This week saw the publication of the final edition of our sister title The Weekly News.
With a history spanning an incredible 165 years, the paper’s archives give a great insight into how life has changed through the generations.
Here, editor Billy Higgins takes a final look back and picks out some more stories of interest, this time looking at the big name stars who shared their stories with The Weekly News.
Editor’s note: From 1955, a fascinating interview with Hollywood legend Doris Day.
The last two years have been thrilling ones for Doris Day. And the results of the hard work she has been doing, and the fascinating places she has been visiting, all add up to new thrills and enjoyment for the millions who vote her “Queen Of Song.”
She is now just finishing work on The Man Who Knew Too Much, a Hitchcock thriller which may blaze a new trail for Doris.
Hitch told me why he teamed Doris up with James Stewart for his latest suspense epic.
“I saw her years ago in Storm Warning, in which she appeared with Ginger Rogers,” he said. “It was a dramatic role, quite unlike anything she had done up to that time.
“I noted her down as a girl with a future – if she wanted to take it up – as a dramatic actress.
“In The Man Who Knew Too Much she plays the part of a distraught mother – wife of a doctor (James Stewart) – who is searching for her kidnapped son.
“Singing is down to a minimum. She just has to sing a lullaby in the hope that the boy may hear her.
“Doris has handled the part perfectly. It may disappoint some of her fans who look to her for song and dance roles. But I’m sure it will make her a lot of new friends.”
Just before coming to Europe to make the film, Doris had a shot at yet another different role.
In Love Me Or Leave Me, in which she is co-starred with James Cagney, Doris plays the part of Ruth Etting, the sultry torch-singer who was the rage in America between the wars.
“I’m a real slinky character in that film,” Doris told me. “I don’t wear gingham in it. One of my costumes is a brief sequin-studded pale blue blouse, heavily fringed tight black shorts, and rhinestone-spangled black net stockings.
“I thought twice about taking the part. I knew it would be the greatest gamble of my career. It is so unlike me – either as picture-goers know me or as I am in private life.
“But I’ve always been keen to widen my range, and this was a big chance. Fortunately, the film is making quite a hit.”
When Doris came to London this year, it was her first trip away from America. She spent a week or two in London, then had a short holiday in France.
She turned up at the Film Festival in Cannes, went over to Marrakesh, in Morocco, to shoot a few scenes, and then back to London for further shots.
To me, a most significant thing was that Doris’s husband, Marty Melcher, and her young son, Terry, were with her throughout the trip. They were on hand when she met one of the biggest Press gatherings I have ever attended at Claridge’s Hotel. They spent the sun-drenched days on the beach with her at Cannes.
They strolled with her through the Arab quarters of Marrakesh, and they were still with her when she returned to London to do some scenes in a Brixton back street and at the Albert Hall in London.
After the unhappiness of her very early marriages, Doris is not really at ease unless Marty and Terry are around.
Commenting on the Cannes scene, a French journalist wrote: “Seen on the beach. Doris Day flirting with – her husband. What a pity!”
“We stay close,” said Marty Melcher in explaining the success of their marriage. That sums it up admirably.
Once, round a supper table, somebody was complaining of insomnia. “What do you do, Doris, when you can’t sleep?” she asked.
“I just wake Marty up,” said Doris simply, “and we have a chat.”
That story illustrates as well as anything the closeness of this very happy pair.
The warmth of the greeting given Doris when she first arrived in London at first thrilled her to the marrow – but after a while it quite frightened her.
There were large crowds of fans to meet her at London Airport. Many of them followed Doris’s car back to the hotel by taxi. They waited day and night to catch a glimpse of her.
“One Sunday morning we took a car out for a drive into the country,” Doris told me. “To my surprise, I found that some of the fans had hired a taxi and followed us for 50 miles. I felt it was unlikely they could really afford it, and I was most worried about it.”
Doris did her best to repay such devotion. When she got back to her hotel at night there was always a huge crowd to greet her car.
Regularly she would collect autograph books, pictures and gramophone records and take them up to her room. Her first job was always to sign these and return them to the waiting fans.
While she was staying at the Savoy on her second visit to London, the crowds were outside her hotel until the small hours of the morning.
Sometimes they chanted “We want Doris” until two o’clock.
Once other guests at the hotel complained to the management they could not sleep because of the “fan club” chant.
Doris was awakened to be told of the complaint. She immediately dressed and went down to see the crowd herself.
Thus it was the famous film star was to be found one morning at 2am in Embankment Gardens, talking very sweetly and reasonably to some of her too enthusiastic fans.
She answered dozens of questions about her films and herself before the party broke up and the lucky fans went on their ways, satisfied.
In Marrakesh, Doris was working so hard on The Man Who Knew Too Much, that she had little time for sightseeing. As always, when working on a picture, she made a point of getting to bed early each night.
But she did find time one evening to accept an invitation to go to a real Arab home, where the party had dinner seated on cushions on the floor.
Bowls of food were passed round and the guests helped themselves with their fingers, Arab fashion.
Jimmy Stewart joined the party and provided much amusement by his efforts to imitate the Arab way of eating certain foods – rolling the food into a ball and throwing it into his open mouth.
A lot of shots went astray before he finally “scored” to the accompaniment of loud cheers from the Arab hosts.
At the Manara Hotel, where the film company stayed, Doris discovered that Jimmy had an unexpected talent.
“One night he started strumming on a piano,” Doris told me. “He even knew most of the songs I have sung in my films. So we often had a little impromptu entertainment before dinner.”
The guests of the hotel were indeed privileged. The girl who has turned down offers of up to £10,000 a week to sing at such high spots as Las Vegas or the London Palladium, was often to be found going through her repertoire with no less an accompanist than film star James Stewart! And all “for free”.
Back in London again, Doris spent many days in a Brixton back street, where a small chapel had been taken over by Alfred Hitchcock for one of the tense scenes of the film.
Doris, on the track of her kidnapped son, dashes out to the street and tries in vain to batter down the locked door of the chapel.
I happened to be on hand when she was rehearsing the scene. Time and again she strode to the door, turning the handle and shaking it vigorously.
Suddenly, after several minutes of this, a kindly old lady came out of a nearby house.
Ignoring the cameras and the technicians grouped all around Doris, she went up to the film star.
“Do you want to get in?” she asked innocently!
“I must tell them about that when I get home,” Doris told me. “What a sweet old lady. Just trying to be helpful.”
Doris was astonished one day when James Stewart looked at her for a long time before beginning a conversation, and then began by saying, “You are Doris Day, aren’t you?”
“Of course,” said Doris. “Who do you think I am?”
Jimmy explained. He had just been having a long conversation with a girl he thought was Doris. When the girl eventually broke in to say she was not Doris Day at all, Jimmy thought he must be dreaming.
The explanation was quite simple.
Nora Miller is a young London girl who used to be a model but who, nowadays, takes small parts in films.
She closely resembles Doris Day, and was engaged as stand-in for the London scenes of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
“James Stewart has always been one of my favourite stars,” Nora told me after this incident. “When he came over and started talking in such a friendly way to me, I was so flustered that I didn’t realise for quite a long time he, too, has mistaken me for Doris Day!”
When the London scenes were finished, Doris boarded a plane for New York and Hollywood.
Editor’s note: Here’s Joan Collins from 1961, aged 26, talking about love and marriage…
Many men would give a year’s salary to marry Joan Collins. She’s 26. Curvy, cute and cuddly. Not to mention flashing grey-green eyes which spell excitement or danger. Depending upon what you say!
But Joan has other ideas. Curled up on a sofa in her dressing room at Shepperton Studios, where she is making The Road To Hong Kong, she told me about her thoughts on love, marriage and career.
“You can’t manage the two,” she said. “Marriage and career, I mean. They just don’t mix. I’ve been married once. Divorced one, too. And I don’t want another.
“Of course, I was just a kid of 17 at the time. Didn’t really know my own mind.”
Joan shot me one of those looks guaranteed to make the average man’s heart give a skip and a flip.
I wondered how she would know when her mind was settled.
Her eyes flashed again.
“Girls should not get married until they are between 25 and 30,” she told me. “Until then we are a bit crazy and mixed up. Men shouldn’t get married until they’re about 28. Cos, if they’re not quite so crazy, they’re sure mixed up!
“Folk aren’t mature until their late 20s.”
Joan curled up still tighter on the sofa.
“You couldn’t print my ideas about maturity,” she admitted. “Maturity depends upon experience. And my views are what you might call liberally advanced!”
Would she like to get married again?
Joan wriggled her bare toes.
“Love to,” she agreed. “But you’ve got to be so careful.”
I said she was so right.
“The trouble is,” she confided, “so many girls think of marriage as something wonderfully intoxicating and heady. They think there’s going to be romance for the rest of their days and they’ll walk on fairy clouds in dreamland.
“But what’s the truth? You come down to reality with a bump the morning after you get back from your honeymoon.
“You see your old man with a stubbly chin, then you burn the toast and boil the eggs so hard you could bounce them on the floor.
“At breakfast time a couple of years later there’s a baby yelling its head off, the postman banging on the door, your old man’s in an early morning temper – and the toast still gets burned. Where’s the romance in that?
“Mind you, marriage has something wonderful to offer,” she admitted. “And it’s something I hope to enjoy one day. But I can see it involves lots of sacrifices. There’s got to be lots of giving on both sides.”
How long did Joan reckon a courtship should last?
She smoothed the creases from her skin-tight pants.
“Six months to a year,” she told me. “Certainly no longer. Otherwise you catch a glimpse of those stubbly chins. You might even get a taste of that burnt toast!
“Of course, my other courtship was not long enough. Only four months. Not nearly long enough to get to know a husband.”
I pointed out Joan was a year over her qualifying age for marriage. Had she anyone in mind?
Joan didn’t think so. Except that it had to be somebody inside the entertainment world.
“I still want to have four children. I’d like two early on. Then another two in eight years’ time.”
Joan uncurled herself and lit a cigarette.
“You know I’m terribly superstitious about everything,” she told me. “No matter what you mention.
“Especially flying. I never used to worry about it until I saw a film depicting a plane crash. Ever since then I’ve been terrified.
“And then there’s ladders. I always avoid ducking under ladders. That was until I came here. But at Shepperton they have so many ladders I just shut my eyes and pretend I don’t know about them!”
If Joan did ever marry again would she play safe and give up acting?
“It’s all very well to say wives should stay at home and do the washing,” she pouted. “But what happens if you don’t like washing?”
Editor’s note: Through the years, The Weekly News and Coronation Street have enjoyed a close relationship, and we had superb access to top stars like Elsie Tanner herself – Pat Phoenix. Here is one of many interviews with the soap legend.
I HONESTLY don’t know what dress designers are doing to women today. They must hate ’em.
I was watching a kid on television wearing one of the latest creations by one of the “with-it” dress designers. I’m sure she must have loathed women.
A loud check with a short skirt ’way up on her thighs and extra slim legs and flat-heeled shoes!
It’s my opinion that this outfit wasn’t designed to attract men but to send them away screaming.
I don’t like looking like a geometric sign. Perhaps because the only figure I can resemble is a figure “8” a bit on the lumpy side.
Someone rang me up the other day and wanted me to wear a skirt three inches above the knee for a photograph. Like the one Jean Shrimpton had been photographed in.
I pointed out that Jean Shrimpton was 23. I wasn’t.
Why can’t women, instead of having to be slaves to the edicts of fashion, please themselves and say they are going to wear something because it suits their figure? Or because they like it. Or say – I’m dressing to please the fellers!
I think a woman’s wardrobe is a very important factor in her life.
As actresses in rep we were paid just about enough to live on. We had to provide our own clothes for the stage and we just hadn’t the money.
I remember a second-hand clothes shop in Bradford where wealthy women sold their dresses, and so on, after they had worn them a time or two.
The other girls in the cast and I used to haunt the place and pick up dresses for 10 bob or so.
When the theatres closed and I found myself out of work it was worse. I used to go without food for clothes.
This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. Clothes are as essential to an actress as a plumber’s tools are to him.
When I began to earn more than I had ever expected from Coronation Street, one of the joys in my life was a wild spree in a dress shop.
Excluding furs, I spend about £3,500 every year on clothes. I have about 200 pairs of shoes.
Every woman should always aim at being smart. No man wants to look at yesterday’s stale kipper.
Good glamour isn’t a matter of money. Nothing looks worse than grubby white gloves, or handbags with interiors like Steptoe’s yard.
You don’t need a fortune to be glamorous. Imagination helps. I sometimes try to give a dress something extra with a brooch at the hip or something like that. Mind you, men are curious creatures.
The most staid businessmen I know will watch goggle-eyed while a girl with a short hemline and tight skirt walks across the room. But let his wife appear in the same sort of outfit! It’s all right for other women but not for his.
That is why I believe a wife should never let her husband see her with curlers in her hair.
I know there are times when she just can’t help it, but I feel she should keep these things in the background as much as possible.
All right so I’m a square. But in my book there’s a great deal to be said for preserving an aura of feminine mystery.
One of the things I can’t help wondering is how many women are walking round badly dressed because of the ruthlessness of some of the salesgirls in dress shops.
The super salesgirl who wants to make a sale at all costs.
I’ve developed a technique. I deliberately do terrible things to my figure. I stick out where I shouldn’t stick out and so on. I ask how smart she really thinks it is and if she would really wear it herself. I look so ridiculous we usually end up in laughter and she admits it isn’t the dress for me.
Mind you I’ve found that my taste in clothes can sometimes cause violent complications to my life as an actress.
A dress I once bought caused chaos in a recording studio. I went to London to record a monologue on Coronation Street which I had written.
I arrived at the studios dressed in a silk gown, which I thought was very feminine. We started the recording and the engineers suddenly started to go frantic.
The rustle of the silk in the dress was being picked up by the microphone and playing havoc with the recording equipment.
There was nothing for me to do but take off the dress.
I couldn’t just stand there in my undies, so I finished the recording wrapped in a curtain taken down from one of the windows in the studio.
I think there is a real antagonism between women and men. In the theatre I’ve found that I have only to say something slightly disparaging about men and I get a roar of approval from the women in the audience.
There is a lot of joking goes on about this, but I’m convinced that there is a serious basis for it. Still the battle for supremacy goes on!
Especially in the theatre where men and women are competing more or less on equal terms for approval from the audience.
For all the freedom women have won for themselves it seems to me men still believe that a woman’s place is behind them. I feel it is usually when you find a couple who are equal in love and equal in work that you have a happy marriage.
I find the male ego doesn’t want a woman to use her brain. When I dyed my hair blonde for a play I was amazed at the number of men who came flocking to date me. I could usually get rid of the unwelcome ones simply by telling them I read five books a week.
I know an actor who is now very well known. He had the opportunity of marrying two pretty girls and he had to choose. One was well educated and had been to university.
He chose the other because she wasn’t so intelligent. Possibly because she made him feel good and would spend the rest of her life saying how wonderful he was.
I’ve come to the conclusion that’s the way to keep a man. Just sit there and say: “Aren’t you marvellous?”, when really you want to say: “You great big blithering chump!’.
I recall an argument starting in the theatre one night after the curtain had come down about men’s superiority over women. It was at Cleveleys about 10-11 years ago. Charles Simon, who now plays Doctor Dale, was there.
Not to be outdone I’d taken up the cudgels on behalf of women.
The row finished up with a bet about who would go into the sea at 10 o’clock the next morning.
It was November and the waves were at the danger stage. Charles said no woman would face that. I couldn’t let any man get away with that.
We both nearly finished up with pneumonia but we both went in. The only thing it proved to me was that we were a couple of prize chumps.
There are many men whom I cannot help but admire. When I had struggled for work for years and virtually decided to give up showbusiness for good, Frank Roscoe, also a very busy man, found the time to help and advise me on writing scripts for television.
Arthur Leslie in Coronation Street is the type of man who is always sympathetic and friendly and ready to help if he can. So is Philip Lowrie – faultlessly mannered.
I remember while I was struggling for work in London, I got a job on a TV show. I found I had to dance in the show. I hadn’t a clue how to dance but I desperately needed the job.
Lionel Blair, who was then a star and needn’t have bothered with a small-time actress, took the trouble to show me the steps I needed.
There are, of course, catty women. I hate going to parties where everyone gushes over you and calls you “darling”. Then tears you to pieces when your back is turned.
Actors started using the term “darling” on long tours when they met a lot of people and were not able to remember all the names. They began substituting “darling” instead.
I hate people to gush over me. One woman I met at a party was giving me a lift home in her Rolls-Royce.
We began to talk about Coronation Street, and she said: “Of course, people don’t really live like that now, do they? I mean everyone has a car, for instance.”
Her tone goaded me into fury. I told the chauffeur to take the next turn on the left down a typical Coronation Street. I stopped him halfway down.
“Well, goodnight, this is where I live,” I said and got out.
The woman’s jaw dropped and she drove away without saying another word.
If I were asked to choose on a physical preference for men I don’t think I would ever go for a handsome man. A man you could call a beautiful man. Beautiful men I am right off.
The trouble with beautiful men is that they give me an inferiority complex. I couldn’t even start to compete with a really good-looking man. Give me the rugged ones. A touch of the pipe and slippers and not too much sophistication.
On a number of occasions, critics have written that the character of Elsie Tanner has destroyed the illusion that men go for the pinched, tea-sipping English rose type.
They like a full-blooded woman. Whatever that might be. Do they really mean a little overweight?
The strange thing about Elsie is that women seem to like her as much as men. But for a long time I couldn’t understand why one group of women treated me very coldly indeed. These were the wives of some of the men I quite often come into contact with.
I was quite hurt until I realised that they thought that Pat Phoenix was the same type of woman as Elsie Tanner. They expected me to carry off their husbands.
Once they got to know me and realised Pat Phoenix didn’t necessarily think like Elsie Tanner, we became very friendly.
One of the things that strikes me about women today is the age at which they start to become women. A junior miss, for instance, no longer takes her mum’s advice on that new frock. As often as not it is the other way round.
I remember my own first dance. White socks and not a scrap of make-up. I wouldn’t like you to get me wrong. I’m not against youngsters breaking away from some of the old conventions.
I can remember how I felt about the white socks. I thought they were sickening.
But now when I see youngsters of 12 or so with lipstick and bouffant hairdos, it sends my mind back to the days when I was 12.
There I was in my gymslip playing French cricket with the local lads.
I still can’t help feeling that the mature youngsters of today are growing up a bit too quickly.
In the long run I think they will find that they are cheating themselves out of quite a lot.
Men may act as though we never got the vote. Dress designers try to deny us our curves. You may tip the scales at a good deal more than Jean Shrimpton.
But you are still one of nature’s first mysteries. Illogical, infuriating and, according to men, disarming and charming.
You’re a woman – so enjoy it!
Editor’s note: Finally, an intriguing piece from 1983 on the most famous woman in the world.
The blue-eyed baby boy who chuckles at the colourful Disney cartoons on his nursery walls may have been born to be king but to his mother he is, quite simply, her darling son.
And the most extraordinary thing about the way Princess Diana plans to bring up this child, who is the direct descendant of a formidable line of mighty sovereigns, is how very ordinary it will all be.
The future King William III will be treated like any normal baby – without fuss or frills, pomp or circumstance.
Diana doesn’t care if this means breaking years of tradition and changing all the regal nursery rules. She has heard enough tales about the miseries of other royal childhoods not to want to repeat the pattern.
William, she says firmly, will not be brought up by a regiment of nannies, nursery maids and servants.
His mother and father will do the job themselves.
William’s lifestyle has already been set both at his London home in Kensington Palace and at Highgrove in Gloucestershire.
Every morning when Charles and Diana wake, their son is brought to them and plopped, unceremoniously, between them in their huge double bed.
They play with him and chatter to him as they get ready for the day. Charles then carries him to the dining room where they eat breakfast together – William chewing a rusk or a piece of toast while his parents tackle cereals and eggs.
If Diana has no outside engagements, William spends the rest of the morning with her, gurgling beside her in the pretty pink and blue sitting room where she works with her secretary and lady-in-waiting.
At midday Diana helps to feed her son his lunch in the nursery before handing him back to nanny for his afternoon nap.
On the days when she has to go out, William is looked after in his day nursery. But he’s brought down to his mother the moment she gets home.
Every night Charles and Diana bath William together and play with him until it is time for bed.
“Charles is very good at bathing him and is a super nappy changer,” the princess boasts.
Both admit happily they are “completely besotted” with lively young William. They make no secret of the fact he is the centre of their lives.
Even before Prince William Arthur Philip Louis bounced into the world on June 21 last year at a bonny 7lb-plus, his young mother had very definite ideas about his future.
Her most vital battle, she knew, would be to get the Queen’s approval for her plan to avoid long partings while she and Charles were abroad on official duties.
Charles had told her often how badly he and Anne missed their parents when they were young. Diana did not want William to suffer the same way.
It would, she knew, mean a total break with all the accepted rules and would pose tremendous problems for all sorts of officials while upsetting a great many more.
But, as we all know, Diana got her own way. William – and any sisters or brothers to come – will travel the world with mum and dad.
This week Prince William has been left at home with his grandparents while Charles and Diana take a short skiing holiday abroad.
Diana was reluctant to leave their son, but Charles persuaded her, as he felt the holiday would do her good.
The princess’s choice of nanny reflected her attitudes. A college-trained woman with certificates and a posh uniform might be an essential for many a wealthy and famous family, but the Princess of Wales had other ideas.
She opted for 39-year-old Miss Barbara Barnes, a down-to-earth sensible lady without formal training. She, in turn, is helped out by just one nursery maid.
Diana knew instinctively she wanted her nursery run by people who would enjoy William and not treat him like a piece of precious porcelain – young women who believe happiness more important than hygiene, fun better than formality.
“What babies want is to be surrounded with love and security,” the princess tells her friends.
Before William was born, Diana had started to set the pattern for his life. When her bouts of morning sickness were over, she gloried in her pregnancy. She insisted on a hospital rather than a Buckingham Palace birth and was delighted when Charles said he wanted to be with her.
Because she knew breastfeeding was best for babies, Diana fed William until he was three months old – she would have continued longer but her growing list of official engagements made this impossible.
Like all parents, Charles and Diana have spent long hours talking about their son’s future.
Ideally, Diana would like William to go to a public school in London like Westminster or St Paul’s.
She hates the idea of her son being sent away to boarding school but this is one battle she is prepared to lose. She knows William would get more peace and privacy at a school like Gordonstoun, than one more publicly accessible.
Although neither of his parents are academically brilliant, both hope that William will be bright enough to go to university.
William is lucky to be surrounded by such a vast, friendly family with uncles and aunts and, above all, a doting grandma and grandpa.
Because she is so busy, the Queen does not see as much of her grandson as she would like.
But when she does have a spare moment, she drives over to Kensington Palace at teatime to admire the baby who will, one day, wear her crown.
Apparently, nursery tea is quite a sight when Grandma Queen comes to visit. After china tea and sandwiches, she gets down on all fours to play bears with her grandson – just as she did for his father more than 30 years ago.
“That baby is the light of her life,” a close friend says. “She feels particularly close to him because she knows that he is very special – that he represents the future House of Windsor.
“She has a keen sense of history – it’s almost awesome to see the love and pride on her face when she is with him.”