Me and the Bengals and a man named Benny

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Two years after arriving in Canada in the late Sixties, I joined The Windsor Star newspaper just across the river from Detroit and discovered American football. In the office, aside from the sportswriters, the most avid sports fans were sub-eidtors on the copy desk, which was known as the rim. The most avid was a dimunitve chap named Benny Grant who also was a devoted gambler.  Continue reading

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When John Williams asked for me …

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – In 2000, John Williams, who turns 90 today, was named ‘Maestro of the Year’ at ShoWest in Las Vegas. He agreed to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter tied to that with one proviso. He wanted me to the interview.  Continue reading

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On music and human suffering …

By Ray Bennett

After I posted on Facebook the image above, which I took on a visit to Auschwitz, Argentinian composer Daniel Tarrab, a friend of mine, sent me a note that read, ‘I’ve seen your post today. It really moved me.’

He noted that his Jewish ancestors were expelled from Spain in 1492 and said, ‘That means I should be Spanish instead of Argentinian.’

The stark image I published on Holocaust Memorial Day brought to mind the extraordinary documentaries that Steven Spielberg sponsored to mark the tenth anniversary of his Oscar-winning picture ‘Schindler’s List’. Continue reading

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‘Windmills’ and ‘Fields’ in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Lyricists Marilyn Bergman, who died today aged 93, and her husband Alan Bergman won the best-song Oscar in 1969 with Michel Legrand for ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ from ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ but they owed a debt to the Beatles. Continue reading

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Betty White on her TV shows, love of animals and a good pun

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Betty White loves a good pun. At least, she did when I had lunch with her when she was on ‘The Golden Girls’ in the mid-Eighties. This was her favourite at the time: Why are protestors always allowed a way out in north-east Spain? Because you should never put all your Basques in one exit.

This comes to mind as today will see publication of a book by my friend Ray Richmond about the venerable multi-award-winning actress, whose 100th birthday will be on January 17. Continue reading

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Stephen Sondheim was grateful for ‘a fresh eye’

By Ray Bennett

It wasn’t only Broadway that Stephen Sondheim loved. In London in 2011 to mark his 80th birthday, the Tony Award-winning composer and lyricist who has died aged 91, accepted a Special Laurence Olivier Award for his outstanding contribution to the stage. ‘I want to talk about the contribution British theatre has made to me,’ he said. ‘I am so grateful.’  Continue reading

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Recalling John Gardner, a master of the spy novel

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – John Gardner, who would have been 95 today, should rank with Eric Ambler, John le Carré, Len Deighton and Philip Kerr as a virtuoso of the serious British spy novel.

He is known best now for writing fourteen James Bond adventures starting with ‘Licence Renewed’ in 1981 plus novelisations of the films ‘Licence to Kill’ and ‘GoldenEye’. Before that, the Northumberland-born writer had terrific spy tales featuring Boysie Oaks and Herbie Kruger.  Continue reading

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Memory Lane: The time before everything was streamed

By Ray Bennett

LONDON – Living, as I do, in turn-of-the-century London, it’s easy to become nostalgic for the long-ago 1900s. I know we’re just a few weeks into 2000 but it seems like forever.

I recall the first single I ever bought – Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ on 78 rpm. And the first album – the soundtrack to Doris Day’s ‘Love Me or Leave Me’. A ten-inch vinyl on 33⅓ rpm. The first twelve-inch – Johnny Cash’s ‘Now There Was a Song’. The first 45 rpm – Elvis Presley’s ‘Don’t Be Cruel’. I had eclectic tastes even then. Continue reading

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MEMORY LANE: On being British

By Ray Bennett (November 1999)

LONDON: We British cherish our loonies and it it’s no surprise that the House of Lords has lasted so long.

Only last week, a bill was passed in the House of Lords than deprives hereditary peers – traditionally a strange and eccentric bunch – of the right to vote on government bills. The event was marked by one lord leaping onto the Woolsack, or throne, of the house in order to manifest his objection. Continue reading

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Recalling ‘Lou Grant’ star Ed Asner 

By Ray Bennett

LONDON: Ed Asner, who died aged 91 on Aug. 29, had a very long and successful acting career on television but he told me he couldn’t get arrested for the big screen. 

‘I have run into downright discrimination against me because of being a TV face,’ he told me in 1979. ‘Director George Roy Hill is recognised as being totally averse to using someone from TV. Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters didn’t want me for “A Star is Born”. Same with “The Godfather”. Henry Winkler and John Travolta seem to go back and forth but with me it’s “Go fuck yourself. Now.”’ Continue reading

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