Glamour and Grace




I finally made it to Monte Carlo last year. A lifelong dream of mine, I spent a whole day sight-seeing around the tiny Principality of Monaco. I’d always been drawn to it by the star-studded glamour, the famous Grand Prix and of course Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo!

But what really struck me during my whistle-stop tour of the place was the enduring presence of its much loved Princess Grace Kelly more than 30 years after her death.

The dazzling movie star from Philadelphia had lit up the big screen in the 1950s opposite James Stewart, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in highly acclaimed films such as Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and High Society.

However, she retired from acting at the age of 26 when she became Princess Grace of Monaco after meeting, falling in love with and marrying the Principality’s ruling Prince Ranier III.

Their relationship became one of the most famous romances of the 20th century and the real inside story of it has been updated and revised here to coincide with the recent release of Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman. The film may have been panned (I haven’t seen it yet so cannot comment) but don’t let that put you off this fascinating read.

It is extraordinary that author Jeffrey Robinson wrote this story about the world’s most glamorous family with the full cooperation of Ranier and his three children. Robinson had got to know Grace when he lived in France and his friendship with the Grimaldi household is evident as they divulge private moments and delightful insight into the life of Princess Grace – their wife, their mother. Continue reading

Burton’s last epic



Burton diary cover

Richard Burton was at one time Hollywood’s most highly paid actor, famed as much for his epic romance with glamorous Elizabeth Taylor and his heavy drinking, as he was for his magnetic performances on stage and screen.

Throughout much of his life, Burton kept a diary. Although he dismissed them as “merely a daily exercise in the observation of frustration,” they have now provided us with an invaluable insight into the life and mind of the legendary actor.

His diaries were published for the first time in full last year having been lovingly edited and referenced by Chris Williams using Burton’s original journals plus other photographs, newspapers, recordings, scripts and books.

The resulting 654 pages are utterly brilliant and as compelling a read as any great novel. Burton is articulate, charming, callous and full of fun and gossip. He writes with such a beautiful and poetic voice that you feel yourself falling for him.

Burton documents a life well lived amongst famous friends and the elite. Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando cop quite a bit of his wrath throughout!

 burton and taylor pose

As well as a journal of his own life it is also interesting to read Burton’s take on history, current affairs, travel and sport. From the moon landings to Churchill, Mussolini to golf, Burton offers intelligent opinions on the topics of the day.

The ease with which he uses quotes from, among others, Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas and  Yeats  to illustrate his thoughts and feelings is a tremendous delight to read and reread. You find yourself marvelling at his cleverness and recall.

We discover that he found the actual daily business of making movies a bore and that he sought other activities to stimulate his mind. He was a very well read man; devouring books almost at the same rate he did vodka and liking nothing better than hiding away from his family and his entourage with a good, or bad, novel. He also studied many languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Russian and liked to watch his weight with what he called “the drinking man’s diet.”

Below I have compiled my favourite Burton quotes from these diaries on subjects such as his darling Elizabeth Taylor, doctors, drinking, social occasions and attacking paparazzi. Please read on, these extracts are beautifully written and often hilarious in their spiteful observation. Who doesn’t love a witty put down? Continue reading