On July 9, I launched the memoir of nonangenarian authors, Peggie and Mollie Bensaid – The Bensaid Twins. Their book, All The World’s A Stage, demanded such an event not least because of their extraordinary collection of theatrical memorabilia spanning a career of 70 years. They are pictured above with one of their original costumes. This blog post about the event is by my friend Beth Tolson, a student of Creative and Professional Writing, at the University of South Wales. She was very helpful to me with this event not least because like me, she is a seasoned performer, and was fascinated by the life and treasures of these adorable ladies. Here’s Beth’s lovely post, below, with a picture of her interviewing Mollie Bensaid.
A few weeks ago I helped Marnie plan the book launch for All the World’s a Stage, the memoir of Mollie and Peggie Bensaid.
Mollie and Peggie are 91 year old twins and spent 70 years in showbusiness, becoming known as ‘Britain’s finest twin act’. Fittingly, the launch took place in the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, where Mollie and Peggie performed in a pantomime at the age of 14.
We put together a display of costumes and theatre memorabilia, not to mention a range of beautiful black and white photographs showing the sisters on stage. My favourite item from the display would have to be the 20-inch clown shoes, made especially for the twins by Freed, which Mollie would use to go en pointe! No stranger to the perils of pointework myself, I asked her how she did it.
“I just took a deep breath and then… up! Getting up was fine, it was staying there that was the challenge.”
But stay there she did and the Three Buffoons, Britain’s only girl clowns, toured the country with their act.
What really struck me was just how many people turned out to support the twins at the launch. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise – they are adorable and, I’ve noticed, inspire affection in everyone they meet. One party had even come all the way up from the Isle of Wight for the occasion, armed with flowers and gifts.
“It’s nice to see so many people,” Peggie told me. “I didn’t know we had so many friends!”
Everyone I spoke to had a story to tell – how they’d met the twins, the fun they’d had, how they’d always kept in touch – and I found it heartwarming how willing the guests were to take time out of their day for the event.
The Kentones, a smartly-dressed local choir, entertained the crowd with a medley of songs sung in the Barbershop style, ending with a rendition of ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo’. Afterwards, they gave their thanks to the Bensaid twins, who have supported them for many years, and queued up for signed copies of the book.
“We’re thrilled they’ve got their wonderful life in print,” said one singer.
As the launch began to wind down, Mollie and Peggie started to reflect on the time they spent as performers. Was there, I wondered, a secret to their success?
“We worked hard and really enjoyed it. It was a great life.”
A display of theatrical memorabilia spanning 70 years in showbusiness
Marnie Summerfield Smith with memoir authors The Bensaid Twins.
Call Marnie on 07710 721389 or email marnie at yourmemoir dot co dot uk for a copy of the book (£6 plus postage) and/or to inquire about having her write your memoir.