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Farewell gorgeous and glamorous cousin Venetia Stevenson 1938 - 2022

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 28 September 2022

What links the picture on a Scottish beer, Russ Tamblyn (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), Back to the Future 2, Don Everly ( of the singing Brothers), Axl Rose of Guns n’ Roses, Anthony Perkins (psycho), the Sound of Music and me? The answer is Venetia Strevenson my father’s first cousin who died this week. I was with my father’s sister Aunt L on the day we learned that her cousin had passed away and while she was very sorry to hear the news, she noted that she and Venetia moved in rather different social circles.

Venetia was the eldest daughter of my great Aunt Anna Lee (the British Bombshell), who was, inter alia, a Nun in the Sound of Music, and the movie director Robert Stevenson. Her middle name Invicta was a reference to the Winnifrith family’s Kent roots which Anna Lee ( Joan Winnifrith) held dear for her entire life. But Venetia  was brought up in America and had a careeer as an actress in film and TV aided by her stunning looks as you can see in the quite well known picture below. The man doing the backflip behind her is her first husband Russ Tamblyn.

I am not sure that anyone these days watches the fairly obscure movies or shows she appeared, before retiring in 1962 to bring up the kids she had with Everly, but her image endured. It is her face which , as you can see below, has beamed out at you on the Scottish beer Sweetheart Stout since 1958. It still beams out today. As to Back to the Future 2: you may remember a scene where Biff and Principal Strickland read a girlie magazine – which is so tame by today’s standards – Oh La La. That was a fictional title but the front photo is from Swank Magazine (July 1955 issue)and the covergirl was none other than Venetia. 

Venetia’s second husband was Don from the Everly Brothers and the daughter from that marriage was the inspiration for Sweet Child of Mine, appeared in the video and married Axl Rose of Guns n’ Roses.  Anthony Perkins? He was very gay at a time in the 1960s when actors could not be gay and his boyfriend at the time said in his autobiography that Venetia would act as a willing beard of faux double dates. As Aunt L correctly says , the family of Aunt Joan ( Anna Lee) move in rather different circles to we Winnifriths left behind in Blighty.

Venetia’s younger brother Jeff Byron has kept us in touch and so Aunt L and I knew that poor Venetia had been ill with Parkinson’s for some time. Naturally it is sad for anyone to pass away but she is a woman who made the most of life. 

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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