Monday, January 27, 2014


Jacqueline FilmPoster.jpegWhen I was hovering on the edge of puberty—and maybe a little bit further than that—I was much taken with a girl called Jacqueline Ryan.

I had met her through the acting school that my sister, Maxine, had attended—and she was the first of several young actresses that I was infatuated with.  Let me rephrase: lusted after (excluding Jacqueline—we were a little young at the time).

One, Liz Davis, became a girlfriend over quite a number of years—and then re-emerged as my uncle’s lover. To say I was mind-boggled doesn’t come close—but, to be fair, he, Godfrey Quigley, a successful actor and producer,wasn’t a blood relation.  He was married to my stepfather’s sister, Genevieve. After they divorced, he and Liz lived together—very happily—for many years. After he died of Alzheimer’s, Liz—having announced what she was going to do—committed suicide despite considerable efforts to prevent her doing so. When she had said that she couldn’t live without Godfrey, she had meant just that. Along with many others, I was devastated.

One eluded me near completely (we had some pleasant moments).

The third was my first: Jacqueline. I’m not sure we even kissed.

It may feel good to be the king—but it’s a great thing to have a sister who is an actress. It speeds up the whole introduction process.

My relationship with Jacqueline was entirely innocent—though if it had lasted a little longer it certainly would not have been. Unfortunately, Jacqueline’s mother had exquisite good timing—and whipped Jacqueline away just at the transition point.

Damn the woman!

I doubt I was the reason. Both my mother and Jacqueline’s had daughters of the same age—and both were trying to achieve their own theatrical ambitions through them. They were friends who came to loathe each other. 

My mother was the more charismatic. Jacqueline’s mother, Phyllis Ryan, was the more financially focused and the better businesswoman. In fact, she went on to become one of Ireland’s most successful theatrical producers. That development didn’t do much to enhance my sister Maxine’s acting career—though she became extremely successful on the radio.

To my consternation, Jacqueline—after starring in a movie with John Gregson (a major British movie star at the time) simply vanished. I heard later that she had quarreled with her mother and gone to work in the UK prison service. 

True or false? I have no idea. But it’s such a ridiculous story, it may be true.

She was a good friend; and her photo kept me going when I was away at boarding school.

You can Google the movie JACQUELINE. It was made in 1956 in Belfast, Northern Ireland—and it’s in Wikipedia (and other locations).

Here is what Wikipedia says about Phyllis Ryan:

Phyllis Ryan (27 July 1920 – 6 June 2011) was an Irish actress and theatrical producer.

Wanting to get into theatre management, she launched Orion Productions in 1956. In 1958 came Gemini Productions, based for many years in Dublin's Eblana Theatre in the Busarus. A tiny theatre, famously without wings, it was open from 17 September 1959 until 1995.

Ryan was in the 1960s and 1970s the major producer of new plays in Ireland outside of the Abbey Theatre. Phyllis Ryan and her Gemini Productions kept independent theatre alive in Dublin and premièred most of the work of playwright John B. Keane. The playwrights – Brian Friel, Joe O'Donnell, Tom Murphy and others – that Gemini nurtured were later adopted by the Abbey and other theatres.[1]

She wrote and published her memoirs, The Company I Kept, in 1996.

My mother regarded Phyllis as something of a bitch. Perhaps so—but  Irish theater owes her a great debt of gratitude—and she deserves a longer more detailed entry in Wiki.

I’d do the deed, but I just don’t know enough. 

I would just like to know where Jacqueline is. Good friends are sorely missed, and hard to come by.

A kiss—albeit a little late—would would seem appropriate after near sixty years.





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