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Shields’ woman’s brush with Hollywood star

Bonar Colleano.
Bonar Colleano.

I really do appreciate you getting in touch with me – via phone, email, letter and social media – your feedback and wonderful memories are much appreciated.

So I was thrilled to hear again from Mrs Dorothy Wilson, who wrote: “Here I go again, with another story about Binns, in South Shields.

“It was 1953, I was 16 years old, still in the basement hardware department when, through the grape vine, I heard that there was a film star in the store.

“Bonar Colleano was in the hairdressing department.

“He was doing a promotion at the Odeon Cinema, in King Street, for a film” reveals Dorothy, who lives in Whitburn.

“So I asked all the shop staff did anybody need a new cheque book, the office was near hairdressing department, on the top floor.

“One assistant did, so it was my chance to try and see Bonar.

“So off I went up the stairs, two at a time. I got to the second-floor ladies fashions and the next thing – I was in Bonar’s arms. Wow!

“In my mad-dash I wasn’t looking where I was going.

“‘Are you okay, I’m sorry sir’ I said, ‘it was my fault’.

“I was really thrilled but who would believe me, not a soul in sight for me to brag about, but I’ll never forget it, never.

“He was so handsome and tanned.

“I’m sure the film he was promoting was a war story, called The Sea Shall Not Have Them.

“He died very young, 34 years. He was married to film star Susan Shaw, who played the daughter to Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison in The Huggets Family.

“I’ll never forget Bona Colleano, my first Hollywood film star crush, even after all these years.”

l Meanwhile, June Mullen wrote: “I was reading the Gazette about new Green Street’s Christmas lights, in 1968.

“I just lived five minutes away from those shops.

“My mam worked in the fish shop in that street. I used to go into The Orient Shop, it sold lovely curry crisps. “My mam won a lovely bone china tea set with little red rosebuds on it.

“I used to go into a shop called Cuthbert’s Stores sweet shop, three sisters used to run it.

“ Then there was Bedlingtons newsagent shop. I was 17 at the time, I watched those Christmas decorations going up. The street was very festive. I was at those shops every day.

“Then the street deteriorated until the shops were demolished.

“It was a busy little street, they had Duncan’s grocery shop, there was a fruit shop called Doris West, that’s where customers used to meet for a cup of tea. Very happy memories.”

June Mullen,

Glenthorpe House,

South Shields.

l Further to Wavis O’Shave’s wonderful tribute to the late David Bowie, a number of people have left comments on Facebook.

Wendy Shepherd states: “I’ve just found out that my hubby saw him in concert in 1987 at Roker Park, with Big Country as his support act.”

Karen Doran comments: “My mam, Pauline Roseberry, went to see him 43 years ago at the City Hall... here’s her ticket.”

l By the way, can anyone shed any light on the time dancer, mime artist, choreographer, teacher and actor Lindsay Kemp lived in South Shields?

As Wavis revealed, Kemp was Bowie’s mime artist.

Please get in touch if you knew Kemp or were taught 
by him.

l As promised yesterday, I have included two illustrations on the page, both relating to workingmen’s clubs.

One was sent to local film-maker Gary Wilkinson by Will Binks, and shows his father’s CIU membership card, the other is a black and white clubland advert taken from the Shields Gazette from 1974.