Gere-ing up for 40th anniversary of Yanks… but no return for Hollywood heartthrob Richard

SADDLEWORTH takes its annual step back in time for Yanks weekend this month.

Leading man and lady, Richard Gere and Lisa Eichhorn, sadly won’t be attending two days of wartime nostalgia on August 10-11.

But thousands will be turning out, many in retro clothes and vehicles, to mark 40 years since the release of this iconic World War II movie.

Filmed on location in Saddleworth and throughout Tameside, Yanks told the story of American servicemen in semi-rural England and the relationship with the local population during the build-up to Operation Overlord.

Gere played technical sergeant Matt Dyson who has a relationship with Jean Moreton (Eichhorn) despite her being engaged to British soldier, Ken, played by Derek Thompson of Casualty fame.

Eichhorn returned to Dobcross for the 2014 festivities but is now living in America after previously setting up home in the south of England.

As the Independent went to press, Yanks organisers were negotiating to bring several members of the cast and production crew back to Saddleworth to celebrate 40 years since the picture’s release.

They have been in contact with Wendy Morgan, an English actress who played Mollie, and Brian Morris, a production designer, who also worked on Pirates of the Caribbean and who was responsible for choosing a number of location shoots.

They were also putting finishing touches to a packed schedule including the traditional vehicle parade along Uppermill High Street on Sunday, August 11, a fly past on both days by a Lancaster bomber and numerous exhibitions, stalls and entertainment centred on Saddleworth School.

A 1940’s newspaper has also been produced with original photos and stories associated with the time Hollywood came to the hills of Saddleworth.

“What we can’t control is the weather,” said lead organiser Paul ‘Dog Tags’ Higginson. “But hopefully it will be kind to us.

“And we do have more events at the school including vintage fashion show, war time displays, interactive exhibitions, tea dances and much more.”

So, no Richard Gere but it is hoped Sheffield pensioner Tony Foulds will feature in the parade.

The 82-year-old has enjoyed worldwide attention since BBC presenter Dan Walker revealed how Tony had tended to a memorial dedicated to 10 US airmen killed when a B-17 Flying Fortress crashed into local Endcliffe Park.

Tony, aged eight, was also in the park when the plane, Mi Amigo, came down.

“Can you imagine the gridlock across the whole North West, if we announced Richard Gere was coming,” laughed Paul.

3 Replies to “Gere-ing up for 40th anniversary of Yanks… but no return for Hollywood heartthrob Richard”

  1. Just a thought: In the quest for authenticity, shouldn’t the vast majority of people dressing up as servicemen and women from World War II be in the 18-25 year age group, not in the 50-70 year age group?

    1. Thanks for the veiled ageist comment (no offence) but I think your’e missing the point somewhat, people are doing it for various reasons, I’m dressing up in RAF gear as a tribute to those brave young men in Fighter and Bomber Command who gave their tomorrows so we can have our todays, my dad was RAF ( he came back) and my Aunties first husband was a Bomb Aimer with Bomber Command and he sadly didn’t come back. It’s also about the spirit of the events and meeting and talking to people you would not ordinarily talk to and hopefully making new friends.

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