International film star identified in old photo

The Winton photograph and, inset, Gladys Cooper
The Winton photograph and, inset, Gladys Cooper

A PHOTOGRAPH linking English actress Gladys Cooper to Shoreham Beach is being researched by local historians.

The picture, from the Winton Collection of digital images, was donated to the Shoreham History Portal by the late June Stirling.

Roger Bateman explained: “It was originally placed in a family album by young Jessie Winton, whose over enthusiasm in pasting the photos caused many of them to stain and dirty.

“Her notes however did provide clues to some of the less obvious photos, particularly one of a group of women and children on a balcony overlooking the beach.”

The writing identifies Mrs Mill and Mrs Earle but a third name, starting Mrs Buckm, was so cramped, the last part of the name was unreadable.

Mr Bateman said it was a puzzle until it was discovered that a Mrs Buckmaster and her daughter Joan used to stay nearby, at The Croft in Old Fort Road.

“This lady turned out to be no less than a young Gladys Cooper, the internationally famous film star of later years who at the time of the photo was married to Captain Herbert Buckmaster and their first child Joan is perhaps on Mrs Earle’s lap.”

Mrs Earle was Alice, who lived at Fides in Bungalow Town. She married music hall comic Fred Earle, who died at 37 from scarlet fever and is buried at Shoreham Municipal Cemetery.

Mr Bateman added: “Comparing the part faded and dirtied image on the photo with Gladys Cooper’s publicity shots with perfect make-up is difficult and the early shot (inset) is perhaps the closest.

“Now who on earth was Mrs Mill?”