Gracie’s love of all animals, but particularly dogs, started in childhood with her families Terriers.
And as soon as Gracie had a home of her own, albeit not a happy home, she surrounded herself with pets.
At one point whilst living at Tower, Gracie maintained no fewer than two Kerry Blues, five Airedales, and two Pekingese, along with Polly the parrot which was given to her by Harry Lauder. Polly was allowed to fly freely around the garden. ‘She knows where the food is‘ said Gracie.
Later at Peacehaven Gracie kept as many as nine Greyhounds at one time!
In America in the 1940s Gracie had a chow dog called Chang that she bought from someone selling puppies on Sunset Boulevard. She also started keeping pigeons and chickens whilst in America and bred canaries, amassing over 100.
In the late 1940s living in Capri with Monty, Gracie owned two alsatians, Bambi and Spender. They went on to have puppies, of which Gracie and Monty kept two, Jimmy and Bambi Jnr. She gave one puppy, which was renamed Kali, to King Farouk’s daughter.
During the 1950’s and 60’s Gracie kept several dogs, including a Dachshund called Jackie.
Gracie’s final and much loved pet in the 1970’s was Sandy. Sandy was picked up as a pup from the American Air Force base in Naples. Sandy barked & howled the morning of Gracie’s funeral but went on to live to be over 18 (apparently).
Other doggy companions on Capri
MISS GRACIE FIELDS AND ‘MING’
From Whose Dog Are You? by Michael Chance
Once upon a time Miss Gracie Fields attended a Theatrical Garden-party. During the afternoon she met a lady carrying what appeared to be a small, soft bundle of fur, but was really a Pekingese puppy a few weeks old. Never had Gracie Fields seen anything so cuddlesome. She fairly beamed at the stranger when she was told the fluffy bundle was for sale.
‘I want ten guineas for her’ explained the owner; ‘but I would take five guineas if I knew where she was going to live.
‘That’s champion; I’ll buy her,’ declared Miss Fields enthusiastically.
‘Good,’ said the owner, ‘but – excuse my apparent rudeness – do you know that you bear a remarkable resemblance to Gracie Fields?’
‘I am Gracie Fields, ‘ said Miss Fields.
‘How can you be so absurd?’ said the owner indignantly, evidently considering she was dealing with a practical joker of questionable taste.
It is a long road from China in the east to Rochdale in the West, but never was Peke more obviously in her element than the five-year-old Ming. Ming accompanies her mistress everywhere, spends many a petted hour in her dressing-room, and resents strangers so noisily that every visitor to Miss Fields charming house in the Finchley Road might well be the forerunner of a Japanese invasion.
Nobody has a greater right to figure in this book than Gracie Fields. She does not own an occasional dog as an ornamental accompaniment to an already remarkably vivid personality, but surrounds herself, in the grand manner, with shoals of dogs. And in her choice of breeds she is as versatile as she is in her work.
Not only in the scale on which she keeps her dogs, but in the close companionship she shares with them, Gracie Fields is a dog lover above the ordinary. It is worth going a long way to see her cheery smile and her eyes screwed up in amusement as she laughs at Ming’s calm dignity. Ming is in fact a fortunate young woman. She has a good mistress, a comfortable and roomy house, and a life filled with variety.
Although Miss Fields entertains a hankering for a small type of sheepdog, there is no mistaking her real preference for a Kerry Blue. And she agrees with me that the grey-blue colour is considerably more attractive than the dark blue which is almost indistinguishable from black. But in one respect there can be no two opinions: however hard she may be working or wherever she may be living, there will always be dogs where Gracie Fields is to be found.