrew', when his sister was getting married. His relationships with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Peter Sellers and Marlene Dietrich, provide many additionally entertaining stories (his description of the meeting he had with Laurence Olivier and John Lennon {who came with Yoko} to initially discuss the possibility of mounting the play based on Lennon's two books, at The Old Vic Theatre, is priceless!), as well as his work with Orson Welles. Victor Spinetti (who has a very good memory my friend), keeps you glued to his autobiography; as page after page he has fascinating stories to tell. This book is a rare treasure, written by someone who was there when it all happened. Well worth reading.

We were so very lucky to have him: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2161526/Actor-Victor-Spinetti-star-Beatles-films-died-aged-82-cancer-battle.html

I remember reading somewhere that John Lennon once said that we never actually die until the last person who has a memory of us dies. And there you have it, some wise words from Sage Lennon.

Oh and by the way, the cover of 'Victor Spinetti Up Front', sports a comical photograph of Messers Spinetti and Lennon cutting up for the camera, on what looks like the set of the film, 'Help'.

And today as I publish this posting dear reader, John Lennon has a birthday.

And a Very Happy Birthday To You John Lennon.

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