Wednesday, 18 December 2013

STAGE ACTRESS EVELYN HAMBLY, ACCORDING TO JACK PECOVER: UNFAILINGLY KIND AND FORGIVING....


One of our most valuable sources for information regarding Dr Robert Henry MacLauchlan, his second wife Evelyn Hambly, and their time in Calgary during the decades of the 1940s and 1950s comes from retired Albertan lawyer and author Jack Pecover, who grew up as a neighbour to the couple. In his most recent letter to us sharing his reminiscences, Jack was his usual imitable self as he summarized the MacLauchlans’ relations with the neighbourhood children (of which he was one at the time):

Give Evelyn this for starters: she was unfailingly kind and forgiving to a horde of kids thundering roughshod over her domicile and grounds in which she took more than ordinary pride; in terms of beauty she may not have been Ingrid Bergman (no one, not even Ingrid Bergman herself, could possibly have been that beautiful) but she was svelte, open, (again) kind, and, as you and her contemporary press have made amply clear, she was a skilled actress, nor were Calgary’s Grand Theatre, (see Don’s Calgary’s Grand Story), San Francisco and so on necessarily the boonies in those years. I can think she might have done well on Broadway or London’s West End had the fates conspired to waft her to either, and perhaps had not the ill-fated intercession of her second husband intervened. They ain’t all that many of us can claim a comparable CV.

In the first sentence of the quote, Mr Pecover is subtly responding to a criticism of Evelyn Hambly by another of our correspondents, Mrs Jean Hunter, who has described Evelyn to us as, among other less than admirable terms, “porcine”. As it happens, Mrs Hunter and Mr Pecover are siblings – which may or may not play a role in their differing opinions of said Ms Hambly. So that our loyal readers can draw their own conclusions concerning the physical attractiveness of this 1920’s stage actress we invite them to view two photos discovered in remote corners of the world-wide web. One was taken when Evelyn was in her 20s, the other when she was in her late 30s.  The black and white photograph is from Calgary’s Glenbow Archives and was taken when she was the director of the Calgary Light Opera Society in 1935. The sepia-toned one is from the collection of the University of Washington and was taken in 1925, 10 years earlier. (The “Don” referred to is Emeritus Professor Don Smith of the University of Calgary, who has also been helpful in our researches.)

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