Harry Alan Towers
|Harry Alan Towers|
19 October 1920|
|Died||31 July 2009
Harry Alan Towers (19 October 1920, Wandsworth – 31 July 2009) was a British-born radio and independent film producer and screenwriter. He wrote many screenplays for his films, usually under the pseudonym Peter Welbeck. He produced over a hundred feature films and continued to write and produce well into his eighties. Towers was married to the actress Maria Rohm who appeared in many of his movies and survives him.
The son of a theatrical agent he became a child actor, then became a prolific radio writer while serving in the Royal Air Force during World War II becoming head of the RAF radio unit on the British Forces Broadcasting Service. In 1946 he and his mother Margaret Miller Towers started a company called Towers of London that sold various syndicated radio shows around the world, including The Lives of Harry Lime and The Black Museum with Orson Welles, Secrets of Scotland Yard with Clive Brook, Horatio Hornblower in which Michael Hordern played the famous character created by C.S. Forester, and a series based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, featuring John Gielgud as Holmes, Ralph Richardson as Watson, and Orson Welles as Professor Moriarty. Gielgud's brother, Val, directed several episodes. Many of these were sold to and played by Radio Luxembourg.
Based on his radio success, in the mid-1950s he produced television shows for ITV such as Armchair Theatre, The Golden Fleece, The Boy About the Place, Teddy Gang, The Lady Asks for Help, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Suicide Club, The Little Black Book, The New Adventures of Martin Kane, A Christmas Carol, 24 Hours a Day, Down to the Sea, Gun Rule, and many others.
Towers began producing feature films in 1962, sometimes writing the screenplay. Towers filmed in various countries such as South Africa, Ireland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria and others. A number of his films and scripts were based on the works of Sax Rohmer, such as Sumuru and the popular Fu Manchu series of five films starring Christopher Lee. He also adapted the novels of Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None and the Miss Marple series), The Marquis de Sade, and the works of Edgar Wallace. In fact Towers produced 3 separate film versions of And Then There Were None, each set in a different locale.
He frequently collaborated with director Jesus Franco during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Towers had a hand in writing and/or producing numerous films directed by Franco, including 99 Women (1969), The Girl from Rio aka Rio 70 (1969), Venus in Furs (1969), Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969), Eugenie, the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion (1970), The Bloody Judge (1970), and Count Dracula (1970). Franco also helmed the last two Fu Manchu films The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968) and The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969).
In 1961 Towers, with girlfriend Mariella Novotny, was charged with operating a vice ring at a New York hotel, but he jumped bail and returned to Europe. Novotny, in her statement to the FBI, claimed Towers was a Soviet agent responsible for providing compromising information on individuals for the benefit of the USSR. Lobster Magazine ran an article in 1983 citing sources who alleged Towers' was linked with (among others) Stephen Ward, Peter Lawford, the Soviet Union, and a vice ring at the United Nations. Hearst Corporation newspapers had already mentioned Towers' name in a 1963 article featuring coded references to a liaison between a pre-White House John F Kennedy and Novotny, a known prostitute. The charges against Towers were dropped in 1980 after he paid a £4,200 fine for jumping bail.
- Pat Saperstein "B-movie guru Towers dies at 88", Variety, 2 August 2009
- Val Gielgud and Sherlock Holmes
- Cy Young "Harry Alan Towers: Prolific radio, television and film producer and screenwriter", The Independent, 4 November 2009
- Ronald Bergan Obituary, The Guardian, 1 October 2009
- Stephen Dorril "Maria Novotny: From Prague With Love", Lobster, no.2, 1983, [p11-21] on this site (.pdf file).
- JFK - The Scandals: Revealed, tv documentary directed by Harvey Lilley for Quickfire Media, 2006.
- Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984 (1994)
- Harry Alan Towers at the Internet Movie Database
- "Harry Alan Towers: film impresario", The Times, 5 August 2009
- Harry Alan Towers biography at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Jason Nissan "Harry Alan Towers: A hand in a bawdy romp is yours for Â£2,000", Independent on Sunday, 3 November 2002