22/05/2024
Norwich, GB 17 C
Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)

MAGGIE PERKINS, aged 92

REFRESHING THE PARTS …

Born Maggie Spirito in Barnet, her parents were Samuel and Gwendoline. They were immigrants from Southern Italy.

In 1945, the family home was totally destroyed by a doodlebug. Fortunately, everybody was away from the house at the time.

German Doodlebug (courtesy Imperial War Museum)

When Maggie left school, she began work as a typist at the MGM Studios (Elstree) in Borehamwood. She was a lively, enthusiastic and popular character and no problem was too big (or too small) for her. Her attitude was noted by those in charge, and she quickly found herself being promoted.

MGM logo (courtesy Amazon)

She became a ‘continuity girl’, using the professional name of ‘Peggy Spirito’. She married engineer Gordon Perkins and took a short career break to bring up their two sons, John and Robert.

When she returned, she worked behind camera at the studios for over 10 years, providing continuity, script supervision and ultimately script editing on the many television shows produced there.

She formed friendships with people working at the top of the industry – and at the bottom: from tea ladies and delivery boys to leading producers and directors – and with household names like Diana Rigg, Roger Moore and Patrick McGoohan.

From here she moved into films, working on ‘One Million Years BC’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen’.

She once featured, herself, in a poster advertising ‘Old Spice’.

But she quickly recognized that TV (and film) advertising was a growing industry and moved into this. Many young directors were beginning their careers here – and she was proud that she had spotted a young Alan Parker as “one to watch.”

She found herself working in many glamorous locations such as France, Spain, Italy, California and the Bahamas.

She worked on iconic adverts for brands such as Cinzano, Cockburn’s port and Hamlet cigars (“Happiness, is a cigar called Hamlet”).

ALL SIX 1970’S CINZANO Adverts with Joan Collins & Leonard Rossiter. – YouTube

It was during a shoot in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco that she came up with the famous tagline for Heineken Beer – “it refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.”

She arranged for Alan Parker to direct the adverts but his work on the film ‘Bugsy Malone’ overran, so he was unavailable. He apologized profusely to her – and they became very close friends. They worked together on many more projects.

Maggie retired in 1990. She then became a food writer. She campaigned for food allergen awareness after developing anaphylaxis.

She wrote for many magazines including Reader’s Digest, the Lancet, the New Scientist and the British Medical Journal.

She was also an outstanding cook and baker – known by all her friends and family for her cakes and desserts.

With Gordon, she moved into a care home in Ealing a few years ago. She became the life and soul of the home, noted for her singing (especially musical theatre songs).

Gordon died in 2020.

RIP – Reselling Irrelevant Products

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