Everything You See I Owe to Spaghetti Just one of

Everything You See I Owe to Spaghetti: Just one of Sophia Loren's many confidences—before she invited him to kiss her—in screenwriter Stanley Price's high-profile, gossip-filled memoir

BOOK OF THE WEEK

My lunch with Marilyn and other stories

by Stanley Price (Sandycove £14.99, 208 pages)

In earlier times on duty, when I met Olivia de Havilland in Paris, Barry Humphries in a vintage car museum, or Maureen Lipman in the Amazon, such sacred animals became my friends that never occurred to me. I don't mind if in print was rude or indiscreet about it. Barbara Windsor even let me share her foot bath.

There was a time when the appeal of journalism was meeting celebrities alone. Stanley Price, who died in 2019 at the age of 88, was another old-school hacker who was fortunate to work at a time without the interference or burdens of regulators and lawyers who insisted on confidentiality agreements signed in triplicate apply today Make everyone with Z-list status and above tiringly cautious and controlling.

Star power: Sophia Loren and Stanley Price met in Wales on the set of Arabesque

Stars now expect approval for text, headlines and photos. But when Stanley worked in the entertainment department at Life magazine and other publications, he could just pick up the phone and invite anyone to lunch.

For example, Mandy Rice-Davies approached him. Mandy, a model from Wales, was Christine Keeler's clever friend and herself played a role in the Profumo scandal in 1962. When Lord Astor denied having an affair with her, Mandy told the judge: 'He would, wouldn't he?'. A rejoinder now found in the Oxford Book Of Quotations.

Stanley accompanied Mandy to a photo shoot where she was supposed to dress in an 18th century prostitute's outfit. The magazine's owner was Michael Heseltine, who decided to be present to “keep an eye” on his investment. There was some urgent discussion with photographer Terence Donovan, who turned away from Heseltine and said: “Mandy, darling, bite some more of the knockers!”

Mandy eventually ran a nightclub in Tel Aviv and “directed a Ray Cooney farce in Hebrew,” said Stanley, who was himself Jewish and grew up in Dublin.

During national service he was a sergeant in the Army Educational Corps and then studied history at Cambridge. His parents were initially disappointed and hoped that Stanley had trained to be a doctor. “Your son will be an educated man,” one of the dons said to Stanley’s father, who took this as reassurance. (I'm an educated man – that won't get you anywhere.)

Stanley watched Churchill's state funeral on television in the company of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, both of whom wept profusely while drinking champagne. Burton wore cufflinks given to him by Churchill – he watched the Welsh actor's performance at the Old Vic and came backstage to use the toilet.

In Cuba, Stanley's lunch with Graham Greene was interrupted by “a strange, accidental burst of machine gun fire.” Greene was “extremely friendly” and keen to obtain information about Havana prostitutes by using their services.

A better title would have been

A better title would have been “I Didn't Really Have Lunch With Marilyn” (pictured in a restaurant in the 1950s).

My Lunch With Marilyn And Other Stories is screenwriter Stanley Price's high-profile, gossipy memoir

My Lunch With Marilyn And Other Stories is screenwriter Stanley Price's high-profile, gossipy memoir

Stanley worked on Arabesque, where Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren (pictured on set) are chased across the Crumlin Viaduct in Wales

Stanley worked on Arabesque, where Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren (pictured on set) are chased across the Crumlin Viaduct in Wales

Stanley should have introduced the writer to his friend Lady Jeanne Campbell, the former wife of Norman Mailer and stepdaughter of the Duchess of Argyll, who was rumored to have slept with three presidents within a few months – Kennedy, Khrushchev and Fidel Castro (the last two were married by her daughter vehemently denied).

Eventually, Stanley branched out, publishing novels, writing plays, and becoming a screenwriter in Hollywood, where the motto was, “If you have money, anything is for sale.”

He worked on Arabesque, where Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren are chased across the Crumlin Viaduct in Wales. Although Stanley wrote the script, “he and the crew never fully understood the plot.” Loren told him, “Everything you see is thanks to Spaghetti.” Stanley was invited to kiss her, but unfortunately her face was plastered with latex makeup.

In contrast, Anthony Quinn was only armored in his own stupid ego. He wanted everything about a forgotten epic called “Caravans,” made in Iran, rewritten to inflate his role. Quinn slammed his fist on the table, punched the furniture, and continued like a madman. “Do you think this is an end for me? Die? I never die in my films!'

The older Stewart Granger was equally vain, expecting the Scotland Yard inspector he played to end up in bed with the young heroine (Susan Hampshire).

It was Stanley's job to explain to Granger that this was an unsavory suggestion – “I mumbled something about the exigencies of the plot.”

Stanley lived in Muswell Hill, north London, but that wasn't without drama either. His neighbor was Dennis Nilsen, who clogged the drains with the remains of his murder victims. Kate Adie was out for weeks making television appearances. The main impact on Stanley was that his house was unsaleable for 17 years.

Not even TV actress Liza Goddard and her then-husband, pop star Alvin Stardust, were interested. Maureen Lipman says in the foreword that Stanley was “learned, emotional, wry, funny and intellectual.”

Marilyn tastes cake in the cafeteria of the 2nd Infantry Division's Headquarters Company near Seoul

Marilyn tastes cake in the cafeteria of the 2nd Infantry Division's Headquarters Company near Seoul

Loren told him, “I owe everything you see to spaghetti” (file image)

Loren told him, “I owe everything you see to spaghetti” (file image)

And while these qualities come through again and again in this book, it has to be said that Stanley's lunch with Marilyn was rather inconsequential. His job was to pick her up from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, and he found her nervous, completely confused.

“I don't know why I agreed to this crazy lunch,” she muttered. The luncheon was upstairs in the Time-Life building on Sixth Avenue. The host was Henry Luce, the billionaire panjandrum whose magazines dominated U.S. popular culture in the days before television.

Marilyn was feted with oysters, caviar and champagne – she was a perfect example of Luce's belief that readers wanted “provocative trivia” about glamorous celebrities. Stanley sat silently at the other end of the table, miles below the salt.

So a better title would have been “I Didn’t Really Have Lunch With Marilyn.” Stanley had lost her on the way to the elevator. She strolled away through the corridors. Eventually she was discovered with the ladies, pocketing a mysterious pill.

Pharmaceutically enhanced, she transformed into Marilyn. “She looked almost like her promotional photos,” with her scarf and dark glasses. “Thank you for taking care of me,” Marilyn whispered flirtatiously to Stanley, who was weak in the knees.