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Over the Easter bank holiday weekend ITV3 have shown 21 of the most iconic Carry On films. One of Carry On’s most beloved stars was Hattie, who featured in 14 of the 30 British comedies, often playing a roster of no-nonsense headteacher and matrons. However, away from the Carry On classics, Hattie lived a colourful and turbulent life at odds with the roles she played on screen.
In 1949 she married Dad’s Army star John Le Mesurier and the couple had two sons together, Robin and Jake.
However in 1962, aged 40 and at the height of her Carry On fame, Hattie met John Schofield, after he wrote to her inviting her to become patron of the Leukaemia Research fund.
Mr Schofield was seven years her junior, and on the verge of separating from his wife Brenda after the couple’s relationship was strained by their son’s cancer diagnosis.
When Mr Schofield and Hattie met they immediately hit it off and one night, after a charity benefit, they ended up in bed, embarking on a passionate affair.
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Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Brenda explained: “John was not a good dad ‒ he was never cut out to be a father ‒ but he was a charismatic personality. Our split-up was totally amicable. We just gradually grew apart.
“When you have a sick child you handle it in different ways. John wanted to go out and party while I was concentrating on looking after our son.
“In the end I just realised that he was not there when I wanted him to be so we separated. But we remained friends and my second husband Victor and I would go and visit him and Hattie.”
Meanwhile Hattie’s biographer Andrew Merriman described Mr Schofield as a “devastatingly handsome, charismatic East Ender to whom she was immediately attracted.”
John Le Mesurier was initially unaware of the affair
He added: “He was articulate, charming and funny and flattered Hattie shamelessly.
“Hattie quickly became besotted with him and, being so unconfident about her own looks, couldn’t believe that someone so stunningly attractive could find her equally seductive”.
Hattie’s marriage to Mr Le Mesurier had been widely viewed as secure and for a while the Dad’s Army star was oblivious to the affair.
It was only while filming 1964 film ‘The Moon-Spinners’ that the actor realised that something was not right at home.
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Hattie divorced her husband in 1965
He wrote in his autobiography: “So much was clear to me when I returned from a few weeks on location to find that Schofield was well on the way to acting the part of surrogate father. Certainly the children enjoyed his happy-go-lucky ways and pestered him to take them bowling or on other exciting treats.
“Hattie tried to make light of the latest change in our domestic routine. After all we ran an open house with friends popping in unannounced and not infrequently staying with us for days or weeks on end.
“But it would have been foolish not to know that this was different. I could have walked out but whatever my failings, I loved Hattie and the children and I was certain ‒ I had to be certain ‒ that we could repair the damage. Jealousy is not in my character and I held firmly a belief that Hattie was in control of her emotions.”
Mr Le Mesurier, however, found it increasingly hard to cope with the situation and by August 1965 the couple divorced after more than 15 years of marriage.
Hattie’s was at the height of her fame in the Sixties
Once Mr Le Mesurier left the family home, Hattie and Mr Schofield started a public relationship together, but it was to be short-lived.
Mr Schofield began trying to seduce a number of Hattie’s friends, while also allegedly becoming violent towards the actress.
Hattie is said to have admitted to Bruce Copp, who ran a Chelsea Restaurant the actress regularly visited, that Mr Schofield had hit her, while Mr Mesurier recalled her visiting him in hospital with a black eye.
In his autobiography he claimed: “Hattie arrived one morning with some mail and magazines, coupled with the good news that I was going to be out in three days’ time.
“She was wearing a pair of dark glasses. She said that she had bumped into something and given herself a black eye. I knew better. The truth was that she had been in a fight with Schofield ‒ he was jealous of Hattie’s visits to me and felt threatened.”
The relationship between Hattie and Mr Schofield ended in 1966 when the couple had a huge row on the set of ‘The Bobo in Rome’.
Mr Schofield told the actress he had fallen in love with another woman, leaving Hattie devastated.
Back at home Hattie was admitted to hospital with kidney infection, and was visited by Mr Schofield, who reiterated their relationship was over, before allegedly flinging a gold medallion she had given him, inscribed with the words ‘I love you’ onto her hospital bed.
A heartbroken Hattie was reportedly inconsolable, sobbing down the phone to friends.
‘A Jobbing Actor’ was written by John Le Mesurier and published by Penguin in 1987. You can find it here.