The passion between the young actor and the former movie star | Culture

Gloria Grahame, in an image from ‘Naked Alibi’ in 1954.Getty Images

The story could be summarized in the topic boy meets girl, girl meets boy and they fall in love. “Actually, we were just that,” recalls the boy of the couple, stripping that relationship of everything that surrounded him, which made that fascinating love inspire a movie, Movie stars don’t die in Liverpool which opens in Spain on May 18.

In 1978 Peter Turner, the boy, was a 26-year-old actor from Liverpool trying to make a living in London with little success. A 54-year-old American actress, who had been disowned from Hollywood, arrived one day at the boarding house where he lived and had gone to the theater. “I remember the first time I saw her. I used to occupy one of the upper rooms and she the main apartment downstairs,” recalls Turner in Madrid. “One second I visualize it.” For a moment. “It was not how I expected it. They had told me about a Hollywood star, and I remember that he opened the door as if hiding, looking like he had arrived five minutes earlier.” She needed 4 pounds 75 pence; he lent them to her. “I never knew why, but he returned it to me in a check that I still have.” A couple of days later they started dancing together at the house Saturday Night Fever, and weeks later they became lovers.

That blonde was Gloria Grahame, the actress from How beautiful it is to live! Oklahoma, Crossroads of Hates, In a lonely place -in which she became friends with Bogart-, and winner of the Oscar for Captives of evil. “She was spontaneous and very direct, to the point of being rude at times. She radiated charm. She had a wonderful thing and that was that she asked a lot, making it clear that she cared about you.” And remember something special: “His face instantly reflected what he was thinking or feeling. His movements were rhythmic, slippery.”

Annette Bening and Jamie Bell, in 'Movie stars don't die in Liverpool'.
Annette Bening and Jamie Bell, in ‘Movie stars don’t die in Liverpool’.

Grahame was abandoned by the new Hollywood and the triumph of color in the cinema in a footnote of History. In addition, there were many rumors about her. She had been married four times – and had four children – the second marriage, with director Nicholas Ray, broke down when the filmmaker claimed to have found her with his stepson Tony in bed. “Something completely false”; Turner account. But it is true that her fourth husband was Tony, with whom she had been divorced for four years when she met Turner. “Another fascinating detail is that he knew a lot of people. I remember talking about President Nixon, saying he was a pain in the ass. And it was true!”

Turner fell in love. “The nice thing is that it was a relationship of equals, never of a star with a young hopeful. We enjoyed 18 months of love between the UK, California and New York, where he owned an apartment in the Manhattan Plaza.” There, in a loft, he kept the Oscar. “He even came to Wales on vacation with my brother, my sister-in-law and my nieces; I’ll tell you about it so that you can get an idea of ​​how it fitted in with what there was.” One day she became sullen. Turner didn’t know why. They broke up and he went back to Liverpool.

Peter Turner, at the Ocho y Medio bookstore in Madrid.
Peter Turner, at the Ocho y Medio bookstore in Madrid.VíCTOR SÁINZ

A year passed. Until Grahame passed out in a hotel in Lancaster, and Turner picked her up and took her home to Liverpool, with her parents. Then he understood what had happened: a cancer was devouring the actress’s body, which was why she had moved away from him. For three weeks she was under his care, until one of her sons took her to New York. Within three hours of landing in the US, on October 5, 1981, Gloria Grahame passed away.

Now the second part of the story begins. In 1986 Turner wrote Movie stars don’t die in Hollywood, a book with an open heart. “It was not easy, of course, but cathartic and remembering a moment hurt me.” In 1990 Annette Bening acted in The scammers by Stephen Frears, and the director said, “Look at Grahame in The bribed “. This is how Bening read the book, copied Grahame on screen, met Turner, and thought about bringing that love to the movies. “But Annette was very young.” Years passed, and finally the project caught on. “I put that aside, I couldn’t obsess over whether I was going to play Daniel Craig or Ewan McGregor, names that were shuffled. When they told me Jamie Bell, I was shocked, I only remembered Billy Elliot”. Until they met and discovered many things in common. “I am happy with the film, no good or bad moment has been eliminated, obviously it sums up the book a lot, but it does not fall into cuteness or lies.” Do you regret anything about that relationship? “Not having traveled with her on that plane. We didn’t expect her to die so fast. The rest I remember as a privilege that life gave me.”

Documenting old Hollywood

In 2000, produced by Barbara Brocoli, Peter Turner interviewed some thirty actors and actresses from the silent film era, I Used to Be in Pictures. “It was a commission between friends, nothing to do with my previous relationship with Gloria Grahame.” Turner fondly remembers what those interpreters – “who almost all lived in a Hollywood Academy asylum” – told him. But save a special place for Anita Page. “Most of them were over 90 years old and had been silent movie stars. Yet Page surpassed them. He was more than a star at the time, and by his side I felt as if he was chatting with the character of The twilight of the gods. He appeared in a white limousine and spoke with the fuss you can imagine. I had a great time conducting those interviews. “