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Sex and the City star Kim's first performance . . . in the garden of her aunt's house in Wavertree.

Byline: DAWN COLLINSON

STEAMING up millions of screens as the most outrageously sexy woman on TV has brought Kim Cattrall fame, awards and a reported seven-figure pay packet.

The Liverpool-born actress and her three Sex And The City costars are the toast of critics and fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

And Kim is such hot property that film-makers snapped her up to play a cameo part as Britney Spears mum in the pop princess's debut movie Crossroads, which opened on Friday.

She now enjoys all the trappings of celebrity, living with her third husband in the playground of New York's mega-rich, The Hamptons, but Kim makes no secret of her humble Scouse roots.

And our exclusive photographs show that, although her family emigrated from their Mossley Hill home when she was just three months old, she returned to Liverpool to take her first steps to stardom here.

The black and white snapshots were taken back in 1968 by Kim's great aunt, Mai Bradbury, in the garden of her Wavertree home.

When Paula and Andy Lyons bought the house in Abbeystead Road from Mai in 1992, she proudly showed them her aspiring film star protegee.

"Kim had just been in a Star Trek film at the time and, although she wasn't really that famous, Mai was so proud of her, " recalls Paula, who still lives there with husband Andy and children Edward and Emma.

"She said we could keep the photographs and when Kim started on Sex And The City we remembered them and we were delighted to have had a star in our house!" Now in a career prime at 45, Kim has gone from bit parts with the Merseyside Youth Drama group to A-list glamour thanks to her role as insatiable seductress Samantha in one of the most controversial, sexually explicit TV series ever made.

"But I have never lost my affection for England, and Liverpool in particular, " she says proudly. "I feel a real attachment, a kinship, especially to the people and I love the sense of humour and their truthfulness. There's nothing held back and that's the way I've always been." Her father Dennis was, she smiles, "in and out of construction", while her mother Shane was a housewife and part-time secretary. They headed to Canada's Vancouver Island in 1956 in the hope of a more financially secure life and, jokes Kim, "It was basically the old story of the immigrants coming over with -20 and a bicycle!" It wasn't until she was 11 years old, when she returned to Liverpool to stay with her great aunt Mai, that Kim began pursuing her acting dream.

Dennis had already sent Mai, founder of Merseyside Youth Drama Group, newspaper cuttings of Kim's drama festival entries in Canada.

And he was keen that she should teach his talented young daughter because, he said, there was no tuition good enough available in Vancouver.

Mai put a bed in the spare room of her Abbeystead Road home and took Kim under her wing, putting her through drama classes and finding her small parts in MYD productions. She also coached the girl she described as "very, very gifted" for exams at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts which she passed, most with honours.

Dennis enrolled his daughter at St Edmund's College for Girls in Princes Park in September 1968, paying pounds 46, 10 shillings for each of three terms so she wouldn't fall behind with her academic education.

Kim most of all remembers life outside the classroom, though, and the thrill of being in Liverpool during the Merseybeat heyday.

"All the Beatles thing was going on and I really, really enjoyed it, " she recalls. "Liverpool in the late 60s was a very exciting place to be and especially to grow up in." After more than two years in her native city, Kim reluctantly returned to Canada but by then she already had her heart set on a career in showbusiness.

Determined to make it as an actress, she won a scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York when she was just 16 and bravely headed alone for the Big Apple.

In her last year at the academy she landed her first ever movie role, in Rosebud in 1975, and her big screen ambition was fulfilled.

A succession of parts as bimbos and vamps followed in films like Porky's, Mannequin and Police Academy, and she had the dubious honour of playing Mr Spock's pointy-eared protegee in Star Trek VI.

Then, in 1999, she finally struck small screen gold with the role she openly credits with changing her life.

Although, she admits, she actually turned down femme fatale Samantha several times before she agreed to it.

"When I was asked to make the pilot I knew that if the show went ahead, I would have to commit myself for up to six years and I wasn't sure I really wanted to do that, " she explains. "The producers kept taking me to lunch and trying to persuade me and finally I got a call from a friend saying they were casting someone else. They said 'it's not too late, it's THE role for you.'" Kim was convinced and made the best decision of a career which she describes as "an amazing journey".

"I'm so happy I stuck it out now, " she laughs. "But I really didn't want to do anything but act.

I remember in school I wanted to take a typing class and my father wouldn't let me because he said 'I don't want you to cover your bases. I want you to reach for your dreams.'" After years of struggling for leads, Kim is now firmly on the Hollywood hot list. She's just finished two films, one with Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Love Hewitt called The Devil and Daniel Webster, and Crossroads with Britney, who she says was "very selfsufficient, mature and poised".

With coveted Emmy nominations for the past two years, and the likelihood of at least two more SATC seasons to come, Kim has now achieved the Holy Grail for Sex And The City-ites: independence, wealth, success . . . and an adoring man, musician husband Mark Levinson.

Her motto, she says, is "honesty and caring are everything, " but, she admits, that's not something her alter ego Samantha would subscribe to.

"Hers would be live for the day, I suppose, " she laughs, ". . . or the night!"

CAPTION(S):

STAR ROLE: Kim, left, and her Sex and the City co-stars HOME GIRL: Kim in her aunt's garden in Wavertree PLAY TIME: The young star to be, above, and below, some early poses
COPYRIGHT 2002 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2002
Words:1103
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