During the last few weeks I have been directing a play, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, as well as painting illustrations for a new book I am writing, Izzy and Whitey, so I have not been paying much attention to the news unless it is on NPR. Therefore it was through my friend, Christina De Poortere of GOSH in London, that I heard about the death of Dinah Sheridan on November 25, 2012. Perhaps best known for her role as the the mother in The Railway Children, she also had parts in The Mirror Crack’d and the BBC sitcoms Don’t Wait Up and All Night Long. However, for this writer, Dinah Sheridan will be remembered every time he plays the records or CD of the 1940 recordings from Peter Pan. It’s the best document of the theatrical tradition that played almost every Christmas season from 1904 through the mid 1970s. When the Blitz destroyed most of the original scenary from Peter Pan it was decided to record an orignal cast album since the play would not be presented in London or on tour. At that time Dinah was acting with a company in Llandudno, North Wales when she received a telegram from Jean Forbes-Robertson to come to London to record the album. She had played Wendy opposite Forbes-Robertson during the 1936 tour of Peter Pan as well as Peter the following year. “My mother was horrified that I should put myself in air-raid danger for three days,” Dinah wrote, “but I was keen and begged her to let me (I was twenty after all). During that time not one bomb dropped! The company on the pier was very glad to see me back again.!”
I was quite fortunate to interview Dinah in 2005 in contemplation for writing a revised edition of my book, The Peter Pan Chronicles. Not only did she share some wonderful anecdotes about working with Jean Forbes-Robertson, Elsa Lanchester, and Charles Laughton in Peter Pan, she also signed a copy of my first book as well as writing a sweet message. In addition, she signed a copy of my CD, 100 years of Peter Pan where a parent might have signed it as a gift to their child. Do yourself a favor, buy a copy of Sepia Records’ 100 Years of Peter Pan. Not only will you hear some of the Barrie’s original dialogue as heard in 1904 and 1928, you’ll also be able to experience the magic of Jean Forbes-Robertson and Dinah Sheridan from a time when the world was at war yet somehow maintained its innocence.
To Keith: I lost your email address and I have not been able to send you the Nana postcard scan that I made for you. Please email me with your address. Thanks! Bruce