Home Money Actor John Standing’s biggest surprise? The size of his check for appearing in Robert Wagner’s American drama Lime Street

Actor John Standing’s biggest surprise? The size of his check for appearing in Robert Wagner’s American drama Lime Street

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Star lineage: John Standing with his wife Sarah, daughter of Nanette Newman

Star lineage: John Standing with his wife Sarah, daughter of Nanette Newman

John Standing (Sir John Ronald Leon, 4th Baronet) is an actor who has appeared on stage, television and the big screen for more than 60 years, writes York Membery.

Most recently, the 89-year-old starred alongside Michael Caine in The Great Escaper, the true story of a veteran who escaped from his nursing home to attend the 70th anniversary commemorations of D-Day in Normandy.

His grandfather, Sir Guy Standing, was a Hollywood star in the 1930s, and his mother, the actress Kay Hammond, starred in Blithe Spirit in the West End during the war.

He lives in London with his second wife Sarah, daughter of actress Nanette Newman, and has four children.

What did your parents teach you about money?

They told me to never worry about it, but it was rude. My stockbroker father, Sir Ronald Leon, was enormously rich when he was young and bought my actress mother a flat in London’s Park Lane, but the marriage ended in divorce and he wasted his money on drink.

When he died at 60, he left my late brother and me only £60 each, but in a way that was a good thing because it forced me to stand on my own two feet.

My stepfather, Sir John Clemens, also an actor, told me to never think only about money but, when participating, to write well – good advice. That’s why I jumped at the chance to appear with Michael Caine in The Great Escaper. We were both disappointed that it didn’t get a nod at this year’s awards ceremonies, particularly as it was Michael’s last film.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Yes, during my early days as an actor, when I worked in representation and lived in accommodation in the 1950s. I was paid between £6 and £7 a week and had to eat some of the most disgusting foods in the history of food. . And even after I became more established, I occasionally lived with an overdraft.

Have you ever been paid silly money?

Yes, when I appeared in the American television drama series Lime Street with Robert Wagner. [playing insurance assessors] in the mid-1980s.

‘I really don’t deserve this!’ I thought to myself, but in America it’s the norm. I got the role after Robert saw me in a play at the National Theater and said he’d love to do a TV series with me, so I went to California.

We Brits are always surprised by how much money can be made on American television, as Ricky Gervais, for example, discovered more recently.

What was the best year of your financial life?

One of my best years financially was 1975 when I toured the US with the lovely Maggie Smith in Noel Coward’s Private Lives. Doing my cabaret show for a month in the bar of the Carlyle Hotel in New York was also very remunerative. But that’s show business: either you’re up there ringing bells or you’re thinking, ‘When is it going to happen again?’

Most expensive thing you bought for fun?

A second-hand Mercedes 190 SL convertible that was underpowered but lovely to look at, for £200-300 in the late 1960s when I lived in Chelsea. It was my pride and joy, but one night there was a storm and I woke up to find that I had been hit by a water tower that had fallen. The windows were broken and the body was covered in dents; It looked like someone had attacked him with a baseball bat.

What is your biggest money mistake?

I spent a small fortune wining and dining with an incredibly pretty girl between my marriages; She was doing heroin and I was trying to get her off heroin and into bed, but it wasn’t worth it.

However, it was clearly a blessing in disguise because several years later I met my dear wife Sarah, and I have just given her a ruby ​​necklace to commemorate our 40th wedding anniversary.

Double act: John Standing in The Great Escaper with Michael Caine

Double act: John Standing in The Great Escaper with Michael Caine

Best money decision you’ve ever made?

I have always subscribed to Noel Coward’s belief that wearing smart clothes makes you look more successful than you really are. I bought my first bespoke suit when I was young for £30, although buying a similar suit now would probably cost me a four-figure sum. However, I think his advice is still valid. Unfortunately, moths have affected many of my older suits.

Do you have a pension?

Yes, I receive a generous [US] Actors Union Pension.

Do you have any property?

I got my current house terribly cheap in the early 1990s for £120,000, which had been owned by someone who was bankrupt. It’s an old stable in Pimlico and I have no idea what it’s worth now. Many MPs live in the smarter area of ​​Pimlico.

If you were Chancellor, what would you do?

I would change jobs with another cabinet minister because I’m not very good with money and I’m terrible at maths.

I would rather be Arts Minister so I could ensure that all our great galleries remain free to visit.

In addition, it would give the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater enough money each year to ensure their productions remain of the highest standard.

What is your number one financial priority?

Just to move on… I’m very happy to work if I’m offered a decent role in a TV series or movie. My days in the theater, unfortunately, are behind me.

  • The Great Escape is available to stream online.

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