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A tall tale of Greer -- An old friend comes to visit
    I knew Greer Garson back in 1929 until about 1932 when she was Eileen
    Garson and we worked together at Lintas in London. I was an assistant
    office manager and she ran the research library.  We had tea together
    every day and she'd tell me about her desire to perform in a local
    theatre group.

    Her mother wasn't thrilled with this idea but I kept telling Eileen that
    she had to get out of the house and do what she wanted to do before she
    ended up married to someone like that snooty law student who kept coming
    around.  The depression had just hit and our firm was having some trouble
    and I wasn't feeling secure about my own job much less Eileen's.

    We used to go to the movies together too.  We both had such a crush on
    Douglas Fairbanks and Ronald Colman from the silent days, and now with
    the talkies we were in heaven when Colman sounded so beautiful in
    "Bulldog Drummond" and others.

    When 1932 rolled around, she was actually performing in a theatre on a
    part-time basis and she'd try to convince both George Sanders and me to
    try out as well.  George was hoping to become office manager some day,
    but he eventually saw that there was little chance of that happening and
    so he gave in and took Eileen's advice.  Of course he eventually became a
    famous actor as well.

    When Eileen had finally left the firm to pursue acting full time, I
    didn't see her again until 1933 when I went to see something called
    "Infinite Shoeblack".  I waited to see her backstage and we went out for
    a late supper.  She was so happy for me that I had settled down with my
    wonderful husband Henry. Her life now was quite hectic.  By that time
    she had received a marriage proposal, had fallen in love with another
    actor, and was receiving love letters from that same snooty law student,
    who now wanted to go to India of all places.

    When the war came, Henry and I moved to New York where he was attached
    to the British Consulate. We had to travel to Los Angeles one time in
    1942 for some sort of meeting.  Eileen was very famous by this time,
    under the name "Greer" Garson of course, and one afternoon I managed to
    persuade Henry to come with me to the MGM studios and see if we could
    get in to see her.  I knew that that was naive of me, but since we were
    so close by, why not take a chance?

    My husband had never really believed that I had known the one and only
    Greer Garson. When I saw her back in 1933 she was still known as
    "Eileen".  I hadn't kept track of her career in London and I didn't
    realize that she had changed her name to "Greer" until Henry and I saw
    her in "Pride and Prejudice" three times.  He thought that she was the
    most beautiful actress he had ever seen and couldn't believe that she
    was my Eileen.

    Well, at MGM's front ofice we couldn't get any further than the front
    desk.  I tried to look important and sound insistent, but I got nowhere
    until a man, a camera operator I think, came in the front door and heard
    my pleas.  He was on his way to Lot 17 and he agreed to tell Miss Garson
    that her old friend Sheila was at the front gate.  My husband saw the
    man wink at the security guard as he left, so Henry didn't hold out much
    hope.  I stood my ground and insisted upon waiting for a few minutes.

    We waited for about five minutes as Henry got surly, until eventually we
    heard a woman shrieking "Sheila!  Sheila!" from somewhere within, and
    then a beautiful redhead came barging through the door!  I don't have to
    tell you who it was.  She took Henry and me backstage to meet her
    costar, none other than Ronald Colman himself, who was filming "Random
    Harvest" with her.  It was just before four o'clock and they were all
    sitting down to tea just like in the old days.

    My husband was completely speechless the whole time, since he was in awe
    of Greer Garson. She tried to talk to him and congratulate him on
    marrying such a fine girl but he couldn't utter a single word.  For my
    part I actually chatted with Ronald Colman a bit.  He was quite easy to
    talk to and I managed to avoid saying stupid things like "I loved you in
    Condemned" and such.

    At the end of the tea they all had to go back to work and Greer gave
    Henry a kiss on the cheek.  All he could manage to do was to mumble
    something unintelligible.  Greer gave me the cups and saucers that Henry
    and I had just used as souvenirs.

    During tea, Greer had told me that there was a place in this new movie
    where she might be able to use my name, just for old time's sake.  Mr.
    LeRoy the director gave her a wary look but as it turned out she managed
    to do it!  It's in the scene in Rainier's office where she asks her
    assistant Sheila for a report.
If you'd like to hear a water-cooler conversation between Greer, Sheila, and George Sanders from the old days, click here.