Robert Died in My Arms and I Feel So Lost without Him. Acting Doesn't Prepare You for R Eal Grief; BILLIE WHITELAW TALKS MOVINGLY ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT HER HUSBAND

Daily Mail (London), March 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Robert Died in My Arms and I Feel So Lost without Him. Acting Doesn't Prepare You for R Eal Grief; BILLIE WHITELAW TALKS MOVINGLY ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT HER HUSBAND


Byline: ANGELA LAMBERT

BILLIE WHITELAW, for 40 years one of the greatest actresses on the British stage, is coming to terms with a new role. Her husband - author and playwright Robert Muller - died last May. They had been happily married for more than 30 years.

He was much more than the magnet that drew her home after an evening at the theatre; he was the rock and anchor of her life. From the moment she first laid eyes on Robert, Billie knew he was different; that this man would be with her until the day she died. It had never occurred that he might die first. Today, nine months later, she has still not begun to come to terms with being on her own.

'Being an actress does not prepare you for real pain or grief. All it does is give you the discipline to put up a good front. But I don't know how to play this role - that of the widow, the woman whose husband has died - and it's very confusing.

'I know how to be a wife or a mother or a grandmother but I don't know how to be a widow. I laugh. I cry. I go like a roller-coaster from one to the other. Afterwards, I've gone through this intense activity, and finally I walk into an empty flat and think: "Now what?" I feel like a loose piece of string. I don't know where to centre my life.' Billie is outwardly composed.

She sits in her small Hampstead flat, casually dressed. Her blonde hair is drawn back from her face and she wears hardly any makeup. She is still, in her

from her face and she wears makeup. She is still, in her mid-60s, very beautiful.

Robert was older than her, though by only eight years.

But, in the summer of 1982 at their holiday home in the South of France, he had suffered a heart attack from which he very nearly died.

'From then on he knew he was living on borrowed time. In the months before, he was writing in a white heat, doing some of the best work of his life.

'But, after a massive stroke on February 3, 1997, he suffered so unacceptably. He was a man with a very fine intellect who went through intolerable mental and physical suffering and I could do nothing to alleviate it. He could not move and, by the end, he could not speak, though his mind was unaffected and he knew exactly what was going on.

'For 15 months, between his stroke and his death, I was at the hospital all the time. Practically all day and every day, supported by our son Matt.

Being with Robert was the entire focus of my life. I never had to say to myself: "Well, now what do I do?"

'He died in my arms on May 27, 1998, his eyes fixed on mine.

Matt, who is 31, was there and also held his father. I was so relieved that we were both with him.

EVEN before he was ill he had said to me: "If I die, I want you and Matty to take my ashes and sprinkle them on the Alster (a great lake that runs through the city of Hamburg)." We took his ashes back to the city where he was born and let them float away. Matt and I held hands and watched him freely go where he wanted to go.

'Thank God for the family.

Robert and Matt and I have shared things for which I will be eternally grateful and now Matt and his partner, Nicky, and their children (Sam, three, and, Holly, 20 months) are the most important things in my life.' Sam was named by her son after one of his schoolfriends, who died aged only 18, but also after playwright Samuel Beck-ett. Billie did her best and most demanding work as an actress in his plays. She

married for the first time in 1952, aged 19.

Her husband, Peter Vaughan, was an actor 12 years her senior, but she had always tended to look for father figures. Theirs turned out, however, to be a childless and not very happy marriage. One evening, soon after their divorce in 1966, she met Robert Muller at the house of mutual friends.

'I found myself spending the next five hours spewing out my entire life story. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Robert Died in My Arms and I Feel So Lost without Him. Acting Doesn't Prepare You for R Eal Grief; BILLIE WHITELAW TALKS MOVINGLY ABOUT LIFE WITHOUT HER HUSBAND
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.