Marilyn, Arthur and ‘Binkie’ Beaumont

The former London home of theatrical impresario Hugh ‘Binkie’ Beaumont ( who died in 1973)  is on sale for £3.9 million, the Daily Mail reports, noting that his guests at the Georgian townhouse on Lord North Street, Westminster included Marilyn. In 1953, Beaumont produced Rattigan’s play, The Sleeping Prince, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. While Marilyn was filming the big-screen adaptation, The Prince and the Showgirl, with Olivier in 1956, husband Arthur Miller was having difficulties bringing his latest play, A View From the Bridge, to London’s West End. This is when ‘Binkie’ Beaumont stepped in, as John Elsom wrote in his 1991 book, Cold War Theatre.

The Millers with the cast of A View From the Bridge at the Comedy Theatre

“A View From the Bridge contained two censorable subjects, homosexuality and incest, which was why Anthony Field at the Comedy Theatre had sent it along to the New Watergate for a club production. Private theatre clubs offered a loophole in the censorship laws, for they were treated as homes, not places of entertainment. But the cast was too large for the New Watergate’s stage and Field consulted with lawyers about the practicality of turning the Comedy Theatre into a club. This was the first time anybody had tried to do so with a West End theatre. Field enlisted the help of Hugh Beaumont of H.M. Tennent Ltd.; and they devised a scheme whereby the law could be observed but broken.

Miller was impressed by the manoeuvre, but puzzled by British logic. Why, if you had applied for a membership card a day in advance, were you less likely to be corrupted? The answer was that club membership deterred the passerby; and women, servants and children could not be corrupted by accident. Other West End producers wondered if the law could have been evaded so easily if the play had not been backed by H.M. Tennent Ltd.

Beaumont was then the most powerful man in British theatre, who could make or break reputations, and set next season’s fashions. Miller liked him a lot. ‘A tough negotiator, he seemed to love the theatre and good plays and knew what good acting was and loved that too.'”