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Silent star's story set for the stage.

THE story of one of Wales' most successful actors from Hollywood's silent film era is to be told on the London stage this summer.

Hollywood Love focuses on the relationship between the Llanelli-born silent movie actor Gareth Hughes and American showbiz journalist Hedda Hopper as they look back on their lives.

The play will be performed in June at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre in London before being brought to Wales, with the possibility of a film version following.

Producer Karen Struel-White, from Swansea, hopes the new play will shine the spotlight on Wales' forgotten film legend.

The 50-year-old said: "I came across the script and it just sounded fantastic. He was well-known back in the 1920s but nobody seems to know him now.

"I know there is a blue plaque where he used to live but considering we have a history of Welsh Hollywood stars nobody seemed to know anything about him."

She added: "It was just something I found extremely interesting and I thought it needed to be brought to a wider audience, because it's a Hollywood story as well as a Welsh story."

As the toast of Hollywood, Hughes enjoyed a lavish playboy lifestyle alongside A-listers like Bette Davis and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

At the height of his fame, Hughes was earning $2,000 a week, an astonishing sum at the time. But the native Welsh speaker's accent foxed American ears when the talkies took over and Hughes ended up penniless during the Great Depression of 1929.

When he hit rock bottom, Hughes decided to devote himself to God and charity, moving to the Nevada desert to help a native American tribe called the Paiute.

Hughes lived out his last days at the Actors Retirement Home in Los Angles, where he died in 1965.


* Silent film star of the 1920s and '30s Gareth Hughes, right, and, above, on his return to his hometown, Llanelli, in 1958
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 6, 2012
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