Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Anthony Schaffer, Highgate East Cemetery

Anthony Schaffer was born in Liverpool in 1926 to a prosperous Jewish family. His identical twin brother, Peter was born five minutes later. The two went to school together, worked down the mines together as Bevin Boys during the war, collaborated on crime stories and thrillers in the thrillers and both started writing for stage, film and television at roughly the same time. On the 12th January 1970 ‘Sleuth’ premiered at the Theatre Royal in Brighton. In a burst of creativity over the next few years Anthony worked on the script of ‘Frenzy’ for Alfred Hitchcock and wrote the most famous British cult movie ‘The Wicker Man.’ Thereafter he descended to writing the scripts for adaptations of Agatha Christie movies and eventually moved to Australia. Brother Peter wrote ‘Equus’ and ‘Amadeus’ amongst other works and garnered considerably more critical and commercial success.

His epitaph calls him 'The Grand Artificer of Mysteries' and he certainly left one for everyone to solve when he died. Thrice married by the time of his death his current wife, the actress Diane Cilento was living in Australia where Schaffer too was officially domiciled but he actually spent most of his time at his flat in Chelsea with American-Italian Marie Josette Capece Minutolo. After Schaffer’s death Marie Josette contested his will saying that Schaffer had intended to marry her and had even given her an engagement ring. She took her case to court but Schaffer had kept his plans to marry secret not only from his wife but from his closest friends and when shortly before his death his wife had paid him a visit and found women’s clothes and make up in the flat, he had instructed his solicitor to write to hers saying that he did not want their marriage to end. The judge threw the case out of court. 

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