Thursday 7 January 2016

Whatever Happened To ... Stella Rivers?

This is a blog post without much substance behind it as I really don't know very much about the subject, but here goes. Stella Rivers is a name that will be familiar to many an ardent Carry On fan. Her name featured in the screen credits of twenty of the films and she was part of the reliable, hard working crew that supported the Carry On artistes so well for decades.

Stella Rivers was the hairdresser on all those films. She first worked with the Carry On team on the very first film in the series, Carry On Sergeant, in 1958. She went on to work on Constable at the end of 1959 and then after a gap, returned to the series for Cowboy and worked on pretty much every Carry On film after that until her last picture with the gang, Carry On England which was made in 1976. 

Stella would work for Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas on many of their other productions over the years. Their working relationship would take in such classic tiles as No Kidding starring Leslie Phillips, Nurse On Wheels with Juliet Mills, The Big Job with Sid James and Joan Sims and the big screen version of Bless This House. She also worked for Betty Box and Ralph Thomas on three of the Doctor comedies - In Distress, In Clover and In Trouble. Other films for Box and Thomas included The 39 Steps with Kenneth More and Upstairs and Downstairs starring Michael Craig.

Rivers was involved in several other classic British films of the era, working as hairdresser on the likes of Whistle Down The Wind, Kidnapped, Hell Drivers, A Pair of Briefs and the original Superman film. She even worked on the musical comedy film Three Hats For Lisa, which co-starred an all singing, all dancing Mr Sidney James!

Jacki Piper, Valerie Leon and Patsy Rowlands all spoke with such fondness about Stella Rivers on the audio commentaries for the Carry Ons, although sadly nobody seems to know what happened to the lady herself. Her last credited work on a film was 1979's Arabian Adventure which starred Christopher Lee and Cabby actor Milo O'Shea. The only other information I can find on Stella is that she was originally from North Shields, Tyne and Wear and was born in 1920. There is no date of death given although if she was still with us today she would now be 95 years of age.

I think so many of the experienced, professional crew members involved in the Carry Ons have gone without much credit, mainly because we know so little about them. If anyone can shed in light on the life and career of Stella Rivers, do get in touch! 

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