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From Miss Ireland to Perfect Mother-in Law

Miss Ireland and Miss Universe semi-finalist Olive White (right) with Mickey Mouse, Disneyland 1961

Ned’s sister posted a fantastic picture on Facebook the other day of their mother with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland in 1961. Olive White was Miss Ireland in 1961 / 1962 and reached the final 15 in that year’s Miss Universe. The finalists visited Disneyland where the picture was taken. Asked about it, Olive said ‘I remember it like it was yesterday’. Shortly afterwards, she met Ned’s father, Kits, and they married in 1964.

Failing to get any anecdotal help from Ned to make this a bit more interesting, I spent some time trawling through the archives to find a picture or two to pop alongside these musings. Stumbling across a piece in the Chicago Tribune on January 26th 1964 about the wedding, the headline got my attention immediately:

‘TV fans in riot at wedding of ex-Miss Ireland’

Really?? How exciting! The article went on to explain: ‘Police battled for half an hour with TV fans outside a Dublin church today when a former Miss Ireland married the son of Daphne du Maurier…the crowd was so heavy that the police formed a flying wedge to escort the couple from the church but it took half an hour to reach their car after the wedding.’

Newly engaged Olive White & Kits Browning

It goes on to mention that a woman was rushed off to hospital with a ‘possible fractured leg’ and others sustained ‘minor injuries’. Good grief! When Ned & I got married, the Tunbridge Wells police remained wholly undisturbed, which, upon reflection, can only be a good thing.

Given that Du Maurier Watches has its roots firmly in the du Maurier / Browning side of the family, I thought it important to give the White side a well-deserved mention. The Browning / White wedding may have been mobbed in part because Kits is Daphne du Maurier’s son, but the wedding was in Dublin, and Olive White was a very famous name in Ireland at the time. When interviewed for the Irish Times in 2014, a journalist told her that she was ‘our Kate Moss’.

The only other written reference to Olive that I can find in the public domain, is a quote from that 2014 interview. The writer of the article, Alison Jameson, was doing a piece on mothers-in-law. The coincidence that I intended to write our next blog post about my mother-in-law, obviously didn’t escape me. I won’t quote the whole thing but it begins:

Listening to an interview with former Miss Ireland Olive White about her life and her husband’s mother, Daphne du Maurier, I was a bit disappointed to hear the writer described as “the most perfect mother-in-law”. The piece goes on to say that this description as ‘perfect’ is hard to believe due to Daphne du Maurier’s well documented eccentricities. I am paraphrasing somewhat but do have a full read if you like: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/mother-in-law-day-a-good-time-to-cut-them-some-slack-1.1740677

It must be extremely hard to find a diplomatic answer to a question about your mother-in-law at the best of times, but especially when the lady in question is Daphne du Maurier. Too full of praise simply doesn’t ring true yet criticism can’t be a good line to take. I can surmise from experience, however, that if the former Miss Ireland took any hints and tips from her own mother-in-law, then, whilst not necessarily ‘perfect’, she must have been rather good at the job!

Comments

Help! I’m compiling the Selected Letters of a man Daphne du Maurier knew well in the 30’s onwards, and seek HIS side of their long correspondence. A close friend and colleague of Boy Browning, he was known as Chink – Major General Eric Dorman-Smith (1895-1969), who postwar changed his name to Dorman O Gowan and lived at Bellamont Forest, Cootehill, Co. Cavan. Their letters are remembered by his son – but his are lost. Did she keep them? He wrote beautifully, as did she. Fingers crossed! I live in Ireland – often travel to England and would love to meet..

Wow, that’s so interesting, thanks for getting in touch. We will have a dig around to see if anyone knows anything about these letters. I’ll be in touch if we find anything.

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