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Mystery screen star at Dudley cinema

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 22, 2014

By Gavin Jones

Carnaby Ansdell, commissionaire, at left. But can you name any of the others in this photograph?

Carnaby Ansdell, commissionaire, at left. But can you name any of the others in this photograph?

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THIS is a curious photo which brings together elements of two themes we've featured strongly over recent months – local cinemas and the Great War.

It was taken at the Regent Cinema in Dudley, at the top of the High Street opposite Top Church. Later to become the Gaumont, it later became a bingo hall and is now a restaurant and function room, but this picture was taken in the glory days of cinema, just after the war in 1946.

The picture's supplier, Brian Ansdell of Gornal Wood, tells us that his grandfather Carnaby Ansdell is the man at far left. Carnaby was the commissionaire at the Regent, and as part of his uniform he wore the silver wound medal he had received after being shot in the head in the First World War.

Brian believes the glamourous figure in the centre of the group was a film star, though he doesn't know who. She certainly looks the part – can anyone tell us who she was?

We have no names for the rest of the group either, but the man on the right is clearly another commissionaire, and the two men in bow ties may well have been the proprietors. According to Ned Williams' authoritative tome Black Country Cinemas, the Regent was taken over by Bill Greaves, so perhaps one of the suited men is him? Also known to have worked there for many years were the Morton sisters; Beatrice, Freda and Margaret – could the lady to right of the film star be one of them?

Note also the expectant crowd through the glass doors, waiting to be allowed inside.

Do you recognise anyone in this picture? Let us know if you can give us any names; pay us a visit, give us a call, write in, or send an email to gjones@blackcountry bugle.co.uk.

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