With the news of the passing of Diana Rigg today, I thought I would tell you of a time when her world and mine intersected.
It was December, 1974 and I had a week’s leave. I hopped on a C-141 at Rhein-Main, and poodled over to Mildenhall Air Base to take a train into London.
And wandering around at night, what should I do?
Well, I thought, one can’t go to London without at least seeing one play.
So I wandered around for a bit in the theater district.
The choice was like Times Square in New York – so many offerings.
I had a strong desire to see Oh! Calcutta! – it was the play of the day with nudity! Lots of nudity! Something of interest to a 24 year old Army soldier. In fact, I think that is all anyone will remember of the play 40 years later.
But I finally came to this theater and it called out to me…Culture won over nudity. I thought, if I will see one play in London, what better play is there but G.B. Shaw’s classic about a poor flower girl in Victorian London being transformed into a “lady” by Professor Henry Higgins?
Diana Rigg as Eliza Doolittle…She is 2nd in from the left.
It was standing room only – apparently it was the play to see in London at the time. Which was just as well, because (a) I was in jeans and a ski parka and I really wasn’t dressed for the theater and (b) as an E-4 didn’t have a lot of money in my pocket.
I think they charged me a few pounds (3?) and for the next couple of hours I stood in the back mesmerized by Diana and her cast members.
Apparently Diana was a good human being too.
“For half her life, Diana was the most beautiful woman in the room but she was what used to be called a trooper,” he said in a statement. “She went to work with her sleeves rolled up and a smile for everyone.”
The world has lost another good one.
H/T to Orpo1.