Late film legend SIR Dirk Bogarde enjoyed a flirtacious friendship with Helena Bonham Carter, when the actress was just 20-years-old.

The DEATH IN VENICE actor, who died in 1999, appeared with the young actress in the 1987 film THE VISION.

Bonham Carter tells of her long friendship with Bogarde in JOHN COLDSTREAM's new book DIRK BOGARDE: THE AUTHORISED BIOGRAPHY.

The actress says Bogarde, who lived with his partner TONY FORWOOD for 40 years, made remarks to her, such as, "If only I was 42 years younger."

In the book, Bonham Carter recalls the actor sent her a card, which "was like a note to a lover" and the pair drank champagne together in his London home while listening to the music of GEORGE GERSHWIN.

Bonham Carter says, "It was flattering to be flirted with my Dirk Bogarde, but I was puzzled.

"He would always make out that he was a macho heterosexual. He was conscious of keeping the mystery, weaving the webs. But he was really a hunk of self-denial."

Bonham Carter says she had a "good and lasting" friendship with Bogarde and his boyfriend Forwood.

She enthuses, "I fell for Tony. He was so gentle, such a benign gentleman. They were comfy together, but they weren't openly affectionate.

"I think Tony liked himself more than Dirk liked himself. Dirk always had demons. But Tony was always happy within his skin. He was just 'wholler' than Dirk and forgave his excesses."

15/10/2004 13:27