Home US Indian brave, courtesan, slave and the world’s loudest snorer: MANY LIVES: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY STEPHANIE BEACHAM

Indian brave, courtesan, slave and the world’s loudest snorer: MANY LIVES: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY STEPHANIE BEACHAM

by Jack
0 comment
Spiritual side: actress Stephanie Beacham


Spiritual side: actress Stephanie Beacham

It takes a while to get into this book because first you have to navigate through a prologue and not one but two prologues, the first by the author’s 11-year-old grandson, who reveals that at 4 in the morning without makeup Stephanie Beacham has green. Skin, witch hair and it gives him nightmares. But it’s worth the wait because, uniquely in an autobiography, you don’t just have one solitary life, but many.

Stephanie is one of those people (usually former California-based actresses) who have lived before. Visiting Versailles reminded her of her time as a courtesan during the ancien regime; As she toured Egypt, she remembered being an Israelite slave. In the Wild West, she was an elderly Native American woman with pain in her feet. Once, when she took mescaline, she looked in a mirror and saw the previous incarnation of her as a South American Indian.

She has always had a spiritual side. At her monastic school in north London, little Stephanie, a non-Catholic, spent so many hours contemplating a statue of the Virgin Mary that teachers contacted her parents and suggested she was ripe for conversion.

She has also had her fair share of what could be called paranormal experiences. Once, after an operation, she “died” and was found floating above her bed and then four Franciscan monks were leading her toward a bright light. She came back to life, only to find herself minutes away from having a permanent colostomy bag inserted. Luckily, a friend of hers advised her to visualize an injured kitten in her stomach, which worked; Stephanie passed gas and the bag was not necessary. Phew!

On another occasion, while testing a “personal system of healing, diagnosis and wellness” derived from non-terrestrials, she had a vision in which she was being molested by a French doctor who looked a lot like Hercule Poirot.

On stage at ‘Masterclass’ playing Maria Callas (‘What David Beckham was to football, Maria Callas was to opera’), the dead diva appeared at his side and began jabbering in Greek into his ear. Stephanie was so shocked that she couldn’t speak for two days.

Unfortunately, or perhaps creepily, Maria chose her left ear. Stephanie has always been legally deaf, a disadvantage she bravely fought against to become a distinguished stage actress, as well as starring on television in Tenko, the Colbys and as another notch on Ken Barlow’s bedpost in Corrie. She also appeared on the big screen alongside Marlon Brando in his worst movie. Apparently Brando was enthusiastic about her mouthwash. On Celebrity Big Brother, her snoring was so spectacularly loud that it was sold as a ringtone on eBay.

Stephanie is a postmodernist writer who eschews a conventional chronological account of her 64 years and leaves it to the reader to piece together randomly punctuated facts. She went to RADA, she married actor John McEnery, had two daughters, got divorced and lived as a single mother on poached eggs and spinach.

This would be the perfect Christmas gift for someone who likes books about lovable, wacky old actresses but already owns the complete works of Shirley MacLaine.

You may also like