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Botham, Noel 1940-

BOTHAM, Noel 1940-

PERSONAL: Born January 23, 1940, in York, England; son of Frank and Amelia Botham; married Annette Martin (a language teacher), March 19, 1960; children: Tania, Katrina, Guy, Lucinda. Education: Attended private boys' school in Dulwich, England. Religion: Church of England.


ADDRESSES: Home—34 Park Hill, Carshalton, Surrey, England. Offıce—72/78 Fleet St., London EC4, England.


CAREER: Surrey Mirror, Surrey, England, reporter, 1959-60; The Star, London, England, reporter, 1960-61; Daily Herald, London, reporter, 1961-62; France Dimanche, Paris, feature editor, 1963-65; Daily Sketch, London, chief reporter, chief foreign correspondent, and night news editor, 1965-71; News of the World, London, investigative reporter, 1972-75; chief of London bureau of National Enquirer, 1980—.


MEMBER: National Union of Journalists.


WRITINGS:

(With Wilfred Lester) Seven Sexual Ages of Woman, Lymer Publications, 1973.

(With Peter Donnelly) Valentino, the Love God, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1976.

The Runners (novel), Everest Books, 1981.

(Contributor) Eye of the Storm, by Peter Ratcliffe, Lewis International (Miami, FL), 2001.

Valentino: The First Superstar, Metro (London, England), 2002.

Margaret: The Last Real Princess; The Shockingly Frank and Revealing Account of the Life and Loves of HRH Princess Margaret, Blake (London, England), 2002.


Also author of Margaret: The Untold Story, 1994.

Creator (and coproducer) of "George Brown Asks," a series on Southern Television; contributor to Eye of the Storm, by Peter Ratcliffe, Lewis International (Miami, FL), 2001.


EDITOR

D. J. Payne, My Princess, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1961.

Marcel Baron, A Life of Crime, Dalmas, 1962.

Angel De Velasco, My Nazi Masters, Dalmas, 1963.

P. Rubirosa, Rubirosa, Dalmas, 1963.

David Berglas, David Berglas Biography, Holt (New York, NY), 1965.

Juan Peron, Peron, Dalmas, 1966.


SIDELIGHTS: Biographer Noel Botham produced two volumes in 2002 that focused on two aspects of royalty. The first explored a movie king: Rudolph Valentino, the great lover of silent cinema. In Valentino: The First Superstar, Botham "presents the most authoritative portrait" of the actor to date, according to Library Journal contributor Rosalind Dayen. An Italian immigrant to the U.S. and a gardener's son, Valentino parlayed his smoldering sensuality into several hit films of Hollywood's early days. As the title character in The Sheik or the matador in Blood and Sand, the actor made women swoon, but Valentino's offscreen life was a different story. Numerous rumors circulated regarding his sexuality; the actor "was and remains an object of intense gay interest, and it is certainly clear that powerful women were repeatedly instrumental in shaping his career," said Philip Horne in a Daily Telegraph review. "Yet Botham gives no evidence of homosexual relations." Sunday Telegraph critic John Preston described Valentino by saying that "there have been a number of biographies [of the subject] several more comprehensive than this." Botham nonetheless, claimed Preston, "does keep the story bowling along at a good lick and plays up the drama for all its worth."


Botham continued to generate controversy. Dubbed a "Soho scandalmonger" by Daily Telegraph reviewer Sam Leith, Botham published a book about a member of Britain's royal family, Margaret: The Last Real Princess; The Shockingly Frank and Revealing Account of the Life and Loves of HRH Princess Margaret. Here Botham reproduces love letters the princess exchanged with pianist Robin Douglas-Home, who later committed suicide. Indeed, "the book goes through all of Margaret's other lovers," Leith quoted Botham as saying. Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth II, died in 2002; Botham's book came out two weeks after her March funeral. Among the revelations in the unauthorized biography was that the princess indulged in illegal drugs, and was seen snorting cocaine backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. Adam Helliker of the Sunday Telegraph pointed out that "the authenticity of [the author's] sources have been categorically denied by Princess Margaret's close friends." In the same article Helliker reported that Margaret's son, Viscount Linley, "is set to take legal action" over claims made in the book.

For his part, Botham stood by his account of Margaret's cocaine use. He spoke of the coincidence of the princess's death with the publication of his book, telling the London, England, Sunday Telegraph that Margaret "was due to come out next week anyway, before the Princess died. I didn't expect her to die that soon." Margaret was not greeted by a raft of good notices, but Julie Burchill of Spectator acknowledged "the acute, teeth-clenching portrait it paints of the vicious and cold-blooded in-fighting and casual cruelties which are as much an integral part of the Windsor lifestyle as corgis and adultery."


BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Daily Telegraph (London, England), April 21, 2002, Sam Leith, "Royal Passions," review of Margaret: The Last Real Princess; The Shockingly Frank and Revealing Account of the Life and Loves of HRH Princess Margaret; June 8, 2002, Philip Horne, "Powder-puff Seducer," review of Valentino: The First Superstar.

Library Journal, August, 2002, Rosalind Dayen, review of Valentino, p. 96.

People, May 2, 1994, Michelle Green, "Dangerous Liaison," review of Margaret: The Untold Story, p. 79.

Spectator, April 20, 2002, Julie Burchill, "A Bit Rich, to Say the Least," review of Margaret, p. 37.

Sunday Telegraph (London, England), March 3, 2002, Adam Helliker, "Linley Set to Sue over Claim that Princess Margaret Took Drugs," review of Margaret, p. 2; May 12, 2002, John Preston, "From a Gigolo to a God," review of Valentino.

Sunday Times (London, England), February 17, 2002, review of Margaret, p. 40.*

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