Chiswick Memories - a Memory of Acton.

My parents were both brought up in the Chiswick/Bedford Park/South Acton area. I was born in 1935 and spent my early years living on the Great West Road near to the Gillette factory. During WWII I spent much time visiting my grandparents in Binns Road. I have great memories of "beach combing" with my grandad on the Thames along Chiswick reach. Any useful piece of wood would be made in to some toy or other.

I recall two special moments at the Chiswick Empire.

After leaving the army in 1956, I went to the theatre to see a cabaret style show, where audience members were invited to sit on the stage in a night club setting. The show ran for four weeks, with different acts, but a common theme. The show dancers were provided by a local dance school, The Marie de Vere Ballet. During the show, the girls invited the stage audience to dance, and one girl stood out from the rest, and was obviously destined for "stardom". I made sure that she was the one I danced with. Her name was Jill Ireland, Hollywood actress, and wife to both David McCallum, and the late Charles Bronson.

My earliest "pop" idol had been the late Al Jolson, and having seen the bio pics The Jolson Story, and Jolson Sings Again I went to see the star of the films, Larry Parks and his wife Betty Garrett, when they came to play the London Palladium around 1950. Larry had subsequently had his career ruined by the Senator Joseph McCarthy "un-American activities" purge. So in the late 50's when Larry and Betty returned to play the Empire, I had to see them. At the previous Palladium show I had waited at the stage door with several hundred fans for an autograph, but had to leave my book for them to sign. I never knew whether the signatures were authentic, or not. I found myself alone at the Empire stage door when they appeared. I now must have the only autograph book with duplicate genuine Larry and Betty autographs.

A memory shared by Colin Bowles on Feb 2nd, 2014.
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