Posts Tagged ‘greatest film’
by Barbara Mcmahon
Last updated at 12:50 PM on 5th October 2011
Sheila Riley will never forget the moment the jaw-droppingly handsome man flashed her a dazzling smile and politely asked: ‘You wouldn’t care to join me for dinner, would you? I hate eating alone.’
The invitation came from movie star Paul Newman and the only reason Sheila hesitated was because she was meant to be working.
It was the summer of 1963 and British-born Sheila was a Pan am air hostess. she was accustomed to meeting famous passengers, but nothing prepared her for the meal she shared at 35,000ft with one of greatest film heart-throbs of all time.
Glamorous life: (left to right) Bronwen, Anne and Sheila
Newman had already set hearts fluttering when he boarded the plane, quietly storing his bag in the overhead locker before settling into seat 2F in the first-class cabin.
‘Itook his coat to hang it up and offered him a drink,’ says Sheila. ‘I was all of a dither, even though I tried not to show it.
‘He was devastatingly good-looking and I had him all to myself because I was the only hostess working first-class that day.’
Sheilahad to seek the permission of the captain before taking a seat oppositeNewman to share a meal of caviar, lobster and profiteroles, washed downwith Dom Perignon champagne.
‘I wasn’t meant to drink alcohol on duty, so I swigged my champagne out of a coffee cup so no one would notice,’ says Sheila.
Despitehis fame and good looks, Newman didn’t flirt with 25-year-old Sheila. Instead he spoke about his joy at being a husband and father.
‘He was the perfect gentleman. He washappily married to Joanne Woodward and it was obvious how in love he was. it was so refreshing to hear a man talk about his wife in such a loving way,’ says Sheila.
Glamorous: The stars of Pan am, set to be screened on the BBC this autumn
‘Hewanted to know all about me and the places I had travelled to. it was acouple of years after he’d made The Hustler and he was a big star. He said he envied me my freedom.
‘After45 minutes I said I had better get back to work. He thanked me for my company and settled down for a snooze before landing.’
Sheila was a stewardess during the golden age of flying when service always came with a dazzling smile.
PanAm, a TV series to be screened by the BBC this autumn, captures that glamorous heyday. The show takes a romanticised look at the lives and loves of the handsome pilots and beautiful air stewardesses who travelled the world seeking adventure and romance.
In their smart, sky-blue uniforms and pillbox hats, Pan am air hostesses were the envy of women the world over.
‘Itwasn’t a job, it was a lifestyle,’ says Sheila. ‘We shopped for gloves and shoes in Rome, perfume in Paris, pearls in Tokyo and had our clothesmade in Hong Kong.
‘We had a knees-up on every stop-over — the first thing we would do on landing was buy bottles of gin.’
Now based in New York, 73-year-old glamorous grandmother Sheila was born in Bolton. she started working forthe U.S. airline in 1960 at the age of 22 — one of only three applicants out of 2,000 to make the grade in that round of hiring.
She applied out of a spirit of adventure. ‘All my friends were getting engaged and married, but I didn’t want to do that. when I saw an advert for the job, I knew it was my escape route,’ she says.
Itis a sentiment shared by Bronwen Roberts, also now in her 70s. Brought up in Porthmadog, she was heading for a staid life as a teacher when sheapplied to Pan am in 1958.
Thejobs were so coveted that both women became mini-celebrities in their home towns and appeared in the local press. ‘Now she’s to be an air girl!’ exclaimed a headline in Bronwen’s local newspaper.
Theywere flown first-class to New York on Pan am flights to start their newlives. Training for the coveted winged badge was rigorous — it includedbeing dumped in the ocean and having to swim to a life-raft. But mostlyit was about learning the art of serving the lucky passengers who couldafford to fly in that era.
Golden age: Pan am recreates the time when air travel was the height of glamour
Mealsin first-class were provided by the famous Maxim’s restaurant in Paris:seven-course affairs presented on fine china and table linens.
For this, they earned