Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Ol' Freda, a documentary by Ryan White

As Freda Kelly says near the beginning of the documentary Good Ol' Freda, she has a good secretarial job in Liverpool now, but it is not as exciting as the one she had from 1962-1972. She was personal secretary to the Beatles, starting at age 17, chosen by Brian Epstein from the scores of young working women who frequented lunchtime concerts at the Cavern. She accepted without consulting her dad, who definitely did not approve of the motley lads, but she won him over to her side. She had a knack for cross-generational communications, becoming part of the glue between the Fab Four and many of their own parents. Everyone seemed to love Freda.

Kelly took her job in the months just before the Beatles became famous. Pete Best was still the drummer and the band had only a local following. She helped with the fan club and took over when its founder lost interest. Unknowing of what was about to occur, she changed the fan club address to that of her home. A few months later all of the postmen knew her house.

Kelly was interviewed often as the Beatles secretary and her letters in the fan newsletter were widely read. It was once rumored that she had married Paul McCartney, but she was mostly forgotten by the public after the Beatles split. She kept out of the limelight, especially by staying in Liverpool when the Beatles incorporated moved to London. When she disassembled the Beatles Liverpool office, she gave away many of its artifacts to fans, keeping little herself.

Viewers at our film discussion seemed charmed by her down-to-earth manner. Talk after the film veered to personal memories of Beatles days. It was fun to hear three people remember when they attended Beatles concerts at the Chicago Amphitheatre or at Comisky Park. Everyone seemed glad to have come to our program.

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