Off Topic Messages

Beatles documentary "Good Ol' Freda"

Sun Sep 08, 2013 5:48 pm

http://nypost.com/2013/09/08/beatles-fa ... s-silence/

Beatles fan-club secretary breaks silence

By Reed Tucker

September 8, 2013 | 4:20am

http://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/20 ... sfreda.jpg

Freda Kelly is the subject of the new Beatles documentary, "Good Ol' Freda."

Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Do you want to know a secret?

Then you’re out of luck, because for nearly 50 years, Freda Kelly has kept her mouth shut.

The quiet office worker from Liverpool served as The Beatles’ fan-club secretary throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, watching their meteoric rise, getting to know their families and spending many a wild night out with the lads in the most famous band of all time.

http://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/20 ... 53-001.jpg

Kelly, 26, The Beatles Official Fan Club Secretary, pictured at her Liverpool office, in 1971.

Now, Kelly’s omerta has finally cracked, and she’s telling her story for the first time in the new documentary “Good Ol’ Freda,” available on demand and hitting the Sunshine Cinema on East Houston Street this Friday.

Kelly is so private that even her family and friends didn’t know much about her previous life with the Fab Four — including the movie’s director, Ryan White, a family friend.

“I’ve known Freda for years,” says White, an American whose uncle is Billy Kinsley of Liverpool’s The Merseybeats. “I had no idea she was the Beatles’ secretary. I just thought she was a secretary that worked at a law firm.”

Kelly, now in her late 60s, finally warmed to the idea of speaking publicly after her first grandchild was born, and she realized she wanted to leave a legacy for her family. She approached White about making the movie.

“There are certain things I knew she wouldn’t entertain. When we began the conversation, she said she didn’t want to make anything scandalous or gossipy,” White says.

“She hasn’t sold out The Beatles. She could have made millions over her life, but she hasn’t done it. She made this film on her own terms.”

One subject she won’t discuss is the rumor that she dated a Beatle. In the film, White presses her, but Kelly refuses to budge.

What you will hear about is how Kelly was a teenage fan of the band, seeing many of their early shows at The Cavern Club. She got to know John, Paul, George and Ringo, as well as their manager, Brian Epstein. As the band got more popular, Epstein offered the 17-year-old Kelly a job in his office, running the fan club.

She would answer the flood of letters, as well as field strange requests from diehards. In one instance, she received a stick of gum from a fan. She had one of the boys chew it, then sent it back. In another, Kelly asked Ringo to sleep on a pillowcase, then mailed it to an admirer.

“Those are things I don’t think Justin Bieber fans are getting these days that Beatles fans got back then because a Beatles fan was running the operation,” White says.

http://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/22.jpg

Ringo Starr, left, Freda Kelly, center, and George Harrison, right, in 1967.

Kelly would stick with the group — albeit in Liverpool, because her parents refused to let her move to London — until the very end. She penned the letter announcing the band’s breakup that was mailed to fan-club members.

White says that despite her avoidance of the spotlight for so many years, Kelly is actually enjoying the attention.

“She told me the other day that this is like a second youth for her,” the director says. “She had that crazy decade, then she went into hiding. But now with this film, she’s re-engaging with that world.”

Kelly is no richer, however.

She still works six days a week in a law office and lives in a modest house in Liverpool. She gave away much of her valuable memorabilia to distraught fans in the mid-1970s, but she still has numerous boxes stashed in her attic. While looking through them for the documentary, White foolishly suggested that Kelly could be sitting on millions.

“She looked at me disgusted, and I kind of wilted,” he says.

Good ol’ Freda.

Freda’s Fab 4 fortune

The Post asked two memorabilia dealers to roughly estimate the value of some items glimpsed in “Good Ol’ Freda,” the new documentary about former Beatles fan-club secretary Freda Kelly — even if she doesn’t want to sell any of it.

1. Complete set of fan mag The Beatles Book

The monthly fan magazine ran for 77 issues, starting in 1963. Rick Rann, a Beatles memorabilia dealer for 35 years, estimates a complete set to be worth $750 to $1,000, though Kelly’s personal set would command a premium.

2. Early band photos

Kelly has a fascinating collection of personal snapshots, including some of the earliest-known photos of The Beatles in their Cavern Club days. Rann estimates that each unpublished photo could be worth thousands.

3. A lock of George Harrison’s hair

A single strand from the guitarist’s head sold for $2,500 in 2011, so a whole lock could be worth thousands, Rann says.

4. Beatles autographs

Kelly has an autograph book in which all four Beatles signed their names and wrote personal messages to her. Getting all four autographs together is rare and raises the value of an item considerably. “With provenance, I would think it is worth anywhere between $8,500 and $12,500,” says Jason Cornthwaite of Beatles memorabilia dealer Tracks.