My haven: The Bread star Jean Boht, 76, relaxes in the living room of her Chelsea home with her rescue dog Diva
A note from the Obamas and an essay written by her daughter are some of Jean's favourite things
1 EARNING A CRUST
Carl’s American and the Obamas sent this birthday message to his mother in Florida when she turned 100 in 2010. She passed away soon after, but she was always so generous to us. We had no money at all until the 80s. Carl composed the score for the documentary series The World At War in the 70s, but he only got a monthly salary, and I earned just 18 a week until I starred in Bread in the 80s. It got 20 million viewers and changed my life.
2 FAMILY FIRM
I treasure this essay about the family car written by my daughter Hannah when she was seven. She’s 39 now, lives in LA and has directed two films, Mothers & Daughters and The Understudy, which I appeared in and Carl wrote the score for. That’s the poster for it in the corner. My other daughter, Jessie, 37, works for the Carl Davis Collection, our record company. She’s married with three children and lives in Windsor.
3 BURNING LOVE
When the Government warned of strikes and power cuts in the 70s I bought this Belgian wood-burning stove from a little shop in south London just in case. Sadly, when I tried it out, I found the interior had collapsed and the whole house was filled with smoke. We could all have died. It’s an ornament now because I think it’s so pretty – I’ve moved house five times since I bought it and it’s come with me every time.
4 CHILD STAR
My E.T. puppet reminds me of one of my favourite films. We never had films like that to stir our imaginations when I was growing up, so I used to write my own shows and perform them. We lived in the Wirral on Merseyside and I’d invite all the local kids and their parents for a ha’penny each. I’d send my sister to the cake shop to get some buns and sell them in the interval. I loved that part of my life.
5 MY OLD MASTER
I bought this painting at an art shop for 350 in the late-80s. It’s almost identical to Titian’s Flora, and I had to have it as it was so beautiful. The paint was flaking off, but the man said. ‘I’ve got a spare hour, I’ll line it for you.’ Then he said, ‘My God, there are l6th-century pigments in the paint – it could have been painted in Titian’s studio.’ I took it to Christie’s auctioneers and they established it’s probably by one of Titian’s students.
6 ROYAL COMMAND
Carl met the Queen in 1982 at the Royal Command Performance at the Odeon in Leicester Square. They played the wonderful score he’d written for a reissue of the 1927 silent film Napoleon. When he was introduced to the Queen afterwards he said he was just transfixed by her emerald necklace, but I was right behind and heard her tell him how much she had enjoyed his work. This picture captures the moment.
Jean supports Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest canine welfare charity. See www.dogstrust.org.uk