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Temporary Secretary
December 3, 2013 3:07 PM   Subscribe

In 1961, when Brian Epstein began negotiating a management contract with the Beatles, he employed Freda Kelly as his secretary. She remained within the group's inner circle until their breakup and beyond. The breakup of the Beatles was publicly acknowledged by McCartney in a 1969 interview. Kelly, who by this stage had a husband and was expecting her first child, was relieved. She felt ready to move on with her life. But although she stopped working for the band officially in 1972, she continued to reply to fans' letters for another three years every night at home after dinner, until each one had been answered. "You can't just close a fanclub overnight," she says. Good Ol' Freda: The Beatles' secretary tells her story
posted by paleyellowwithorange (18 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks for this! I have a note from Freda thanking me for my letters to Paul and George and advising me that, as the Beatles were no longer a functioning organization, the fan club would no longer be handling their mail.
posted by Greenie at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]

What a terrific little film this was. In a way the ordinary people who got the day-to-day work done are more interesting than the isolated ultra-rich superstars. And I gasped when she went up into the attic and opened her boxes of stuff for the first time in forty years.
posted by Fnarf at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have been at three film festivals where this movie was playing and have managed to miss it every time. I even met Freda briefly at a party, but didn't know who she was until she walked away and someone told me.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:36 PM on December 3, 2013

I don't know how I managed to miss this when it was in L.A. (probably the same way I managed to miss the Stone Roses docu when it was here as well). Adding to Wishlist now!
posted by scody at 4:55 PM on December 3, 2013

Thanks for posting, I'm really looking forward to watching this.
posted by wallabear at 5:23 PM on December 3, 2013

Dear Sally, in response to your letter of December the twelfth, 1966, me favourite colour is blue, and me real first name is Richard. Thanks for the snapshot, you’re a real cute bird. Love, Ringo. P.S. forgive the lateness of my reply.
(This is great.)
posted by Songdog at 5:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

That's the first thing I thought of, Songdog! If Fox was as cool as Ringo, I would have posted that clip.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:28 PM on December 3, 2013

I am irrationally pleased that all concerned actually (consistently) noticed how much she was helping them succeed. There are plenty of not-at-all-famous people who never think about their secretaries until the precise moment when they don't have a secretary anymore - these guys didn't need an "administrative professionals day" notation on their calendar (hand-written by the administrative professional) to remind them how valuable she was.
posted by SMPA at 6:47 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder if the Beatles pastiche heard in the trailer (and, likely, the soundtrack itself) is a result of astronomical licensing fees for use of the Beatles' recordings. Sort of sad, that.

And, for those who haven't ever heard it, the title of this thread comes from a song off McCartney's second one-man-band record McCartney II called "Temporary Secretary" that appears to have inspired Belle & Sebastian's "Step Into My Office, Baby" and will absolutely be either the worst or the best thing you've heard all day.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey, neat! Never actually heard 'Temporary Secretary' before. Paul's eighties output is a goldmine of overlooked gems (relative to the more well-known Wings-era stuff). Exhibit B: 'Pretty Little Head'.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the Reddit AMA she did a few months back that folks might find interesting.
posted by Jugwine at 7:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Lennon fired me in a dressing room one time! He was upset that I spent too much time with another musical group called The Moody Blues' dressing room. What happened when I went into The Beatles' dressing room, he was not amused that it had taken me all that time to come into the dressing room. So he asked me whose fan club secretary I was - are you the Moody Blues' fan club secretary or the Beatles. And I just laughed it off and said theirs, and he said I'm sacking you you can go back to the Moody Blues. Well what happened then I said fine, but I went to the other 3 and asked if they were sacking me and they said no, certainly not, so I said to John well you can do your own fan mail and I'll just do the other three's. And then he turned to me and said he was only joking, and I said no you weren't, you were telling the truth, and he said please come back. Then I said "get on your hands and knees and beg me to come back." And he said "I'll meet you halfway" and I knew I couldn't push him any further, he said he would get down on one knee and I said that will do. And I kept working for him for another 7 years.

posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:42 PM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]

Exhibit B: 'Pretty Little Head'

HAHAHA. As I listened to this for the very first time ever, my first thought was to come in here and suggest that it was a weird Hugh Padham/Genesis/McCartney hybrid. And... it fucking is.

Thanks for posting. Reminds me of one late-era highlight from Genesis in particular.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:56 PM on December 3, 2013

I just saw this movie! It's charming, and so is Freda herself--I highly recommend it. Be sure to stay through the credits at the end.

I came home and read the Reddit AMA afterwards, and it fleshed out some of the things I'd wondered about in the film. There are also some great Q and A sessions on YouTube with the director and Freda Kelly from the New York screening. I forget which it was in, but in either the AMA or one of the Q and Avideos they address the issue of music: apparently there was no issue at all getting the songs--they were granted permission by the surviving Beatles and by John and George's estates and the director asked Freda to choose the four songs she wanted in the movie.

According to this article, the film makers probably did not pay very much for the songs:
It’s no small feat getting clearances for Sony/ATV Publishing and Apple Corps’ most prized assets because of the many parties whose signoffs are required (among them, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison). Rights also are expensive: AMC’s Mad Men coughed up $250,000 for a snippet of “Tomorrow Never Knows” last season.

White won’t divulge what he paid for “Love Me Do,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and two others, but he says of Kelly, “Clearly the living Beatles have a lot of respect for her.”
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

White won’t divulge what he paid for “Love Me Do,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and two others, but he says of Kelly, “Clearly the living Beatles have a lot of respect for her.”

That's beautiful.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am currently reading "When They Were Boys" by Larry Kane and this is so great. I haved loved the Beatles since I was a child and inherited my aunt's 45 vinyls. I sang their songs to my children as lullabies.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:14 AM on December 4, 2013

Extra e, but Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)" on Mind Games may be a nod to her.
posted by brujita at 12:20 AM on December 4, 2013

I remember Temporary Secretary actually getting radio used to get played a fair amount on KROQ in the early '80s, in between stuff like Wall of Voodoo and the Salvation Army. It was a fantastically weird time.
posted by malocchio at 8:00 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

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