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Samantha Juste Dolenz RIP.
Samantha Juste Dolenz: 1944-2.2.14
Photo (c) Unknown.
Every now and again something makes you stop and take stock.
Today I was sad to hear of the death of Samantha Juste Dolenz – ex-wife of The Monkees drummer and ex Circus Boy actor, Mickey Dolenz.
Samantha was a former model and Top Of The Pops presenter.
Not a major player on the stage of politics, human rights ,or anything which would warrant a lot of attention from me normally; I don’t consider myself that shallow.
I don’t often get upset about the demise of a celebrity; mega-star, super-star or any other star. For some reason the death of Samantha Juste has upset me a lot.
The look and the era.
She was quite a bit older than me but even so the image she projected was similar to the one I saw every day in the mirror and so did many other girls at that time. The hair, the eye make-up, the pale lips and innocent, wide-eyed look., the clothes, the music we shared.
You could not have lived through the 1960’s in England (Britain) without knowing about her.
A teenage model – a peer of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton (The Shrimp) and along with Peter Frampton (The Herd) – Samantha was a Face of the 1960’s. Another icon if you like ,for teenage girls growing up with the whole ‘Swinging Sixties,’ thing. Cathy McGowan, Dusty Springfield, Marianne Faithful and Cher.
All strong, high-profile women in the post-war grey male dominated world that we had been growing up in.
A presenter: every week we were glued to Top Of The Pops (TOTP) waiting to see what she was going to wear, how her hair and make-up would look and which bands were going to be on the show – THE music show on TV.
She played the records; loaded the turn-table and pressed the ON switch so that the bands appearing on the show could mime to the music. Back in those days miming was acceptable; later – thankfully – the bands performed live.
We had grown up wearing our parent’s clothes, listening to their music and living life as a copy of them in almost every way.
Suddenly we had BBC Radio One – I’ll never forget hearing The Move and ‘Flowers in the Rain,’ played by Tony Blackburn as Radio One went live for the first time. Until then I had listened to Radio Luxemburg, Radio London, Radio Caroline – the Pirate Radio Stations anchored off-shore and under threat of being pulled off the air at any time.
We had POP magazines and Fan magazines aimed at young teenage girls. Music, fashion, celebrities (not in the sense of the word today ; much milder), and lots of gorgeous boys to ogle and dream about. Boys with long hair. Boys in tight trousers. Boys wearing make-up and clothes similar to those we females wore. It was all so strange, so exciting and very, very, dangerous.
We felt we could relate to them even though our lives were not glamorous in the way their lives were.
Samantha and Mickey attended The Summer Of Love; they were there. They knew The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, The Stones and so many others we mooned over.
They lived the exciting life we all seemed to yearn after.
I was at school and confined all week in a drab navy blue uniform and tie. We girls would roll the below knee pleated skirts over and over at the waist to make them in to Mini skirts. We tied ribbons in our lace-up shoes in place of laces.
We wore Max Factor Foundation to make ourselves pale and interesting.
We tried to get away with mascara and eyeliner but never wore lipstick. We had to look ghostly. Hair was long and we peered out from fringes which covered our eyes.
Whatever Samantha, Twiggy, Cathy McGowan, Cher or Dusty wore, we copied. Knee length white lace-up boots, kaftans and micro mini skirts. Hipster trousers and skinny ribbed jumpers with polo necks and cut-away arms.
Platform shoes, midi skirts with waistcoats, and frilled blouses complete with cameo brooches.
Carnaby Street led us and I know I dreamed of shopping there at the same time The Kinks or The Who were shopping there. They’d see me – my life would change.
It was expensive and I had to earn money by doing paper-rounds, babysitting and working in a Dry Cleaners. After-all £5 for a psychedelic patterned dress in silk was a small fortune back then.
Rushing home on a Thursday to watch TOTP was so exciting. Of course, it depended on what The Beatles or The Rolling Stones had been up to in The Press, whether or not I was allowed to watch it.
My parents believed The Beatles and The Stones were the representatives of the Devil on earth and if they’d been caught doing something a little ‘naughty,’ or shown surrounded by screaming, fainting girls, wearing anything outrageous, draped in beautiful women, then the chances were that TOTP would not be on the evening’s viewing agenda.
We experienced bands and singers from America; we were in over-load.
Sunday afternoons could be spent at The Empire Pool, Wembley, surrounded by screaming girls and being deafened by NME (New Musical Express) magazine Poll Winners in concert. Every major band and artist appeared there. We could see several at one time for £1.
We were over-loaded with change; freedom, music, fashion, politics. Vietnam was an issue where Korea had never really gripped the imagination of the youth of the 1950’s. There were riots in Paris, the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia later in the decade. It was all happening.
People like Samantha didn’t change the world. She didn’t bring about peace or the end of The Cold War – we were growing up with the threat of Nuclear annihilation don’t forget – and apart from sitting looking pretty on the TV, she didn’t feed the starving or run for Parliament – that I know of.
But she was part of a seismic shift that teenager girls in England (Britain) felt during the Sixties. In her own small way she was an icon along with so many other ‘celebrity,’ females; suddenly visible, high-profile, colourful and exciting and who didn’t look like their mothers and grandmothers, who seemed to be taking charge of their lives, who didn’t need a man to make them feel complete. Women who wanted to forge careers for themselves, for whom a husband and mother-hood was not the be-all and end-all.
Yet reading tributes to her today I am struck that her warmest come from those who knew her as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a grand-mother. She left the lime-light a long time ago and although I didn’t keep track of her life, I often thought of her.
I recalled her when co-writing a novel about those times and I thought I’d share this passage with you. It mentions her. I never thought I would be thinking of her in the past tense. When I wrote this she was as vivid to me as she was on a Thursday evening, when TOTP music came on and she would be sitting next to one of the super-star DJ’s.
Samantha met Mickey Dolenz at TOTP – his band The Monkees were often on the show. I’ve never been a huge fan of The Monkees, then or now, but when Davy Jones passed away not so long ago, I felt sad, but not as sad as I feel today.
It has hit me hard. Life is spinning away from us and time is passing.
I hope you enjoy this extract and that for those of you who recall Samantha, it might have a deeper meaning.
Extract from WIP (c) Jane Risdon 2012
Trying not to look at the two bearded beauties again I stood up, smoothed
my new purple Samantha Juste hipsters and tucked my pink skinny rib into
them. I wandered towards the wallpaper table and what was left of the food;
a few soft looking sausage rolls and a couple of scotch eggs which had
probably been sitting out for hours and I didn’t fancy the look of them. A few
packets of Smith’s crisps and some peanuts was the alternative. I grabbed a
packet and a handful of nuts and tucked in for a few moments whilst I
studiously avoided the lovers on the cushions.
What a dump! The band seemed to live in part of an old house which
looked derelict from what I could see as we came in. There wasn’t any
furniture to speak of, just old packing cases for tables and piles of cushions
and bean bags on the red thread-bare carpet. At least, I think that was the
colour but it was hard to tell in the candle light coming from the Mateus Rose
bottles dotted round the room.
The light flickered on the Che Guevara and Ban the Bomb posters and
gave them a bit of a sinister look. Very anti-establishment here – Dad would
go nuts. Distorted shadows fell on the couples lying around, mostly snogging
or smoking; a few were standing swaying to the music from the Philips
Cassette player in the corner. I was saving up for one I’d seen in
It was going to take another month to have enough and I hoped it wouldn’t
be gone by then. I should never have got the Cathy McGowan mini with the
zip up the front like Twiggy often wears; it was far too expensive and had left me without
any money until the end of the month. I hadn’t even had chance to wear it yet
because I was trying to hide it from Mum until she was in a good mood –
whenever that was going to be I had no idea. I earn the money for my
clothes so I don’t see why I can’t wear what I want. But no, she has to
inspect me every time I leave the house, lecturing about what I ’m wearing;
too short, too long, too much leg showing – moan, moan, moan.
The dress is gorgeous though; paisley pink, sleeveless and with a fab
mandarin collar – very sexy – and with my long white lace-up boots I am
going to blow Scott’s brains out when he sees me in it.
‘Hi babe, what’s your name?’ I turned to see a tall skinny bloke with long
black hair and a pair of lime green bell-bottoms grinning at me, cigarette
dangling from his rather thick lips. I peered hard at him and then realised he
was one of the guitarists in the band supporting Scott’s band.
‘Saw you at the gig tonight,’ he added flicking his ash away.
‘Erm, yeah.’ I said looking for Scott, trapped between the table and the
guitarist who kept blowing sweet-smelling smoke at me. I felt sick from it.
‘How about you and me then babe?’ He moved up close to me and put an
arm round my waist. He smelled of Old Spice. I can’t stand Old Spice.
‘I’m with my boyfriend.’ I said lamely as I wriggled away from him.
‘Don’t look like it from here babe.’ He said as he grabbed me again. ‘Let’s
go over there and get to know each other.’ He tried to pull me into the
To be continued…..actually the book is finished and ready to go soon.
Photo (c) Jane Risdon 1968 of Jane Risdon 1968
Samantha Juste Dolenze Photo (c) Unknown. All Rights of the Owner Reserved.
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