jane birkin brighton pier 1975

Today, I thought I’d take the Ellie & Co time machine out for some old-fashioned celebrity spotting in Brighton. Some of my discoveries have come as a huge surprise to me, and I hope they will to you too. I’ve arranged it by location. All you need to do is hop in and let’s go!


Spotted at the Pavilion

Barbra Streisand, 1969

barbra streisand brighton pavilion 1969

Let’s spend a moment taking in this extraordinary scene: the legendary singer and actress, Barbra Streisand, outside Brighton Pavilion. She was filming scenes for a musical-comedy-drama-fantasy film with a bizarre plot called On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. In it she plays a character called Daisy Gamble, a chain-smoking clairvoyant New Yorker who tries to stop smoking by doing hypnosis.

barbra streisand brighton pavilion 1969

While she’s hypnotised, she regresses to early 19th-century  Regency England where she’s reincarnated as the flirtatious Lady Melinda Winifred Waine Tentrees, born the illegitimate daughter of a kitchen maid. Brighton Pavilion was the setting for these flashback scenes.

barbra streisand brighton pavilion

Cecil Beaton, 1969

Legendary fashion photographer and designer, Cecil Beaton, designed the period costumes for Barbra Streisand’s character in the film, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. He are the two creative powerhouses hanging out in Streisand’s makeshift dressing room inside Brighton Pavilion, discussing hairstyle ideas to complement her Regency-era look.

cecil beaton barbra streisand brighton pavilion

Olivia Newton John, 1974

It’s little-known that the Aussie singer and actress, Olivia Newton John, represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest held at Brighton Dome, the same year Abba won with Waterloo and their lives changed forever. Here she is for the some promo shots in the Pavilion gardens.

Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia and family, 1938

Haile Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopa from 1930 to 1974. In 1935, Ethiopia was invaded by Italian forces, and he left the country the following year. He spent most of his exile in Bath, but during this time he visited other parts of England, including Brighton in April 1938 when he visited the Pavilion with his family here, and the West Pier (below).

haile selassie brighton pavilion


Spotted on Brighton Pier

Jane Birkin, 1975

jane birkin brighton pier 1975

London-born actress Jane Birkin was spotted filming scenes for a little-known French film called La Course à l’échalote (The Wild Goose Chase) with a French actor called Pierre Richard.

From what I can work out – there’s not a lot about the film online – it’s a goofy comedy about an awkward banker trying to track down cabaret performers, who stole the ownership title of their theatre located on the pier. According to this blog, “The film has not left a deep impression on the cinema-loving public either France or in Brighton.”

Jacki Piper and Bernard Bresslaw, 1971

Two of the actors in Carry On at Your Convenience  spotted hanging out in between takes.

Spotted on the West Pier

Haile Selassie king of Ethiopia, 1938

haile selassie west pier brighton

While in exile in Bath, as part of his visit to Brighton – and as well as his trip to the Pavilion (see above), Haile Selassie also went for a walk on the West Pier, before it was damaged by fire in 2003.

Sid james, 1973

The 1973 film, Carry on Girls, was mostly filmed in Brighton and ends with a go-kart chase sequence on the West Pier. Side note: this was apparently the last time the West Pier appeared on film before it was deemed unsafe and closed in September 1975.


Spotted at the Dome

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1967


On 2 December 1967, Jimi Hendrix and his band played two shows at the Dome. Taking to the stage, a review in the Brighton Gazette described how Hendrix “strolled on to the stage playing the guitar with one hand only. He played it with his teeth, on the floor and behind his back”.

I also found one fan’s moving account of the gig and meeting Jimi before it started here which transported me back to winter 1967! Jimi was supported by Pink Floyd, who famously debuted their classic Dark Side of the Moon album and became regular performers at the venue in the 1960s and 70s, appearing eight times between 1966 and 1972.

Abba, 1974

Who’d have thought that Abba’s legendary international career started at the humble seaside venue? Since they performed here, they’ve gone on to sell more than 400 million albums worldwide! The world’s best-loved band shot to fame in 1974, after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with their song Waterloo, which took place at Brighton Dome. Over 30 years after it won, Waterloo was even voted the best Eurovision Song Contest song ever at the 50-year anniversary show Congratulations, in Copenhagen in autumn 2005.


Spotted on Brighton seafront

Julianne Moore and Ralph Feinnes, 1999

This is a gem! Around about the same time I was moving to Brighton,  Hollywood legends Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes were spotted having a romantic afternoon on Brighton beach for scenes in the film, The End of the Affair, based on Graham Greene’s novel.julianne moore brighton beach

Apparently, they put up an advert in Brighton University advertising for extras, one of them recounts his experience working on the film here

ABba again! 1974

Oh look, it’s Abba again! This time they’re hanging out on the beach, basking in their Eurovision win on a publicity photoshoot, which saw them spotted at various places around town.

And Olivia Newton John again! 1974

More post-Eurovision photocalls!

Grace Kelly and Princess RAinier, 1968

3rd November 1968: Prince Rainier with his wife Princess Grace Brighton 1968

This could be a winning contender for the best old-fashioned celebrity spot award. On 3 November 1968,  Prince Rainier with his wife Princess Grace and daughters Caroline and Stephanie, took part in the Brighton Rally.

Richard Attenborough, 1947 

Recently unearthed in a film production company’s archive are these shots of Richard Attenborough and Carol Marsh, lead actors in 1947 film, Brighton Rock, spotted taking some time out to enjoy the British seaside – from ice cream to a dip in the sea.

They couldn’t contrast more to the film itself, which tells the story of 17-year-old gang leader Pinkie Brown (Attenborough), as he tries to cover up the murder of a reporter he felt was responsible for the death of a gangster called Kite. As events unfold, Pinkie becomes more sadistic. Although it was a hit, but many reviews said it was too graphic and shouldn’t be shown!

Kenneth Williams, 1957

Here’s a shot of national treasure, comedy actor and Carry On film star I found on Pinterest, with just the caption, ‘Kenneth Williams, Brighton beach in 1957′. Despite searching for more information, I’m yet to unearth any but will share it here if I do!

Liam Neeson, 1991

Actress Laura San Giacomo seen on Brighton beach with Liam Neeson in a publicity still for the thriller Under Suspicion, 1991.

Sid James and Barbara Windsor, 1973

Sid James and Barbara Windsor, spotted on the seafront, filming Carry on Girls. It’s about a local businessman – James – who convinces the town council of a seaside resort to stage a beauty contest. He persuades them that it will be a marvellous publicity stunt, but is opposed by local Women’s Liberation group, led by a fearsome woman councillor. Windsor plays the winner of the beauty contest… Miss Easy Rider. Criiiiinge! 


Spotted in Rottingdean

Audrey Hepburn, 1956

audrey hepburn fashion beach england

In 1951, Audrey Hepburn – yes, Audrey Hepburn! – made a day trip to Brighton for her first-ever photoshoot. At the time of her trip, Hepburn wasn’t well known. She was just a young dancer on the verge of stardom, with only a few bit parts to her name. Read more here.

Well, that’s a wrap people! I hope you enjoyed our old-fashioned celebrity spotting tour around Brighton. It goes without saying I’ll be adding to this post when I spot more celebrities from history hanging out in our lovely city by the sea.

(Photos via here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)

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