Sir John Gielgud...Talking With David Frost

24 Not least of the pleasures of listening to Sir John Gielgud reminisce, at age 87, about his life in the theater are the gloriously rich, round, self-possessed sentences he produces. No self-conscious stutters and tics for him: Elegant in a chocolate-colored velvet jacket, fingers steepled with a jade ring on his left pinkie, Gielgud says things like: ”I was very conceited and rather effeminate and much too fond of my voice…and very fond of my looks, such as they were, so that I had a great struggle to break free from all that and learn to be a real actor.”

Prepped with stacks of notes and eager to be delighted, Frost daintily feeds his guest moments to expound on. But, really, Gielgud needs little prompting. In Sir John Gielgud…Talking With David Frost, he talks freely about his long rivalry with Laurence Olivier (”He was always, I suppose, jealous of my verse-speaking being admired because he thought he spoke it just as well as I did ”); about his friendship with Olivier’s troubled wife, Vivien Leigh; about Richard Burton and Peter Lorre and Noël Coward and the 1981 movie Arthur, which brought new fame (and an Academy Award) for the then-78-year-old actor. He speaks of loneliness and old age and the loss of so many friends and colleagues that has stranded him, in blessed good health, as the last of his great theatrical generation. ”I’m terrified of becoming a sort of boring old guru and of going to theaters and being sort of…too much respected,” Gielgud says. With this graceful chat spiced with humor and wisdom, he can put that terror to rest. A

Sir John Gielgud...Talking With David Frost
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