Featuring in the 10th of July are 76 lots from The Gary & Joyce Rice Collection; many sports and TV & Film personalities, plus comedians, entertainers, soap stars and musical theatre including Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli, and Charlton Heston, plus Bruce Forsyth, The Goodies and the Fawlty Towers cast; and many photographs and postcards from actors and actresses from Hollywood’s “Golden Era”.
Below is a description of how the autographs were collected and an insight into their provenance.
"Gary and Joyce Rice were my younger brother and mother respectively.
This collection was started by my mum probably in the early 1940's, but the story starts much earlier with my grandfather and his love of Charlie Chaplin. When Chaplin started making films, my grandfather was an impressionable 14 year-old. He wrote to him in California and sent a picture of himself dressed as The Tramp and to his delight he received a reply. This letter which has now been sold was treasured by our family, especially as our granddad died before my brother and I were born. My grandfather's love of film and music continued throughout his life with many a family get together and sing song, often with them all dressing up, the good old days before television.
My mother inherited this gene and shared her love and knowledge with both of us; she continued to regularly visit both the cinema and theatre until only months before she died.
My brother from a very early age knew this was the only career path he wished to follow and started classes at Sylvia Young before it became a full time school, making his first professional appearance at the age of 11. By the age of 14 he left mainstream school and attended The Phildene Stage School and The Stenner Academy in West London for two years, where he made some lifelong friends. He then moved on to Sylvia Young's stage school and maintained his connection and friendship throughout his life with both the family and many other well-known artists who passed through her doors. After finishing this chapter of his life Gary worked at the Savoy theatre in The Strand, where he trained in the box office, this gave him another string to his bow and allowed him to always get work in between auditions, he spent many years at The Royal Albert Hall and only stopped work in latter years to care for our ageing mum during the last years of her life.
He never gave up on his dream and had consistent success over a period of 30 years including a cabaret group called The Broadway Babies performing in London's west end, which came his way as a result of regularly visiting The Piano Bar in Brewer Street in Soho, where people were encouraged to get up on stage and 'do a turn' and from this a successful audition materialised. Along with 5 other friends the group was born in September 1986. They were also regulars at the infamous Madam Jojo's in the days when this part of London was truly raunchy and rocking and appeared in cabaret there for two seasons. Other performances of their devoted works of the great American composers include The Hippodrome, Rainbow Rooms Kensington, Downs of Mayfair, The Stork Club, Peppermint Park and The Cumberland Hotel. London theatre appearances included The Bloomsbury, The Astoria, The Adelphi, The Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Donmar Warehouse Theatre in 1987. Again they were all regulars at Joe Allen's in Covent Garden a restaurant famous for its clientele of stars of stage and screen. Over the years that followed, Gary continued affectionate correspondence with many luminaries. He appeared on television in Headmaster 1977, The Further Adventures of Oliver Twist 1980, Dramarama 1983, Hi-de-Hi 1988, She Wolf of London 1990, Men Behaving Badly 1992 and Take a Girl Like You 2000. Also he appeared in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at the Bognor Regis centre as Tweedledum over the Xmas period 1987/88 and as Umbilicus in the TV movie of Further Up Pompeii in 1992 with Frankie Howard. He did a one man show at The Players Theatre, Charing Cross called ' This Is As Good As It Gets' and a further show called 'What About The Girl in 1993. He followed these in 1994 with 'Crimes of Passion. His film work included Scum, Breaking Glass, The Cocoa Deal and Nightwatch. He also appeared in various advertisements for television over the years.
During the last 18 months of his life, following our mums death, he picked up the reins and worked in street theatre for The Incredible Midtown-The Game and also did two more adverts for McDonalds and Tesco.
Gary had a true passion for London and visited the theatre at least once a week, his favourite being The London Palladium and fulfilled a dream by visiting New York in the late nineties, ageing mum in tow and had a wonderful time visiting the theatre on Broadway.
During all this he worked hard to secure auditions and to add to the ever growing autograph collection. He frequently wrote to stars he admired and spent time at stage doors handing in letters, always organised by including an SAE and often waited for the stars to leave. Once, when they attended a Lesley Garrett concert she handed her flowers to our mum at the end of the performance. Another favourite was Dame Edna who also gave mum Gladioli and many years later when they returned for the final concert, always front row seats for them, he remembered mum and got her on stage during the show. Their proudest moment however was when his absolute idol Liza Minnelli spoke to our mum during her concert and called her Mama.
This is just a glimpse into the life of a man who adored his profession and never gave up on his dream, but was sadly taken from us too soon in 2016 during his mid-fifties only months after the death of our mother.
As a result of these sad events, I have now inherited the entire contents of the family home. Whilst I also share their love of old movies and some shows, I am also a big music fan and attend many concerts and therefore am not as dedicated to the theatre. With this in mind I have decided to keep only a small portion of this collection and hope that the rest will give pleasure to more avid fans than myself.
I really hope that all the years of hard work reflected in this collection will now find a good home."