Can you believe we are now in September and another year is rapidly passing, but hold on to the wreckage as we are off on another walk down Memory Lane and an excuse for me to name drop once again.

I was lucky enough to know a great actor who lived locally in Arkley named Trevor Howard, whom older readers and film fans will remember from Brief Encounter, Mutiny On The Bounty, Von Ryan's Express and many other movies up until his death in 1988. I also knew his actress wife, the lovely Helen Cherry. When Trevor died he had a simple funeral at the Hendon crematorium attended by friends but as I recall no fellow stars. At the end of the service we filed past his coffin to the sounds of his favourite jazz music and then to his local pub The Gate at Arkley to toast his memory in alcohol, as he would have wished.

Helen asked me to arrange a memorial service for him at the 'actors' church' in Covent Garden, which was then run by the former vicar of St Nicholas Church in Elstree, whom I knew. The arrangements were in hand and we about to start sending out invites when Helen told me to cancel the event. She felt guilty as Trevor had attended David Niven's memorial and afterwards said to her 'never do that for me'. I thought it was a pity not to celebrate his career but we all understood. It was a pleasure to invite Helen back to Elstree Studios a few years later to unveil a plaque honouring her husband, but alas she is no longer with us.

Now comes more name dropping. In the early 1970s Trevor made a film with the legendary but then faded Hollywood star Lana Turner and he agreed to introduce me to her during filming at I think Shepperton Studios or was it Arkley golf course, which I think was used as a location. I was young and in awe at meeting a star from Hollywood's golden era. Lana was a lot shorter than I had imagined, as were many leading ladies of that era, but I thought looked still wonderful. I must have said something similar because somewhere in storage is a 10 x 8 photo of her, albeit I suspect through a soft focus lens, signed to me with the extra words 'you are a cute young man'. Okay, before you laugh this was 50 years ago!

Lana made two films at the old MGM Studios at Borehamwood in the 1950s. In one she co-starred with newcomer Sean Connery, who ended up in a fist fight with her then gangster boyfriend in the dressing room corridor at the studio. The boyfriend was stabbed to death back in a Hollywood mansion with only Lana and her daughter present not long after. That is a tale for another day. She also starred at the Borehamwood studio with the legendary Clark Gable. Back in the 1940s Lana had a reputation of sleeping with her male co-stars and Clark also liked to stray, even though he was married to the love of his life, fellow star Carole Lombard. Some old Hollywood veterans told me that sadly resulted in the plane crash that killed Lombard but sadly I am out of space, so until next time keep well.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios