The Rita Tushingham Home Page

Credits & Photos 1942 - 1961




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John Tushingham (b. 1906) and Enid Ellen Lott (b. 1909)
Rita's parents on their wedding day.  They were married in St. Peter's church, Woolton.
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Peter, Colin, Rita Tushingham
Rita with her two older brothers.  Rita is the youngest of four children.  Her older sister Olive died at age six months, but this was three years before Rita was born.  Rita initially wanted to be a footballer and a trapeze artist.
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John, Rita, Colin, Peter Tushingham
On a trip to north Wales.


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Rita Tushingham
In 1946, the Tushinghams moved from Ryegate Road to the Hunts Cross district of Liverpool.  At age five, Rita attended the Heatherlea school on Allerton Road.  From age 7 to 14, she attended the La Sagesse convent school in Grassendale, even though Rita is not Catholic.  She chose this school primarily to avoid crossing a lot of roads she could take a train, and would have to cross only one small road.  As luck would have it, it was on this small road that she was run over by a motorist at age 7, hurting her neck and head quite badly.
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Rita Tushingham
From an early age, Rita wanted to be an actress.  At age 14 she enrolled in the Shelagh Elliott-Clarke school in Liverpool for acting, dancing, and elocution lessons.  Her parents wanted Rita to have marketable skills, so they also made her take shorthand and typing classes at a secretarial school, which she hated.
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Liverpool Playhouse
Rita wanted to gain experience on the stage, and after writing a great many letters, she finally was offered a position as a student Assistant Stage Manager with the Liverpool Repertory Company, which presented stage plays at the Liverpool Playhouse.  She assumed her new position just before Christmas of 1958, at a salary of 1 per week.  Her duties included making the tea, calling the actors, storing the props, working the curtain, prompting the actors, sweeping the stage, running the sound effects, and acting bit parts.



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From the Daily Express, 02 Mar 1960
While working at Liverpool Rep, Rita saw an article in the 02 Mar 1960 issue of the Daily Express, titled "John Osborne seeking ugly girl for 'Taste of Honey'", indicating that Shelagh Delaney's stage play, A Taste Of Honey, was going to be made into a film by Woodfall Film Productions Ltd, a company founded by director Tony Richardson and playwright John Osborne.
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Richardson and Osborne were looking for a plain girl to play the role of the teenage daughter.  Rita's brother Colin said, "Go on, Reet, have a go, you're ugly enough!"  Rita contacted Osborne by way of his literary agent, whose name she found on Osborne's published play, The World Of Paul Slickey.  Rita auditioned, made film tests, and won the role of Jo from among two thousand hopeful actresses.  Some distributors expressed a preference for Audrey Hepburn in the role, but Tony Richardson was determined to cast an unknown.  Rita says, "Audrey Hepburn was absolutely beautiful of course, but I don't think she would have been right for the part."
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Rita says, "The Changeling was a play I did at the Royal Court Theatre, directed by Tony Richardson, as he thought it would be a good idea for us to work together before filming A Taste Of Honey.  I played a mad woman, mostly dragging chains around and making appropriate mad noises.  It was the first time I had worked in London, and working albeit in a small way with Mary Ure and Robert Shaw was very interesting.  Tony Richardson was extraordinary, he was the most wonderful man."


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click for full size Mary Ure, Jeremy Brett
Mary Ure, Jeremy Brett
 



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