Letter from Terry Boniface, 8/23/04: "The icing on the cake"
Terry Boniface with James Booth, August, 2004
My meeting with JB was connected with my interest in the Zulu war. I visited Zululand in 1999 with a historical group led by Ian Knight the author. Last weekend Ian was giving some talks on the war at Woolwich Royal Artillery Museum. At this event there were a group of re-enactors giving a display on Victorian weapons; also there were stalls selling relics, paintings, and books all connected with the war along with a group of Zulu dancers. Also there were Joe Powell and James Booth, both from the film Zulu. As you rightly say, Hookie was indeed a prized part for James. I managed to get an autograph along with some photos, one of which we are together.
After a brief talk with him I continued to view what was on display. After about two hours the Zulus began to do their dances, and I noticed that J was standing alone well away from the public. I approached him and asked if he minded talking to me. Not at all was his reply so I began speaking about his career and life after Zulu. The conversation lasted about twenty five minutes. Then he wanted a cup of tea and went ahead to the coffee shop. We sat down and continued the conversation. Briefly he is not keen on gardening and has a man in to cut the lawn as it depresses him to see it grown so fast. Also he is not too keen on today's actors for he feels that today's group are only people in a movie and have no background in theatre and the classics, most cannot act. I asked who were his favorite actors then and he replied that he liked the ones that everyone liked when he started acting. John Wayne came out favorable. He does not like guns and never mentioned his rank in the army. He served with the Royal Army Service Corps in tank transport and has a problem with hearing due to his service. He never liked the army and was stationed at Bury St. Edmonds, Aldershot and Cirencester.
His family live in the States but Paula likes England and although he has a home in L.A. most of his time is spent in the U.K.
His eldest grandchild is fifteen and plays American football and is completely American in all his ways. His home here is not far from Southend ( I prefer not to give the address) and he enjoys the sea
views. Most of the movies he made he can't remember or prefers to forget but he said Michael
(Caine) made all the money. I asked when he would be going home and he said he wished it was now so he could go to bed and watch a film on T.V. I said
"Zulu?" he smiled and replied no.
I found him friendly and very approachable, well spoken, with a good sense of humor. He was smartly dressed in a mid-grey suit, silver hair and dark- rimmed glasses. I believe that he is still very much aware of his fans, never tiring to raise that cheeky smile every time some one pointed a camera at him, although he is glad that he doesn't have to get up at five in the morning to put on makeup.
It was a perfect day for me doing all that
I wanted and J.B. was the icing on the cake.
At the Woolwich Royal Artillery Museum. That's Joe Powell (Sgt. Windridge) beside JB.
Autographing publicity stills from "Zulu."
Dapper and smiling.