16/07/2024
Norwich, GB 15 C
Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)

THE DOWAGER MARCHIONESS OF BATH, aged 78

THE NAKED LADY OF LONGLEAT

Born Anna Gyamarthy in Budapest, her father, Laszlo, was a mathematician and her mother, Mary Lojobne, a poet. It was an extremely turbulent household.

When Anna was just six, her mother left her husband, going to France with her daughter on a false passport.

Anna never saw her father again.

Her mother remarried, and Anna grew up in, “a very Bohemian family.”

When Anna was 15, in 1959, she skipped school one day and went to a Parisian cinema. She became the subject of unwanted attentions from the man sitting next to her.

She moved seats and found herself sitting next to an unkempt Englishman.

After the film was over, he introduced himself as Alexander Bath, an art student. He was 26 years old. He took her for a coffee.

He was actually Alexander Thynne, Viscount Weymouth, the son of the 6th Marquess of Bath, and heir to the family estate of Longleat. He had been educated at Eton and Oxford University and had a spell in the Life Guards.

Anna was very impressed with Alexander – “A real man chasing me – Prince Charming in disguise.” Except within a month, he had persuaded her to pose naked for him, in his art studio.

They started an affair. He took Anna off to South America and they toured the continent in his Jaguar.

When they returned to France, he made it clear he didn’t want to marry her. He didn’t believe in marriage.

However, he did get married, to Tania Duckworth, a model. Because he didn’t believe in the institution, he called it an ‘anti-marriage’.

He kept up his on-off affair with Anna, who had by then become an actress, working under the stage name of Anna Gael.

She appeared in various French television programmes produced by Gilbert Pineau, whom she married in 1963.

Anna and Gilbert (courtesy IMDb)

Anna started appearing in various movies, made in Hungary, Germany, Italy and France. Many of them were of a slightly erotic nature and Anna was often seen on screen with her clothes off.

Her most famous film was ‘Therese and Isabelle’, an adaptation of a Violette Leduc novel. Anna stared alongside Swedish actress Essy Persson. It was about schoolgirl lovers. Anna later denied it was a pornographic film.

One critic called it, “The worst movie of the year – masquerading as an art film to get into respectable cinemas.”

Another film was ‘Sexcitement in Time and Space’, starring James Robertson Justice and Charles Hawtrey.

In the late 1960s, Alexander, by now in his mid-thirties, decided he wanted a son and heir. His ‘anti-wife’, Tania, refused to give him one, so they had an ‘anti-divorce’.

He offered Anna the chance to become his second wife. She jumped at the chance, immediately divorcing Pineau. “I broached the idea of a son and asked did she want to be a mother?”

In 1969, Alexander and Anna got married at Kensington Registry Office, on a day’s break from her filming schedule. By now, she was three months pregnant. They celebrated their wedding by going for a pizza. Anna said it was, “awfully romantic.”

She was accused of marrying Alexander for his money, which she denied. She claimed, “I married my husband for love not money.”

Then they moved into Longleat. They had separate rooms in the house and only met up for dinner.

Their daughter Lenka was born there (to be followed by a son, Ceawlin – named after a Dark Ages King of Wessex). Anna was determined to keep working. “I can’t sacrifice myself for anyone. I would be bitter and unbearable to be with.”

The relationship was unorthodox – an ‘open marriage’. Anna liked the title ‘Lady Thynne’ but hated Longleat. She kept a penthouse in Paris and lived there most of the time, with just occasional visits to Wiltshire. She had a lover in the French capital.

Later on, their son said, “It was never quite as easy and harmonious as an ‘open-marriage’, but that’s the general gist”.

Alexander brought the children up, with the help of a nanny. When asked about this arrangement, Anna said, “I had an unstable upbringing. My children would have roots and a certain way of life that I never had. I bought all that with my marriage as a sort of revenge on my childhood.”

Alexander also had many affairs. He called the women he had relationships with, ‘Wifelets’. Over the years, there were 75 of them. Some were installed in the grace-and-favour cottages on the Longleat estate. Nevertheless, he was notoriously mean. He refused to pay any train or taxi fares for his ‘lady-friends’ and fed them the cheapest food and wine.

Alexander stood for Parliament in the February 1974 general election. His campaign was based about making Longleat independent from the rest of the UK. He was not elected.

He never had any intention of leaving his wife. He called her, “The sexiest actress of all time.” Writer Shirley Conran (wifelet 19) remembered her jealousy when she realised he would not divorce Anna.

Shirley Conran (courtesy BBC)

The year after Lenka’s birth, Anna appeared in Penthouse. The British press had a field day. They dubbed Anna the “Naked Lady of Longleat”.

Anna’s film career (courtesy Rialto Report)

In later years, she refused to let anybody publish these nude images. She said times and attitudes had changed – and threatened to sue anybody who used the pictures.

Anna kept acting, appearing in television shows, ‘The Persuaders’ and ‘The Sweeney 2’ amongst others.

Then, she branched out in a totally different direction, becoming a war correspondent for the French magazine, Le Point. She went to report on the Vietnam War, the independence struggle in Bangladesh, racial conflict in South Africa and ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

She got caught in an air raid in Cambodia and was besieged for four days. “We lived in a hole, ate in a hole, peed in a hole, not daring to get out, because the mortars were coming in from everywhere.”

Her reports were highly respected. They led her to announce in 1981, that she was giving up her acting career. Anna also wrote many books on international politics.

Ironically, being a journalist, Anna refused ever to be interviewed.

Meanwhile, Alexander continued to lead his hedonistic, hippy lifestyle at home. He painted Kama Sutra murals on the walls of Longleat, and revelled in press nicknames like, ‘The Loin of Longleat’ and the ‘Lord of Love’.

When Longleat was opened to the public, the police shut the rooms with the murals for being obscene.

In 1992, Alexander’s father died, and he became the 7th Marquess of Bath. He inherited a 10,000-acre estate, a wildlife park and about £150 million.

Their son, Ceawlin, said of his mother, “She found being the Lady of Longleat fun for about seven months and then realised it was not that great.”

Anna returned from Paris once every three months and stayed for about ten days. She was known as the ‘absentee chatelaine’. She said she would not let herself be ‘owned’ by the house.

She maintained that she phoned her husband every morning to ensure he had taken his diabetes medication. “I’m terribly fond of him”.

Anna in later years (courtesy Press Reader)

In 2010, he handed over the running of Longleat Enterprises Ltd, to Ceawlin – and conflict began immediately over how the business should be run.

In 2013, Ceawlin married model Emma McQuiston, the daughter of a Nigerian oil magnate. She became Emma Weymouth.

Anna immediately objected to the marriage. She asked her son if he was, “sure about ruining 400 years of bloodline?”

She refused to attend her son’s wedding, and Alexander did not attend either. They both claimed a prior engagement.

Ceawlin and Emma moved into Longleat and immediately had Alexander’s wall murals painted over. The Marquess was furious.

When Ceawlin and Emma had their children (two boys), he refused to let his mother near them. He said he did not want his sons, “contaminated by her racism.” She always denied she was racist, saying she just didn’t think Emma was the right partner for him.

In 2019, Emma appeared on the television show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – the first titled lady to appear on the programme. Reputedly, Anna did not watch it.

Emma and Aljaz on Strictly (courtesy You Tube)

In 2020, Alexander caught Covid and consequently died of pneumonia. Ceawlin became the 8th Marquess of Bath. It also meant Emma became the first black Marchioness in British history.

Anna also became the Dowager Marchioness.

Anna (courtesy The Steeple Times)

At this point, Anna granted a rare interview. She said, “I don’t normally admit to having a naughty past in scandalous films…I’m very respectable now, dear.” She added, “I have lived life to the full.”

Her daughter Lenka, is a model and television researcher.

Anna died in her Paris apartment.

RIP – Racist Inhabits Paris

 

 

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