Titbits – 18 February 1984


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Simon MacCorkindale and Susan GeorgeBeast Get The Beauty

Manimal star is set to marry Susan George

BRITISH actor Simon MacCorkindale is about to take on the most important role of his life – husband to beautiful actress Susan George. They plan to marry as soon as his busy Hollywood schedules permit.

“We spend every spare moment together,” says Simon, 32, who shares a love-nest in plush Beverly Hills with Susan. It’s his second marriage – the first, to actress Fiona Fullerton, broke up after Simon made it clear he wanted to be a superstar – but it’s Susan’s first trip down the aisle.

British viewers will soon be seeing Simon as never before in Manimal, a new American series to be shown on BBC1. In it, he stars as Professor Jonathan Chase, a psychologist who turns crime-buster in a novel way – he transforms himself into any animal he chooses and dashes off in hot pursuit of the villains.

“It’s really exciting,” says one member of the crew. “One week we’ll be working with an elephant, the next it could be a panther, an eagle or even a snake.”

Critics in America aren’t quite so enthusiastic about the show, but Simon refuses to commit himself. He just says: “It makes a bit of a change, don’t you think?”

A change is exactly what it is – for Simon’s clean-cut good looks are transformed stage by stage into the beast of the week, which means submitting to hours in the hands of top make-up man Stan Winston. And effects are quite spectacular.

It seems Simon has none of the traditional actor’s reservations about working with animals. Just when we all thought it was safe to go back to the cinema, out came his new film Jaws 3D.

Simon MacCorkindale as Jonathan Chase in ManimalThis time he plays a world-famous underwater film maker Philip FitzRoyce. When he’s called in to work in a lagoon filled with a maze of underwater viewing tunnels, a passing shark drops in for a surprise visit.

Simon says: “I’d never done any diving before, so I had to put in a lot of practice before I was able to do the underwater sequences with an aqualung strapped to my back.”

But nothing could have prepared him for the moment disaster struck during filming. As “Jaws” burst in through a glass tunnel, thousands of gallons of water gushed in too, knocking out one of the stuntmen and leaving the set awash with ruined camera equipment.

One of the cast was heard to remark at the time: “Isn’t there an easier way to end the film than by drowning all the actors?”
Now Simon says he’ll be looking for something a little more tame for his next film role.

He explains: “I was shot dead in Death On The Nile, wounded by a bullet in Cabo Blanco, drowned in I, Claudius. Then, I hung myself in An Outpost Of Progress, and in The Sword And The Sorcerer I was chained up and tortured.

“I think I’ve just about earned something a bit less strenuous!”

Simon believes his career might never have taken off at all if he had stayed at home, back in England.

He says: “This is where the real work is and I’m right in the centre of things. I’ve been here for over two years now and I honestly don’t regret a moment of it.”

But he hasn’t forgotten his home completely.

“I still think of myself as a very English actor,” he says.

“There are many times when I miss home very much. And who knows, if Manimal and Jaws don’t take off, I might be back sooner than expected!”


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