As I Am – 10 years on

AgnethaIt’s been ten years since Agnetha’s authorised biography As I Am – ABBA Before & Beyond was released internationally.

The book continues to generate diverse opinions. There are those who love it for coming from Agnetha herself, while others think that it reveals nothing about Agnetha beyond her public image.

As I Am had originally been published in Swedish in 1996 as Som jag är, which was more text-based than the English-language coffee-table picture book format. There are plans for an expanded Dutch translation to be published next year.

Here’s a review of As I Am from The Sunday Times (London) published 14 September 1997.

Thank you for the music: What the blonde one from ABBA did next, and what she looks like 10 years after hanging up her pantaloons.

Super trouper: Agnetha Faltskog – you know, the blonde one – swapped sequins for serenity and cat-suits for kids after ABBA split up. She has now co-written a strange book about herself. By Penny Wark

She was the blonde one in ABBA, the one everybody really fancied. The one with the sprayed-on satin knickerbockers, crocheted hat and spangly bits glued to her cheekbones. She was also the one with the sexiest bottom in the world – or so they said in the 1970s, as the Swedish fab four supertrouped to mega stardom. Then, as pop groups sometimes do, when they have banked their millions and spent 10 years on the road together, they split, their reputation frozen in the time zone of flared trousers. Aching for a more conventional family life with her two children, Christian and Linda, Agnetha Faltskog retreated to her Swedish island.

But while the singer may have all but disappeared from view, the popularity of the band with which she made her name shows no sign of abating. Kitsch ABBA tribute bands such as Bjorn Again tour the world playing to huge audiences, other groups such as Erasure cover their songs, and ABBA hits featured in the cult movies Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. Perhaps this is why, after 15 years, Faltskog has her first public step and co-operated with a biographer.

The book, As I Am, is designed to correct the false impressions about her that have reverberated since 1974, when – to Faltskog’s amazement – ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo.

The first thing she wants to set straight, it seems, are the rumours that she was the difficult one in the band. This wasn’t so, claims Brita Ahman, the journalist who won the singer’s confidence, became her friend and co-wrote the picture book.

“She is very down to earth, not at all the tragic figure always left by a man, always in tears, who has been presented to the press,” Ahman says. “She is a perfectionist and she was always professional. But she wanted to limit the long hours they worked around the world so that she could have time with her children. There was always that conflict. That annoyed some people and they started to make up things about her being the difficult one. There was a lot of envy and some people are small-minded.

The book also reveals that Agnetha’s divorce from Bjorn Ulvaeus, her co-band member – who scarily resembled the friendly one from Planet Of The Apes – to whom she was married for seven years, was much messier than anyone admitted at the time.

The strains of superstardom were apparently acute for Faltskog, who detested flying, loathed crowds, hated partying and found even the flattery empty. And if she did not hate Frida Lyngstad, ABBA’s feisty brunette, neither was there much love lost between the two.

“Agnetha and Frida were very competitive and very different personalities,” Ahman reveals. “Agnetha is home-loving, Frida loves parties and did not have young children at that time. Off-stage they had little in common, Frida loved socialising, Agnetha just wanted to get back to the hotel and phone her family.”

Faltskog has also had an uneasy relationship with the press, largely, she says, because she wanted them to write only about her music. But then, here was a woman who considered it a grave insult when her bottom was singled out for attention and given an award.

Ahman, an arts journalist, first met the reclusive singer in 1982 when she was debating press ethics in Sweden. One day she opened her door and found herself face to face with Faltskog, who had written an open letter about the press and wanted it published. She told Ahman that she did not recognise herself in what they wrote about her and could she help her set it straight?

Writing a book about life after ABBA cannot have been an easy task. Not only is the blonde singer incredibly reluctant to reveal much of interest, but she has also chosen to lead a normal, very downbeat life, a stark contrast to the glamour and sequins scenario that ABBA so cheerily represented for many years. Faltskog has since concentrated on being a mother, living privately and comfortably – she has an estimated £6m stacked away – on her island off the Swedish coast. After all the hurtling around on world tours, she apparently craved silence. Ahman says, and for the first 10 years neither played, sang nor listened to music – including her own.

“When she came out of ABBA she could at last be what she wanted to be,” gushes Ahman. “She loves to cook, she takes long walks and savours the time she has after having lead such a hectic public life.”

Looking for a replacement for the songs, the singer has explored yoga, astrology and – through a book by the Hollywood guru Deepak Chopra – Ayur-Vedic medicine. She’s also been through a second divorce – from the surgeon Tomas Sonnenfeld.

“She’s not a nun and she’s not afraid of men,” says Ahman, who seems overly protective towards the star. “But like any woman with two broken marriages behind her, she’s careful. She is mature and she knows what she is looking for in a man, but maybe it is not so easy to find because she is 47, she has money, she has been successful, and she has seen a lot of life.” But, she quickly adds, “she has not been out of circulation”.

Reading between Ahman’s words of worship, Fältskog’s reputation for being difficult might not be wholly unfounded. She is not a woman who comprises, the writer says, choosing her words carefully, although she does admit that she has “the claws of a tiger”. She justifies this by adding: “If someone abuses her trust she cuts them off completely and there is no way back. She is strong, and when she flares up it is like a storm. But that is necessary because otherwise she would be eaten up, as she has been sometimes.”

Ahman then confides, now almost whispering, that she can tell us something exclusively about the singer that nobody else knows: Faltskog’s self-imposed silence is, it seems, over. Not only is she listening to music again, she has also started composing. Hurrah! “That is a glimpse of a new beginning,” says Ahman, relishing the treat of having shared what she considers to be such a secret. So will the former ABBA girl be climbing back to the top of the charts again, rather than watching others do it by recording her old songs? For now, the Fältskog camp won’t say. It seems we’ll just have to wait and see. After all, that’s the name of the game.

Knowing me, knowing you: Agnetha…

On Frida: I admit there was a strong sense of competition within both of us. I don’t want to hide the fact that Frida and I had opposite backgrounds, temperaments and personalities. We could get furious and tired with each other, so we had our moments.

On Bjorn: we fell deeply in love during a television recording in May 1969. Björn was warm and tender. He had a charming voice and was an artist, like me.

On the divorce: when Bjorn and I separated we told the media it was a “happy” divorce, which, of course, was a front – we all know there is no such thing as a happy divorce.

On the break-up of the band: we had an unspoken agreement – when it no longer seems fun, we’ll call it a day. Talk of me ending ABBA’s career is wrong.

On the songs: it’s hard to tell when a hit is being made. Dancing Queen was an exception: we knew immediately it was going to be huge. The same thing with Fernando and Chiquitita, which sent shivers up the spine straight away. But the best of all ABBA songs is The Winner Takes It All – a small masterpiece.

On the band’s image: the press were a little surprised that we didn’t have bigger rave-ups, but instead could often be found jogging and exercising. But we did have wild times.

On winning the Eurovision Song Contest: it was just unbelievable when Waterloo won. To calm my nerves I started getting dressed early. I’d bought some small stars, which glittered beautifully, and glued them to my cheeks as a way of preparing myself, of getting into character.

On the future: sometimes I get the urge to do something again. A few years ago it was totally inconceivable. But I am conscious of having a special voice, so there are days when it feels tempting.

Thanks to Samuel Inglles for the article.

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9 Responses to “As I Am – 10 years on”

  1. Ian Cole Says:

    It was recently revealed on the ABBAsite4ever forum that Som jag är was published in German at the end of 2006. Wie ich bin – Agnetha Fältskog erzählt – ABBA, davor und danach is available online from Scwedenbuch Verlag.

  2. alel2000 Says:

    hi i m an argentine…..be touched for your music,can dance with themes from you.i need speek anytime werever on the internet or mail ,with you.agnetha or brida .please.i need to believe,i need to go in the life.my life is dark within the music,but i have a bud time for me.you can help me if you can give me a few moments of your words.sorry for my english.please.sorry for my petition.i dont happy for worry.thanks for the ages .i remember my moments with your voices.thanks for that .alejandro.buenos aires .argentina

  3. Rhea Says:

    i think agnetha is a charming,wonderful,beautiful person. if she wants to live a private life so be it.she has shared her talent and given so much of herself to the world.people should respect that. and just because she wants to live in peace in a “remote” island or doesnt want to engage in public appearances, doesnt mean she is “strange”. she is human.

  4. Ian Cole Says:

    An updated version of Agnetha’s book will be published in Dutch this month. The new edition features many new photographs and covers mre recent events, including Agnetha’s 2004 album My Colouring Book. See http://www.rodekamer.nl/agnetha.html for details.

  5. pat Says:

    I would like more information on Agnetha’s life could you recommend where I should start.

  6. juan Says:

    Agnetha my queen i belive in you.
    forever i remenber you and your songs.

  7. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    These articles are on (1) Greta Garbo, the Swedish actress which the media sometimes used to compare Agnetha Fältskog to. (2) Connie Francis, who is one of Agnetha’s favourite singers.

    Woman’s Day – 6 January 1986 (Page 18)

    Greta and Katharine

    So much for close encounters of the legendary kind. No doubt like us you imagined the meeting of a couple of legends like Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo would be a night to remember. But no, in fact the encounter at a small New York gathering, by all accounts, was a dreary occasion dominated by Greta’s tedious monologue about loathsome Hollywood, which Kate listened to with increasing irritation. “Imagine that,” she was quoted as interjecting sarcastically at one point. “And all the time I thought I was having fun.” But it was only as Kate was leaving that she gave full vent to her feelings. “Greta, my memory is as bad as yours,” she said at the door, suddenly wheeling on the 30s screen goddess. “In that movie, did you say ‘I want to be alone’ or ‘I want to be a bore?” And talking of anti-climaxes, it’s been almost two years since Kate and Nick Nolte completed Grace Quigley and it’s going to be even longer, if ever, before you see the black comedy about aging. Those who have seen it brand the movie a disaster in more ways than one. “Ironically, the most distressing aspect of the picture is Kate herself,” one critic sighed. “She is still gallant, still gay, still game but now noticeably palsied in the advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease.” But don’t worry about Kate – the 76-year-old, who is now shooting Mrs Delafield, wants to marry. What’s more, she’s getting paid a very handsome salary – near a million dollars for the telemovie.

    Woman’s Day – 20 June 1989 (Page 27)

    Greta Garbo interview!

    The ultra-reclusive Greta Garbo has agreed to an interview in an upcoming issue of Life magazine. And the screen legend reveals she has an incredibly low opinion of herself. In the interview, Ms Garbo describes herself as “a sour little creature,” adding: “If somebody gave me a million dollars I wouldn’t write anything under the sun. I don’t think it’s worthwhile. I don’t think it’s very interesting. I don’t want any kind of attention from anybody, except that I know that someone likes me and that’s nice. Otherwise it’s sickening.” Hey, lighten up for a while, Greta!

    Woman’s Day – 24 October 1989 (Pages 44 & 45)

    Greta Garbo – just a living ghost: The beauty who turned her back on Hollywood is now a sad, frail figure on the streets of New York. By Drew Mackenzie

    Living legend Greta Garbo, the beautiful Hollywood star who wanted to be alone, is now a ghostly, wrinkled shadow of her former self, and friends are worried sick that her health is failing fast.

    Until recently, the former sex symbol who so longed for privacy was regularly seen tramping through the upper crust area of Manhattan where she lives. But now Garbo rarely ever goes out and fears are growing that she may not have very much time left to live.

    Garbo’s local florist for the past 35 years, Donald Barrand, says, “We all miss her terribly. She hasn’t been in for a long while as I have heard she’s very sick. She is so secretive that I doubt if we’ll find out she’s dead till we read it in the papers.”

    However, one morning recently Garbo was spotted venturing out briefly from her luxury apartment. The fresh-air fanatic was unable to bear being bed-bound any longer. Clinging tightly to her devoted maid, Koger Ekman, and supported by a walking stick, she shuffled painfully along the street for a few hundred metres until she was unable to continue.

    Greta Garbo was once the golden goddess of the silver screen. But since 1941, when her last film, Two-Faced Woman, was savaged by the critics, she has just shunned the spotlight to live like a hermit.

    “Hollywood is my biggest regret,” she said recently. “I let money, fame and greed ruin my life. Hollywood is where I wasted all my best years. I have messed up my life and it is too late to change it. And I am tired of being Garbo.”

    Garbo is famous for saying “I want to be alone”, but what she actually said was, “I want to be left alone.” Either way she has managed to hold on to her solitude and her secrets for more than half of her life. The Swedish-born beauty, who never married and has no children, has become an institution in Manhattan’s posh Upper East Side.

    During her once regular strolls there she’d dress – in all but the hottest weather – in a man’s style overcoat with the collar turned up, wear wide-brimmed dark glasses to cover her eyes, pull her floppy hat down over her face and wrap a big scarf around her neck.

    But her odd appearance just drew the sort of attention that she’d been hoping to avoid. People would stop and stare at the tall, thin old lady with the pageboy haircut. Local shopkeepers would smile as they caught sight of her and they’d say to their customers, “There goes Greta Garbo.”

    Now Garbo, who turned 84 last month, hardly ever sets foot outside her building. Except for Donald Barrand and a few others, the doorman won’t allow visitors because Garbo refuses to let him acknowledge that she lives there.

    Donald Barrand, 60, first met the screen queen shortly after he opened his flower shop around the corner from her apartment building. “We are friends,” he says. “But nobody gets too close to Garbo and nobody gets into her apartment. She’ll come in to buy flowers – she particularly likes the wild ones – or to get away from the photographers.

    “She talks about the weather. She’s very polite. She rarely ever smiles – but she still always has a smile for me. She still has a big fan club, too, and last Christmas she received more than 300 presents from all over the world. It’s funny, but after all these years she’s still got that something that makes her stand out from the crowd. The Garbo magic is still there – she’s like royalty.”

    Photographer Ted Leyson, who admits he has been obsessed with Garbo for 10 years, is also worried about her health.

    “She is very frail and she has grown a lot weaker in the past few months. She walks very slowly and very carefully now,” he says, recalling the time when she could be seen setting a brisk pace up bustling First Avenue, holding her head high so she didn’t have to look at the gawkers or autograph hunters.

    A lifelong vegetarian, she’d stop first at a Vietnamese-owned greengrocery to buy cranberry juice, avocados, plums and grapefruit. But although she is addicted to licorice and to chocolate chip biscuits, the 155cm-tall star weighs only a gaunt 50 kilograms.

    Chain-smoker Greta would call in next at the tobacconist. In her slight Swedish accent she would say, “I’ve been inhaling since I was 17 – and now my dopey body waits for the next one. I would look a little more decent if I didn’t do it.”

    She’d often go to an art gallery owned by close friend Sam Green. Greta owns a priceless collection of paintings – although the late author Truman Capote often joked that the Picassos in her living room were upside down. And then she’d always drop by at Allan Elsner’s bookstore on 80th Street.

    “We’d just talk for a while,” says Allan Elsner. “She is still lovely. Once she tilted her head back just as she did in that famous photograph – and it was a though time stood still.”

    Two years ago the star of epic films like Grand Hotel, Anna Karenina and Camille tripped over the cord of a vacuum cleaner and tore some ligaments in her ankle.

    Since then she has used a stick and has had to cut down on her walking.

    Garbo recently said, “These walks are just an escape. When I go walking alone I think back over my life and the past.”

    But when Garbo is finally alone in death, she will leave a fortune that is estimated at more than $150 million behind her.

    She has a house at Cape Cod, many properties in ritzy Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and a Hollywood mansion which she is selling. She also owns a massive estate in the Swiss resort of Klosters, where she stays each Summer, and takes long walks along the riverbank.

    Her New York apartment – with its six rooms, large terrace and staggering view over the East River – is worth nearly $16 million. All delivery people have to use a secret password to get upstairs. And even then they believe their customer is called Harriet Brown – a favourite false name of Garbo’s.

    Author Edward Lozzle, the last person granted an interview with the majestic Garbo, reveals, “She does weird things to keep people at a distance. She’ll answer the phone and pretend to be the maid. Or she’ll pick it up and not say anything. It’s creepy. She’ll wait for you to speak, then if she recognises your voice and wants to talk to you, she will. Otherwise she’ll just hang up.”

    Born Greta Louisa Gustafsson in Stockholm on September 18, 1905, she went to work in a barber shop when she was 14. At 17 she got a job in a department store, where a chance meeting with director Erik Petschler led to making her first silent film.

    She then met Sweden’s top director, Mauritz Stiller, who changed her name to Garbo. When he moved to MGM he insisted that the little known Garbo came too. She was an overnight sensation in Hollywood with her first American film, The Torrent. And then she starred with the silent screen heart-throb John Gilbert in The Flesh And The Devil.

    Their on and off-screen affair hit the headlines and she hated it.

    “I don’t like to see my soul laid bare on paper,” she said. After moving over to the talkies, she renegotiated her MGM contract to become Hollywood’s highest paid actress. She starred in several blockbusters, including Susan Lenox with Clark Gable and Inspiration with Robert Montgomery, before turning her back on the movies for good.

    By constantly dodging publicity, she has ironically drawn it to her. The mystery that surrounds Garbo lingers on – but maybe part of that mystery can be solved in a passing remark she once made. She said, “In a few days it will be the anniversary of the sorrow that never leaves me, that will never leave me for the rest of my life.”

    Whatever that sorrow is, the great Garbo still wants to be alone – or at least, left alone…

    Photos: (1) At the height of her beauty. (2 & 3) Rare outings in public (4) With Clark Gable in Susan Lenox.

    New Idea – 5 May 1990 (Page 99)

    After a lifelong battle, Greta Garbo is alone at last

    For almost half a century sultry Swedish star Greta Garbo believed Hollywood had destroyed her life. “Hollywood is my biggest regret; it’s where I wasted all my best years,” the reclusive Greta said in one of the rare interviews she permitted between her last film Two-Faced Woman in 1941 and her death in a New York hospital last week. “I let money, fame and greed ruin my life. I am tired of being Garbo.” The sad irony is, of course, that many of her fans believe it was her obsession with solitude that was responsible for ruining her life, for she had almost a morbid dread of publicity. “I don’t like to see my soul laid bare on paper,” she said. “I feel able to express myself only through my roles, not in words, and that is why I try to avoid talking to the press.”

    ‘There goes Garbo’

    Greta, who never married or had children, became an institution in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. During her once-regular strolls, her typical outfit – in all but the hottest weather – was a man’s-style overcoat with the collar turned up, dark glasses and floppy hat. Yet her odd appearance drew the attention she hoped to avoid, and people would point at the odd, thin old woman and say: “There goes Greta Garbo!” Yet, in her final years, she barely set foot outside her apartment. Perhaps the one person who saw her more than most was Donald Barrand, the proprietor of a florist’s shop around the corner from her home. “We were friends,” Donald says, “but nobody got too close to Garbo – and nobody got into her apartment. She’d come in to buy flowers or to get away from the photographers who’d hound her.” One photographer in particular who would always be waiting to get a shot of her was Ted Leyson, who admitted he became obsessed with her.

    Vegetarian

    A lifelong vegetarian, Greta frequented a small Oriental produce street stall to buy cranberry juice, avocados and grapefruit. (However, she was also addicted to licorice and chocolate-chip biscuits.) The one vice Greta admitted to was chain-smoking. “I wished to God I could stop,” she once said. “I’ve been inhaling since I was 17. I would look a little more decent if I didn’t smoke.” Greta’s other regular activities included stopping by an art gallery owned by a friend – she had a priceless collection of paintings – and visiting a bookstore. There she’d leaf through magazines but seldom buy anything. Says Ted Leyson: “she was really tight with money.”

    $125m estate

    Greta is believed to have left an estate worth more than $125m, for in her time she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood and she invested her earnings wisely. Along with her six-roomed Manhattan apartment, valued at around $12m, she owned a house in Cape Cod, a Hollywood mansion, an estate in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Klosters and several properties in Beverly Hills. Much of her wealth is earmarked for Princess Victoria of Sweden, whose great-grandfather King Gustaf was a devoted Garbo admirer.

    Photos: Greta Garbo in her last years and in her Hollywood heyday.

    Woman’s Day – 5 June 1990 (Page 22)

    Hollywood update on Greta Garbo

    Now that Greta Garbo has gone to the great casting call in the sky we can expect a slew of autobiographies, probably a feature film and almost certainly a movie of the week (isn’t Hollywood wonderful)? There is no doubt that everyone is mystified by the lady’s life since she turned her back totally on fame and fortune in 1941 at the age of just 36. It has been widely reported that the reason she dropped out of the spotlight was because of her alleged lesbianism. One book will give details of her “great love affair” with the wife of a director who died in 1968… and state that the only reason the book will now be printed is that Garbo’s death has removed any fear of litigation by the actress. If all that’s not enough, I am also told that someone else is planning to publish a series of “extremely intimate letters” that the late actress penned over the years. These letters have been described to me as “lengthy correspondence in which she agonises about her lesbianism”. If it is indeed true that the reason Garbo hid from the world was simply because of her sexual preference then its pretty sad indictment, I think.

    Woman’s Day – 18 February 1992 (Page 41)

    Tui’s Tinseltown memories

    New Zealander Tui Bow was there, more than 60 years ago, during the golden age of Hollywood

    Gary Cooper would walk into Tui Bow’s house at any time of the day or night, Clark Gable often refused to pay for lunch and it was best for a young girl to keep out of Charlie Chaplin’s way. At 85, Tui Bow remembers it all.

    They were the great days of Hollywood, when it was a dusty town a few kilometers from Los Angeles and the stars – Gable, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, and a diminutive New Zealander named Tui Lorraine – were all members of the clan.

    Few people alive today remember how it was, says Tui, who lives in a tiny cottage in suburban Brisbane. Surrounded by hundreds of photographs, Tui said ‘Woman’s Day’ had caught up with her just in time.

    “The memory’s fading, dear,” she said, but there is plenty of life in the veteran actress. Tui still catches the bus to town most days to have lunch – and even a heavy fall recently hasn’t slowed her much.

    Schooled in showbusiness in New Zealand by her mother, Tui was an accomplished actress, tightrope-walker, singer and acrobat when she arrived in America alone in 1924 while still in her teens.

    And she walked straight into the greatest Hollywood era, when stars were truly treated as idols. It still amazes her.

    “I walked into San Francisco and took the train down to Los Angeles and nothing even remotely looked like happening to me. I went to a casting place in Hollywood and, because I could do all those things, they said I’d be good for serials and westerns, so they sent me out to Universal Studios.

    “They signed me up on the spot for 12 months on a fairly good salary. Mind you, I had to work like a woman possessed. But I never looked back.

    “I was in serials and there’d be 18 episodes of each one, so it took nearly a damned year. I made several westerns; I can’t remember what they were – it has been more than 50 years.”

    But she remembers her friends the stars, particularly Clara Bow, the “It” girl and one of the first glamour girls of Hollywood. The two were like sisters and shared a house in Beverly Hills, although relationship changed when Tui married Clara’s father, at the star’s insistence.

    “Clara was a beautiful girl, but she had a tragic life. I think the world was fascinated by her. She was a great actress who spoke like a ditch-digger and came from Brooklyn.

    “Clara’s mother was insane and had tried to kill Clara several times when she was a child. Clara had a bed half the size of her room and she would ask me to sleep with her because she’d often have nightmares. Clara liked me because I came from a different place and had such a different background. Then her father took a liking at me.

    “In those days the world really did make idols of movie stars and Clara was one. Her fan mail, frankly, used to disgust me. In the end, living with Clara was a bit like being a babysitter.

    “I even married her father at her request. He was more like the father I’d never had but in the end I got sick of the Bows. Then Clara drifted off and married a two-bit cowboy actor, Rex Bell. He married her because of her name, but that sort of thing was prevalent then; there was nothing unusual about it.”

    Tui looked aghast when asked if she was thrilled to have Gary Cooper constantly at the house while he was having a wild affair with Clara.

    “No, of course not! Gary and I worked for the same studio and Clara had a big crush on him, but to have him come around was nothing out of the ordinary for me.”

    It was Tui’s natural honesty and perhaps her innocence which made her so popular with the big names. Greta Garbo used to call her “my little vawn”.

    “Did I know Garbo?” she asked incredulously. “Look at those photographs,” she says. You’ll never see anything like those anywhere else in Australia.

    “Greta gave them to me, and that was pretty unusual. She wouldn’t give anything to anyone – she was the meanest woman. She never liked anyone in America, or America itself for that matter, but she liked me because, as she said, she came from near the North Pole and I was from near the South Pole.

    Whenever she saw me, she’d take me into her arms and hug me. I was always a little worried about that – Momma had warned me about people who took a fancy to me.”

    Tui liked Clark Gable, but she was never overly impressed with the ‘Gone With The Wind’ star.

    “Gable came along a while after me. He was mean, too. It was a joke around the studio that you didn’t go to lunch with Gable unless you had plenty of money. He always wanted you to pay for a meal.”

    Tui spoke more glowingly of Jean Harlow.

    “She was magnificent and loved by everyone who knew her. She was kind and generous and gentle, nothing like the myths that were built around her.”

    Charlie Chaplin cast his eyes over the young Tui on many occasions, but she much preferred his brother Syd.

    “Syd was a lovely man, nothing at all like Charlie. Anything over 12 was regarded as fair game by Charlie.”

    Before the legendary team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as formed, Tui was Laurel’s leading woman in several minor Hollywood films. She was very fond of him.

    “I knew John Gilbert … that rat. He was only 40 when he died (in 1936) and I knew him well, but I couldn’t stand him. He was a bastard. Clara used to drag me along to his house when he invited her so she wouldn’t get raped.”

    Tui says they were all part of a tight little Hollywood clan. “But it’s all gone now. Hollywood reached its Zenith then and it has never been the same since. I wouldn’t like to see it now. It has been ruined.

    Story: Graham Bicknell

    Woman’s Day – 31 May 1993 (Page 114)

    The ashes of screen legend Greta Garbo are to stay in New York, despite her request that they be returned to Sweden. It is feared that her ashes would be stolen if they were put in any accessible spot.

    Variety (New York) – Wednesday, 7 July 1976 (Page 51)

    Award Connie Francis $2.5 million in rape case

    A six-man jury awarded singer Connie Francis $2,500,000 as compensation for a rape in a Howard Johnson motel in Westbury, L.I. on November 8th 1974. It’s said to be the largest award ever given in a case of this kind.

    In a trial lasting a full month, Francis contended that the motel had failed to provide her with a safe and secure room. It was alleged that the door lock was defective when the rapist broke in. The management stated that new and better locks has been ordered, but delivery was delayed by a strike.

    Attorney for the motel, Thomas S. Kirk moved to set aside the verdict as excessive. Court said it would reserve decision and asked for written briefs to be submitted by July 12th.

    Variety (New York) – Wednesday, 18 November 1981 (Page 83)

    Connie Francis makes emotional Westbury comeback after seven years. By Jose

    There’s rarely been a more publicized comeback performance locally. Connie Francis’ return to showbiz with a 4-day engagement at the Westbury (L.I., N.Y.) Music Fair was ballooned into an event of major theatrical importance. Seven years ago, during an engagement in this theatre, Francis was raped while staying in a nearby inn. The trauma that resulted took the form of a seven year blackout of many facets in her life including performing.

    These events are well-known to a whole filled theatre and who also became a vital part of the performance, spurring Francis on and trying to help her overcome the extremely emotional aspects of the occasion.

    Apparently, this date was a calculated risk. She evidently felt that by coming back to the very scene that caused her cutoff from her world, the seven years of being reclusive would be wiped out. Whether it worked or not will be known at some future date.

    To report positively, Francis’ pipes still hold up. She can essay a song once she gets rolling. It would have been better for her, though, if she’d worked a few break-in engagements before coming here. Perhaps she would have had a better shakedown performance.

    Physically she was looking very well but that red satin, Latin-styled gown and matching insert for her pulled-back hair seemed out of another era.

    Her initial show seemed to be a therapeutic exercise for the singer. After forgetting the lyrics to I Will Survive, she told the audience that this would be normal procedure, she’d be forgetting lyrics again. The audience only applauded. She talked considerably during the show. She thanked the orchestra perhaps a dozen times, and the audience dutifully applauded most times. However, the reception to her tunes was sincere. At the end of her show, she brought out her pre-teen son.

    Apparently she had worked hard to get the voice into shape. Getting the psyche into top form is another matter, but she indicates she’s working at it. And if the wishes of the audience, which brought her many floral offerings, are an indication, she’ll make it.

    The audience and the performance seemed to be an escape from reality for her. Even after a two-hour show, she was reluctant to go back to the reality of the offstage world. Most of the audience seemed to want to indulge her in that extra moment of comfort.

    Opening the show for her was Jackie Mason, an experienced and fairly funny comedian. With his distinctive style, he essayed a wide variety of humour. Some of it was ethnic, much was funny and a wide area was in bad taste. With his essential talent, one can only feel that with firmer disciplines, he might have been in the closing spot on the show instead of being the opening act.

    Variety (New York) – Wednesday, 14 July 1982 (Page 113)

    The Connie Francis Story: Connie at the Claridge in her first Atlantic City appearance…and the raves continue…

    * “… the most loving performer-audience exchange ever witnessed in a casino showroom…the lingering sense of triumph that has marked her return…greeted as she has been at other venues by an enthusiastic SRO audience…The Palace was packed like it’s never been packed before…With signs of adoration rarely bestowed a performer. It was a memorable – if not historical moment. Calls of “We love you” and “We missed you” punctuated the show…she could do no wrong…a show made great by the outpouring of feelings, and emotion between artist and audience…”

    Mark Holon – Entertainment Editor -The Sun-Atlantic City

    * Thunderous applause greeted Connie Francis the moment she appeared on the stage at the HiHo Palace singing some of the songs that made her the best-selling female recording artist of all time…an appearance filled with sentiment and emotion…”

    Doris Grossman – Asbury Park Press

    * Connie Francis is the most successful female singer the world has ever seen. …Her eyes sparkle with excitement and emotion as she feels the pulse of the audience…and they answer…with constant approval…Opening with her own song Beautiful People… she walked out into the audience…this was no ordinary handshaking exercise…her glow and enthusiasm were overwhelming…her voice was back where it had been…the feeling was intense and everyone was spellbound…The audience sensed the drama of The Connie Francis Story.”

    Marcia Steiner – Whoot – Atlantic City

    * …a reflection of Connie’s popularity is evidenced at the box-office of the Claridge Hotel and casino…it reported record advance sales during a week-end in which Sammy Davis, Neil Sedaka, Dionne Warwick, and Lola Folana were at other hotels…”

    Vic Kalman – Newark – Star-Ledger

    * Connie Francis…six sell-out shows at the Claridge…”

    David Spatz – Atlantic City Press

    Woman’s Day – 20 January 1986 (Page 34)

    Hollywood update. Filed by Peter McDonald, our man in Los Angeles

    Life has been rough on Connie Francis and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Hospital officials won’t confirm the whispers but friends say the trouble-plagued singer has entered a Los Angeles mental health clinic. “We’ve all been concerned about her,” an associate confirmed. “We love Connie dearly and we’re relieved.” Poor Connie. Just before Christmas she created a major ruckus when she had to be physically removed from an airliner when she refused to stop smoking while the aircraft was being refuelled. Earlier she was in the headlines again with a surprise and short-lived marriage to producer Bob Parkinson. “To think that just 16 months ago I was in a shambles, at the point of destruction,” the 49-year-old singer said after the marriage, adding ironically, “but today everything is perfect.”
    Woman’s Day – 24 February 1986 (Page 35)

    Talking of pain and the whole damn thing, as hard as it might be to believe, things are getting even worse for the troubled Connie Francis. Not only is the songbird in a Miami mental institution, but according to one report even her treatment is threatened because she is financially strapped after having given away “tens of thousands of dollars” worth of her possessions and her refusal to sell either her home or Florida apartment. “Connie’s completely over the edge,” the report ominously quotes a friend. “And if she doesn’t get some good, long-term care, she’s going to end up killing herself or someone else.” Sad, really sad.

    Woman’s Day – 12 January 1987 (Page 18)

    Connie Francis had a total breakdown a little more than a year ago. You’ll recall the songbird went around claiming she had found a cure for cancer, giving away literally tens of thousands of dollars and had to be forcibly committed to a mental hospital after barricading herself in a Miami hotel room. “I’ve been to hell and back,” a glamorous and severe Connie explained, telling how a drug treatment had stabilised her manic-depression. “Today I have peace of mind, tranquility and hope for the future.”

  8. Ingrid van Dijk Says:

    I book in the Beatles museum in Alkmaar Netherlands I have him read out in one afternoon and read things that I did not and I’m a long time fan abba.
    you get to see a different side of Agnetha I do not know and knew
    What I do feel naturally gives the whole warm friendly woman who has made it a lot and yet so strong coming out finally felt at rush own I also made it a lot and there are stronger and more independent of particular has become not compare agnetha but goes there because you despite your life experience should always try to stay positive and I have seen that it can pretty well and that a fighter who stands up for herself pretty well written book fascinating.
    lovingly Ingrid van Dijk

  9. CASINO Says:

    CASINO

    As I Am – 10 years on | ABBA Omnibus blog

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