John Fraser starred in films such as Repulsion (1965), El Cid (1961) and Tunes of Glory (1960), and was nominated for a British Academy Award as Best Actor for his performance, opposite Peter Finch,
as Bosie in The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960).
The 50s and early 60s were his golden era. Impossibly good looking, he even at one time had his own fan club which at its height numbered several hundred. As he grew older he became a leading stage actor.
He retired from film-making and TV work in the mid 90s and as of 2005 lives in Italy with his partner of over 25 years, Rod.
In 2004 Fraser released his autobiography, Close Up, which I can say without hesitation is the most amusing and readable set of actor's memoirs I have read. As the actor Richard E. Grant says about them:
'A Supa-candid-gossip-tastic-expo-valid-dose worth of Dirk, Sophia, Bette and Ruby in the sixties. Grab and gobble it!'
Here are just a few of his tales which will give you a flavour of the book:
On Dirk Bogarde and Michael Redgrave:
'Noel Coward was passing the Odeon Leicester Square when he glanced up at the billboard and read -
MICHAEL REDGRAVE and DIRK BOGARDE
THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM
He turned to his companion, and in the bored, clipped syllables that had made his delivery famous, said: "I don't see why not. Everyone else has.'
Once Fraser asked Bogarde what he did for sex and whether he had casual gay affairs. Bogarde replied:
'God, no. How could I possibly in my position? Everyone knows me. I can't go anywhere without being recognised. There's blackmail...the News of the World. I would be ruined...'
On Fraser's lover in the 1960s, Rudolf Nureyev:
'Even his voice was unbearably sexy. And when he got going with the Russian accent, I would defy man, woman and dog not to fall head over heels in love with him. If you're that way inclined.'
'Which I was.'
'Rudy is dead and I am old and nobody cares any more whether a couple of poofs got together forty years ago, or what exactly they got up to.'
On Bette Davis
'She may have been a dragon, but she was still an Empress.'
A thoroughly enjoyable read and highly recommended. Moreover, one really gets to know just what makes an actor tick and how he approaches his craft. Available at amazon.co.uk.