Enjoy life. I have: Howie succumbs to cancer
'She was the doyenne of publicists' ... Suzie Howie.
Entertainment publicist Suzie Howie has died in hospital in Kyneton, the 63-year-old showbiz veteran finally succumbing to the breast cancer with which she was first diagnosed in 2004 and which returned a few months ago.
"She was the doyenne of publicists," said long-time friend and colleague Di Rolle. "She would have had the best contact book in the world — she knew everyone. Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber — she knew them all."
Though much weakened in recent weeks, Howie remained a publicist to the very end, penning her own death notice for distribution via her solicitor.
"I have had a terrific life and am so grateful for the fun, the excitement and the wonderful people who have been part of it," she wrote.
"Couldn't have done it without the love of my creative husband, Paul Taylor, and the warmth and love of his family, who have given me so much affection and support – and that includes the first Mrs Taylor, Maggie Pinkney.
"My clever and amusing doctors, Gaynor Simmons and Bob Millar, who have guided me through the last seven years of breast cancer and best of all shown me that death is just a part of life. I am so grateful to them, as it has meant that I have genuinely accepted this and taken joy from all my life.
"The darling people of Woodend, who made Paul and I so welcome, and always up for a laugh.
"And to Frosty the Showman – for giving me a fabulous show like Forum as a brilliant exit line.
"Please note – that after 30 years of media calls, press conferences, before and after drinks and all those opening night parties — enough is enough. There will be NO funeral, and certainly no memorial. I am very happy to just float away when called.
"Thank you everyone – and enjoy life. I have."
The farewell was typical Howie — ebullient, effusive and always very personal.
The last show on which she worked, and to which she referred in her farewell missive, is the Stephen Sondheim musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which officially opens at Her Majesty's Theatre tomorrow night. The producer is John Frost, the Frosty the Showman to whom the note refers.
A few weeks ago, Howie wrote in an email to me that "I don't think I will be there for opening night". She was right, but the show will go on without her, as it must.
And object as she might, there's every chance the after party will become something a little like a wake, and a celebration of her fabulous life.