Mrs Henderson Presents...
In 1989, after a friend's memorial service, we found ourselves in a pub in St James's sitting next to Denis Main-Wilson.
Being a childhood hero, we got talking about working with The Goons, Tony Hancock and all the other post-war radio comics.He told us that he found most of the talent for BBC radio in between nude tableaux vivants at The Windmill Theatre.
That afternoon we went to a theatre bookshop in Charing Cross Road and bought an old Windmill programme. Initially we were disappointed. The programme was much earlier than Denis's time and didn't have any famous names in it. But on the title page - along with the familiar Windmill name Vivian Van Damm - there was a small line which read "Mrs Henderson Presents". Who, we thought, was Mrs Henderson?
Thus started our search for the untold story of Laura Henderson and the Birth of London's famous Windmill Theatre, Piccadilly.
Until the movie Mrs Henderson Presents was made, the story of Laura Henderson was not only untold but also almost totally unknown. This is partly due to her being a very private person; partly due to her having no close relatives; and partly due to the Van Damm's (firstly Vivian's, later Sheila's) amazing publicity machine which put their name to the fore, overshadowing the true origins of The Windmill Theatre.
Based on 15 years of research into a fine example of that most wonderful of British inventions - the rich eccentric - the movie tells the story of only one of her many forays into the theatre - leaving many other remarkable exploits still untold.
The complete research is now being compiled into a book which traces Laura's life, explaining where her, and her husband's, wealth came from; what really happened to her son; why she knew the Lord Chamberlain and was able to manipulate him so successfully; and her involvement with Marie Stopes, Sadler's Wells and The Women's Guild of Empire; and how she spent a fortune caring for and educating young single mothers throughout the depression.
for more info please email: info@MrsHendersonPresents.com
If you are related to Mrs Henderson or if you knew her or if you worked at the Windmill, please get in touch to add to our knowledge about her.
If you are researching the Henderson or Forster family trees CLICK HERE.