Riverview's 'Mr. Showbiz' offers 400 books on Old Hollywood for free
Charlie Foster may be the only person in New Brunswick who can claim he saw Marilyn Monroe naked, in real life
A 93-year-old Riverview man is looking for a good home for his estimated 400 books about showbiz in the '40s and '50s, but he isn't just a fan of Old Hollywood — he was there.
"I'd say about 50 per cent of the books are about people I in some way either met or worked with and I bought them because I wanted to know more about the people I was working with," said Charlie Foster.
"But suddenly, the thing got rather out of hand and you say to yourself, 'What am I going to do with it?'"
I drew the [bed] clothes back, and found out she told the truth when she said that she only slept in Chanel No. 5.- Charlie Foster
Foster is from England, but ran away to join the circus when he was 13 years old.
He had a brief stay in Canada while training to be a pilot during the Second World War, and eventually made his way to Hollywood, working as a publicist and writer, where he amassed an impressive collection of stories.
"I introduced Jack Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe," said Foster. "They obviously liked each other and we found out later they certainly liked each other."
Foster said he worked with Monroe as her publicist during the filming of the 1957 movie, The Prince and the Showgirl. His job was to get her to the studio on time.
He said during rehearsals she was very punctual, but when the first day of filming came, things didn't go as smoothly.
"I walked in and there was Marilyn fast asleep in bed." When Foster woke her up, "She said, 'I'm not getting up.'"
He said after drawing her a bath, he threatened to throw her in the tub if she didn't get up.
"She said, 'You daren't,' and I said, 'Well try me Marilyn.'"
So "I drew the [bed] clothes back, and found out she told the truth when she said that she only slept in Chanel No. 5."
Foster's celebrity encounters are a who's who of the entertainment world, and include Charlie Chaplin, Benny Hill, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Temple and Bob Hope.
He has so many stories, he wrote a book about his time with Hollywood's big names. It's called From Old Hollywood to New Brunswick: Memories of a Wonderful Life.
As much as Foster's stories revolve around famous people and far flung locales, he credits Irene Foster with making it all possible.
"I've been fortunate to have a wife of 68 years who put up with me and made life very pleasant," he said.
She also has memories of the rich and famous coming over for dinner parties, but her take on the evenings has a different bend.
"I'd prepare all day … I'd rack my brain for something to cook. But whatever I came up with, they seemed to eat," she said with a laugh.
Foster and his wife have lived on a quiet street in Riverview for 46 years, but will be moving this month.
"I'm having difficulty going up and down stairs," he explained.
They have a first-floor apartment picked out, but there is no room for Foster's large collection of books.
"I'm rather hoping some school, or drama group, or organization connected with theatre, or anything like that — anybody who feels they want them, I'd be happy to donate them."
Also up for grabs is Foster's collection of coffee mugs that hang on the wall of his office. The approximately 260 mugs were collected during the couple's travels to 46 countries.
For all the places he's travelled, and people he's met, Foster said Riverview is the best place he's ever lived.
"It's been a good 93 years."