Valley of the Dolls (Mark Robson, 1963). Jennifer North (Sharon Tate) appears in a French art house film to get enough money to get her clingy, vampiric mother off her back and hopefully resolve other financial entanglements in her life. She becames a moderate success and something of a sex symbol in Europe, but continues to grapple with success in America. All the while, what the Jennifer North character wants more than anything is to have a child to whom she can show the affection and provide the loving stability she, herself, never received.
Travilla, Costume Designer: Sharon Tate is divine, a real find. Just wait and see what happens when the critics and public see her in Valley of the Dolls. Sharon has everything Marilyn Monroe had and more. She has the fascinating, yet wholly feminine strength of a Dietrich or a Garbo….a classically beautiful face, an exciting figure, the kind of sex appeal and personality appeal to become as glittering a star as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor.
(“Valley of the Dolls.” Screen Stories. December 1967.)
Robert Viharo: Everybody [on set] was competitive with everybody. The only one that I felt was above it, was Sharon Tate. The sweetest, purest, most open spirit.
(Viharo, Robert. AMC’s “Backstory: Valley of the Dolls.” Original airdate: April 23, 2001.)
Jennifer North’s dislike of her career being centered around her body and her desire for a husband and children mirrors Sharon Tate’s own ambitions in life, and discomfort with being viewed only as a sex symbol and not recognized for her free spirit and comedic timing. (Of course, a major difference is Sharon had a very close relationship with her family and a positive upbringing.) Ms. Tate threw herself in to this part and received very good reviews, best of the cast and much better than her far more famous co-star Patty Duke. However, given her unique style and love for others, she would probably dislike that I wrote that comparison out. So I’m sorry, Ms. Tate — I merely wanted to point out that Travilla’s prediction came true!
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