Fans turn out for 1960s film star

PUBLISHED: 08:00 05 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010

Rita Tushingham visits Wymondham's old Regal Cinema.

Rita Tushingham visits Wymondham's old Regal Cinema.

Rita Tushingham proved she still has her fans when about 150 people turned out to see her during a special film screening in Wymondham.

She found fame in the 1960s with her dark cropped hair and soulful wide-eyed looks, winning a British Academy Award for her debut film role.

And yesterday Rita Tushingham proved she still has her fans when about 150 people turned out to see her during a special film screening in Wymondham.

The showing at the town's former Regal Cinema, which is now the ex-servicemen's club, was organised by film enthusiasts from the Regal Experience group.

Miss Tushingham said she had been persuaded to make the appearance by friend and co-star in the award-winning A Taste of Honey, Dora Bryan, who visited the venue last year.

“I made my first film with Dora and was asked to come. They got in touch with me a few months ago. I've just finished a film in Ireland so the date fitted in.

“I wanted to come because Dora had said how much she enjoyed it. I think it's fantastic if people love films and get enjoyment out of it.”

Miss Tushingham made her debut in 1961's A Taste of Honey, in which she played a teenage girl who falls pregnant.

The film showing yesterday, Girl with Green Eyes, was released in 1964 and was no less controversial.

Set in Ireland, it tells the story of a young Dublin girl who falls for a middle-aged writer and also stars Lynn Redgrave and Peter Finch.

Other roles were in movies such as The Leather Boys, Smashing Time and The Trap, in which she starred with Oliver Reed.

In 1965 she played scenes opposite Alec Guinness, as the daughter of Yuri and Lara, played by Omar Sharif and Julie Christie, in the epic Doctor Zhivago.

Speaking about A Taste of Honey, for which she won the British Academy Award for most promising newcomer, aged just 19, Miss Tushingham said:

“A Taste of Honey was very controversial. Some countries wouldn't show it. But they were films and stories that had never really been touched before.

“Girl with Green Eyes is a love story. It is a young Catholic girl who has an affair and that doesn't go down with well with her family.

“I have very fond memories of it. It's such a nice story, it's a very gentle film.”

Miss Tushingham, who is preparing to write her memoirs, added: “I love acting, I love films more than anything.

“It was really happening in the 1960s, I just happened to come along then. They were looking for these stories and different types of actors…I have just been very lucky.”

During the 1970s and 1980s Miss Tushingham made films in America and Europe, with her British film career taking off again the 1990s.

One of her movies during that period was An Awfully Big Adventure in 1995, which saw her starring with Hugh Grant.

Most recently she appeared on TV in an episode of ITV's Marple and has just finished filming the thriller Puffball, directed by Nicholas Roeg, in Ireland.

Philip Yaxley, of the Regal Experience group, said it was “marvellous” to have Miss Tushingham at the screening.

“It's a great experience for us. Rita was a sixties chick. The swinging sixties were when things were changing. This was strong stuff for the time.”

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