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16 October 2014

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My Famous Autographs

By Catherine Dalziel
November 2003, Rhyl
A digital story from Capture Wales

Theatre of Dreams

Catherine shares her memories of standing at the stage-door waiting for the famous faces to make a fuss of her and her special book.

"When I was young, all I wanted to be was a dancer in the spotlight on stage, but the war was on and that put a stop to my dreams.

The next best thing, my parents decided, would be to take me to the local theatre, where after each show I would dart backstage and wait patiently at the stage-door for the celebrities autograph. I was a cute curly-headed child and famous people would make a fuss of me and sign my album personally, which was wonderful.

On one occasion I met Max Wall. He acted silly and asked me how old I was and what I wanted to be. I remember that while he was doing his act he called out, "What shall I do next?" and somebody shouted, "GET OFF!".

On another occasion I heard that Laurel and Hardy were paying a flying visit to the Westminster Hotel. Sadly I didn't actually get to see them, but someone did get their autograph for me.

When I was a bit older, four of us from my Youth club won a prize to see Max Bygraves at the London Palladium. We met him in his dressing room with his family. Afterwards we went on to have lunch at Stratford on Avon with the actor, Emlyn Williams. He came from Glanyrafon originally, not far from me, so we had something to talk about and he really made us welcome!

I had a chilling experience visiting Bela Lugosi in Portsmouth. He started with a blood-curdling scream and came sliding down a cable accompanied by his bats. Needless to say I didn't wait too long for his autograph!

All these celebrities, and many others, live on in my book. They remind me of a time when I was young and attention was focused on me.

Not any more sadly."

Catherine Dalziel

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am retired. I'm interested in guinea-pigs and all animals. My favourite pastime is looking after my grandchildren.

Tell us about your story
My story is about famous people and their autographs. I thought it would be of interest to younger and older people, plus some of the people who appear in my autograph book have remained popular even after so many years!

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
It gave me an insight into the lives of other people. Everything was wonderful and I can't praise it enough.

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