7 NOVEMBER 2001
Director Roy Boulting, the man behind some of the most iconic British films of the Sixties, including There’s A Girl In My Soup, Brighton Rock and Lucky Jim, has died at the age of 87 after a long battle with cancer.
He and his twin brother John enjoyed brilliant careers encompassing a series of classic comedies such as I’m All Right Jack, which set a young Peter Sellers on the path to international stardom. Roy was perhaps almost as well known for his romantic entanglements – which included a great number of affairs with some of the world’s most beautiful women – as his cinematic work, however.
His five wives included actress Hayley Mills, the daughter of his best friend, actor Sir John Mills, who he met while filming north country comedy The Family Way. Roy was 54, she was a 21-year-old Disney starlet.
“I was seen, quite rightly perhaps, as a dirty old man. I could not have been more vilified if I had seduced Bambi,” Boulting told a reporter earlier this year. At the time a defiant Hayley refused to wed her older paramour saying: “ I quite honestly don’t see any point in marriage. If we did fall out of love and we were hitched, it’s such a bloody muddle to get out of.” When their son Crispian came along five years later, however, they did marry, only to divorce six years later when Hayley became involved with the actor Leigh Lawson.
The man who once described the cancer from which he suffered as perhaps being “the price for my rather excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures” was devastated. “Of all my wives, I can truly say that I loved and still love Hayley the best,” he said a few years ago. “I never thought for one minute the marriage would break up.”
Although he had not directed anything in the last 15 years, the director was still planning new productions. And at his bedside when he died were notes for a screenplay of Terence Rattigan’s stage play Déjà Vu, the lead in which he was planning to offer to his former wife.
Roy’s father was in the plumbing supply business and hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. But, as an eight-year-old, the director-to-be saw Rudolph Valentino in The Horseman Of The Apocalypse and his life was changed forever. “After that there was simply nothing I wanted to do other than make movies. I was completely hooked,” he said.
Although his long and wildly successful career brought him enormous financial gains, Roy lost huge sums on his Peter Sellers vehicle and at the time of his death he lived in a one-bedroom council flat surrounded by mementos of his swinging heyday.