A good gallop through the high life and the low death of Jack Doyle on RTE 2 recently. What a cautionary tale eh. Cobh boy joins the British army and is groomed as a boxer on the basis of his hard and violent upbringing in working-class Cork. He has some success and because of his charm and good looks is boosted beyond his actual talents. A combination of indolence and lack of real boxing skill does for him. Holywood beckons when his boxing career meets its inevitable end and he enjoys his 15 minutes of fame. He couldn’t really act and played the big boy way beyond his actual achievements. And then the long slide to the gutter in Notting Hill Gate.
I met him a few times in London in the late Sixties. We drank in a Finches House called The Hoop in Notting Hill Gate - on the main drag near the tube station. It’s now a financial institution of some kind. He always occupied the same position at the side of the bar – both hands braced on the bar top to support his large and corpulent frame. I remember him as being the soul of affability at all times – no bitter ranting of what was, or might have been. A gentleman in fact despite his straitened circumstances. We always made sure we bought him a pint at some stage during the evening.
I was disturbed to hear that he had a history of physically abusing his women. We never saw a mean streak in him. He lived on until the mid-Seventies by which time he was sleeping rough. What must have gone through his head as he lay in that grim London doorstep. Did he think of his flirtations with the exquisite Carole Lombard or his passionate nights with the fiery Movita. Or of his crossing swords with Clark Gable and other Hollywood luminaries.
No amount of having starred
Makes up for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard