Games: Games people play

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The Independent Online
Lord Grade, 91, film maker, producer, the Grade Company

We used to have races at school. I was a good, fast runner, but I never made it a part of my career. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do, and certainly didn't know that I'd finish up in the entertainment industry.

If I could play anything, I would have liked to be a good tennis player. I had a house with a tennis court one time, but I wasn't any good, so I knew that it wasn't a natural thing for me. When you play games, you have to feel at ease with them.

I've tried golf, but unfortunately I just could not hit the ball, so I thought, why drive myself crazy? There's no point in anyone trying to play a game that they don't take to naturally.

When I was 18 years old I discovered the sport of dancing, and became an exceptional Charleston dancer. To begin with, I was a ballroom dancer. I wasn't very good, and it was hard to get a partner. But when I started to Charleston, the girls were lining up to dance with me.

I'd learned to do intricate steps, because my father - as you probably know - was born in Russia. He was a very good Cossack dancer, and when I became a dancing act - which I was for eight years before I became an agent - I incorporated a lot of those steps that they do as Cossack dancers into my routines.

I am still the world Charleston champion. I won the competition at the Royal Albert Hall on 15 December 1926 and I learned only recently that one of the judges was Fred Astaire. If I'd known he was watching, I'd probably have failed with nerves.

Grade Productions produced 'On Golden Pond' and 'Sophie's Choice'. Their latest film, 'Something to Believe In', was released in the UK yesterday by Warner Bros. Maria Pitillo and William McNamara star with Tom Conti, Maria Schneider and Ian Bannen.