This is a new on-going page which will feature some of the interesting parts of PETER’s life which don’t exactly fit into any other category. Check out this page for regular updates:
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) ⇒
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.”
In 1973, the husband 29-year-old Anne Howard reportedly walked out on his wife of ten years after she and her friend, Joan Whipp, 38 – both members of the Women’s Circle – went to see PETER on every night of his run in ‘Mother Adam’ at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, West Yorkshire.
PETER says that he once saw the ghost of Ivor Novello, which is said to haunt the dressing room he used at the Adelphi Theatre, while he was starring in ‘The King and I’.
“When an object, for example a glass, was put down, we had to search high and low for it,” PETER says. He thought that the ‘Ghost’ might be responsible.
William Terris, an actor on the Victorian stage, was stabbed to death at the old Adelphi. He is also said to haunt the theatre. “In the end I said: ‘Oh, please Mr Terris or Mr Novello, let us have the glass back when you’re through with it’. In time, they kindly obliged.”
PETER’s dresser also reported seeing a spirit manifest by the wardrobe. “Perhaps he wanted a button sewing on,“ comments PETER.
“…and Mickey worse shirts like PETER WYNGARDE in ‘Jason King’…” And, “…the big headline feature is about someone from ‘Department S’ opening a supermarket. Remember ‘Department S’? Pardon me while I hyperventilate!”
From the novel, ‘The Quorum’ by Kim Newman
In 1975, PETER was once shortlisted to play Victorian champion boxer, Mendoza, in a West End musical called ‘London Song’. The production, which was the brainchild of Paul Raymond – the producer of the notorious, ‘Oh, Calcutta!’ – and was written by John Taylor, and based on the book by Ross Taylor of ‘Charlie Girl’ and ‘Strike A Light’ fame.
In September 1973, a well-known handwriting expert analysed PETER’s elegant penmanship, and concluded that he’s: “A man for whom sex is not an essential factor in love. He is frank almost to the point of naivety”.
Whilst actress, Sally Anne Howes, was dining at Mario and Franco’s Terrazza Restaurant in Leeds during the run of ‘The King and I’ at the city’s Grand Theatre, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported seeing a mystery man wearing a tailored jacket with turned-back cuffs, arrive in the polished Bentley.
It was understood that the Head Chef at Mario’s was so delighted to see his famous client join Ms Howes, that he served up a rather special dish the following evening which he called, ‘Medallions de Veau a’la Jason’.
TV Times magazine has been in publication since 1955. To celebrate this 60th
anniversary, and as part of the Merge Festival 2015, TV Times showcased a selection of exclusive images from its vast archive in two exhibitions in Southwark, London.
PETER’s photo at the exhibition ⇒
Using its unique access to the stars of the time, The TV Times curated ‘60 Years – 60 Iconic Images’ which features exclusive images of celebrities of television, sport, music and entertainment shot by some of the greatest British photographers including David Bailey, Cecil Beaton and Patrick Lichfield.
Not many people know, but PETER is an enthusiastic ballroom dancer, and enjoys nothing more than a spin around the dance floor.
He first got the dancing bug when married to fellow thespian, Dorinda Stevens. The two could often be spotted at some of London’s more upmarket ‘Black Tie’ nightspots, where the couple would spend their evenings Waltzing and improving their Paso Doble. Their favourite dance, however, was the Tango.
Whilst he was appearing in ‘Duel of Angels’, both on tour in the UK and the USA, PETER and Vivien Leigh would go out most nights after an evening performance of the play, and dance until three or four O’clock in the morning.
Naturally, his favourite scene in ‘The King and I’ was when he, as the King, would dance a waltz with Anna Leonowens (Sally Ann Howes). However, due to the heavy costumes and the audience request for them to repeat the performance, the two needed to wear oxygen masks in the wings to help them recover from their exertions.
PETER was a crack shot with both a pistol (targets) and shotgun (clays), and had competed many times at national level.
Here he is at one of his shooting clubs with a fellow marksman.
David Carradine was doing it on TV, they were singing about it in the charts, and even Henry the Mild-Mannered Janitor was in on the act.
What are we talking about? Why, Kung-Fu fighting, of course!
Seemingly, not even PETER was immune from the craze back in the Seventies. Following a nasty incident in London’s Holland Park, after which he decided to take tuition in the 3,000-yaert-old Chinese art form from Mongolian-born Kung-Fu Master, Baron Ormidi, at one of his three London clubs.
“The experience was rather frightening,“ PETER remembers. “I was set upon by two muggers – one of them with a knife. Fortunately, I managed to hit the one with the knife, and when his nose started to spurt blood they both, thankfully, ran off. I was lucky under the circumstances, but I wouldn’t welcome a repeat of the experience.”
PETER says that his Kung-Fu training came in useful for the ‘Jason King’ series as well as being handy for self-defence.
When you saw Jason leaping through the air and dealing a smart kick under the chin of a villain, it certainly wasn’t a stunt man. Those Kung-Fu kicks were well-practiced.
“Of course,” he said, “we had to pull our blows on television”. As well as preparing his pupils for the occasional unprovoked attack, black belt Omidi also claimed that the ancient art could help their sex life!
“Kung-Fu heightens your sex drive and your sensual feeling,” the Baron claimed, whose other clients included Harold Sakata, who played Bond Villain, Oddjob, in ‘Goldfinger’.
“The body movements you learn as part of the training are enough to give your sex life a great boost. A Kung-Fu man is never too tired for sex!”
Most of the men who attended Omidi’s classes in Stains, Islesworth and Wembley were there merely to keep fit, but PETER viewed it otherwise.
“Baron was a superb teacher,” he says. “Every limb ached for the first few weeks, but slowly I felt my whole body getting in tune. It was a most exhilarating experience. After a while, I began to enjoy Kung-Fu for its sheer art form. I still use it for exercise, relaxation, and if I’m ever attacked again…!”
And the £64,000 question: Did Kung-Fu make him feel sexier, or give him increased sensitivity during love-making?
PETER grinned wickedly into his glass of apple juice and ice, and said: “We’ll just say that it did wonders for Jason King and leave it at that”.
March, 1974: PETER with Philip Gower – chairman of Gower Furniture, and Bill Rooney, the company’s newly-appointed marketing director. ⇒
⇐ One of the awards that PETER won for pistol shooting
On Monday, 16th March, 1970, during a publicity tour of Australia, PETER visited the goldfields of Kalgoorlie near Mount Windarra.
He and a film crew were flown in by private plane that’d been chartered by TVW7, and was first whisked north to see the nickel areas, before getting a close-up view of Laverton.
On his return to Kalgoorie, PETER stayed at the only hotel in the area where, he said, the only woman in town worked behind the bar. Given the shortage of female company in the vicinity, this rather sweaty and overweight middle-aged woman had become a thing of desire for the denim-clad nickel men who worked in the mines thereabouts.
Not only did PETER’s contemporary attire cause a bit of a stir when he breezed downstairs one evening to partake in a cooling drink in the bar, but he was also the recipient of several severe warnings from the local men who were concerned that he might steal away their ‘glamorous’ bar maid.
Having always hated those terrible gummed-on theatrical beards and moustaches, when one or other was needed for a play or TV drama, he’s always grow his own. But in December, 1954, his beard came and went with monotonous regularity.
ON for a screen test in Richard III
OFF for an audition for a play in London
ON for St Joan
Off for ‘The Relapse’ (TV)
As William Shakespeare might’ve said:
If compromise he’s only dare,
The problem needn’t make him tired:
Keep one side beard,
and one side bare,
And act in profile as desired!
PETER skiing in the Alps in 1972 ⇒
During his visit to Australia in 1972, PETER was met at Brisbane Airport – not by thousands of woman as had happened in Sydney, but some of the country’s swankiest Afghan Hounds!
PETER owned an Afghan called Yussef and was a lover of the breed. With his own long hair flowing, he stepped from the plane, and after a kiss from Miss Viva – Channel 7’s “revolution leader”, he headed straight for the Afghan’s, Goldi, Kala, Abdul, Arak, Bannu, Shiba and Zandi.
“They’re just beautiful,” PETER enthused as he thanked members of the Queensland Afghan Hound Association for their welcome. Later he attended a press conference, where he admitted that Jason King was a “romantic extension” of himself, adding: “We have a sort of love-hate relationship.”
He was then whisked away to attend a reception by the Australian-American Junior Association, followed by several appearances at some of Brisbane’s smartest shops.
Also during his visit to the city, he was a special guest at the Doomben races, and spent two days on the Gold Coast before returning to Sydney.
If you have any photos or newspaper/magazine cuttings that you think might be suitable to be stuck into The Big PW Scrapbook, please get in touch.
© The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/