George Who? Lewes great-grandmother invited to premiere of George Clooney's new film (From The Argus)
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George Who? Lewes great-grandmother invited to premiere of George Clooney's new film
A great-grandmother will appear alongside Hollywood heart-throb George Clooney on the red carpet at a film premiere – even though she’s never heard of him.
Anne Olivier Bell has been invited to join the star-studded cast of The Monuments Men – which also includes Matt Damon – at the UK premiere of the film tomorrow night.
The film is about a Second World War platoon sent into Germany to rescue art treasures stolen by the Nazis.
She has been invited as the only surviving member of a UK team dedicated to preventing the destruction of those artworks.
The 97-year-old from Lewes said she was going along despite not having been to the cinema in 15 years and confessing to not knowing who George Clooney is.
Scenes from the film, directed by Clooney and also featuring Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett, were shot in Rye and Camber Sands in June last year.
Mrs Bell said: “I am rather anxious about the premiere as I am too old really and I have never even heard of George Clooney.
“They are sending me a taxi and my carer is going with me and they are paying for me to stay over in London.”
The great-grandmother of three and grandmother of six had worked as an art historian prior to the war and then served in the Ministry of Information during wartime.
After the war she met a lecturer she knew from the Courtauld Institute who invited her to join the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section comprising of museum curators, academics and artists attempting to recover and salvage artworks in post-war Germany.
A month after attending a meeting in Earls Court, she was out in Germany coordinating operations from the English HQ in Westphalia.
She said: “They were terrible conditions, half the time I was just rescuing our cars that were stuck on terrible roads.
“Often we couldn’t ring a district branch on the telephone, we were always being cut off.
“We lived in a small town like Lewes but where the British lived was surrounded by barbed wire fences, the only Germans I really met were servants who would stoke our fires.
“It was the regional offices that would deal with landowners and the clergy.”
After returning from Germany Mrs Bell married Quentin Bell, nephew of Virginia Woolf, and settled in Lewes in the late 50s.
She is best known for the painstaking work over a quarter of a century of editing five volumes of Virginia Woolf’s diary.
Her work was recognised with an MBE for services to literature in December and with an honorary degree from the University of Sussex.
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