Charisma – you either have it or not! It is something which cannot be bought, yet it is something people are aware of and it turns a normal person into star quality material.
Liberace had it. Des O’Conner has got it. Harold Taylor had it! In a letter to M. Al Fayed, owner of Harrods of London wrote: “Princess Diana was a world figure, kind and considerate to everyone she met. She had a certain charisma, and if this planet lasts for another thousand years, people will still be talking about the terrible event we are living through. But what they will remember most is the love that existed between two wonderful people.” He was of course, referring to his son Dodi, who he describes as a special person, a private man who was shy with people he didn’t know. And he summed up Diana by telling me ‘she had a unique star-bright quality – truly exceptional!’
Channing Pollock, dove performer of excellence, had charisma. I remember my cousin Molly telling me she thought he was wonderful. I thought she was obviously referring to his work, to his magic, I was wrong. She was alluding to the man himself! She thought he was handsome, having a quality no other magician had, she thought he had ‘Charisma.’
The late Harold Taylor, right up to the end was always bubbling over. Larger than life, you could immediately tell yourself that he was a ‘star.’ How on earth he didn’t go farther than he really did, I just don’t know. Although most of us haven’t appeared at Buckingham Palace have we? Harold once told me now and again he would, along with Presh, go right into the heart of London dressed in a pink suit, white lace shirt, pink tie and a pink handkerchief showing in his top pocket. He would go towards Trafalgar Square, leave Presh at the bottom of the steps, then slowly make his way to the top. Immaculate in appearance and gushing too, with his blond wavy hair, people would stop and stare. He would come down again and ask Presh, “How many people stopped and looked at me?” Now you may think this strange, but this was a genuine test.
In a different way, Fogel had charisma. Someone once said “On stage Fogel is a star, off stage he is nothing!” Unfair perhaps, but not my words. Fogel controlled his audiences, at times seemingly to the point of insulting them. An audience volunteer, leaving his seat to make way towards the platform would sometimes be refused with a shake of the head, if he is too young or didn’t meet Maurice’s standards of acceptance.
We performers can start by making sure the moment we arrive at a venue, whether it is a simple birthday party at someone’s home or a big event at a plush theatre, that we are ‘on show.’ It is no good wearing a beautiful suit, shiny shoes, with groomed hair, yet sporting a dirty worn coat. Your coat should be immaculate. Cedric Richardson, a great friend of mine, no longer with us, once said “Ian, our show starts the moment we arrive at the door. Ask how the birthday child is and accept a cup of tea if asked, rather than refusing it.” It all builds up to good manners, acceptability and charm. Indeed charm and charisma go well together. How many times have you heard a woman say, “He was charming!”
|Let’s go back into the past. Still living, Shirley Temple – the film star extraordinary – had charm and charisma. Everyone loved her. She was larger than life. No one could afford not to love her! She was a bundle of fun and charisma. Whether you like him or not, Dale Winton of National Lottery and Supermarket Sweep fame has charm and charisma. The late Fred Kapps had charisma right to the very end. Have you got charisma? || Fred Kapps|