Monday 15 January 2018

Whatever Happened to Jenny Cox?

There are several actors who played varying sized roles in the Carry Ons who seem to have since vanished without a trace. The name Gail Grainger instantly springs to mind. One of my first ever blogs back in 2015 was about Gail, her career and what might have happened to her since she seemed to stop acting in the late 1970s. I still have no idea but I really hope she's still out there enjoying life.

Anyway, another little mystery is the subject of today's blog. The actress Jenny Cox only appeared in one Carry On film but it was a fairly memorable role! In 1975, the Carry On team filmed the naughtiest film yet in the series of innuendo-laden comedy classics. Carry On Behind was very much a 1970s retelling of the classic Carry On Camping and featured a similar bunch of ragbag misfits enjoying a caravan holiday. Behind was even filmed in the same location as Camping - the Pinewood orchard - and in similar conditions. At various points you can see snow, mud and the actors' breath in the cold, cold air! Joining the likes of Kenneth Williams, Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw was a newcomer, Jenny Cox.

Jenny didn't have much filming experience at the time she featured in Carry On Behind as I believe she had principally been a stage actress. Playing the role of Veronica, Jenny takes on a role many would balk at - a rather raunchy stripper. Cox features in the very first sequence of Behind, during Kenneth Williams' rather dry archaeological lecture. Unfortunately his slides have been replaced with Ms Cox performing her rather revealing routine. This scene marked a new departure for the Carry Ons with it being much more like the material you'd find in one of the Confessions films, the Carry Ons' main competition at the time. Jenny reappears later in the film when a mishap leads to Major Leap's clubhouse entertainment turning out to be stripper Veronica, who's performance is marred by some rather dodgy over-painted chairs. 

It must have been a rather daunting role for Jenny Cox as not only did she have to learn the finer art of striptease for the part, she was also faced with performing it in front of an audience of well-known actors such as Williams, Connor, Elke Sommer, Bernard Bresslaw and Patsy Rowlands. Quite an undertaking! I remember listening to the audio commentary for the film and nobody who took part (Rowlands, Larry Dann, Jack Douglas and writer Dave Freeman) seemed to know much about Jenny or what happened to her.

Jenny Cox does have a few other credits to her name from around the time Behind was made. She had already appeared in the low-brow film farce, Can You Keep it Up For a Week? as Dr Livingstone, playing opposite Jeremy Bulloch. Her first screen credit came as a Party Guest in a 1973 episode of the classic BBC situation comedy, Steptoe and Son. The following year she played the character Carol in a television film called Sprout, which starred Please Sir! actor John Alderton and familiar Carry On face Julian Holloway. And in 1976 she appeared as part of an ensemble cast in a one off drama called Sextet, which also featured Butterflies actor Bruce Montague and Robin Stewart, the actor who played Sid James' son Mike in the long running ITV comedy series, Bless This House.

Jenny's later roles included the part of Amanda Scott in the one off comedy Spasms in 1977. This television episode co-starred Robin Hawdon, Jonathan Pryce and Miriam Margolyes. It was directed by Michael Mills, husband to the lovely Valerie Leon. Jenny's last television roles came in 1980/81 and were the part of Vera in an episode of the BBC drama Shoestring starring Trevor Eve, the role of Rose in an episode of the Diane Keen comedy series Rings on their Fingers and finally, as Natalie Karl in a 1981 episode of The Chinese Detective, which starred David Yip.

And that, as they say, is where the trail runs cold. I have no idea what Jenny did after 1981. Whether she continued to act, returning to the stage or if she retired, perhaps to raise a family? I'd also love to know more about her stage roles as there is nothing on this side of her career online. If anyone knows anything more about Jenny Cox, please do get in touch! 

...Well one of you did get in touch - many thanks to regular reader John Purser who contacted me with the following information:

Thank you for including Jenny Cox. I have coincidentally acquired a theatre programme which  gives some information on Jenny Cox. The programme is from the Duchess Theatre in London and is dated April 1979 for the show 'Oh! Calcutta! - a Revue with Music'. Jenny is given first performer listing and next is Vivienne Cox - not sure if related. I have not seen the show. The listing is given below:

"Jenny Cox started her career at Oxford Playhouse and then worked in repertory throughout the country. She first appeared in 'The Dirtiest Show in Town' and then threw caution to the wind playing Claudine in 'Pyjama Tops' at the Whitehall Theatre. Cinematically speaking she showed more than talent in 'Can You keep It Up for a Week' and 'Carry On Behind' and Effie the maid 'Futtocks End' serving Ronnie Barker. Appearances on television include 'Three Piece Suite', 'Second Time Around', 'The Wednesday Play', 'Steptoe and Son', 'Comedy Playhouse', 'Crimes of Passion' and several episodes of 'General Hospital'. Her ambition is to be famous enough never to have to do auditions."

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  1. Strange to think such a beautiful and talented actress would 'disappear', her performance in'Carry on Behind' was superb.