Helen Mirren’s lovely coffee-table book, “In The Frame, My Life In Words and Pictures”, is full of lengthy anecdotes and fabulous photos from her private collections. After the obligatory toddler pics and stories about her anti-Czarist Russian father etc., the book launches into yet more interesting territory with Helen reflecting on and sharing candid pictures from her early days on the stage (with a young Bob Hoskins, for example, or getting trussed up into bondage gowns on the set of early Peter Greenaway films).
In a 22-page photo essay deep inside the book she introspects at length on her golden age, which started with her magnificent performance as Jane Tennison over several mini-seasons of Prime Suspect and climaxed in her getting made-up, coiffed and sewn into her Lacroix gown the day she won the Oscar for her over-rated performance in The Queen.
She recounts how when she first arrived in Hollywood she took an apartment in a building where Bette Davis lived in the penthouse. “One day,” Helen writes, “I was swimming in the pool and looked up to see that unmistakable head peering down to see who was splashing about”.
It’s just after this that she enters what she refers to as her “Brad Davis Years”, where she spent an extended period hanging with the other great B. Davis - my ultimate boyfriend and his wife Susan in their Hollywood bungalow, where Brad insisted all guests shed their clothes and spend some steamy time in his treasured back yard sauna, hence this spank-bank filling Polaroid generously shared by Helen on page 191:
(the writing on the wall is: how beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it)
The other great photo (at the top) shows Helen, Brad and Susan at a restaurant. Look at Brad kicking back like a little champ in his emerald-coloured velour t-shirt with what looks like an empty bottle of Sangria in front of him on the table! *swoon*
“Two of my greatest friends in Los Angeles were Brad Davis and his wife. Brad had a sauna in the garden shed of his house in Studio City, and he would force all visitors in there. Brad was a great free spirit, and anyone who knew him treasured him. When I first met him, on a film for television, he had come out of rehabilitation from going AWOL with drink and drugs.
He’d had a great success with Midnight Express and could not handle that and the pressures of Hollywood. Once he was over that glitch, which almost destroyed his career (Brad never did anything by halves), he was a wicked angel of a person.”
From elsewhere (that is, not from Helen’s book), are some other great snaps of Brad and Helen, mainly stills from their filmMrs Reinhardt - what chums they were!