WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2006-02 > 1140365538
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: PEARSON: Irene Maude Cherry Marshall Pearson--d.28/1/2006>UK
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2006 16:12:18 -0000
The Daily Telegraph and telegraph.co.uk
Cherry Marshall, who died on January 28 aged 82, became a household name in
the 1950s as Miss Susan Small, a fashion model distinguished for her tiny
waist which, at 22 inches, once held the record in the fashion world as the
smallest in London; after retiring from the catwalk she ran a leading model
agency and became a television personality on Houseparty, an afternoon chat
show for women.
She was born Irene Maud Pearson at Christchurch, Dorset, on July 25 1923.
After leaving school aged 15, she became a singer in a band, but the job
proved short-lived due to her inability to remember her words.
During the Second World War she served as a dispatch rider with the ATS,
then as a personal driver for the colonel in charge of Catterick Camp. It
was at an officers' ball there that she met the poet Emanuel Litvinoff, then
serving as a major in the Pioneer Corps.
To the dismay of her parents, but to the pleasure of Litvinoff's mother (who
assured her that she looked like a "real Yiddisher girl"), they married six
weeks later and she immediately became pregnant with their first daughter,
After the war, as Litvinoff pursued his literary career, their Hampstead
basement flat became a forum for late-night discussions on poetry and
writing at which Irene made herself useful to her literary and bohemian
guests by serving cups of tea and rock cakes salvaged from the weekly
She was unimpressed by Elias Cannetti, who came to dinner with his mistress,
a Hungarian countess, and made her feel uneasy with his forbidding manner.
But she was amused on a tour of Dr and Mrs Alex Comfort's matrimonial
bedroom to find it lined with rows of glass cases filled with snails: "I was
horrified at the thought of all those slimy creatures watching their
Her slim good looks attracted the attention of the theatrical producer Peter
Zadek, who asked her if she would like to play Salome in Oscar Wilde's play.
"You'll have to do the dance of the seven veils almost naked," he told her.
"I asked him how naked was almost. 'Well, naked,' he replied, and it was too
much for me. Bernice Rubens had less inhibitions and he gave her the part."
But with her husband's poetry bringing in very little money, Irene found it
increasingly hard to make ends meet, so she began taking modelling jobs in
West End department stores under the name Cherry Marshall (after the
Her career prospered and, after the birth of a son, she became the house
model for Susan Small, a leading name in ready-to-wear fashion, at £10 a
week. In the early 1950s, bored by modelling, she became Susan Small's
public relations manager; and in 1954 she took over a modelling school and
agency in Jermyn Street.
Over the next 30 years she established the Cherry Marshall Model Agency as a
leader in the field, rivalling Lucy Clayton, and managed such figures as
Vidal Sassoon, Patti Boyd (before her marriage to George Harrison), the
actress Suzi Kendall, the television hostess Anthea Redfern, and the models
Pat Booth, Grace Coddington, Paulene Stone and Brenda Walker.
Cherry Marshall refused to handle girls who wanted to pose nude, though not
all her charges came up to the standards she required. One to cross her
books was Ruth Ellis, a nightclub hostess who "looked good in swimsuits".
One day Cherry Marshall's assistant came into her office to say that Ruth
Ellis was in an "awful state" and could not appear on the catwalk.
"God knows what kind of fellow she's tied up with, but she's covered in
bruises from head to foot." Some time later, Cherry Marshall read the
headlines in the evening paper: "Model shoots lover: 28-year old model Ruth
Ellis shot and killed her 25-year-old public school lover outside pub in
In 1956 Cherry Marshall made international headlines when she took a group
of girls to Moscow and was pictured modelling smart western outfits before a
drab and bemused-looking crowd of Soviet citizens in the GUM department
"My dear, it was absolutely marvellous," she told reporters on her return,
though she observed that Russian men seemed to prefer their women "big and
In 1971 Cherry Marshall became one of the four regulars on the Southern
Television afternoon show Houseparty, a "keyhole" programme featuring six
women sitting in a farmhouse kitchen chatting candidly about divorce, diets
and children's tantrums.
The programme brought her a degree of celebrity, though she did not enjoy
being stopped in the street by complete strangers wanting to discuss the
Cherry Marshall published a book of memoirs, The Cat-walk (1978), and in
1986 the self-explanatory Prime Time Woman, a guide to looking good and
feeling great all your life.
During the 1990s she bought a house at Frinton-on-Sea, where she became
known as a loyal customer of the local charity shops whose second-hand
clothes she would transform into haute couture.
Her marriage to Emanuel Litvinoff was dissolved in 1970, but they remained
good friends. He survives her with their son and two daughters.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.
|PEARSON: Irene Maude Cherry Marshall Pearson--d.28/1/2006>UK by "Peter_McCrae" <>|