JEAN ROOK

Lovely, ugly Rita

I met the world's "ugliest" actress Rita Webb only once on a Cornish beach, when I accidentally tripped over the woman with a face like a horribly smashed rock.
She was 4ft 11in and less lovely than a garden gnome. Her 15-stone swimsuit would have dammed the tide and her Cockney voice out squawked the seagulls.
Since I was an unknown reporter, quite as a hermitcrab about my unsung local paper, whatever she saw in talking to me was'nt the hope of seeing herself in big print. We chatted for two hours above the roar of the waves and her laughter. She gathered her memories of showbiz, like shells and I sat with her on the pebbles, clutching them to my ear.
The woman who howled, but with mirth, when she saw scribbled on a TV script "incredible hag wanted , try Rita Webb" was fun, fascinating, unselfconscious, her ego tiny as her height, and her humour huge as her hips.
We parted when the Marazion sun went down behind her flaming, dyed head, but I could have still driven home by the light of her personality.
Miss Webb, who died at the weekend, once said of her much younger and now "heartbroken" husband: "He's always telling me that in his eyes, I'm the most beautiful creature he's ever seen."
I saw why.

FILMS

Daily Express Wednesday September 2 1981