Thursday 24 July 1997
This is presumably the reason why Clary never took up method acting. A practice that depended wholeheartedly on Lee Strasberg routinely reducing his actors to puddles of runny mascara while they got in touch with the day their dog died. In Reputations (BBC2), the great man is revealed to be many things, a bully, an egotist fond of the sound of his voice, and the man who once tried to convince Marilyn Monroe that she could play Shakespeare. But mostly what this well-researched documentary revealed was that it took Strasberg nearly 70 years of his life to prepare for one role, a job Al Pacino got him, that of Hyman Roth in The Godfather Part II. He got to play himself, an extremely unpleasant Mafia boss dressed up as a genial Jewish grandfather, and he never looked back. Embracing Hollywood as ferociously as he had once denounced it, he was never happier than when surrounded by high-kicking dance girls. Which just goes to show that it's never too late to change your mind, as Jacqueline Mackenzie discovered one Christmas day in Savannah, Georgia in 1958.
Jacqueline was sitting in her friend's dining room, minding her own business, vaguely aware that her husband was sleeping upstairs and that her television career was under wraps at Broadcasting House, when the festive turkey came flying out of the kitchen. It was to be the flying turkey that changed her life on The Day That Changed My Life (BBC2).
The flying turkey hit the wall with a splat, Hatty, Jacqueline's hostess, collapsed in floods of tears, Jacqueline comforted her, they kissed, then went upstairs to the bedroom and proceeded to make love for the rest of the night. In the misty light of dawn, Jacqueline recalls "tippy toeing back downstairs to Peter, slipping into bed and thinking, `Ooh what have I done'." A cooking disaster had turned one of post-war television's most famous celebrities into a lesbian.
At the time, she was in her mid-thirties and a household face. Her brief was a kind of show-and-tell reportage; at the Rainier/Kelly marriage she acted out their facial expressions, at the same time as attempting to give us an insight into what the newly-weds might be feeling. Little did the viewers know that their pretty presenter's own feelings were tied up with a female turkey baster in Georgia.
Eventually, as is often the way with televison and true love, Jacqueline got dumped and spent some years in the emotional wilderness. She recalls that she did have several male lovers, but was hard pushed to name them. Under heavy pressure from the head of CBS scripts, she was wooed over to America. Three months later, she ended up in bed with his wife. They eloped together, back to London, where they happily set about building a home and becoming revolutionary political campaigners - in 1969 she memorably took the soapbox at Hyde Park to scream "I'm a Lesbian". Now 70, she, too, is surrounded by high-kicking fun girls; she organises gentile outings to historic sites for Daytime Dykes, a social club for retired lesbians.
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