Indian brave, courtesan, slave and the world’s loudest snorer: MANY LIVES: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY STEPHANIE BEACHAM
Indian brave, courtesan, slave and the world’s loudest snorer
MANY LIVES: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY STEPHANIE BEACHAM (Hay House £15.99)
Spiritual Side: Actress Stephanie Beacham
It takes a while to get into this book, because first you have to navigate your way through a prologue and not just one but two forewords, the first by the author’s 11-year-old grandson, who reveals that Stephanie Beacham went green at 4 a.m. without makeup is skin, witch-like hair and gives him nightmares. But it’s worth the wait, because uniquely for an autobiography, you don’t just get a lonely life, you get loads of it.
Stephanie is one of those people (usually old actresses living in California) that has lived before. The visit to Versailles brought back her time as a courtesan during the Ancien Régime; As she traveled Egypt, she reminisced about being an Israelite slave. In the Wild West, she was an old Indian woman with aching feet. Once, while taking mescaline, she looked in a mirror and saw her former incarnation as a South American Indian.
She has always had a spiritual side. At her convent school in North London, little non-Catholic Stephanie spent so many hours looking at a statue of the Virgin Mary that teachers contacted her parents and told her she was ready for conversion.
She’s also had her fair share of paranormal experiences. After an operation, she “died” and found herself floating above her bed as she was led to a bright light by four Franciscan friars. She was brought back to life only to find herself minutes away from having a permanent colostomy bag fitted. Luckily, a friend advised her to imagine a wounded kitten in her tummy, which did the trick; Stephanie let the wind go and the bag wasn’t necessary. phew!
Another time, while trying out a “personal healing, diagnostic and wellness system” originated by extraterrestrials, she had a vision prodding of a French doctor who looked a lot like Hercule Poirot.
Onstage in “Masterclass,” she played Maria Callas (“What David Beckham was to football, Maria Callas was to opera”), the dead diva appeared next to her and began chattering in Greek in her ear. Stephanie was so shocked that she couldn’t speak for two days.
Unfortunately – or maybe eerily – Maria chose her left ear. Stephanie has always been deaf in her right side, a handicap she fought valiantly to become a respected stage actress, as well as on television in Tenko, the Colbys and as another notch on Ken Barlow’s bedpost in Corrie to play. She also appeared on the big screen alongside Marlon Brando in his worst film. Apparently, Brando was smitten with mouthwash. On Celebrity Big Brother, her snoring was so loud it was sold as a ringtone on eBay.
Stephanie is a postmodernist writer who eschews a conventional, chronological account of her 64 years and leaves the reader with the puzzle task of piecing together arbitrarily dotted — and dotty — facts. She joined RADA, married actor John McEnery, had two daughters, was divorced and was a single mother living on poached eggs and spinach.
This would be the perfect Christmas present for someone who likes books by lovely and wacky old actresses but already owns all of Shirley MacLaine’s works.