Monday 19 September 2011

Learning to Love Maggie de Beer

Maggie de Beer first came to my attention half way through the writing of a memoir for her daughter – Steffi McBride. In fact that was when Steffi first learned of her existence too, (it’s all explained in her book “The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride”).

Initially, of course, Maggie’s behaviour seemed pretty indefensible – I mean giving up your child for the sake of your career, particularly a career like hers, is hardly the work of heroines – but as I got to know her better I became intrigued. It must have taken some guts to leave a safe and secure home at fifteen and never look back, and the woman had to be admired for her single minded perseverance in her pursuit of fame and glamour. She endured over thirty years of endless disappointment but she managed to keep on believing in herself and refused to give up hope.

Of course she only got her big break because of Steffi, but my God she was ready for it when it came, knowing exactly how to exploit this window of opportunity for all it was worth.

I found myself becoming increasingly fascinated by her single minded personal ambition to be famous and adored, and so I wrote her side of the story, starting with her leaving home in 1970 and then following her through to the eventual rise to fame she had worked so long and hard for. Her story pretty much mirrors the rise of today’s celebrity culture itself, from the arrival of “Page Three” girls through to the explosion of reality television nearly forty years later.

One of the attractive things about Maggie is her refusal to complain about the terrible price she had to pay for having her fabulous dreams come true.

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