Daily Mirror, 10/25/76
Star Spotlight from Hollywood:
The crooked finger of fame beckons
by Bill Hagerty
James booth is one of those actors whose face everybody knows. Well, they would: he's been around, working consistently in films, and television and on the stage, for years.
Until recently, that is. Earlier this year James Booth disappeared, without, it seems, anybody really noticing. James Booth is one of those actors whose face few people miss...
Over lunch at Universal Studios in Hollywood, Booth shrugs and says: "I was so frustrated sitting around at home doing nothing.
"And I was relatively skint. I had invested a lot of money, which I lost, in property and suddenly from being someone who had enough to carry on through I was more or less wiped out financially."
Not only were there money problems, but, despite a string of quality performances in films such as Zulu, Sparrows Can't Sing and Robbery, "I was always thought of by movie people as just a light Cockney comedian."
Yet now, only months later, 45-year-old Booth is emerging as a sought-after talent in the American industry. And it was the one conversation that changed his life.
"Irving Allen, the producer, told me he was going to film James Jones's novel The Pistol and said there might be a part for me. He said he was going to put a writer on the project and I asked if I could have a crack at it.
"I said I'd do it for no money--after all, I'd never written a thing before in my life."
When Allen read the first draft he is alleged to have uttered one word"" "Terrific." And James Booth got paid.
Since then he has finished a western script called Edge--neatly writing in a villainous part for himself--and is working on an original screenplay and the draft of a musical for Jack Lemmon.
And, oh yes, he is currently working as an actor with Lemmon, Olivia de Havilland and James Stewart, on the big-budget film, Airport 1977.
Booth plays a banker--"Can you imagine me playing a banker in an English picture? I'd be the Cockney steward, wouldn't I?"
A graduate of London University and RADA, Booth has liquidated his assets in Britain and rented a Hollywood apartment. His two youngest children are with him;. two others are at school in England and his wife, Paula, is fast becoming a highly experienced trans-Atlantic traveller.
"I can't totally cut my ties with home," says Booth, "Because I love Britain. But all actors need to be loved and at the moment they love me here."
"And, anyway, if I was in England now I'd be sitting by the telephone, dodging the writ servers and waiting to see if someone would offer me a job."
As it is, the crooked finger of real fame is beginning to beckon.
"I wouldn't mind that at all," says James Booth.
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