Hollywood legend returns to home town

HOLLYWOOD veteran Sir John Mills has recalled fond memories of his first love, who later became Mayor of Ipswich.The actor, who is visiting Felixstowe this weekend for a film festival in his honour, recalled how Marjorie Plant used to wear fur-trimmed long leather boots when the couple dated in the 1920s.

HOLLYWOOD veteran Sir John Mills has recalled fond memories of his first love, who later became Mayor of Ipswich.

The actor, who is visiting Felixstowe this weekend for a film festival in his honour, recalled how Marjorie Plant used to wear fur-trimmed long leather boots when the couple dated in the 1920s.

Later she married and as Marjorie Keeble became in 1966 the fourth woman mayor of Ipswich, and the first Conservative woman councillor to hold the office.

Mrs Keeble was educated at Quarndon House School in Felixstowe – where Sir John was born and lived until 1929 – and for a while was secretary to Sir Clavering Fison when he was chairman of Fisons.


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When mayor, she lived in Colchester Road, Ipswich, and served as a town councillor for more than 20 years.

She was an elected alderman, chairman of the children's committee, sat on the education committee, and was a director of her father's building firm, as well as being involved in voluntary work.

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In a specially filmed interview – done by film festival organiser Trevor Lockwood at Sir John's home to be shown this weekend – the actor talks about his life in Felixstowe and his films.

"I remember my life in Felixstowe very well, and I had some good times," he said.

"I recall my first girlfriend. I was 16 and she was an older woman of 18, who wore long leather boots trimmed with fur, and smoked Turkish cigarettes from a gold cigarette holder.

"Her name was Marjorie Plant and she later became Mayor of Ipswich."

The Oscar winner revealed his early stage career didn't get off to the best of starts.

"I acted in amateur dramatics in Felixstowe. The Felixstowe Players said I wasn't good enough so I joined the Vicar's Amateur Dramatic Society!"

Sir John, now 96, said of his best-known movie Ryan's Daughter – "I have spent many hours learning thousands of lines and then I win an Oscar for saying nothing!"

Sir John, along with his wife, housekeeper and an old friend, will stay at the Hotel Elizabeth Orwell and this evening will attend the pre-dinner drinks reception for the Crystal Ball in aid of the Ruby Centre, a Felixstowe-based charity project to support people with mental health problems.

Tomorrow morning he will meet two or three elderly women who knew him when he lived in Felixstowe to reminisce.

Then at 1.30pm he will attend the Spa Pavilion for the film festival, where six of his best are being screened.

The new interview will be shown and several young actors will appear on stage with him.

Mr Lockwood said it was not yet known if Sir John would make a speech as it would depend on his health on the day.

"Local people are showing great interest in the event and we have the support of several local businesses. It is hoped that this will be the first of future film festivals and an increasing number of arts events in Felixstowe," he said.

Sir John, son of a school teacher, lived in Gainsborough Road, Felixstowe. Moves are currently afoot to put up a statue of him in the town.

He started his working life at RW Paul, the corn merchants in Ipswich, in the 1920s. He caught the train every morning from Felixstowe to Ipswich, getting off at the Derby Road station and walking into town so that he could save sixpence a day to help finance his dream of getting into acting.

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