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Dear Reader #156

Dear Reader,

Are actresses/writers/etc born or made? Where does their talent come from? To answer this question, I intend to trace the ancestry of creative people born in the first quarter of the twentieth century, to see if their ancestors displayed any creative traits.

I’m starting with my favourite actress, Eva Marie Saint. Eva Marie Saint first came to my attention in the movie ‘36 Hours’, where she co-starred with my favourite actor, James Garner. After that, I enjoyed her classic performances in movies such as On The Waterfront and North by Northwest.

Eva Marie Saint’s acting career is well documented. For this project, I’m interested in the period before she was famous, and in her ancestors’ roots. Where was she born? Where did her ancestors come from? What trades did they follow? Time to search the records…

I’ve found Eva in the 1940 United States Federal Census. This is a public record. The census reveals Eva’s age, approximately 15, that she lived with her sister, Adelaide aged 17, and her parents, John Saint, 48, and Eva, 43. The family lived in Bethlehem, Albany, New York. John was a District Credit Manager for a tyre company while Eva’s mother was a housewife. Their neighbours were chemists, printers, engineers and a piano teacher, so a pleasant district. 

The piano teacher hints at local artistic endeavours, but nothing to directly link Eva’s family with the arts, as yet. Nevertheless, a good start with plenty of leads to follow.

***

As London developed during the seventeenth century, the city saw great advances in medicine, science and philosophy. It became a home to the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Society. Many learned people made a positive contribution to the sciences. However, London also attracted its fair share of quacks.

The quacks peddled a wide range of ‘miracle’ cures, especially for embarrassing diseases like syphilis. The quacks used to gather at the gates of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. There, William Salmon sold an ‘Elixir of Life’, and an antidote to the plague.

Anne Laverenst ran her business in Arundel Street. She treated syphilis and removed women’s bladder stones. Coffee houses were also popular locations for quacks. These establishments carried advertisements for cures such as ‘Fletcher’s Powder’, which was effective ‘against all diseases, except death’. 

🖼 William Hogarth’s ‘The Visit to the Quack Doctor’.

Ivor Allchurch, the sixth of seven children, was born on 16 October 1929 in Swansea to Charles Wilfried Allchurch and Mabel Sarah Allchurch, née Miller. Ivor’s parents were originally from Dudley, Worcestershire, but they moved to Swansea post World War I in search of work.

After school, Ivor worked in a foundry and a fish market. However, his main passion was football. An inside-forward, he began his professional career with Swansea Town. He remained with the club for ten years, scoring over 100 goals.

Ivor training with Swansea in 1951. 📸 National Museum of Wales.

Aged 28, Ivor moved to Newcastle United for a fee of £28,000. Four seasons later, he joined Cardiff City for £18,000, then finished his career back at his hometown club, Swansea Town.

In total, Ivor won 68 caps for Wales, a record at the time. Along with Trevor Ford, he was the leading goal scorer for his country, scoring 23 goals, a record eventually broken by Ian Rush. 

Ivor made his international debut on 15 November 1950 in a 4 – 2 defeat to England. During the 1958 World Cup, he scored twice for Wales and helped his country to reach the quarter finals.

In qualifying for the 1958 World Cup, Ivor scored in both legs of the play-off match versus Isreal. In the finals itself he scored in a 1 – 1 draw versus Mexico and in the 2 – 1 group play-off victory against Hungary.

Wales captain Dave Bowen praised Ivor for his World Cup performances. He said, “They looked at Ivor and wondered where he had been hiding. He could have played for any of the teams out there, including Brazil.”

In 1962, Ivor won his 50th Welsh cap in a match against Scotland. He ended his illustrious international career in 1966 in a match against Chile, bowing out with the accolade of “The Golden Boy of Welsh Football.”

***

Clara Bow was, arguably, America’s first major superstar. At the apex of her stardom in 1929 she received 45,000 fan letters a month. Yet, Clara was born into abject poverty. Indeed, it’s possible that her birth was not even recorded. Certainly, no record of her birth survives.

Various records list Clara’s birthday as 29 July, but the years vary – 1905, 1906 and 1907. The 1910 US census was taken on 15 April. Clara was recorded as aged four in that census, which suggests she was born in 1905.

The 1910 census also recorded that Clara was one of three children born to her parents, Robert and Sarah, but the only one alive. A heat wave gripped her home city, New York, in July 1905, with temperatures topping 100 °F. Many people died.

Later, Clara wrote: “I don’t suppose two people ever looked death in the face more clearly than my mother and I the morning I was born. We were both given up, but somehow we struggled back to life.”

To be continued…

***

The Dexter Crisis, Series 1, Episode 10 of The Rockford Files was written by Gloryette Clark. John Thomas James and Stephen J Cannell had authored the previous episodes. The pace of this episode was slightly slower than previous episodes – nothing wrong with that.

Gloryette Clark was a long-time associate of Roy Huggins, aka John Thomas James. She served as writer, director, film editor and stock footage librarian. An external motel shot in this episode was the same as a shot in episode 9, In Pursuit of Carol Thorne. These shots were expensive to produce, so it’s understandable that they were reused. 

Las Vegas was a main location for this story, but no filming took place there. The cover shots were all stock footage, although you don’t notice this as the story unfolds.

None of the series regulars – Rocky, Beth, Becker or Angel – feature in this episode, which makes me wonder if it was adapted from a standard private eye story into a Rockford Files story. That said, Rockford’s traits do stand out, especially when he’s reluctant to thump someone, despite provocation.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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