British Universities Film & Video Council

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John Parsons

Profile

Dates
1945-1956
Role
Interviewer
Newsreels / Cinemagazines
Pathe News
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Career

During the Second World War John Parsons was an officer in the Chindits, and after 1945 his ‘dashing’ style appealed to Howard Thomas, who recruited him as organiser and interviewer on the Pathe News. Thomas remembered that ‘persuasive and charming, he proved to be successful in such assignments as getting Bernard Shaw’s secretary...to coax GBS to grant Pathe one of his rare interviews.' The result, with Parsons talking to George Bernard Shaw, appeared in ‘HE’S 90’ in Pathe News No.46/58 of July 1946. In the following month Parsons featured in ‘CHALFONT ST.GILES: Squatters call a Council,' in Pathe News No.46/67, with the note ‘this introduces a new angle on Pathe’s representative John Parsons making personal interviews on the spot.' As Ronnie Noble [qv] of Universal recalled, this use of a ‘roving reporter’ was a novelty, and Pathe were soon ‘gaining popularity for their reel by having their own reporter in picture during the story.' Parsons also became Pathe’s principal celebrity interviewer, and in November 1946 he was featured in ‘PEOPLE IN CAMERA: John Parsons interviews Mr. and Mrs. Walt Disney on their arrival in England’ for Pathe News No.46/94. Howard Thomas also recalled that in May 1947 Parsons ‘secured one of the first interviews with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor after their exile abroad,' the result appearing as ‘THE WINDSORS ARRIVE’ in Pathe News No.47/40. In September 1947 Parsons was featured in ‘Pathe Reporter Meets Mae West at Southampton’ in Pathe News No.47/76. By January 1951 he was being credited both as a reporter for Pathe News and and as ‘Public Relations Officer Associated British Pathe.' His last known credit is for interviewing Sam Goldwyn at London Airport for ‘SAM GOLDWYN TALKS’ in Pathe News No.56/72 of September 1956.

Sources

R. Noble ‘Shoot First!: Assignments of a newsreel cameraman’ (London, 1955), p.154: H. Thomas ‘With an Independent Air’ (London, 1977), p.136.

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