Nanaimo-born publicist Prudence Emery, seen here sitting on the roof of the Savoy Hotel in London, recently released her memoir, Nanaimo Girl. (Photo courtesy Tomas Jaski)

Nanaimo-born publicist Prudence Emery, seen here sitting on the roof of the Savoy Hotel in London, recently released her memoir, Nanaimo Girl. (Photo courtesy Tomas Jaski)

Longtime film publicist releases memoir, ‘Nanaimo Girl’

Prudence Emery crossed path with countless celebrities during her 40-year career in PR

Prudence Emery’s life has taken her to the lofty world of celebrity, high society and show business, but it all started in a small coal and lumber town in the 1930s.

Emery, a longtime film publicist and public relations officer, recently released her memoir, Nanaimo Girl. In the book she recalls her interactions with some of the biggest celebrities of the past 50 years and includes the stories that were the most “funny, unusual and sexy, in that order.”

“I felt quite happy and actually somewhat amazed that I’d done all that stuff,” Emery said. “Because as I say in the book, I had ‘sheer lack of direction’ which took me everywhere.”

After a mischievous youth that saw her go through two boarding schools before dropping out of UBC in her second year, Emery spent her early 20s travelling Europe and partying with artists and aristocrats before returning to Canada to try to find a job.

Her first experience working with celebrities came at Expo ‘67 in Montreal where she worked in visitors services and showed stars like Jack Benny, Liberace and Hugh Hefner around the pavilion.

After Expo she returned to London and through a family connection was offered a position as a press and public relations officer at the luxurious Savoy Hotel, an establishment frequented by the rich and famous. In her five years at the Savoy Emery crossed path with countless politicians and entertainers, like Pierre Trudeau, Louis Armstrong and Noel Coward. She said she managed to fit into high society “with a lot of help from champagne.”

“The fact is you maintain a fair amount of distance, but at the same time if you have a certain kind of personality, I guess which I have, you seem to be able to get along with them,” she said.

After an introspective moment when she realized she was becoming numb to a life of luxury, Emery returned to Canada in 1973 to help launch Global TV and the Toronto Zoo – and later Roots and the Griffin Poetry Prize – before going into film publicity for the next 35 years.

During that time Emery worked on 120 productions around the world, including 10 films by Canadian director David Cronenberg. She held a nervous Nicolas Cage’s hand during an interview for a teen magazine, chaperoned Ben Kingsley on a whirlwind trip to the Cannes Film Festival and traded pants with Sophia Loren.

“I do feel very privileged to have been in the film industry in particular…” Emery said. “I look back and I think, ‘Holy cow, I was there on the Great Wall of China with Jeremy Irons.’ The time when you’re doing it, it just seems normal. Then you look back on it and you think, ‘Wow.’”

But whether she was on a film set or hobnobbing with VIPs, Emery never forgot where she came from. She said being brought up in a small town like Nanaimo was in the ’40s and ’50s “always sticks with you.”

“I used to drag the guys in the cars and I was a bit of a wild brat and no matter how you go through life, that always stays with you, that little bit of Nanaimo, with a bit of edge,” she said. “So every time I misbehave later in life, I blamed it on ‘Nanaimo Girl.’”

Nanaimo Girl is available online from Amazon and Indigo.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Nanaimo’s Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St., where the 7-10 Club is located, will host a warming centre seven days a week through March 31. (City of Nanaimo photo)
Warming centres for people experiencing homelessness open today in Nanaimo

City of Nanaimo and social agencies partnering on Wallace and Prideaux locations

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
AUDIO: Interview with broadcaster and Island resident Terry David Mulligan

PQBeat podcast asks Nanoose Bay resident about radio and TV career, wine and more

Paige Karczynski is the new executive director of Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. (Photo submitted)
New executive director leading Nanaimo hospice at a time when grief counselling is greatly needed

Paige Karczynski takes over as Nanaimo Community Hospice Society begins its 40th year

The site of the former Arrowview Hotel, on Second Avenue and Athol Street, as of Jan. 14, 2020. (Elena Rardon/Black Press)
Port Alberni pressures owner of demolished hotel, Lantzville’s Pottie, for final cleanup

Demolition finished in June 2020 but site still full of construction material

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Mount Arrowsmith. Three skiers were rescued from the south side of the mountain on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 with one woman taken to hospital in Comox. (Nancy Randall photo)
Injured skier among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons was appointed to the NDP cabinet as minister of social development and poverty reduction after the October 2020 B.C. election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. job training fund increased for developmentally disabled

COVID-19 has affected 1,100 ‘precariously employed’ people

A Sooke woman is speaking up after she was almost tricked by a lottery scam, claiming she had won $950,000 with Set for Life Lottery. (File Photo)
‘I wanted it to be true so badly’: Sooke senior narrowly avoids lottery scam

88-year-old received letter stating she had won $950,000

B.C. driver’s licence and identity cards incorporate medical services, but the passport option for land crossings is being phased out. (B.C. government)
B.C. abandons border ID cards built into driver’s licence

$35 option costing ICBC millions as demand dwindles

Submitted photo of Town Park C Block apartment fire.
Apartment fire in Port Hardy forces residents to jump from building

‘Multiple people were transported to the hospital with injuries from falling’

sdf
2nd in-school violence incident in Mission, B.C, ends in arrest

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Most Read