Ken Russell Risks Life To Save Wife In Fire
He may have described himself in the past as a coward, but director Ken Russell yesterday risked his life to save his wife when his thatched cottage caught fire.
He may have described himself in the past as a coward, but director Ken Russell yesterday risked his life to save his wife when his thatched cottage caught fire. Russell attempted to break into his blazing home three times before he realised his wife has escaped from the fire - when she became aware of the fire whilst having a bath, she ran naked into the garden before being given clothes by the gardener. Russell joked after the event: "There was a naked lady running round the garden; what a pity I was not there to film it… If it was one of my films I'd call it Hot Stuff".
He described Elize, his wife, as "the most wonderful person I have met…If she is going to die, I will die trying to save her". When he initially ran into the house, he was beaten back by thick black smoke, and on re-entry found the staircase was completely ablaze. He grabbed a ladder and smashed a bedroom window, but more smoke drove him back again. He then discovered that his wife was safe in the garden (along with their pet dog).
Sentimentality is unusual in the work of Ken Russell, whose bawdy direction infuses such films as Gothic, Lady Chatterley, Valentino and Tommy. His subtler, early work includes the Oscar-winning Women In Love, and the classy composer dramas for television - Elgar, Delius - Song Of Summer and Mahler.