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Herbert Marshall A Biography

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  • Herbert Marshall A Biography

    Co authored by Sir Kevin Brownlow no lest.
    Marshall lost a leg in the First World War and wore a prosthetic limb for the rest of his life.

  • #2
    David Niven tells a rather cruel but nevertheless funny story about Herbert Marshall as a pallbearer in one of his books.


    • #3
      Then why don't you repeat it


      • #4
        The yarn paraphrased from Bring on the Empty Horses:

        'Late in 1959, David Niven got a call from Edmund Goulding's sister saying the director had died and wanted the Oscar-winning actor to be one of his pallbearers. He described the hefty MGM director's funeral at Forest Lawn Glendale as quite a production in itself.

        The Goulding family chose a heavy, thick black mahogany coffin with solid brass fittings. Niven said they were told the plot was shaded by pines and "blessed with a beautiful panoramic view of all Hollywood".
        The casting of pallbearers, as Niven called it, included him, actor Herbert Marshall, who had lost one leg in the First World War, actor Reginald Gardiner, who could only use one arm because the other was mangled when he fell from a fire escape while chasing actress Hedy Lamarr, diminutive Mae West director Al Hall, who could barely lift a scotch and soda, and a business manager so large he was sweating profusely and wheezing loudly in the church before the funeral even started. The sixth man was a giant of a fellow no-one seemed to know.

        After the service at Wee Kirk o' the Heather church, the hearse delivered Goulding's body to the bottom of a hill and the driver advised them they had carry the casket about 300 yards over the brow of a hill.
        Marshall bent over, making adjustments behind the knee of his artificial leg. "Just shifting into climb", he explained.

        The men hoisted the casket onto their shoulders. The businessman dropped out first, his colour turning sap green as he retreated to a gravestone. Hall, whose fingertips had barely grazed the bottom of the coffin, dropped out next. The giant encouraged, "It's only another 20 yards — we can't let him down now".

        Niven wondered who would be next, him with a hangover, Marshall with his leg or Gardiner with his arm. Ten yards from the top, Marshall and Gardiner bailed out together, forcing them to set the coffin down.

        Unable to get it back on their shoulders, the giant took the front while Niven and a recharged Hall took the back. Hall's feet slipped, and his jaw slammed with the casket. He remained conscious and they reached the pine needle covered summit. The family were waiting at the graveside about 20 yards down the other side.

        Hall started down to speak to the minister but the casket started down too. Muscle Man fell, leaving only Hall to save the day. He lay on his back in Goulding's path, bent his knees and used the soles of his shoes "like buffers at a railway terminal". The impact moved him several feet, but he held and the director was delivered intact.

        "Edmund had a wild and wooly sense of the ridiculous and I am convinced that from some private Valhalla he directed his own funeral", Niven wrote.'


        • #5
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          • #6
            David Niven also tells an entertaining story of a meeting with Prince Rainier who asked him about his favourite conquest in Hollywood. Niven answered "Grace, errr Gracie Fields"


            • #7
              Originally posted by cassidy View Post
              David Niven also tells an entertaining story of a meeting with Prince Rainier who asked him about his favourite conquest in Hollywood. Niven answered "Grace, errr Gracie Fields"
              Yes, that's a great one, cassidy; one I've repeated numerous times!