Web Page No 2266
27th May 2016
Top Picture: Molly in her younger days
Second Picture: That Flash advert
Third Picture: The Rentaghost team
Forth Picture: Her first best seller
Mary Weir, who was always known as Molly Weir was a diminutive Scottish actress, most notable for her role in later life as the long-running character Hazel the McWitch in the BBC TV series Rentaghost. She was also the sister of naturalist and broadcaster Tom Weir.
She was born in Glasgow in March 1910 and brought up in the Springburn area of the city and from an early age was involved in local amateur dramatics. Acting was to be her life. In her early professional career, she was a well-known radio actress, featuring in many comedy shows, such as ITMA. She started performing on Scottish radio in 1939, and later wrote radio scripts for Woman's Hour, Children's Hour and Home This Afternoon.
She made her film debut in 1949, and had a regular role as the housekeeper, Aggie McDonald, in the radio and television sitcom Life With The Lyons with Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels. During the 1970s and early 1980s she found fame as a writer, with several volumes of best-selling memoirs, notably, Shoes Were For Sunday. She also appeared in a series of television advertisements for Flash the household cleaner was best known for uttering the words "Flash - cleans baths without scratching" in early 1970 . In 1969 she appeared in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie starring Maggie Smith, she and Helena Gloag played the Kerr sisters, the sewing mistresses of Marcia Blaine School for Girls. In 1970 these two reprised their collaboration in Scrooge, playing old sisters in debt to Mr Scrooge, played by Albert Finney.
In the 1970s she was one of the presenters of Teatime Tales, a television series broadcast by Scottish TV in which she recalled her childhood. She also appeared in a pop video for the Bluebells 1983 hit Young At Heart.
After her death, Molly Weir's ashes were scattered on the banks of Loch Lomond, a favourite holiday location; and almost all her estate (of nearly £1.9 million), was bequeathed to charities and good causes. Her fortune was mainly due to the profits from the eight volumes of memoirs that she wrote about her tough upbringing and life as an actress. Her memoirs about her childhood in Glasgow formed the trilogy Shoes were for Sunday, Best Foot Forward and One Toe on the Ladder. They were later followed by titles such as Stepping into the Spotlight and Walking into the Lyons Den.
She died in November 2005 aged 94,
She was only 4ft 10in tall and grew up in poverty in the deprived Springburn area of north Glasgow, which in 2002 achieved the unenviable reputation as the second poorest parliamentary constituency in the UK.
The eldest of four children, she was raised by her mother following the death of her father, a soldier, who was killed in 1914.
She moved to London in 1945, and although she lived for many years in Pinner before her death in a nursing home in Denham, she never forgot her Scottish roots and in 2000 was voted Scotswoman of the Year. She was widowed following the death of her husband and childhood sweetheart, Sandy Hamilton, in 1997 and had no children. She left the bulk of her fortune to eight charities.
Donations of more than £200,000 each will be made to the National Trust, the National Trust for Scotland, the Parkinson's Disease Society, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, the Stroke Association, the Alzheimer's Society, Cancer Research UK and the Arthritis Research Campaign. But her will also detailed individual legacies of £3,000, £2,000 and £1,000 to more than 30 other charities and good causes which were close to her heart, including many in Scotland, such as the West of Scotland Housing Association to provide holidays for tenant families, and St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh. She also left £500 to the Friends of Loch Lomond where her ashes were scattered following cremation, and bequeathed all future royalties and the profits from her books to Springburn social services to benefit the elderly and the poor.
She also left £8,000 to provide "extra comforts" for residents of the Balornock and Springburn homes for the elderly in Glasgow, and elderly patients in the city's Stobhill and Ruchill hospitals.
I met the lady only once and that was at the revived Radio Show in Olympia in the mid-1980s. I had been watching an interview with Robert Morley and wandered over to the children’s section. There in the Story Den was Mollie Weir sat on a tree stump surrounded by children all sitting on the floor. She was telling them a story, I forget which, but the children were enthralled. When the story ended she got up to leave and on the way out spoke to as many children as she could. On reaching the entrance to the Story Den she spied me standing there and the next thing I knew was that she had come over and taken my arm saying ‘will you escort me to the hospitality room please?’ I had no idea where it was but who could say no to such a request but she did have to guide me to where the place was. All the time she was on my arm she did not stop talking, I heard all about her husband’s illnesses and problems meaning he could not accompany her that day, what she was going to cook for his tea and where she was going for the rest of the week. I heard all about them meeting at school and she was very proud of the fact that she had married her childhood sweetheart and that they had been married for almost fifty years.
On reaching the hospitality room a BBC employee took her under his wing but as she left me she reached up and kissed my cheek, and said “thank you for your company, I really did enjoy our chat”. I did not have the heart to tell her that I had hardly a chance to get a word in!!!!
Keep in touch
News and Views:
On this day 27th May 1960-1965
On 27/05/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Stirling Moss wins Monaco Grand Prix.
On 27/05/1961 the number one single was You're Driving Me Crazy - The Temperance Seven and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/05/1962 the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/05/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Manchester Utd win FA Cup.
On 27/05/1964 the number one single was Juliet - Four Pennies and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/05/1965 the number one single was Where Are You Now (My Love) - Jackie Trent and the number one album was Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Muhammed Ali floors Sonny Liston.