Roy Dotrice aka FATHER

Gwen Lord

I feel very honoured to have been asked to write about this British Actor, Roy Dotrice, who had homes in Covent Garden, London UK and Los Angeles, California USA.

I first met Roy in 1961. My friend and I went to see a play and Roy was one of the cast. After the play I got to meet him at the stage door. Years later when I first saw the Pilot of “Beauty and the Beast” here in the UK in 1988, Roy was Vincent's father down in the tunnels below Central Park. So I contacted Roy, praising this new, then, series from the USA and Roy quickly replied and he remembered our meeting in 1961 so clearly. Wasn't that nice?

Roy is not only a legend for his acting in the UK and the USA but as his friend of decades I feel I knew him so well that he was the brother I sadly never had. I could talk to him about anything at all and he had a sense of the problem and listened to me and never, ever interrupted, only gave advice if I asked for it and only then gave wise and good advice.

The three “Beauty and the Beast” UK Conventions run by myself and my friend Jacqui Clarke in Birmingham 1991 and 1993 and Sheffield in 1994 were a huge success with hundreds attending. Roy always attended them, no matter where he was in the world. It was thanks to him we had many of the cast and writers attend these conventions. He got them to up-roots in America and fly across the world and not only attend but to work the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the convention. They did Q&A, judging art, entertaining us all, etc. We had Roy, of course, and his wife, Kay, Armin Shimerman (Pascal) and wife, Kitty, Ellen Geer (Mary) and her husband and David Greenlee, etc.

As the USA did a big yearly B&B convention I flew over every year to attend. Huge gatherings in those days and the cast were everywhere: Ron Perlman, Edward Albert, Ellen Geer, David Greenlee, Armin Shimerman and his wife and Jay Acovone. Each of these functions had a Banquet on one of the three evenings including fancy dress and, of course, the now famous Candle Ceremony with Roy reading out to everyone as Father of the Tunnels, Jacob Wells.

“Helpers Network UK” published 4 big newsletters every year and I also did the “Roy Dotrice Fan Association” newsletters. Roy and I did this one ourselves as a team and we felt very proud of the outcome and the response of his fans. We ran with it until we closed it down when Roy reached 90 and was no longer able to work on-set and remember lines or even see them. But we remained friends right up to his death on October 16, 2017, a sad day for his family, his fans and friends and for me and my husband, Rex.

Over the years Roy and Kay, my husband and myself became the closest of friends and enjoyed some wonderful times together which are now such precious memories. As a foursome we enjoyed holidays in London, Hollywood and Mexico many times.

Roy always had a keen and wicked sense of humor so one never knew what he was up to next. One had to be ready for it. He was a pure joy on holiday.

Take for example:

We four in the Jeep at the border into Mexico where we nearly got arrested. We were ordered to be stopped and checked out so this we did. Roy then thought we could go on and set off only to hear a banging on the Jeep by armed soldiers ordering us to stop or they would shoot! Ha! Truly that was a panic moment.

One time the four of us left Hollywood for Mexico and halfway there Kay asked Roy where he'd put their passports. He thought she had them! We had to turn around and go fetch them. The air was blue, trust me.

Roy as a friend – well, he was kind and generous and Christmas he loved best of all. His gifts to family and friends alike were fantastic and we received fabulous gifts. One holiday we had with Kay and Roy we stayed in their apartment block for 6 weeks. Roy rented the apartment next door to theirs at Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. It had once been the home of film star actor Eroll Flynn and Roy paid for it all, the whole 6 weeks.

I often popped down to London when Roy and Kay were there to do a face to face as we got ready the newsletters. Kay would keep us supplied with endless cofffee or wine.

Roy's club in London is called “The Garrick Club”, named after the London theater. It is a gentleman's only club and ladies have to be invited as guests. I have been Roy's guest endless times at the “Garrick Club”, as has my husband and I many times at Christmas and weddings, etc., joining with the rest of the Dotrice family. The Club is very old and elegant with HRH Prince Philip as president and Roy was next in line. All the Club walls are paneled in dark oak, everything is calm and a place to relax and enjoy good wine, good food and good company. Stars of stage and screen were everywhere including MPs of the UK Government and the walls full of large oil paintings and one extra-wide carpeted staircase 20 feet across – huge.

These are some of my memories of our dear friend, Roy. Thanks to him alone I have these fantastic memories to recall and enjoy. Roy's fans have also played a part in my life and I thank each and everyone because without them none of this would have been possible.

Gwen Lord

October 2020