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Hattie: The Authorised Biography of Hattie Jacques [Kindle Edition]

Andy Merriman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For over thirty years Hattie Jacques was a familiar presence on radio (Hancock’s Half Hour), television (60 episodes of Sykes alone) and film (she was a stalwart of the Carry On series). But her stage persona of a buxom, masterful female dragon who, both literally and figuratively, carried all before her (the formidable matron of Carry On, Nurse was a typical role) could hardly have been more at odds with her off-stage personality. Warm, impetuous and generous to a fault, she was almost pathetically grateful for any show of affection and painfully self-conscious about her figure which, she believed, had caused her to be type-cast in comic roles and never given the opportunity to tackle more serious parts.

In 1947, after a tempestuous wartime affair with an American officer, she married the actor John Le Mesurier who was persuaded to divorce her in 1965 – though only after she had moved her chauffeur-lover into the marital home. It was, however typical of her that she actively encouraged Le Mesurier to remarry and the two remained firm friends until her death. Her lover’s subsequent desertion was a bitter blow from which she never fully recovered, though she compensated my involving herself deeply in charity work and becoming a confidante to many of the young actors and actresses with whom she worked.

This biography has been written with the help and encouragement of Hattie’s surviving son and her many friends, including Barbara Windsor, Clive Dunn, Bill Pertwee and John Le Mesurier.

Product Description

Daily Telegraph, 13th October 2007

`first-rate biography...what an altogether good book this is, excellently researched and infused with a love of it's subject. It should be the model for any future studies'

About the Author

Andy Merriman is the son of the legendary radio scriptwriter Eric Merriman and has himself written for both radio and television. His previous books include A Minor Adjustment, a biography of his daughter Sarah, who has Down's syndrome.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 433 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press (1 Sept. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845138171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845138172
  • ASIN: B0089NXAES
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #20,163 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutley Amazed 28 Sept. 2007
I couldn't put in down, fantastic, I never realised she was so unhappy, and having children that were off the rails, or the fact that eric sykes wasn't allowed to go to her funeral. I highly reccomend this book. Read or you really will miss a fantastic insight in to one our best underated comedy actresses of the 20th century.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 3 Oct. 2007
This book was fantastic!

As soon as this book arrived, I started reading it. I read it in two sessions and would have read it in one go if it wasn't for other things getting in the way, such as eating and sleeping.

The book pulls no punches and is pretty warts and all, but you feel as though you get to learn so much about Hattie and her character really shines through.

A defnite must if you are a Carry On/Hancock/Sykes fan, but worth it anyway even if you aren't.

A sympathetic, engrossing read with loads of photos and definetly highly recommended!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A winner! 8 Oct. 2007
This was a fascinating and surprising read. I couldn't put it down! It was both touching and funny, giving real insight into personality, beyond the glamorous world of celebrity. It reveals a hugely likeable, witty, warm, generous, strong character, who was also riddled with insecurities. A very human tale, that will bring about a new level of understanding and appreciation of the Carry On era. Highly recommended!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generous, to a fault 14 Jan. 2008
Hattie Jacques is one of those people whom everyone thinks they know. She has been a constant presence on TV, and her films are endlessly repeated. It's easy to imagine Hattie being warm and generous, kind and big-hearted, but this book brings plenty of surprises and adds a lot of complexity to a woman who is very special to a lot of people.

Hattie was totally generous. Over-generous, in fact. The book is full of of her smothering and spoiling her friends and family, even installing an intercom in her home so that her children's friends could order meals from her whenever they liked.

Hattie needed to be loved, surrounding herself with friends, and embarking on a series of ill-advised love affairs. I could only agree with Joan Sims, calling Hattie "a goer"! Details of Hattie's affairs and the break-up of her marriage are utterly gripping, and the story of the younger man for whom she left husband John Le Mesurier is shocking. Hattie's life was filled with love and laughter, but the loneliness and sadnesses that affected her left me feeling quite moved.

Towards the end of the book, with her health failing, Hattie was able to predict her imminent death. Her declining health, crumbling working relationship with Eric Sykes, family problems, and the impact of her death on poor Joan Sims, all add darkness to the story of a much-loved comedy heroine.

Thoroughly recommended, this book is a real insight into a woman who was taken for granted personally just as she was professionally.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Peter Wade VINE VOICE
"No, no, matron. I was once a weak man," .... "Once a week's enough for any man,"

I first remember seeing Hattie Jacques as the medical officer in the first Carry on film Carry on sergeant. I was reminded that she was in my other favourite film of the time Square Peg with Norman Wisdom.

She was a well known actress well before my time as she was Sophie Tuckshop in ITMA and was Griselda Pugh being Hancock's secretary in Hancock's half hour which I do remember.

I knew something of her life as if had come out that when she was married to John Le Mesurier that she took a lover and moved him into the matrimonial home whilst John was still there. Before I read this book Hattie Jacques as a sex symbol was an unlikely thought as we of course became mesmerised by her size but she had a very glamorous face. She was sensitive about her weight and the writers accommodated that over the years. She always wanted to play straight parts not just large battle axes but she got typecast in the carry on films.

You can imagine le Mesurier taking it in his stride and pretending that it wasn't really happening. As one of his sons said he should have got a BAFTA for vagueness. It was a role he was very good at.

I like show biz memoirs that actually tell you something and I was interested to note that she did not like Norman Wisdom who always presents himself as a lovable chap , she found Wisdom difficult and self centred in Square Peg. Later sadly her sons would not allow Eric Sykes to come to her funeral as they felt he had treated her badly in her latter years.

She epitomised the Matron to the extent that when the public were asked for the most famous British nurses they came up with Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell and Hattie Jacques.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly enjoyable 4 Jan. 2008
By dunny
andy merriman's biography manages to entertain and inform whilst giving deep insight of a complex personality.
There is a great deal of detail, career history etc, which helps to put the subject in context.
Hattie's warmth and generosity are demonstrated, as well as her insecurities and shortcomings.
A facinating guide to the world of "Carry-On" and "Sykes",as well as the halycon days of radio comedy.
Incredibly well researched, and written in a highly readable style.
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