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Thread: Rachel Roberts

  1. #1
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    Can anyone provide any information on the actress famous for her roles in This Sporting Life and Saturday Night Sunday Morning?

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    Rachel Roberts plays Mrs. Hammond in 'This Sporting Life', 1963, and she is Brenda in 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning', 1960. The way I checked this was by going to the home page for this site and clicking on LINKS instead of FORUM. Then I selected DATABASES. I moved down to #56 and selected Internet Movie Databases http://www.imdb.com Once there I could search for the movie reviews by name and see the cast lists. Try searching for Rachel Roberts with People selected. You get 3 names. She is Rachel Roberts (I). Select that and you get a short Bio, her filmography, etc.




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    Thank's for that Larry. I'm after a bit more of a biography if possible. I've tried many sites but there is very little on her life apart from her filmography.

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    Rachel Roberts bio from All Movie Guide.

    She studied theater at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, then began her professional career in 1951. Roberts focused primarily on the stage, but appeared in about two dozen movies from 1953-80; she was often cast as a blowsy, sensual housewife. For her work in This Sporting Life (1963) she received a Best Actress Oscar nomination and won the British Film Academy Best Actress award. She also won British Film Academy awards for her work in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) and Yanks (1979). In the mid '70s, Roberts moved to Los Angeles, going on to costar as the housekeeper Mrs. McClellan on the TV sitcom "The Tony Randall Show." From 1955-61 she was married to actor Alan Dobie; from 1962-71 she was married to actor Rex Harrison, with whom she appeared in A Flea in Her Ear (1968). She died at 53 from barbiturate poisoning; her death was ruled a suicide

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    Thank you Webmaster.

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    I've just finished reading Cliff Goodwin's "BEHAVING BADLY" The Life Of Richard Harris 1930-2002. It has some new information about Rachel Roberts but unfortunately more sordid than interesting. Shame because you would think someone with her acting talent and associations merits a more respectful biography.

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    This is my first post so hello all!



    I've just finished reading 'Acting Wales - Stars of Stage and Screen' by Peter Stead, published by University of Wales Press in 2002; and there is a whole chapter on Rachel Roberts which may have some general bio information of interest to you.



    The author also refers to an auto/biography of Rachel Roberts called 'No Bells on Sunday', "which incorporates the actress's own journals and diary", and has been put together by Alexander Walker. Roberts is credited as author and Walker as editor, and the book was published by Pavilion in 1984. Does sound rather bleak though...



    Hope this is of help.

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    Thank's Helen. I'll try to get a copy.

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    There is indeed a biography of Rachel titled

    No Bells On Sunday - The Journals of Rachel Roberts , which draws extensively on her diary entries for a lot of its information. In fact it's virtually an autobiography , and her writing and insight into both her own deteriorating situation as well as the human condition is quite incredible. It's a more interesting read than even the Kenneth Williams Diaries , although every bit as tragic in the end.

    Rachel killed herself at her home in Beverly Hills on November 25th 1980 by swallowing a huge overdose of barbiturates as well as drinking

    poison in the form of a caustic household substance such as disinfectant. Her body was found in the back garden. Here is an extract from her final diary entry , written on the day that she died:-



    "I can't control it anymore and I've been trying with all my failing strength. I'm paralysed. I can't do anything and there seems to be no help anywhere. What has happened to me? Is it that my dependence over the years on alcohol has so severely debilitated me that now, without it , I just cannot function at all? Or is it that my nervous system from birth has always been so very frail that life for me is too much to cope with? That I was the hopelessly dependent little girl who found everything too hard to handle, so that my intelligence and talent have been overcome now I'm in my fifties and I can't withstand it? Day after day and night after night, I'm in this shaking fear. What am I so terribly frightened of?

    Life itself, I think."

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    I've just finished reading Cliff Goodwin's "BEHAVING BADLY" The Life Of Richard Harris 1930-2002. It has some new information about Rachel Roberts but unfortunately more sordid than interesting. Shame because you would think someone with her acting talent and associations merits a more respectful biography.
    Alas Mr. Goodwin seems have a penchant for 'sordid' in all the biogs. he writes. More 'warts' and les 'and all' I'm afraid



    SMUDGE

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    The book "No Bells On Sunday" is currently available in hardcover from Broders Books in the US.

    www.BrodersBooks.com



    I was amazed to see the mysterious Webmaster actually making a reply to this thread.

    Member No.2 with only 27 postings to his name - he has a lot to catch up.



    Dave.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Tony in Ottawa:

    Right on! It's unusual to see a post from "Number Two" (personally "I am not a number"). I thought Steve Crook was the Webmaster and he's the fount of information especially about all things Powell and Pressburger. Am I wrong?



    Perhaps it's the full moon.
    I am just a number, I am not a free man :)

    I just help out around here.



    I have my own website about P&P with an email group. That takes up most of my spare time. I only nip in here occasionally. (That might be hard to believe sometimes but it's true)



    Steve

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    Senior Member Country: Scotland julian_craster's Avatar
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    To read this Life of the Day complete with a picture of the subject,

    visit Oxford DNB: Lives of the week





    Rachel Roberts (1927-1980), actress, was born on 20 September 1927, at Llanelli, the second daughter of the Baptist minister Richard Rhys Roberts (1894-1965) and his wife, Rachel Ann Jones (1894-1973). Rachel Roberts records that despite her childhood in a caring family she had little consciousness of being loved and she developed early a sense of inferiority, as the unwanted child of middle-aged parents, with a sister ten years older, more accomplished, and better looking. From 1932 Roberts lived in Swansea and attended Swansea high school from 1938 to 1945. She records systematic bullying at school. In compensation Roberts began to develop an interior erotic fantasy life and an exhibitionist, rebellious exterior. The combination of insecurity and flamboyant display, to the point of scandal, proved an unstable basis for the best of her work and provoked the gradual disintegration of her personal life.

    From 1945 Roberts studied at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and then went on to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1948-1950), where she was awarded two student prizes. After a few years acquiring experience and moving from relationship to relationship she decided that the stability of marriage was what she wanted, and in 1955, after a deliberate pursuit, she married the actor Alan Dobie (b. 1932). From the start the marriage with a serious, introvert partner failed, and soon descended into long separations filled with promiscuous relations with other lovers.

    The year 1956 changed the face of British theatre and, subsequently, films. Alan Dobie became one of a generation of young, regional actors who found a wide range of work opening up for them. Roberts's Welsh background opened some doors, largely because there were few young English actresses equipped to play opposite the new actors. In 1960 she was cast to play opposite Albert Finney, in the film of Alan Sillitoe's novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), for which she received the British Film Academy award as best actress. She was to receive this award again in 1963 for her role opposite Richard Harris in This Sporting Life. It might be considered strange that such a flamboyant, extrovert actress could score her triumphs playing working-class, sexually neglected women, used and abused by rough, extrovert, inconsiderate men; perhaps she tapped into the latent sense of inferiority which the display masked. Playing together again in 1972, in E. A. Whitehead's play Alpha beta, Roberts and Finney put together a coruscating revelation of the stages of the disintegration of a marriage as a descent into hell.

    Also, in 1960, the year of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Roberts joined the Royal Court Theatre to play Anna Petrovna in Anton Chekhov's Platonov and found herself cast to play opposite Rex Harrison (1908-1990) [see Harrison, Sir Reginald Carey]. For the role, she was awarded the Clarence Derwent award for the best supporting actress. The meeting with Harrison was to have a greater effect on her life and career. She began to live with him, and this ended the marriage with Alan Dobie. She and Harrison married on 11 March 1962. She records the security gained from mixing with 'stars' and living the luxurious life. Unfortunately it also increased her insecurity, as Harrison began a run of films culminating in My Fair Lady (1964) and Roberts was in the wrong place for her line of acting. Her work in London and in British films such as This Sporting Life (1963), O Lucky Man (1973), Our Man in Havana (1959), and the Australian Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) continued to bring praise, and for John Schlesinger's film Yanks (1979) she was awarded a British Academy award as best supporting actress. But the relationship with Harrison, with whom she was obsessed, was well on the way to disintegration by the mid-1960s, causing great suffering to both parties. Her drinking increased, her private and public behaviour became more outrageous, and in 1969 Harrison issued a statement saying they had separated. The marriage finally ended in 1971. The dissipation in her life began to affect her work. Her death, at 2620 Hutton Drive, Los Angeles, California, from a barbiturate overdose on 26 November 1980, was judged as suicide.

    Clive Barker



    Sources No bells on Sunday: the journals of Rachel Roberts, ed. A. Walker (1984) + The Times (28 Nov 1980)

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    Senior Member Country: Australia ShirlGirl's Avatar
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    Thanks for that link, Julian - it's a very interesting site.

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    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Once again my thanks to Welsh Greats. Sadly though doesn't say how long available



    Rachel Roberts



    BBC iPlayer - Welsh Greats: Series 1: Rachel Roberts





    FReddy

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy
    Once again my thanks to Welsh Greats. Sadly though doesn't say how long available

    Rachel Roberts

    BBC iPlayer - Welsh Greats: Series 1: Rachel Roberts

    FReddy
    Open up the Programme Information link

    Available until: 11:04pm Tuesday 4th August 2009



    Steve

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Open up the Programme Information link

    Available until: 11:04pm Tuesday 4th August 2009

    Steve




    Cheers Steve,

  18. #18
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy
    Once again my thanks to Welsh Greats. Sadly though doesn't say how long available

    Rachel Roberts

    BBC iPlayer - Welsh Greats: Series 1: Rachel Roberts

    FReddy
    A lovely documentary about Rachel. Great narration from Siān Phillips



    Have you ever seen BBC Wales' version of "Who Do You Think You Are?"?

    It's called "Coming Home" and it gives various celebs a chance to explore their Welsh family roots



    The episode with Michael York is particularly good. Michael was born in Buckinghamshire but his father came from Llandovery



    Steve

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook

    The episode with Michael York is particularly good. Michael was born in Buckinghamshire but his father came from Llandovery

    Steve
    Damn, missed that one.



    One of my favourite actors, I always wish he would have stayed in the UK and not gone to California, but our loss is their gain.



    Freddy

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: England cornershop15's Avatar
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    I watched the documentary earlier on (thanks to Freddy for the link) and am overjoyed that this almost forgotten actress was given such attention and recognition. I have the book No Bells on Sunday, extracts from her diaries, and am inspired to read a few pages later.



    Obviously, it's terribly sad and depressing that Rachel ended her life (I was unaware until Sian Phillips' harrowing revelation about the exact cause of her death) but I couldn't help being mesmerised by all that incredibly rare footage: a 1950s TV adaptation of Our Mutual Friend, acting opposite a young David McCallum; some TV plays, including one with Kenneth Griffith; the film Alpha Beta (which has a thread here), opposite Albert Finney; and FASCINATING excerpts of a hitherto unknown interview with Michael Parkinson.

    I wish her strong presence was still here to show up these present stars.



    A nice picture of Rachel in happier times - 7th April 1961 to be exact:



    Rachel Roberts attending a reception at the Dorchester Hotel after the British

    Film Academy Awards at which she was named Actress of the Year.


    (This was for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, again with Albert Finney)



    She should have been a much bigger star, but most of her career was pretty distinguished:



    Rachel Roberts,



    Thanks also to threadstarter Julian for the initial post.

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