SHE was the Lister’s Mill girl who became a Hollywood star - and married a silver screen heart-throb following a whirlwind romance.

Our recent feature on the Dramatic Society at Lister’s Mill highlighted Pat Paterson, whose rise to fame inspired the society’s 1933 production, A Lass from Lister’s. Born Eliza Paterson, she worked in the velvet warehouse at Lister’s. She was also a child model who went to Hollywood and appeared in films in the 1930s and 40s, including Bottoms Up, co-starring with Spencer Tracy. Pat married French actor Charles Boyer and died in 1978.

Mandy Oates got in touch about a scrapbook of newspaper and magazine cuttings about Pat’s rise to fame. Lovingly created by Pat’s mother, it was later kept by her brother, Andy Paterson, who lived in Baildon. Several years ago Mandy’s husband, Alan Hall, met Andy, who was in his 90s and wanted to preserve the scrapbook as a lasting document of his sister’s film career. Alan turned it into a booklet, with one copy going to the West Yorkshire Archive Service.

The booklet contains glamorous shots of Pat and her husband and traces their poignant love story. Alan also recounts some of the stories Andy told him before his death. This is an excerpt from Alan’s booklet, compiled from a scrapbook spanning over 80 years:

Pat was born at either Fitzgerald Street off Little Horton Lane or Round Street in West Bowling, though the family later moved to Frizinghall and Pat attended Frizinghall Council School. Various dates are given for her birthday. The likelihood is she was born on April 10, 1910, but she wouldn’t be the first celebrity to give the impression of being younger than she actually was.

Pat had two brothers, John, and Andy. Her father was a wool merchant. From the age of five Pat had dancing lessons and aged 10 was in a local production of Babes in the Wood. She was a member of Francis Laidler’s juvenile dance troupe, the Sunbeams. On leaving school Pat worked for a short period at Lister’s Mill in the office, training to be a typist. As can be seen from several cuttings, this later gave newspapers opportunity to create a rags-to-riches story - ‘Bradford Mill Girl off to Hollywood’.

According to her brother Andy, Pat went to London first, under the legitimate auspices of Laidler and with approval of her family. Another version is that she ran away because her family disapproved of her desire to be a star, but Andy’s version is probably more accurate. She stayed in London with Betty Hobbs, a pantomime artist no doubt known to Laidler, and quickly got stage work. Pat was probably aged between 16-18.

By 1931 she’d made her first three films, The Other Woman, The Great Gay Road and The Professional Guest. She also did some work for BBC radio. Cinema was in its heyday in the 1930s and Pat started to become well-known. She appeared in a Daily Herald feature in 1931, giving advice on skin care. Andy visited his sister in London at this time and was taken around the sights in a chauffeur-driven car while she was filming at the studio.

Hollywood began to take an interest when Pat co-starred with John Longden in Murder on the Second Floor, produced by Warner Brothers. In 1932 she had the lead in Partners Please then 20th Century Fox offered her a film test and she was offered a seven-year contract. ‘Talkies’ were still new and Pat was deemed to have an “ideal talkie voice”. It was probably her voice that US film-makers considered her major asset, especially as the cut-glass English accent was in vogue at that time. If you watch her in Bottoms Up, she speaks like someone from the upper class. This rather casts doubt on a comment made years later that, because of her influence, her husband and son spoke with a Yorkshire accent.

Before leaving for Hollywood, she attended a farewell party in Bradford with her parents and civic dignitaries.She had the current crop of Sunbeams to tea and was invited to a performance of A Lass from Lister’s at Manningham Mills. At another party, her own cocktail, a ‘Pat Special’, was created to commemorate the occasion.

Despite some accounts stating she left for Hollywood as early as 1929, aged 18, she probably went in 1934, but before that made several more films in England.

In California Pat met soon-to-be-superstar Charles Boyer at a party. He was 10 years older. Within weeks they were married, on Valentine’s Day, and set up a lavish home in a Hollywood Hills mansion. Unusually for a Hollywood couple, Pat and Charles remained together over 40 years.

* Our next instalment of Alan Hall’s booklet, based on the scrapbook kept by Andy Paterson, looks at the romance and tragedy of Pat’s marriage, and her Hollywood career. See the T&A on Wednesday, January 20.