A TRIBUTE TO PETER CUSHING
Peter and I first met when I was playing in Terence Rattigan's comedy 'While The Sun Shines' at the Globe - now the Gielgud - Theatre. I had taken over from Michael Wilding towards the end of the war and Peter, some time later, took over from Eugene Deckers who was playing the Frenchman. He gave a very different performance - Deckers was an inimitable eccentric, but we all welcomed him as a subtle, whimsical actor in the part. We often all had tea in Peter's dressing-room after a matinee, when he showed us the super model theatres he had made out of wood. We were full of admiration, they were beautifully formed. It was at these occasions that we met his charming wife.
After the play had run its two or three years I lost touch with Peter. This is one of the sadnesses of theatre life. Close acquaintanceships are so often doomed to wither as they are about to blossom into friendship. Later, though, I came to meet Peter again. It was at the Haymarket Theatre at a party to launch Ronald Miller's autobiography. Ronald had something to do with the governing of the Haymarket, that was the reason for the venue.
The stage was packed to bursting and I wandered down into the auditorium to get away from so much 'luvvying' and so close! Suddenly I noticed a familiar figure sitting in the stalls. 'Peter!' I called to him and within moments we were seated side by side and reminiscing. Joyce Broughton was with him. Suddenly he said 'Are you doing anything after this?' It was a morning party and I said that I wasn't. 'Joyce and I are going to the Prince Edward to see a show. Joyce's husband had to cry off and we have a spare ticket. Care to come?'
We had a hilarious afternoon at the Prince Edward Theatre watching - I think it was called 'Crazy For You', I know 'crazy' came into the title. We laughed inordinately at the show. Because of his illness, Peter's car was allowed to be parked right outside. 'Can I drop you anywhere?' he asked me. I thought he might burst a blood vessel at what followed. I said 'You know what Noel Coward said about that sort of thing? I asked him. 'No?' 'La-di-bloody-dah!' I said.
Thereafter we were often on the phone to one another for twenty minutes at a time. Peter was very slightly older than me and called me 'Son'. I retaliated by calling him 'Pop'. He invited me over to his house many times but the redoubtable Mrs. Broughton didn't think it a good idea and she was very much in charge. I did play requests for him on my programme. His favourite was Al Bowlly singing 'You Ought To See Sally On Sunday'.
He sent me a copy of his autobiography and letters have been liberally exchanged. I keep and treasure these.
Special thanks to Brian Holland for contacting Mr. Gregg