The theater, the cinema and ourselves (1947)

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ENVOI 20. CELEBRITIES PASS—THE ELLEN TERRYS REMAIN I n the autumn of 1946 London mourned the death of a business man very closely connected with the stage, of a widow of one of our most famous actors and of one of our best known literary celebrities. Each of their memorial services had a very distinct atmosphere of its own. Richard Collet, for so many years the manager of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, was the kindliest of business men and a large congregation gathered at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, all their simple direct selves as he would have wished. Sir Seymour Hicks read: "Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?" so lightly yet so earnestly that he might have been merely shaking off an unpleasant thought that for centuries had quite needlessly haunted the hearts of men. Lady Alexander's memorial service a few months later at the same church was very different. A host of her friends entered in their large plumed hats and fur coats, talking as vivaciously as if they were at a race meeting, one could hardly believe that in a few minutes Lady Alexander herself would not enter, more vivacious than any, defying the years. The day before there had been a Tribute Meeting in homage to H. G. Wells at The Royal Institution. In the great round theatre there gathered a variety of people. Beveridge, especially excused from the House of Lords, so he told us — Low, the cartoonist, a serious rather elderly looking man— Priestley, who gave an extemporary tribute very much from his heart. Yet there was something a little barren, almost forbidding about the scene, it might have been a chapter in one of Wells' prophetic works. Gone was the warmth of any religious sentiment, the gift of any music; a chilly secular atmosphere took its place. There was genuine sorrow, some touches of intim- acy, a just summary of Wells' work and of his position in the world of letters, but even the most kindly words Ellen Terry.