TOO HAPPY A FACE
THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY OF JOAN SIMS
FOREWORD BY SHERRIE HEWSON
Immortalised through her roles in twenty-four of the iconic
films, Joan Sims remains one of Britainís best-known comedy legends. For
five decades - through more than seventy film appearances and work on
stage, television and radio - she captured the hearts of audiences
around the world. Yet behind the laughter was heartache and personal
torment as the incredibly private actress battled depression,
insecurity, loneliness and alcoholism.
this authorised biography of Joan, Andrew Ross details her early years
on stage and rise to stardom in theatre revue, her failed romances and
the intense bond with her parents which ultimately led to the collapse
of her one serious love affair.
Revealed is the truth about Joanís relationships with her Carry On
co-stars (including Kenneth Williams who bizarrely proposed to her), the
drink problem which forced her to spend time in a grim Victorian mental
institute in the early 1980s and the circumstances behind her reclusive
final years and last months in hospital before her death in 2001.
With a cast of characters, ranging from Sidney James and Kenneth
Williams to Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn, Joanís story, from a
solitary and lonely childhood in 1930s Essex, to her status as a
national treasure in the 1990s, is one of professional success over
personal heartache achieved through immense determination.
Drawing on first-hand accounts from Joanís closest surviving friends and
contemporaries including Barbara Windsor, Fenella Fielding, Dame Judi
Dench and Sir Tom Courtenay, as well as exclusive material from her
personal archive, what emerges is the story of a much-loved lady who
battled private demons to become one of the finest and best-loved
actresses of her generation.
ANDREW ROSS discusses TOO HAPPY A FACE
I decided to write a biography of Joan Sims for a couple of reasons. The
main being, quite simply, I have been a fan of her work since I was a
child and felt her full story was worth telling. In my opinion her sheer
presence lights up the screen and her versatility as an actress never
ceases to amaze me. Of course I had a lot of information on her life and
career as a result of my Carry On book but it has been an honour to dig
deeper and discover the person behind the actress.
Despite being one of the most recognisable faces in British film/TV
history Joan's private story has never really been told. Her own
autobiography was filled with wonderful anecdotes but only scratched the
surface of a sad personal life and the strength of spirit needed to
overcome her many demons: shyness, insecurity, loneliness, depression
Throughout her life Joan was intensely private. She did not 'court' the
media and rarely gave interviews. While many of her 'Carry On'
colleagues have been the subject of newspaper articles, books and even
television dramas, the 'real' Joan has largely remained hidden behind
the numerous faces she portrayed on screen.
Within the profession she was truly loved and remains a great example to
other actresses who have attempted to follow in her footsteps. The
affection with which she is held by her fans and the public at large
remains undimmed over a decade after her death. However, the battles she
faced to maintain her career as a 'star' actress remain largely unknown.
From my research it is clear that her parents (and in particular her
mother) had a massive impact upon Joan's life. Isolated during her
childhood she grew up to be a shy, insecure girl whose only escape from
the often sad realities of her own life was found in the make-believe
world of acting. Her strict upbringing also resulted in certain neuroses when it
came to forming relationships, particularly with men. The collapse of
her one true romance ultimately led to her addiction to alcohol, a
problem which I discovered started much earlier than had originally been
stated. For the first time the full extent of Joan's struggles with
alcoholism and depression are described, drawing on first-hand accounts
from those closest to her.
Also revealed through my research is Joan's true relationships with her
mother, Peter Eade (her agent for over 20 years), Kenneth Williams (who
remained one of Joan's best friends despite frequent frictions), Hattie
Jacques (her surrogate sister and confidante) and Barbara Windsor (with
whom the popular press attempted to say Joan was feuding with in later
years). Likewise, the love and respect which Joan generated among
friends and colleagues also emerges from my work and numerous surviving
colleagues were happy to discuss their popular co-star.