Monday, March 31, 2014


Was saddened to hear that the lovely Kate passed away yesterday and as a tribute here is an extract from her first autobiographical book.. This book was published by Sidgwick and Jackson in 1990 and is a mixture of autobiography/beauty book. Kate hated the finished book, hated the title, she rectified the situation with her wonderful complete autobiography..'Vamp Until Ready' in 2003, (will feature this in a future post).. This exerpt is edited....
One can never plan anything in this profession and it is often when one is at one's lowest ebb, that a glorious job turns up. In this instance my career was in the doldrums, my box office appeal was zilch and I was seriously considering giving up acting all together, when two things happened. I was asked to test for 'The Colbys' and I was sent a brilliant script by Moss Hart. I didn't get 'The Colbys', but the studio decided I was perfect to play Joan Collins's sister in 'Dynasty'. As I had already started rehearsals for 'Light Up The Sky', I was unable to accept the Hollywood offer, which came as a big disappointment, because at that time Joan was the biggest international star around and to play her sister was quite a coup. Fortunately the studio decided to wait for me, they wrote me into the series after I had finished the West End run of the play. I had first met Joan at Pinewood in 1967, where we were both making movies. I remember sitting in the studio restaurant and observing her at the next table. I couldn't take my eyes off her! I thought her the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The other day I was having lunch with her in a restaurant in Belgravia and I have to say I have not changed my opinion. Joan has the most beautiful complexion and perfect features. She has a wicked sense of humour, a sparkling personality and a ready wit and is a delight to be with socially and highly professional at work. She is a consummate film actress and I learned a lot from her. My first day on 'Dynasty' ran something like this.....
Wake up call at 4.30am. At 5.30 I was at the studios. They pulled my hair off my face and gave me very little make up. I then had to get into my prison garb, a shapeless garment in grey with a long skirt and high neck, some really naff flat Mexican plaited leather shoes, then taken downstairs to the set. We got on the set and rehearsed, the director, an ex-actress named Betty Maguire seemed pleased, suggested a couple of things, then called for the stand-ins. After a hiatus of about an hour, we finally got the first shot done. We were setting up the third shot when a very pretty, very thin blonde suddenly appeared in front of me and clasped my hand. This proved to be Linda Evans. "I've just come to say hello and welcome", she smiled "to see if you were all right". She was wearing blue jeans, a pale blue shirt and white fringed moccasin type boots, she had two rollers in her hair at the sides. A few set-ups later John Forsythe wandered on to the set, also, he claimed, to welcome me. After we finally got the last shot done, I went off to make-up to have myself made glamorous as we were having more costume fitting in the afternoon. When I was almost glamorised Linda Evans popped her head round the door to pass a few complimentary remarks. A few moments later the door burst open and Stephanie Beacham appeared. In about five minutes flat she managed to give me a rundown on her new lifestyle, code of behaviour at the studio and her two phone numbers (her Malibu home and her one in town). I had been given the use of Diahann Carroll's dressing room, the walls of which boasted much ego-trip memorabilia. I was in the throes of casting a jaundiced eye over all this when my make-up man Bill put his head in and said.."Would you like to meet your sister?".. "Rather!".. I enthused.
I heard him go two doors along, Linda was next door, and repeat the question. There was a sort of squeal followed by a rat-tat-tat of determined high heels on hard, shiny surface and the next moment Joanie was asking if she could come and sit down. She was clad entirely in cream, trousers, shirt, scarf, shoes and not wearing a scrap of make-up, looking stunning, her hair scraped back off her face and secured with an elastic band. Joan flung herself on to the black leather sofa and asked me how I was getting on. Did I know anything about the storyline? Where was I staying? Were they paying? "Good Lord. Yes!" I said. "Good". She said.  I told her I thought she was wonderful on the show and meant it, she seemed pleased. She thought it would be a good idea if I had an affair with Dex, that would stir things up a bit! Suddenly she could hear her phone ringing in her room. She let out another squeal and leaped up. "I must go. I've a dozen messages to take. I can't wait for our first scene together.. They are all longing for it..the Battle of the British Bitches!"..She laughed. "The BBB!".. And she tore off down the corridor. A little while later I bumped into her and Linda, both fully made up and dressed and both looking glorious, Linda in black and white, Joan in red.. After that I went off for another costume fitting and was put into a gorgeous black number, designer Nolan Miller was called... "Well it is just sensational!".. he said.
Elaine Rich who practically runs the show was summoned. She stopped dead in the doorway, putting a hand to her brow.."What is this?"... Nolan turned away exasperated. "For heaven's sake, if we have to worry about what every other woman in the entire cast is wearing..."
"No.. Just what Joan wears..She mustn't have the Joan look!"
There followed a heated debate, after which the divine black dress was removed from my person, never to be seen again..except I imagine, on Joan! After this they fished out a little swathed gold lame number with matching frilled shawl. Again Elaine was called, again she had a turn and said Joan had worn something similar. "Yes! But that was four years ago!" said the despairing Nolan. Another fierce argument ensued, Elaine accepted reluctantly that it was nothing like the one Joan wore! We finally all went our ways.

I had been invited by ABC TV to attend a Dynasty/Colbys bash and after some costume fittings, spent the rest of the day getting ready. At seven o' clock , my agent Michael and I went to our waiting limousine. We arrived at The Beverly Wilshire and climbed out into a sea of people , popping flashbulbs and throngs of reporters. We then entered a room full of glittering people, none of whom we knew. After a drink, we all drifted into dinner. More or less everyone else was there, including Ricardo Montalban, who I had been given to understand was playing my boyfriend. Among the Colbys I spotted David Hedison, whom I had worked with in 1970. We had done a TV play for Anglia directed by Alvin Rakoff, in which I played Richard Johnson's wife and David my American lover. He didn't seem too pleased to see me amongst the present throng. After the starter, a producer decided to introduce each member of both casts to the multitude. I prayed that I wouldn't be included in this mass exposure, but to my horror I heard an introduction that began with..'The newest member of the Dynasty cast, an English actress..' The spotlight swinging over in my direction.. So I bowed and smiled, the whole ghastly scene easily surpassed my worst nightmares. The rest of the evening passed off without incident and was very thankful when Michael suggested that, as various other people were leaving, we might as well go too.  As we were leaving, Nolan Miller came up to me with Barbara Stanwyck on his arm and said. "Barbara.. I'd like you to meet Kate O' Mara. Kate.. This is Barbara." Miss Stanwyck took my hand and said."Barbara?" Nolan said.. "No! You're Barbara. This is Kate, she is playing Joan's sister."... "Who's Joan?" enquired Miss Stanwyck, totally baffled. "Oh..Never mind." said Nolan wearily. "I don't know who anyone is." complained Miss Stanwyck with desperation. Nolan led her away, a beaten man who was exhibiting all the signs of having spent a lifetime of coping with difficult women!

(c) 1990.. Kate O' Mara...

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