Peter Brook has only been in Singapore on transit to Australia, but he is delighted to be interviewed by The Straits Times. "My departed wife, Natasha," he says, swallowing and composing himself for a long moment before continuing, "her father was with The Straits Times."
His wife of more than 60 years, actress Natasha Parry, died in late July. She used the surname of her stepfather Gordon Parry, a noted film director, but her biological father was Reginald A.C. Wills, or "Reggie" Wills, a businessman who was with The Straits Times. He died in Portugal in 1970.
He helmed the advertising department of The Straits Times before the fall of Singapore in World War II and was interned in the Kranji prisoner-of-war camp for 31/2 years during the Japanese Occupation.
After the Japanese surrender, he returned to work and became assistant general manager of The Straits Times Press.
In November 1951, The Straits Times printed the notice of his then 20-year-old daughter's marriage to Brook, then 26 and described as among "the front rank of Britain's theatrical producers".
Wills found out about the wedding only through "a laconic cable from the film studios". It went: "Have married Peter Brook. Love Natasha."
Six years later, he had a cheongsam tailored for Parry in Singapore, so she could wear it for her role as a Malayan nurse in the film Windom's Way (1957). Brook was described in the news story as "Britain's most acclaimed theatrical director".