|Subject: UK-born Writer & Producer Richard Gregson (and ex-husband of Natalie Wood and father of their daughter actress Natasha Gregson) ...
Dies at 89
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Date Posted: Wednesday, September 04, 12:00:02pm
Tributes paid to Hollywood hotshot ...
Wednesday, 4 September 2019 - Local People
Family and friends have said farewell to a man who lived life at the heart of Hollywood before retiring to the Wye Valley.
Richard Gregson, who died last month aged 89 at his Whitebrook home, married movie superstar Natalie Wood during his Tinsel Town days and worked with the likes of Robert Redford, Alan Bates, Julie Christie, Gene Hackman, Oscar-winning director John Schlesinger and Frederick Raphael.
The film producer and agent to the stars was nominated for an Oscar himself as joint scriptwriter with his film actor brother Michael and Bryan Forbes, for 1960 British drama The Angry Silence.
The father-of five, who marrried three times, had a daughter – US actress Natasha Gregson Wagner – with West Side Story star Wood in 1970.
And although illness prevented her from travelling to Wales for the funeral last Thursday at Llandogo’s St Oudoceus Church, she paid an emotional taped tribute to her father, which was played at the service.
Recalling the days after her mother’s tragic death from drowning in 1981, she recalled how her father rushed from the UK to Hollywood to comfort her.
“You have been my stability, my practicality, my rock and my North Star,” she said. “You held me close in my days of inconsolable heartbreak after mum died. You loved me… and I love you.”
She said her ‘Daddy’ made ‘everything taste a little sweeter’, and paid tribute to: “Your glorious healing accent, your charm, your tongue in cheek, your huge heart and your razor-sharp mind.”
Born in India in 1930 and sent to Canada to escape the Blitz in 1940, she said her father had created “the home you never had as a child for yourself, your friends and family at Whitebrook Farm.”
She recalled his love of good food and wine, and sharing her “favourite” meals with him and his novelist wife Julia, and sitting around the table talking for hours.
“And then you would tell your stories,” she said. “How do you remember everything that happened in your life so vividly? And there’s a light in the retelling which is the best part of hearing the story. How do you do this Daddy?”
She also recalled his poker playing with “your cards so close to your chest, your tinklish eyes that hide a smile at the same time, your genius for life and love and fatherhood.”
“You are my example for so much,” she said, and told of the day he arrived in her hotel lobby on her 21st birthday, having flown unannounced from the UK.
“Hello darling,” you said. “Where are you?” “I’m in the lobby,” he declared triumphant. He flew all the way across the pond on my 21st birthday. That’s the kind of father given to me.”
He had helped her through illnesses and problems, she added.
“You always took me seriously, yet you were there until the end, just wise and clear.
“I hear your voice 25 times a day, darling this, darling that,” said the actress, who told how in the last few days of his life she fell asleep to Dylan Thomas’ Do No Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
“But I wanted you to go gentle into that good night, and you did, you went gently with your cherished Julia by your side,” she said. “I hope you know it was a good and beautiful life. You loved well and deeply. I love you Daddy for ever.”
His brother Michael, who starred in films like The Iron Maiden in the 1960s as Michael Craig and lives in Monmouth, told the service: “Although I was the older brother, the one who was supposed to look after him, he looked after me, and it’s something I’ll always be grateful for.”
And he revealed how his brother’s career in the film business, which saw him open his own agency in Hollwyood in 1966, was a sheer ‘fluke’.
“He was working at a religious bookshop in London measuring cardinals for robes, when Paul Scott of Rag Quartet fame, at that time a literary agent, came in and asked the manager if there was anybody who had any knowledge of film,” he said.
“He pointed to Richard on the splendid premise that he was passionate about film and his brother was an actor. Richard then found himself opening a filming and television department at one of the top literary agencies in London.
“It was a fantastic time to be an agent because it was a period of experimentation with this great love affair of making really great movies and there was a huge amount of money and talent around.
“Richard was one of the most powerful film personalities in Hollywood… he saw the industry from many angles and met everyone who was anyone, including Frank Sinatra. He also produced films like Downhill Racer (starring Redford and Hackman) and a musical on Broadway starring Christopher Plummer.”
Mr Gregson, 90, shared a love of cricket with his brother, and said: “He was a good chap and dealt with his Parkinsons very bravely. My one great regret is he wasn’t here to see Ben Stokes’ innings in the last Test!”
Richard Gregson had three children with first wife Sally - Sarah, Charlotte and Hugo - and had a fifth child, Poppy, with Julia Gregson, who he married in 1980 and lived with in Whitebrook until his death at his Wyeside home on Wednesday, August 21, surrounded “by his loving family and Jellybean the Collie dog.”
In 2012, he published a memoir of his life entitled
"Behind the Screen Door: Tales from the Hollywood Hills".
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