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Shirley gets sexy for charity lunch
"I’ve just done Last Of The Summer Wine. It was nice to be the youngest!” laughs Shirley Anne Field.
Her appearance in BBC1’s long-running sitcom, filmed in Holmfirth, is a reminder of how her career began.
The actress, who shot to fame nearly half a century ago, says she was always the youngest in any cast when she started out. She was 19 when she landed her first film role, playing a young beauty queen, Tina, alongside Sir Laurence Olivier in 1960 film The Entertainer.
She has since worked with big names such as Albert Finney, Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner and her film roles have included Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, Alfie, My Beautiful Laundrette and Hear My Song. Her TV dramas include Shoestring, Never The Twain, Monarch Of The Glen, Dalziel And Pascoe and Where The Heart Is.
Now 70, Shirley Anne is currently in discussions about a romantic film following the lives and aspirations of three women over 50. A costume designer friend of hers introduced her to the director. “She was so full of enthusiasm it got me interested,” says Shirley Anne.
Being a mature actress in the industry, she has defied the ‘age ceiling’ she says exists in the film and television industry where people are often judged on youth and looks.
“They used to say you could only be a leading lady in Hollywood until you were 25!” she laughs.
The actress, who was also a model, will be addressing the subject of ageing at a charity lunch in aid of Kirkwood Hospice, Huddersfield, next month. Does she work hard to retain the good looks which won her the heart of many a male film fan over the years? “I’ve never been a follower of fashion. I like looking nice and I would be happy to find anything to keep me looking special and keep a bit of a glow,” she says. “I like nice clothes, but I could shop for hours for furniture!”
Her talk is called Staying Aglow which she says means women can keep aglow at any age.
“It’s about holding and maintaining,” says Shirley Anne, who will also show some of her film clips. “It started from a show reel of my films. It’s a trawl through the years and makes people look at you differently. You don’t have to work so hard about selling your own magic if it’s there on screen. But I had a lot of talented people helping me.”
She uses the film clips “as a shorthand” to illustrate her career. “It’s like showing people an album of things which have been important to me and also interesting to them because they have grown up with them. The films have a terrific effect on people. One of the films I made, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, was when people were courting, so it was a special time for them.”
Shirley Anne will be the special guest at a Sex And The City-themed charity lunch organised by Melanie Crossley, North Kirklees fundraiser for Kirkwood Hospice, which provides specialist care for people facing life-threatening illness.
Shirley Anne says it’s a cause close to her heart. With the support of the Macmillan Nurses, she cared for her late sister when she was diagnosed with stomach cancer at the age of 33.
“So many people unfortunately have nowhere to go the moment they are ill, so it is nice to think somebody who is ill has somewhere where they can get care and dignity,” says Shirley Anne.
The event also features Sarah Jessica-Parker lookalike Danielle Watson from Baildon, who will take to the catwalk in a replica of the wedding dress worn by Carrie Bradshaw in the film version of Sex And The City, released on DVD this week.
Shirley Anne Field will be at the Sexy Ladies Luncheon In The City at Gomersal Park Hotel, Gomersal, on Friday, October 10. Tickets are £29.50 per person. For more information ring (01484) 557911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org