Miriam Was in Carrie, Not in Carry on; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Article excerpt

QUESTION Was Miriam Hopkins, who starred alongside Errol Flynn in the film Virginia City, the same person who in later years played a minor part in a number of Carry On films?

AMERICAN Miriam Hopkins was a major Broadway and Hollywood star of the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. She starred in the first full-colour feature film Vanity Fair and succeeded Tallulah Bankhead in The Skin Of Our Teeth on Broadway. She also starred in the 1931 version of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde.

She was difficult to work with, as fellow actors and biographers attest, especially as her star began to wane as she got older.

Yet in the Fifties and Sixties, she continued to take leading parts on Broadway, succeeding Jo Van Fleet in Look Homeward, Angel and Summer Stock and in supporting parts in major films such as Wyler's The Loudest Whisper (a remake of These Three in which she'd starred in the Thirties) and Arthur Penn's The Chase as Robert Redford's mother.

She was a very proud woman who would never have worked for the small salary paid by the British Carry On producers.

The idea might have arisen because in 1952 she did star with Laurence Olivier in the film Carrie or because if you do an internet search on 'Miriam Hopkins' and 'Carry On', some sites' synopses can look confusing if not opened fully.

Peter Ferguson, London N1.

QUESTION Why can't wasps and bees find their way out of an open window, when they can reputedly sense food a mile away?

IT IS true that many insects have a remarkable sense of smell, many being able to detect smells on an almost molecular level. Their eyes are also highly adapted, but they have evolved to cope with nature, not man's artificial world.

An insect's eye is very different from ours, their 'compound eyes' are composed of a large number (generally a few hundred to thousands) of facets, each facing a slightly different direction from its neighbours.

Each facet records a general impression of the colour and intensity of the light which comes from the direction in which it faces, but does not produce a complete image. …