Leslie Howard: What He Means to Me (1943)

Leslie Howard: What He Means to Me

Like most women, I feel a sense of personal loss in the death of Leslie Howard.
He was the one film star I felt was really like the characters he portrayed. Or, rather, the characters he portrayed all took on part of his personal charm.
His gently quizzical air, the little twinkle in his rather short-sighted eyes were all part of the real Leslie Howard.
You couldn’t help being aware of his sincerity and understanding. But–and this is what women sensed and what appealed to them–you also felt he could and would land a neat sock on the jaw to anyone who really asked for it.

He wasn’t showily good-looking. I never thought of him as “marvelous” and “wonderful” in the way women go mad about other stars whose profile or curly hair overshadows the man.
He won real respect and affection, not the passing applause of the glamour boy who’s in the headlines to-day and forgotten to-morrow.
I never heard is voice or saw him in a film–his natural courtliness, his Britishness–without feeling surer about myself and having a surer faith about the world in general.
I saw him in every film. Most of all I’ll remember him as Professor Higgins in “Pygmalion” in his scenes with the naughty Liza, and as the musician in “Escape to Happiness.” The scene where he picks up the unconscious body of his daughter, who has been run over as she crosses the street to meet him, was Howard at his best.
His broadcasts and Brains Trust appearances revealed he was a modest, deep-thinking man, intellectual without being a bore. He was an idealist. There was the poet in him, too, although he’d have hated to admit it.

Leslie Howard was unique in that he was as popular with men as with women.
We’ll miss the man and what he stood for as well as the actor. He was a very gallant gentleman.

E.M.

(The Sunday Post, June 6, 1943)