Well here we are again for another ramble down Memory Lane, but before that it was interesting to read that a company is seeking investors to build a huge new film and television studio in Borehamwood. If it comes to reality it will occupy about 70 acres and be the largest in the UK. The plan is to site it next to the already approved massive Sky Elstree Studios and just yards from the site of the old MGM Studios.

Back in 1948 the Hollywood star Spencer Tracy travelled to Borehamwood to make the first MGM film at their newly reopened studio. It was called Edward My Son but alas Spencer was miscast and the film flopped. His co-star Deborah Kerr once told me she enjoyed making the movie with him but felt it could have been better.

Spencer had started his film career in the early 1930s and by 1941 was earning $5,000 a week. By 1942 he was due to meet the person who would become his constant unofficial companion for the rest of his life. Her name was Katie Hepburn. When I was being shown around the MGM Studios in Los Angeles by an old veteran he pointed to some steps leading into the restaurant. He told me: "This is where Katie and Spence bumped into each other for the first time.

"Katie commented 'I look forward to acting with you shortly but I hope I am not too tall for you,' to which he replied with a smile 'Don't worry, I will cut you down to size'."

Spencer was married and had a son who was born deaf, which greatly upset him. He and his wife lived apart but remained friends and never divorced, although he had several affairs with his leading ladies. He was also a chronic alcoholic, which caused problems at MGM. The veteran told me he would vanish on week-long benders and sometimes smash up bars. The studio was able to hush things up in those days.

Everyone who worked with Spencer said he had that very rare quality of appearing to be so natural on screen that you never saw him acting, which is a difficult talent to master. He was the first actor to be awarded two Best Actor Oscars back to back, and was nominated nine times.

Sadly, off screen he never seemed to enjoy life, which was probably why he drank so heavily and which resulted in him being sacked by MGM after 20 years under contract.

By the 1960s his health was failing and he was virtually retired and living with Katie. Then in 1967 he was persuaded to make one last film called Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, starring Sidney Poitier and Katie. He was only allowed to work three hours a day but turned in a great performance. You should watch the movie, which is very moving. Just over two weeks after completing the film he was dead from a massive heart attack. Katie later recalled that he could never sleep and she heard him get up about 3am and go to the kitchen. She heard a cup breaking and a heavy thud before finding him dead.

She left the house so that the press would report he died alone to avoid even then announcing they were living together. She did not attend his funeral so as not to embarrass his widow and children.

In his day Spencer Tracy was a big star, but like many from that golden era of Hollywood his star has faded with the passage of time and many younger readers will not know his films.

Until next time we wander down Memory Avenue via Dead Man's Gulch and into the world of yesteryear remember, nostalgia never dies.

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