Over the years, PETER has attended hundreds of parties and events. This on-going section will tell the stories behind some of his adventures…
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A SURPRISE ENCORE WITH A CUDDLE FROM THE KING
The London Evening News – Thursday, 10 October, 1973
Dawn was almost breaking before Sally Ann Howes and PETER WYNGARDE got to their beds today after their triumphant West End first night in The King and I. It had been an emotional occasion at the Adelphi Theatre, with audience applause thundering out and curtain call after curtain call.
One of the most emotional moments of all – which was totally unexpected by the stars – came when the curtain rose one more time to find the two of them hugging each other with delight. PETER explained: “We thought the curtain was down for good and we just fell into each other’s arms in relief. It was a magic moment.
PETER at a party after the triumphant first night revival of The King and I.
“I don’t know what we said but it sort of sealed the occasion. I imagine we were just gasping our thanks to each other”.
Backstage after all the congratulations from people like Cicely Courtneidge, who looks upon herself as a second mother to Sally Ann Howes, the stars exchanged presents.
He, using a line from the script, gave her a large model elephant. “I think it’s brought us both good luck”, he told her.
She, remembering that the King wears glasses in the show, gave his a pair of Georgian spectacles. Said TV’s Jason King: “When I get the lenses taken out , I will wear them in future performances”.
Both of them went on to a series of parties to mark the opening. There were public ones and private celebrations. PETER got to two of them but missed a third. “With a matinee due today,” he said, “I felt I had to sleep some time”.
It was his first West End musical, and he was at the theatre early to mentally adjust himself from London to Siam – leaving one world for another.
“It was wonderful hearing the adulation for the music,” he said. “I was so nervous that I must’ve gargled a hundred times before going on stage.”
“But it was exhilaration rather than fear. My last words to Sally were, “look into my eyes while we’re out there.”
⇑ PETER pictured with Verity Lambert at the 1961 World premiere of ‘Too Late Blues’, which starred Bobby Darin and Stella Stevens.
CENTRE GIRL OF THE YEAR
Francois Bes was elected Centre Girl of the Year on November 10th, 1972, at a gala evening held at the new Regent Centre Hotel in London, in front of 600 Centre Hotel staff and guests, which was followed by a buffet dance.
PETER was asked to head a panel of four judges, who included ex-boxer, Henry Cooper, television presenter, Shaw Taylor, and fashion editor, Linda Foster.
During her 12 month reign, Bordeaux-born Francois – a secretary to the company’s Purchasing Manager, not only won the opportunity to represent Centre Parks at various events throughout to coming year, but was also given the chance to win the prestigious Catering Princess title.
PETER and his fellow judges were asked to select a winner from the twenty finalists on poise and personality.
“I’ve always loved Classic Cars. I’ve owned a Bristol, Studebaker, TR7 and several Porsches.
The first car I had was a 2-stroke Jowett, which has a chassis that made partly from a material which made the strangest noises. Andrew Faulds, who was a fellow actor and who I shared a dressing room with when I played Voltimand in Sir Alec Guinness’ production of ‘Hamlet’.
Andrew and I would tootle around Hyde Park in the Jowett on our days off, trying to pick up birds”. PETER WYNGARDE
PETER at the opening night of ‘Oh, Calcutta!’ at the Roundhouse, Camden, London: Monday, 27th July, 1970
“I didn’t like the show”, PETER said. “I found it very amateurish”.
⇐ PETER (just in picture to the right), with Roger Moore and Princess Muna of Jordan during her visit to Elstree Studios on 7 July, 1966.
The London Evening Standard – Thursday, 21st September, 1972
Actor PETER WYNGARDE, star of the television series Jason King, and singer Dana Gillespie were among guests who fled a fire early today at a Piccadilly nightclub.
Firemen, some wearing breathing apparatus, rescued five people trapped by the flames. The rescue was hampered because firemen were unable to get their appliances into Mason’s Yard, off Jermyn Street, to tackle the blaze at the three-story Music Workshop Club. But after dragging an escape ladder across the yard, they rescued two men from the roof and helped three others from the top floor flat down an internal staircase.
Lee Jackson, a 25-year-old flautist with Jackson heights, was playing at the club when the alarm was raised. He said: “We had just finished our set when the manager yelled fire, but he’s known as a practical joker, so we ignored him.”
PETER WYNGARDE, who was unhurt in the blaze said: “I smelt smoke, so raised the alarm and left.”
In 1973, whilst PETER was on a promotional tour of Germany and Austria, he took a couple of days off to go skiing in Switzerland.
Whilst there, he met a group of underprivileged British kids and their teacher, who’d been taking on by a charity. As a kindly gesture, he paid for the group to go up the mountain by cable car.
Julia Young, who was then part of the class told the Hellfire Club recently: “I met PETER when I was on a charity skiing trip in Switzerland. He wanted to do something for our group and tried to arrange skiing lessons but his PR people wanted to big up the charity angle and he refused. Instead he arranging sleighs to take us to his hotel, and he had a tea party for us in the lobby. Such a wonderful, kind and generous man. He gave me hope that celebrities can be nice people as well”.
Jason King still reigns, just less of a woman’s man
The Sunday Express – 26 April, 2015
TV HERO Jason King was the epitome of the dilettante dandy in the 1970s, breaking crime rings and hearts with equal gusto ⇒
For some, his famous breakfast quip “a bit too early for coffee… I think I’ll have Scotch”, will for ever hold memories of a bygone, more carefree era.
Actor PETER WYNGARDE, who played the suave author-cum-spy in Department S and Jason King between 1969 and 1972, was once mobbed by 30,000 hysterical Australian women at Sydney airport.
Now the wavy locks of hair are gone, the moustache is duly trimmed and the clothes, said by Hollywood star Mike Myers to have inspired the Austin Powers look, are somewhat tamer.
Still, at 86, WYNGARDE was the star attraction yesterday as he signed autographs at the London Film Memorabilia Convention.
He still had a gaggle of adoring female fans clamouring to speak to him.
He once admitted: “Jason King had champagne and strawberries for breakfast, just as I did myself. Yet when I think about it now, I’m amazed I’m still here.”
Life was not always so lush, however. As the son of a diplomat he grew up in different countries and was in Shanghai when the Japanese invaded during the Second World War. Author JG Ballard was a fellow prisoner of the Japanese at Shanghai’s Lunghua civilian internment camp in 1943.
⇐ PETER is seen here with Susan Hampshire, treating pensioners to a Silver Jubilee dinner at (1977) at Annabelle’s Cafe in Fulham Road, London.
PETER at the Munich Beer Festival, 1973 ⇒
Miss TV Europe
On January 4th, 1973, PETER was elected Chairman of a panel of judges who elected 24-year-old Sylvia Kristel from Utrech in the Netherlands, ‘Miss TV Europe’. The then model, beat Zoe Spink of the United Kingdom and Anne-Marie Godart from France into second and third places, respectively.
The event took place at ATV’s Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.
One of the more noteworthy moments of the evening was the image of PETER giving Ms Kristel her first ever ‘screen kiss’. She, of course, latterly became the star of the soft porn ‘Emmanuel’ films and their endless sequels, and of Stanley Hyers remake of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ in 1981.
Australian ‘entertainer. Rolf Harris, who was one of the judges and also appears in the photograph above, was jailed in 2014 on sexual assault charges.
On November 10th, 1971, PETER was asked to act as Chairman of a panel of nine judges of the ‘Miss World’ contest, which was broadcast live on BBC1, and compared for the 10th and final time by TV personality, Michael Aspel.
PETER’s team of judges for the occasion included Peter Scott, Des O’Connor, Douglas Fairbanks, Julie Ege, Peter Dimmock, Sam Speigel, Jean Terrell and Lovelace Watkins. Each of the judges where asked to submit their first, second and third choices. PETER’s votes, in order of preference, were as follows: Miss Guyana, Miss Brazil and Miss Portugal.
So, how close were PETER’s choices to the final outcome? In third place was Miss Portugal; Second, was Miss United Kingdom; and the Miss World crown and £40,000 first prize went to Miss Brazil.
Oh, well – one out of three wasn’t bad!
Although PETER enjoyed the occasion, his comments concerning the event some time later weren’t quite so complimentary:
“I thought it would be marvellous, but I must say I was a little disappointed with the selection – and the winners. But I mean, how can you possibly judge?
“You’re awarding points on the basis of personality a well as looks, yet you saw next to nothing of their personalities. And they’d all been taught to look the same with those funny little walks. They looked as if they were about to fall over backwards!
“They’d walk up to the judges table like this, or this, and then they go off again, I’ve got nothing against the contest; I never sympathised with Women’s Lib. I think it’s a good thing to have so many countries brought together under any circumstances, and especially good for the country that wins in terms of public relations. But for a genuine contest to choose the world’s most beautiful woman! You’d be better taking them to bed, one by one, and judge them on sex appeal!”
N.B. If you look very, VERY carefully at this clip, you’ll just catch a glimpse of PETER on the Judges Panel.
On September 10th, 1969, PETER was asked to sit for photographer, Peter Rand, for this stunning picture, which was purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2011.
The image measures 13 7/8 in. x 13 7/8 in. (353 mm x 352 mm)
Getting into the spirit of the forthcoming presentation of ‘The King and I’ at the Adelphi Theatre, London.
PETER and his Co-star, Sally Anne Howes took a Chinese junk called the Hoi Lung (‘Sea Dragon’) up the Thames to Tower Bridge on Thursday, 13th September, 1973. Reporters and photographers were invited to join the two stars from their press launch for the two-hour trip down the river.
For the shoot, both PETER and Sally Anne wore full theatrical costumes. His comprised of a knee-length velvet Kimono with a cloak trimmed with gold braid, a 900-year old Moroccan bracelet and clogs.
The Duke of Gloucester chats with PETER and Delia Sainsbury backstage at the Theatre Royal, Bristol, on Tuesday, 10th September, 1974, after a performance of ‘Present Laughter’. With them is Charles Clarke, the theatre’s owner.
The Theatre Royal had chosen ‘Present Laughter’ to re-open their splendid Georgian theatre of September 9th, following a summer refurbishment.
The Duke, who was the guest of honour at the ‘black-tie’ occasion, joined invited guests of the management and company at a champagne party on stage after the show.
There were many civic dignitaries from Bath, Bristol and elsewhere to lend importance to the occasion, which brought hopeful signals for a new and profitable lease of life for the grand old theatre.
N.B. Apologies for the quality of the photo’, as it has come from a newspaper and hasn’t copied well. However, I thought you’d rather see it as is as opposed to not at all.
PETER with fellow actor, Stanley Baker, at the Annual Variety Club dinner – November, 1973 ⇒
In 1971, the TV Times commissioned Britain’s No.1 photographer, David Bailey, to take a series of photographs of television celebrities to present in their magazine under the heading, ‘Superstar Portraits’.
One of these studies – number three in the series, was PETER WYNGARDE, who was undoubtedly Independent Television’s brightest and most popular star. This is what Bailey had to say about their meeting:
“He’s very funny, and quick and bright. I saw him on TV a while ago, but this was the first time I’d ever photographed him. I thought he was such a relief from all those saints and others. At least he has a bit of wit.
“It was quite a long session – about an hour. He came to the studio with some of his clothes and I chose them. I think the professional are professionals, and he’s one of those. He hasn’t any inflated ideas about himself; he’s completely unpompous and I didn’t find him the least bit phoney.
“He has a sense of humour and can laugh at himself; a saving grace in an actor. I hope I’ve caught all that. I enjoyed taking the picture. Time passed more quickly than it does with less interesting subjects.”
PETER with the late pop singer, Lyndsey de Paul, at a party at the Empire Pool , Wembley, on 12 September, 1975, in honour of Alice Cooper ⇒
⇐ PETER and his girlfriend, Victoria Berkley, at the premier of ‘Flash Gordon’, 1980
Each of the stars of the film went to a premier in different cities around the world. PETER was chosen to attend the New York showing.
This photograph of PETER and the actress, Edina Ronay, was taken at the London premier of ‘Georgy Girl’ in 1966. ⇓
The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/