Celebrity news

LAST interview with showbiz veteran Lionel Blair “I never regret anything” | Celebrity News | Show biz & TV

Lionel Blair and Garry Bushell (Image: @ GarryBushell / Twitter)

“I have to apologize to you, Garry,” he said solemnly. “The first time we met, 25 years ago, I lied about my age… don’t take it personally, I lied to everyone at the time! Lionel, who died Thursday at the age of 92, was going to be 90 years old. You don’t look like it, I told him. “I don’t feel it,” he replied, the smile back in full swing. “I feel wonderful. It’s about keeping your brain young. You don’t have to wear carpet slippers. The only thing that bothers me is my stomach.

The veteran dancer patted his waistcoat. “It’s not big,” he said. “I had prostate cancer in 2006 and the radiotherapy treatment which cured me made my stomach distended. I can’t complain but I wish I could lose it.

We talked about his desire to work more and how his age made him more expensive to book. He was on the ground, but only for a moment. Blair was an upbeat, energetic guy with enough anecdotes to fill an autobiography the size of War and Peace.

He opened his wallet and took out a silver dollar. “Turn it over,” he beamed. On the reverse of the coin were inscribed the words: “To Lionel. Because I love you. Sammy Davis Jnr.

Briton Mr. Showbiz had worked with entertainment giants. He did tap dancing with Sammy during the Royal Command Performance. He has performed with Peter Sellers and with the Beatles; he taught Yul Brynner how to dance and most recently he was handcuffed to Ollie Locke in Celebrity Big Brother.

Okay, maybe not the last one.

“I never say no at work,” he said, sipping on a Bloody Mary. “You never know where a job will take you …”

Lionel Blair leaves Celebrity Big Brother

Lionel Blair Is Evicted From Celebrity Big Brother House (Photo: Mike Marsland / Getty)

For example, in 1964, a dance he created for a Mike and Bernie Winters TV show indirectly led him to appear in the Beatles movie A Hard Day’s Night.

“I was a regular at Blackpool Night Out with my dancers and the producer asked me to invent a dance,” he recalls. “I invented something called The Kick.

“After the program was released, teachers from all over the country contacted me to ask if I could send them the steps! I had to do an exhibition at the Café de Paris. Then Brian Epstein, the manager of The Beatles got in touch and organized a national tour called The Kick with Cilla Black, Shirley Bassey and Billy J. Kramer! And thanks to Brian, I got a role in the role of Dick the director in A Hard Day’s Night… ”

Lionel Blair with pantomime casting in 1995

Lionel Blair enjoyed the pantomime (Image: Larry Ellis Collection / Getty)

Lionel’s career began under less glamorous circumstances, during the Blitz of World War II. “During the air raids, we used to go to the Manor House tube station in North Hackney. And my sister Joyce and I used to entertain people there. We sang and danced, played the accordion. Other station managers have heard about it and have asked us to broadcast their stations as well. So my very first tour was the Piccadilly Line!

“I started dancing because I liked Fred Astaire. I never had a class. I learned tap dancing on linoleum myself at home. But I never intended to be a dancer. I wanted to be an actor. I was an actor boy. I did Shakespeare in Stratford upon Avon.

“But my father died when I was 15 and I became the breadwinner. And I could make more money dancing than playing, that’s what I did. It was hard but I was working … “

He remembers making £ 10 a week on a show called Bob’s Your Uncle, but “but it all went to my mom and I got 30 shillings” – £ 1.50 – “pocket money”.

Lionel’s eyes clouded over as he plucked his tiger shrimp pasta. “When we were kids, artists were giants,” he said.

“Fred Astaire, Sinatra, Cyd Charisse, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall… it was a golden age, an age of pure class.

“I worked with the Everly Brothers, I was so lucky! And with people like Eric Sykes, Tommy Cooper, and Tarby. Geniuses all.

When I asked who he was rating today’s stars, Lionel was just as positive.

“I love Jamie Cullum. Paloma Faith has a beautiful voice. Joe Pasquale is wonderful. He is a unique character, completely offbeat. There is no other actor like him. And he doesn’t swear.

“Jason Manford is very good. Graham Norton is brilliant. Fleur East is beautiful, she should become a huge international star. She is a wonderful singer and dancer. Adèle is very good. Elton John is a national treasure. I love Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks … “

Lionel Blair and his wife Susan Davis

Lionel Blair married Susan Davis almost 55 years ago (Image: Getty)

Lionel married his wife Susan, who joined us for lunch, almost 55 years ago. “I stole it from my friend,” he confessed. “As soon as I laid eyes on her, I said ‘This is the girl I’m going to marry!'”

I asked him what his best qualities were. “We laugh so much,” she said. “We disagree on everything and we argue a lot, but we always end up laughing. “

Their eldest son turned 53 this year.

The Blairs lived in a ranch-style bungalow not far from Epsom in Surrey. Lionel loved television. “I’m a couch potato,” he said. “I love the Big Bang Theory. Ellen’s sitcom on ITV2 is awesome. Oh and Mrs. Brown’s boys.

The secret to a long life is laughter and moderation, he said. “I drink but I’m never drunk. I have never taken drugs. My only guilty pleasure was dark chocolate … but not anymore. He patted his waistcoat again wistfully.

Lionel was born Henry Lionel Ogus in 1928 in Montreal, Canada, after his Jewish parents fled the Soviet Union. Two years later, they emigrated to Stamford Hill, London, where his father Myer worked as a barber.

More than forty years later, Lionel returns to Canada with the gift of pantomime. “It fell in a storm,” he recalls.

In 1980 he led a record breaking panto at the London Palladium with Jim Davidson and Mollie Sugden which ran from December to March.

As a pantomime performer he was making £ 15,000 a week, but the tension was too high for him.

His last was in Derby in 2004. “I was Muddles in Aladdin with Sherrie Hewson. I got home from the Christmas Eve show, got Christmas time off, and got up early Boxing Day to come back in time for the morning. We had two shows that day. I was emptied. I had to stop.”

Lionel Blair on Kenny Everett TV Show

Lionel Blair on Kenny Everett TV Show (Image: Radio Times / Getty)

Despite a discussion lasting over ninety minutes, we only touched on some aspects of his extraordinary career.

His work with Kenny Everett (“Cleo Roccos was whipping me!”), His sister Joyce’s adventure with Bob Monkhouse, his friendship with Lionel Bart, the period in Morocco where he ended up appearing in a film called Morocco 7 with Leslie Phillips and Cyd Charisse in exchange for payment by the film company of his hotel bill …

All of this and its name have been perpetuated in rhyming slang too.

“It’s all about experience,” he said with a theatrical wave of his hand.

“The rich model of life. So I never regret anything. I have a wonderful wife, children, grandchildren. I live in the biggest country in the world, and I always have fun like a whale.

“I’m 90 years old and I don’t give like ***!”


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *