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Friday, 25 November 2016

My Kinda Gal: I Stopped Typing for a Bump on the Stairs with Sarah Miles

Above: Screenwriter Robert Bolt at his Olympia in 1966.
Below: A much older and feebler Bolt with his wife Sarah Miles (they married twice). A fall down the stairs by Miles in 1967 fall didn't disrupt Bolt's typewriting.
In 1967, English actress Sarah Miles decided to marry screenwriter Robert Bolt, based purely on Bolt's single-minded devotion to his Olympia semi-portable typewriter. Now there's one sensible lady!
Miles and Bolt were living together when Miles took a tumble down the stairs. "Robert was typing in the sitting room and I fell down harshly, bang, and twisted my ankle," Miles recalled. "His typewriter never changed rhythm and I thought, ‘This is the man I'm going to marry'. Until then I'd been suffocated by men." Miles said she was attracted to Bolt's implacable self-discipline and dedication to work - and to his typewriter.
Miles with Irish actor Cyril Cusack, my one-time housemate.
Miles, who turns 75 at the end of this year, played Patricia in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up (1966) and Vera in Joseph Losey's The Servant (1963). But she is probably best remembered for her Oscar-nominated title role as Rosy Ryan in the 1970 David Lean movie Ryan's Daughter, written by Bolt. It was filmed on Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry in Ireland. A few years ago I returned to Dingle and followed Miles' footsteps down Coumeenoole Beach there. But it was by no means the closest I'd ever come to this delectable and quite fascinating lady. I used to share a house in Dublin with Irish actor Cyril Cusack (the house belonged to his ex-wife), a close friend of John Mills, who won an Oscar for his role as the simpleton Michael in Ryan's Daughter. Miles once visited Cusack and I encountered her on the stairs - I DID disrupt my typing to do so, but she DIDN'T take a tumble!
Above, Miles as Rosy Ryan on Coumeenoole Beach at Dingle in Ryan's Daughter. Below, me looking down on Inch Strand in 2010. Below that is Australian actor Leo McKern playing Ryan, at the wedding of his "daughter" [Miles] to Robert Mitchum.
Bolt (1924-95) wrote and directed the 1972 film Lady Caroline Lamb, in which Miles played the eponymous heroine, the lover of Lord Byron and wife of William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (later Prime Minister). He also wrote the screenplays for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Man for All Seasons, the last two of which won him Oscars.
In 1979 Bolt suffered a severe heart attack and stroke which left paralysed down the right side of his body. He could not walk or talk for two years, and he was never able to use his typewriter again. He replaced the Olympia with a word processor and taught himself to tap out screenplays with his left hand.

2 comments:

Taylor Harbin said...

My gosh, typing anything left-handed is a nightmare, but typing a screenplay? With all of its formatting demands? That's like Sisyphus rolling the bolder up the mountain! Kudos to that gentleman.

David Lawrence said...

Ah, Sarah Miles! One of the greats, no, on her own, unique, totally unique! Quite amazing autobiography(s) too! "To my two husbands, Robert Bolt"