Friday, 9 March 2018


 . . .MARSH was only twenty one when she made the film, but she privately expressed later that she had an emotional age of about ten at the time . . .

LONG BEFORE actress CAROL MARSH became known for her famous role in Hammer films, 'DRACULA' in 1958. Marsh started as an English film actress, and known for winning the astounding role of Rose, in the 1947 British block buster 'BRIGHTON ROCK', which also starred actor, Ricard Attenborough. MARSH won the role of gullible 'Rose', after thousands auditioned for the role. MARSH was only twenty one when she made the film, but she privately expressed later that she had an emotional age of about ten at the time, and was 'preyed upon' during the filming: She once shared, ‘People were very, very cruel. Why didn’t they just leave me alone?....I’ve never seen the film and I couldn’t bear to….All I’ve seen are when I’ve been sitting at home and clips come on the TV. I was riveted by one shot of me running down the Pier and saying ‘Pinkie!’ I thought, My God what a sweet little girl. So naturally sweet. . . . . .’

THESE ON SET photographs were taken for publicity. MAYBE one or two would have been intended for NEWSPAPERS or FILM MAGAZINE features? It never happened. These were never used. NOW showing both MARSH and ATTENBOROUGH OUT of character and taking advice from DIRECTOR JOHN BOULTON and enjoying the beach and the sea. TRUTHFULLY, DESPITE MARSH"s relaxed and committed appearance . .  she much later shared that she felt angry, frightened and worried. A position as an actress and a single woman, she would never quite understand or change . . .

CAROL was only 20 when she read for the part with the producer John Boulting and the star of the film, Richard Attenborough. As the impressionable young woman who falls for and marries the vicious small-time gangster Pinkie Brown (played by Attenborough), Carol Marsh turned in a performance of powerful pathos. The close of Graham Greene's novel, in which Rose returns home looking forward to listening to Pinkie's recorded "love letter", has been called one of the great harrowing finales of 20th-century English literature. As we can see in the VIDEO CLIP ABOVE, before ATTENBOROUGH's Pinkie is killed falling from the pier, he records a message for the doting, oblivious MARSH's Rose in a "make-your-own-record" booth: "You wanted a recording of my voice, well here it is. What you want me to say is, 'I love you'. Well, I don't. I hate you, you little slut... But actually, the film differs from Green's book in that, when Rose plays the record, the needle "sticks" – and she hears only "I love you", repeated over and over again.

CAROL MARSH was born Norma Lilian Simpson on May 10 1926 in Southgate, North London, the daughter of an architect and surveyor. She was educated at a convent school in Hammersmith, where she often performed in school plays. Her first desire was to sing, and she won a £7-a-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she studied speech and drama, with singing as a second subject. 

LATER MARSH went on to the Rank Charm School before joining Rank's repertory company at Worthing, where her performances in As You Like It and White Heather won high praise.

AFTER BRIGHTON ROCK,  . . for which she changed her name to Carol Marsh . . she dyed her hair platinum for the title role in Alice in Wonderland (1949) (ABOVE) . In the same year she was in three comedies: Marry Me, Helter Skelter, and The Romantic Age, (BELOW) in which she appeared with Mai Zetterling and Petula Clark.


MARSH WAS THE FRAGILE, delicate yet ghoulishly determined Lucy, Christopher Lee's ill-fated victim, in the 1958 Hammer production of 'Dracula', (ABOVE) the first colour version of Bram Stoker's classic. In the 1951 film of 'Scrooge', with Alistair Sim in the title role, Carol Marsh played the old skinflint's sister Fan, who dies giving birth to his nephew, Fred.


CAROL CAREER continued into the 1960s with films such as Man Accused and parts in television dramas, among them 'THE ADVENTURES OF SIR LANCELOT' (ABOVE) and Dixon of Dock Green. In the 1970s she appeared in the record-breaking West End play THE MOUSETRAP (BELOW). . . playing MOLLIE RALSTON, again character with a young minded role . . 

MARSH HAD MADE HER television debut in 1950 in The Lady's Not For Burning, starring Richard Burton and Alec Clunes. She was Miranda in a children's version of The Tempest, and Alexandra in Little Foxes (both 1951). She featured in the 1959 Trollope serial The Eustace Diamonds, playing Augusta Fawn, and was Mrs Blacklow in the Arnold Bennett serial Lord Raingo of 1966. . . .all productions were again, as ever, she could play a role that she could understand, STILL being a person, she felt, had a YOUNG emotional age and now, experience. Sadly now, many of those productions, hold little or NO photographs, archive footage or publicity written material.  

FROM 1966 until 1979, Carol was busier on radio, and was a member of the BBC Drama Rep . Even though she had always encouraged photographs, interviews and making herself seen before this time, now in life, Carol Marsh shunned all interviews and publicity. So it was surprising,  when she was reached her sixties, the journalist Nigel Richardson traced and interviewed her for his travel book Breakfast in Brighton (1996)

"People kept telling me, 'When the next film comes out you'll be a star forever!'," she told Richardson. "But it never happened." By then she was living a reclusive life in Bloomsbury, "....with no one to please and no one to hurt me". When Richardson praised her luminous performance in Brighton Rock, she replied that the thought of how good she might have been, "crucified" her: "I've never seen the film and I couldn't bear to."

NOTE: It seems that after her first film, 'BRIGHTON ROCK' Carol lived and worked in a shadow of disappointment. Some how her experience, after working on that film, made her feel she had missed the opportunity of better work, that she could have been a star! She thought that as a person, her lack of maturity, and how she HAD to PLAY roles, had crushed her chance. She thought no potential would now come her way, after making BRIGHTON ROCK. So for the majority of her career, and certainly in the later years, she thought anyone wanting to interview her, was mistaken, that she didn't possess what the public and fans, thought she had. When Marsh appeared as Lucy in Hammer films, DRACULA, to her it was just another role, but one she felt she COULD play. LUCY was young, innocent, simple minded. EXACTLY how CAROL saw herself. From around 1966, when Hammer produced their second Christopher Lee  DRACULA film, with DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, a keen interest started in the FIRST DRACULA from 1958, and her role became part of the pattern of publicity. MARSH never understood the impression and influence she had achieved. For many fans, her performance in the role of Lucy, was one of the great highlights of the film, and MARSH was highly respected for that. An opinion she never understood or believed.

FOOTNOTE: IN THE EARLY 1990's, I attended a convention, purely out of fun. I was now working in the industry myself, no longer managing PCAS, but going along to introduce my children to the fun, films and performers, that had entertained me at their age. They too had a few copies of the Hammer films and enjoyed them very much. This event was open for the day, in London with several actors, actresses and connections with Hammer films and fantasy tv shows. It was for us, a few hours, while waiting to attend a theatre production, that a few of my friends were starring in. After an hour my sons and daughter went off and looked up some magazines, they hoped connected with STAR WARS, I took a break and went to make a telephone call, in the reception area. Sat by a phone shelf, was a woman who told me, the phone was free.  She had just used it and was now waiting for a taxi to arrive, that she had called. I asked her, had she been enjoying the convention, did she arrive early that morning, to meet some of the big names. She told me she had only been there half an hour, and was now leaving, that it wasn't right for her...! It was only then, when I made eye contact with her, and saw her NAME BADGE, I released she wasn't a fan or a visitor at all, she was one of the GUESTS! It was CAROL MARSH. I could sense her annoyance, she was ready to leave. 'I haven't really made anything that would interest anyone here. I thought it was a ridiculous idea, to come along' Before, I could say anything, she looked past me, smiled and nodded with relief. 'Lovely, it's my taxi!  I timed it right. Timing has never been my gift. It was bad enough with BRIGHTON, but when I fell down the hole as ALICE, I REALLY did fall. My chance in my career was over. Mr Fisher was gentleman, not that anyone would know or remember THAT role here!' She picked her handbag off the floor, took out her purse for her taxi fair. 'Well, I hope you have a nice time here...'At that point my two sons and daughter, joined me. My son showing me a FAMOUS FILMS issue two magazine, that he had just bought for ten pounds, which featured an entire photo script of every shot from the 1958, DRACULA...starring, CAROL MARSH.  'Dad, look Hammer's DRACULA 1958!, he cheered. 'Yes..' said CAROL, 'Peter Cushing was lovely! He loved children. Oh, my isn't taxi driving off is it??'' My son was still flicking through the photo pages, 'This is great, Dad. Look photos of LUCY the vampire girl! Was she a girl? She seemed really young! How old was that actress?'. I turned around towards CAROL and the front door,  she didn't turn to us . . . . four steps and she was gone.

 Marcus Brooks.

REMEMBER! IF YOU LIKE what you see here at our website, you'll  love our daily themed posts at our PCAS FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.  Just click that blue LINK and click LIKE when you get there, and help us . . Keep The Memory Alive!. The Peter Cushing Appreciation Society website, facebook fan page and youtube channel are managed, edited and written by Marcus Brooks, PCAS coordinator since 1979. PCAS is based in the UK and USA

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