Rich By Melvyn Bragg

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

RICH by Melvyn Bragg

Date: 23rd April 2012

RICH by Melvyn Bragg

Although I was given this weighty tome over 20 years ago, I’d never got around to reading it. Having made a recent visit to the Old Vic in London where I saw Richard Burton and John Neville in ‘Othello’ I decided to get the book down off the shelf, dust it off and read it. The read was very well worthwhile. I hadn’t realised what an academic Burton was and an avid reader – a very bright man as well as a fascinating character.

I think he must have been one of those men who is impossible to live with and impossible to do without. What a character!

As I belong to Lovefilm, I ordered a compilation of his films and am slowly making my way through them. I own and often watch Becket but was unfamiliar with many of his films. What a treat it is to watch so many of these quality productions even though Burton accepted many of them to sustain the rich life style to which his wife Elizabeth Taylor appeared to be addicted. I got the feeling that had not Elizabeth entered his life he would probably have retained his acting for the theatre which he appeared to prefer. He was such a commanding presence on stage and that magnificent voice – so few of the modern day actors have that vocal beauty.

I’ve got so fed up with all the ‘Reality’ programmes (ok,ok so I’ve taken part in a few) and the plethora of Cookery programmes that I’m now watching predominantly old films and devouring all the Scandinavian Detective Dramas.

When I was reading news back in the 80’s I came into contact with many of the rich and famous predominantly at Charity events and quite a few were kind enough to accept invitations to dinner – among them was Sally – Richard’s third and last wife – who had an all too brief marriage before his early death. It would have been totally inappropriate to ask about Richard but she was a very pleasant guest - I think she now lives in Australia.

Anyway, if you are interested in this fascinating man and an extremely well written Biography – then see if you can obtain a second hand copy of ‘Rich’.

When I was at school we had a wonderful English teacher - Mother Mary David - and she would organise outings from our school in Abbey Wood, Kent up to London to the Old Vic (which then was totally devoted to Shakespearian plays and nothing else).  One of these outings was to see Richard Burton and John Neville in 'Othello'. They were alternating the parts and when we saw it Burton was Othello and Neville - Iago.  At the time I had a consuming passion for John Neville and stood at the stage door for as long as Mother Mary David would allow in the hope that I could get John Neville's autography.  I did see him in a navy and white spotted gown when he came down towards the stage door but he didn't come outside.  I left empty handed but wrote him a letter and to my joy received a photo of him properly signed -I could see the indentation in the photo so knew it had been personally signed and not just stamped.  What a pity I didn't have a 'crush' on Richard Burton at the time.

Richard was extremely kind to his family and friends and always tried to obtain parts for his 'chums' when he was starring in a film.  When working on the magazine programme 'Pebble Mill' in the late 70's I was fortunate enough to interview and obtain autographs from several of his friends - Robet Hardy (whom he called Tim), Michael Hordern (later knighted) and David Niven.  I'll copy them in to the Gallery for you.

Here I share with you my autographed photo of John Neville

RICH by Melvyn Bragg

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