A COUNTRY and western singer from South Tyneside has told of his key role in a centenary celebration of a legendary movie icon’s birth.
Colin Watling has been a lifelong fan of the film star Tyrone Power, who passed away at the age of 44 in 1958 after suffering a heart attack.
Mr Watling recently gave a reading in the US at an event marking 100 years since the actor’s birth.
Power was the star of a string of classic films, including The Mark of Zorro, Blood and Sand, The Black Swan, Prince of Foxes and Witness For The Prosecution.
For several years Mr Watling, of Fieldway, has travelled across to Los Angeles to attend memorial services for the movie legend and retrospective screenings of his films. In the process he has become friends with many members of his family and with some of his famous friends, including Irish starlet Maureen O’Hara.
But his latest pilgrimage to the USA had special significance.
It marked the 100th anniversary of Power’s birth and included a tribute from the US Marines – of which the actor was a member during World War Two.
Mr Watling, a performer inspired by country stars such as Hank Williams, said: “I have been going to the service for last ten years. It was back in 2004 that I first took my daughter Joy.
“My son Shaun has also been across and I have been a guest speaker at the event for the last nine years.
“I remain the only Englishman/Geordie ever to be invited to speak.”
Mr Power’s widow, actress Linda Christian, who Mr Watling got to know well, passed away three years ago.
But he met up with the actor’s two daughters, Romina and Taryn, and with his grandchildren, Tony Sales and Stella Bianca Greendeer, at the centenary events.
Meanwhile, Mr Watling revealed that he has another modern-day movie star in his sights – heartthrob George Clooney.
He explained: “I received a personal message from Maureen O’Hara, which I read out at the service. She starred with Tyrone when he was the biggest romantic star in the world, in 1942’s The Black Swan. She recalled his ‘wicked sense of humour’ and described him as a ‘wonderful man’.
“I also got in touch with George Clooney’s PA just before I flew across to the States. His favourite actor is Tyrone Power and he told Romina Power that he modelled his acting on Tyrone.”