I just happened to be musing about hairy chests, with an old friend, when I remembered seeing the movie "Georgy Girl," as a young girl, which starred Alan Bates. This was one of Bates's less memorable roles in a luminous acting career which included "Gosford Park," "Women in Love," "Hamlet," and "Nijinsky," but it was quite a game changer for me.
You may recall "Georgy Girl" contains a few scenes with a shirtless, hirsute Alan Bates who was quite dashing. I always had a real hankering for hairy chests, even as a fifteen year old whose favorite pastimes were reading "Story of O,"and her parents' marriage manuals. I was just discovering the first rumblings of what could later only be called full blown lust.
After developing an immense crush on Bates, I dashed off a note to him in care of his agent saying only: "I like your hairy chest. The next time you come to New York, why don't we have dinner." I also managed to squeeze in the fact that I was only fifteen.
A few months later, I got a note back on his agent's stationery. It was hilarious, and said something like "Mr. Bates was very flattered by your letter, and your kind offer to have dinner with him the next time he's in New York, but he could get arrested for going out with you." The person who wrote, and/or typed it must have been laughing her socks off.
I couldn't help but think then, as I do now, what a gracious, generous, and classy thing it was to even respond, and what a sense of humor! It says a lot about Alan Bates, the man.
Amazingly, Bates would have turned 76 on Feb. 17th. He passed away two months before his 70th birthday. Rest in peace, Alan Bates, and know that your hairy chest has found a permanent home in my memory.