Film, TV and theater star Rosemary Harris
is devastated about the loss of her friend Sir John Gielgud
, who died last weekend in London. "I'm consumed with guilt," she tells TV Guide Online. "We always say this but I've been meaning to call him for days. I'm shattered. I know he was lonely in the last few years because his companion of many years had died two years ago and he must have missed him very much."
Harris and Gielgud shared a long history. "He offered me my first professional job, a radio play of Ivanov
, and then he cast me in The Cherry Orchard
. The first reading, he fired me. Everybody broke for lunch and he beckoned me over to the stage and said, 'I'm so sorry. I think I made a terrible mistake. You're not right for this part.'
"I remember going out of the theater blinded by tears. Time brings its rewards. Ten years ago I found myself sharing the stage with him. I thought, 'Little did I think this would happen, but if you hang on long enough....' "
Harris recalls Gielgud as a chain-smoker who drove a pink Rolls Royce, and she shares an anecdote that best describes his loyalty to his craft. "I have a friend who traveled with him when he was filming to make sure his beautiful silk shirts were ironed. After a long, arduous day of filming they were in his limousine and she looked at him and his lips were gently moving and she said 'What are you doing? Going through your part for tomorrow?' And he said, 'No. I'm just going through Richard II. I do this all the time because it keeps my acting muscles moving.' "
Now that's an actor!