Posts Tagged ‘Barbie’

Sharon Tate’s Actual Life Awareness Month: Movie Moment, Don’t Make Waves

August 29, 2010

Turn on! Stay loose! Make out!

Don’t Make Waves (Alexander Mackendrick, 1967) was a Tony Curtis comedic vehicle in which Sharon Tate debuted in the part of Malibu, a beautiful blonde bunny who rescues a New York tourist from drowning and sucks him into the swingin’, farcical Southern California beach scene, complete with over-inflated egos, nouveau riche developers, mudslides, meditation, and Muscle Beach.


via Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur on the blogger.

The Ransohoff-produced-MGM film also stars Claudia Cardinale (Once Upon A Time In the West) as Laura Califatti, a hot-tempered and spontaneous Italian woman who is an even worse driver than this hot-tempered and spontaneous Italian woman used to be, and features genius comedian Mort Sahl (more on Mr. Sahl can be found in the recent Girls of Summer entry on his long-time wife China Lee, who also pops up in Don’t Make Waves). Also in a cameo is model-actress Joanna Barnes — she was Vicki Robinson, the gold-digging bad fiancee in the original Hayley Mills version of The Parent Trap, a role she lampooned/reprised in the Lindsay Lohan-starring 1998 remake as Vicki Robinson Blake, the gold-digging bad fiancee’s encouragingly avaricious mother; the idea being that a leopard never changes its spots, yes?


Ibid.

The cast of Don’t Make Waves was rounded out by a number of popular bodybuilders of the Venice Beach area and era, including David “The Blond Bomber” Draper, Mr. America 1965 and Mr. Universe 1966, who portrayed Ms. Tate’s character Malibu’s boyfriend, Harry Hollard.

The $4,000,000 film is based on Ira Wallach’s novel Muscle Beach. The movie can be described as a “sex and flex” gala spectacular featuring blondes, bikinis and bulging biceps. …

(Mozee, Gene. “Don’t Make Waves: Hollywood’s Greatest Muscle Movie.” Muscular Development, December 1967.)


As is Hollywood’s custom, the film pokes a little fun at the muscle world, but on the whole, the movie is quite entertaining and I am sure bodybuilders throughout the world will enjoy seeing it.

Co-starring as [Dave] Draper’s girlfriend is the very lovely Sharon Tate, one of the most beautiful girls these eyes have ever seen!

(Ibid.)

A legend in bodybuilding, Mr. Draper had a long career as a competitive weightlifter, actor, and author, and he runs a voluminous official website devoted to health, nutrition, and weightlifting.


I think of Sharon often as pictures of her during our filming of “Don’t Make Waves” adorn the walls of my gym in Santa Cruz, California. The members are mesmerized. … We first met on location in Malibu when we were advised to practice a trampoline dismount for the next film sequence, to begin promptly.

“Sharon, this is Dave. Dave, this is Sharon. Sharon, I want you to bounce on the tramp as high as you can and jump into the arms of Dave, standing right here. He’s a sturdy fellow. Good.” — The instructions of Sandy McKendrick [sic], cogent director assuming magic. We smiled, nodded, shook hands and she mounted the trampoline for the first time in her life …


Sharon and Dave filming, via sharontate.info.

… Any fear or doubts the sweet girl had turned into resolve. Sharon bounced with all her might and within five minutes was leaping through the air like a gazelle. I didn’t dare miss her. We were smiles and laughter.

First take, “Cut. That’s a wrap.” I miss her now. A star on Hollywood Boulevard bearing Sharon’s name would warm my heart. She has a special place there, indeed.

(David Draper, memorial statement on Ms. Tate’s official website supporting Sharon’s receipt of a posthumous star on the Walk of Fame.

I can’t believe it is even an issue that needs lobbied. Why would Sharon Tate not get a star? Her career may have been cut short by something that we must reasonably not want to accidentally celebrate, but look at that career — even her presence in the cult classic Valley of the Dolls, which has likely never stopped playing at least somewhere in the campy-theater-viewing world, alone should position her for a star on the Walk of Fame. Come on. They gave ones to Pat Sajak and to Rin Tin Tin. Okay? Let’s get real. It’s bizarre to me that there is even debate.


Official soundtrack — the Byrds’ sang the theme song. Ransohoff spared no expense. (Get it.)

I do hate to throw in detracting non-Sharon Tate stuff on the “Sharon’s actual life” posts because, like I said from the beginning, it pisses me off that her unique character and burgeoning career is always getting overshadowed by the doings of all the others in her life story, but I must add that two reknowned Academy-Award winning actor-director-producers, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood, do not have stars yet either. Lassie and Tony Danza, yes. Dirty Harry and the Sundance Kid, no. Um, what? The process of selection and awarding now officially baffles me. A more complete list of strangely overlooked performers, or those who have declined or been disqualified, is here.

Back to Don’t Make Waves.

A great deal of money was spent on an all-out publicity blitz for this movie (no doubt with the urging of Ransohoff, the head of Filmways and Sharon’s personal career guru, who’d been waiting for his chance to spring her on the public), with everything from cards with stills to giant cardboard cutouts of Sharon Tate as Malibu in theaters to promote the film. There was even a tie-in with a Coppertone ad, shown above.

The amount of attention that was suddenly on Sharon and her body was not terribly to her liking. Though her later roles in Valley of the Dolls and The Wrecking Crew, as we’ve discussed this month, gave her the opportunity to show off her more robust dramatic and comedic talents, she was at this time pretty nonplussed by her box office debut as Malibu.

Among her friends, [Sharon] began to refer to herself as “sexy little me.”

(Bowers, John. “Sexy Little MeThe Saturday Evening Post, May 6, 1967.*)


Despite the lauded publicity campaign, Don’t Make Waves did not do as well in theaters at its release as its backers hoped, but it has gained in popularity with critics as time has passed.

The film has [recently] received more positive comments from reviewers, such as Leonard Maltin who describes it as “a gem”, and makes note of the “fine direction and funny performance by Sharon Tate”.

(the wiki.)


As a final note, the character of Malibu is often cited as the inspiration for the Mattel line of Malibu Barbie dolls. The doll was introduced in 1971 and I’ve so far read nothing that confirms Ms. Tate in Don’t Make Waves being Malibu Barbie’s rock-solid model as fact — but it is certainly a thing that could be true.




*Besides interviewing Ms. Tate about her upcoming film releases, the article sheds light on the early stages of her relationship with her eventual husband and portrays his interaction with her in a none-too-flattering light from the get-go: I found it insightful but very depressing and disheartening. So if you are a person who does not like to read things like that about him, don’t follow the link, or at least don’t tell me about it if you have followed it and are unhappy with what you’ve read. I did not write it. I just quoted from it.

Talk nerdy to me: Art of the Nerd

June 18, 2010

‘Nam-native Beetle-Bailey ear-necklace update: I still suck.

But seeing me hunched over and going through a ream of paper trying to do studies inspired kidlet to grab one of her own most recent “commissioned pieces,” the last assigned coloring project she had before school ended. Speaking of Jurassic Park and bloodthirsty drawings:

When she first brought it home, knowing what a girly-girl she can often be, I asked naively, “Is your T. Rex a girl dinosaur? With lipstick and fingernails?” She gave me a long-suffering, how-sad-that-my-mother-is-Grimace-from-Ronald-McDonaldland expression and said, “Mommy. Tyrannosaurus Rex was a killer. That is blood.”

Check. It was already all cut out so we put it on a couple popsicle sticks so she could use him as part of her various paper puppet shows.

Think about it: wouldn’t every single puppet show you’ve ever seen have been improved by the introduction of a tyrannosaur? It’s like a recipe for Imaginary Awesome and you just kicked it up a notch. T. Rexes are truly the paprika in the potato salad of the toybox.

So I was trying my hand yet again at drawing Beetle. The problem is I want his shirt open to display the necklace to best advantage as well as convey how unhinged he’s become, but both the open shirt and his chest itself are giving me trouble as far as drawing them as simply but representatively as possible, and I can only imagine my plan for his right hand to be flashing a peace sign will also end in tears. Meanwhile, kidlet, like I said, went and fetched her T. Rex puppet.

She made “Blarrrghhh, Gahrrrrr, Rawrrrrr” kind of noises at me from the other side of the table, kneeling so only the puppet showed and, when that did not sufficiently distract me, she snuck up beside me and pounced, pretending the dinosaur was biting my hand (very convincing flesh-tearing noises accompanied this move), and I said, “You’re very scary, but I’m kind of in the middle of this. Why don’t you go eat a Barbie? We can play later. Promise.”


First the T. Rex turned his cap backward, then they started the arm-wrestling. If you do not understand this humorous reference and you want to get in on the cheesey action flick joke, rent Over the Top (Menahem Golan, 1987). Don’t necessarily buy it though, heh.

Kidlet danced the dinosaur away, making stomping noises with her feet to simulate his weight stalking out of the room, then stuck the puppet back around the corner and said loudly in a deep, ominous voice, “You haven’t seen the last of Tyrannosaurus Rex!!”

I said, “I’m pretty sure I have, actually.” Extinction is a bitch. But the whole exchange cracked me up and lightened my mood. She’s so wonderful. I don’t know where she came from but I’m damned lucky she’s here.

Lastly, the best thing I have ever seen, a comic panel that never fails to cheer me up:


via

Everything is right in that picture. Especially how psyched the tyrannosaur pilot looks. I told you: they are the paprika in the recipe of AWESOME!

The Girls of Summer: China Lee, Miss August 1964

June 17, 2010

Dazzle your friends with correct pronunciation! Say “China” so it rhymes with “Tina,” not the clinical term for bajango.


Photographed by Pompeo Posar.

During Spring Fever!, in the post on Gwen Wong, I mentioned Ms. Lee and promised to give her a post all her own in the future. Happy to say that the future is now.

Ms. Lee is a real trailblazer and true intellect. She was the first Asian-American Playmate of the Month. Not lovely Gwen Wong, and not PR (name removed at model’s request).

Extremely athletic, bright, witty, and outspoken, China (née Margaret) was totally busting up stereotypes well before it was chic to do so. Get it, girl!

Like past-spotlighted comic genius Laura Misch Owens, China Lee began as a Bunny in New Orleans before winding up at the original Chicago Playboy Club. Due to her winning combination of unique looks, well-above-average intelligence, and friendly, talkative nature, she quickly worked her way up to Training Bunny.


As the Playboy empire expanded and Hef opened Clubs in other cities across America, China got to travel and show new Bunnies — and club managers — the ropes all around the country.

Her teaching duties take her to a different location with every new Playboy Club opening — a job which suits her peripatetic nature to a T.

“If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be ‘active,'” China says. “I love to roam, and I love to keep busy!”

(“China Doll.” Payboy, August 1964.)


“Despite the fact that I’m always on the go, success has come to me without my seeking it. I didn’t even apply for my Bunny job — I was discovered in a New Orleans hairdresser’s shop.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee was quite the jock at this time, enthusiastically describing the various sports she participated in:

High on her sports agenda is softball: Last season she pitched and won 12 games (“My windmill pitch is unhittable”), leading the New York Bunny softball team to the Broadway Show League championship.

(Ibid.)

Screeeee. What?! The NYC Club Bunnies had a softball team in a league?! And they were champions? Anyone with more info and especially pictures needs to be my hero and send it along, stat! That sounds wonderful and fun beyond anything the imagination can conjure.

Like icy-eyed Finnish novelist Kata Kärkkäinen, Miss December 1988, China Lee cheerfully reported in her interview that she traversed traditional gender/sports lines not only with that killer windmill pitch but also by handily mopping the floor with the competition at bowling.

“Miss August is also a pin-toppling bowler (she ran up a 217 at the age of 13), prize-winning equestrienne and jumper, expert swimmer and ping-pong player, as well as champion twister of all Bunnydom.

(Ibid.)

Twister like the party game or twister like “Shake it up, baby, now, etc,” with lots of cheerful shimmying around a dance floor? I’m guessing the latter. Seems more her speed!

Very little is made in the “China Doll” article of the fact that Ms. Lee was not exactly your garden variety gatefold WASP model. There is no deliberate, faux-innocent oversight of her heritage in some effort to prove super-open-mindedness, either, which I also consider a point in the magazine’s favor. A good balance is struck.


A native of New Orleans and the only member of her family of 11 not now in the Oriental restaurant line, China says: “Though I was born in America, my folks still follow Oriental ways: They speak the old language, read the old books, and follow the old customs. In this sort of environment, the men dominate and females are forced into the background. I rebelled, and I’m glad I did.”

(Ibid.)

Ms. Lee does not denigrate “Oriental”* tradition, merely comments on the aspect of that traditional environment that displeased her and from which she walked away. It’s done in a respectful and confident way. Very cool.

*When people use this word now it kind of makes my eyes itch for a second. I feel like it’s so high-handed and colonial. It’s like when people say “colored.” The original word meant no offense and is way better than a racial epithet, but we have even better ways of expressing that now, you know? It is a long-running joke with me, Paolo, and Miss D because we all lived in the Bay Area in the ’80’s when “Oriental” and “Hispanic” were leaving the vogue vocab in favor of more specific, group-elected terms. So when we see “Oriental” restaurant or “Hispanic” lawyer on a sign, we all eagerly point it out to each other the way hillbillies’ kids laugh at their grandparents for saying “Worsh.” (I can say that because I am one.)

After her Playboy appearance, Ms. Lee kept her ebullience and poise and continued to make friends and influence people. She is the dancer in the credits of Woody Allen’s first film, What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, a part which she supposedly lobbied very hard for with Allen, who was a friend of hers. The film itself is a farcical redubbing of the Japanese movie International Secret Police: Key of Keys; in Allen’s version, the intrigue surrounds the case of an egg salad recipe. China performs a striptease at the end credits for Allen, who plays himself, several dubbed voices, and the projectioner screening the film.

Here is a link to the clip of her dance on the youtube.

Ms. Lee also appeared on television series such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and alongside Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate in 1967’s beach movie Don’t Make Waves. The publicity campaign for Don’t Make Waves was of unprecedented size and ubiquity — though the film failed to live up to MGM’s box office expectations, the cultural impact was still very lasting.

As an example, the character Malibu, played by sunny and curvy Ms. Tate, is generally cited as the inspiration for Mattel’s world-famous “Malibu” Barbie, and several Coppertone tie-in ads for the film are still reproduced in text books for marketing classes. I will go deeper in to Don’t Make Waves in August, during Sharon Tate’s ACTUAL LIFE Awareness Month.

Ms. Lee dated Robert Plant for a while, but ultimately she settled with political comedian, activist, occasional Kennedy joke-penner, and all around cramazing dude, one of the Comedy Greats, Mort Sahl.

Sahl’s influence on aspects of comedy from modern stand-up to The Daily Show is basically immeasurable. You have probably seen Fred Armisen on SNL perform a political comedian character he created named Nicholas Fehn who is not a send-up of Sahl, himself, but rather a send-up of Sahl’s admirers who can never quite touch the master. It’s the guy with the pullover sweater and Armisen’s own glasses, an army surplus coat and a light brown longish wig, who shows up on the Weekend Update with a newspaper in his hand and tries to make jokes of the headlines but can never quite finish his sentences: this using the newspaper as a jumping-off point for humorous discourse was a trademark move of Sahl’s.

China and Mort Sahl married in 1967 and remained together until their divorce in 1991. They had a son, Mort Sahl, Jr., who passed away in 1996. R.I.P. to him and condolences to both of them. I’m glad I got to share about some really cool, interesting people in this post. I’m feeling more upbeat than I was. Thanks for coming along!

I suspect that cover is another Beth Hyatt/Pompeo Posar pairing. Note how the pose and her dress make the trademark, cocked-ear bunny silhouette, mirrored by the small logo sketched in the sand by her right hand. It’s similar, though not as racily sexy, to the rear shot one they did where her dress was open at the back and the straps snaking around her shoulders formed the ears. This time it’s her legs and kicked-off shoes. See it?