Interview with Davina Whitehouse
Eileen Eliza Smith, later known as Davina Whitehouse, was born 6 December 1912 in London. Describes her Scottish ancestry on her paternal grandmother's side. Talks about her father, David, who died in 1914, and his position as managing director of United River Plate Telephone Co. Discusses her mother Florence's lifestyle in Surrey as `sub-bohemian'. Describes her childhood and the effect on the family of the aunt living with them. Recalls a year spent in California with her mother and sister Mavis, including meeting Charlie Chaplin on the ship `Olympic' in 1921 and being in a Pathietone News Film.
Talks about the Pells National Educational Union School (PNEU), a society boarding school, and her audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) after leaving school. Discusses her mother's second marriage to James Leonard Thompson and her own desire to have a career. Compares current and past attitudes to sex, contraception and reputation, particularly within the theatre world. Discusses her agents, being in a production with John Gielgud, revues with Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton and her film contracts with Twickenham Films. Recalls meeting Joan Crawford, Noel Coward and Laurence Olivier and working with Nigel Playfair. Talks about playing character roles, the importance of laughter and women in comedy.
Discusses how she maintained her private life, her marriage to widowed neighbour John Whitehouse in 1940 and the difficulty of living both a married and theatrical life. Talks about various factory jobs, their house on the Thames and the birth of sons Quentin and Steven.
Recalls their reasons for leaving England and first impressions on arriving in New Zealand in 1952. Describes a caravan trip round the North Island. Discusses her husband's job with Phillips TV and her work at the NZBC, Downstage and in repertory theatre. Mentions the New Zealand Players Professional Theatre Company, Edith and Richard Campion and writers Peter Harcourt and David Tinken. Talks about her first contact with Maori and Maori culture in Bruce Mason's play `Awatea' in 1969 and attitudes to her being first female Drama Producer for Radio New Zealand.
Discusses the difficulty her husband had with assimilating into New Zealand life, her sons growing up and living in her Pukerua Bay bach. Discusses the deaths of her sister and husband, her retirement in 1978 and her spirituality.
Venue - Pukerua Bay, Wellington : 1988
Interviewer(s) - Judith Fyfe
Arrangement: Tape numbers - OHC-004152-OHC-004154; LC-2586-LC2588; LC-3096-LC-3098
Quantity: 3 C60 cassette(s). 1 transcript(s). 1 Electronic document(s). 3 Hours Duration.
Finding Aids: Abstract Available - transcript(s) available OHA-1638 and OHDL-000577.
Alternative form available: Listening copies available at LC-2586 to LC-2588 and LC-3096 to LC-3098
Use/Reproduction: Requires the written permission of the donor or if the donor is not available the written permission of the Chief Librarian required Copyright: Held by Judith Fyfe
Access restrictions: Restricted - Content cannot be accessed without permission - Access requires written permission of the donor If the donor is unavailable the written permission of the Chief Librarian is required
There are 4 items in total.
Format: 3 C60 cassette(s), 1 transcript(s), 1 Electronic document(s), 3 Hours Duration, Oral histories, Electronic records (Digital records), Electronic documentsSee original record
Copyright: All rights reserved