Posts Tagged ‘L.A.’

Movie Millisecond: The Big Lebowski

October 2, 2010


via One Day, One Movie on the tumblr.

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.

Spring Fever!: Marlene Morrow, Miss April 1974 — or, “Persephone.”

April 20, 2010

The lovely and talented Marlene Morrow was Playboy’s Miss April, 1974.


Photograph by Larry Dale Gordon.

Like fellow 1974 Playmate of the Month and friend Bebe Buell, Ms. Morrow dated Todd Rundgren, and Marlene is related to no less than three different United States presidents: Washington, Monroe, and Madison. But there is much, much more to her gripping and moving story. Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).


Marlene is also a very interesting person. Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Osaka, Japan, where her father was a baseball player on a Japanese team. From there, the family moved to L.A., where Marlene grew up. “Believe it or not,” she says, “up until the time I was 13 I wanted to be a missionary.” She gave up that idea and settled on the notion of being a housewife with a load of kids. But that’s been postponed indefinitely, now that her career is spiraling upward.

(“This Year’s Model.” Playboy. April, 1974. )


So groovy. My fave of the shoot.
But for now, Marlene is satisfied with her life in London — visiting pubs and going out with Englishmen, whom she finds vastly different from American men. But does she plan to make London her home? “Someday,” she says, “I’d like to buy a trailer and just travel around the world for a whole year. Is that crazy?”

(Ibid.)


I’M ALWAYS: Dreaming. Still, I wish I wasn’t so serious about life all the time.
WITH MY PLAYMATE FEE: I plan to settle myself in an apartment in Los Angeles and enroll in acting and dance school.
AMBITIONS: To be successful with my modeling and to study acting, and to have a nice home with about four children.

Now that the things she said in her interview at the time are out there and still resonating in your mind, I’m going to get to the main thing of this entry. Marlene Morrow’s real surname was Pinkard.

In a google search for her, I found an article by Italian-american author Joan “Strega,” in whose mother’s Encino shop Marlene worked after moving to L.A. Ms. Strega had done a similar google search and was meditating on her shock and dismay to find recent pictures of Marlene taken in Los Angeles.

It seems that Marlene did stay in L.A., but she did not become a famous model or actress. Nor is she happily married and settled in to a nice house with about four chidlren. Marlene now goes by “Persephone.”


Marlene, aka Persephone, in April 2006.

Persephone is homeless, and currently missing. She lived as recently as four years ago with a few others on the streets of Los Angeles, where she journaled, wrote poetry, and carried with her in a manila envelope a photo of her former centerfold.

The above recent photograph was taken by Paul Zollo, a musician, journalist, and photographer who was strolling around Los Angeles and met Persephone and some of her friends at the corner of Yucca and Cahuenga. Below are highlights from his very moving story of how their encounter went.


“Persephone and Bert.”

At the intersection of Yucca and Cahuenga I saw her – she was sitting on the sidewalk with a guy named Bert Rental. I presumed at first that Persephone & Bert were a couple because they were sitting alone when I first approached them on Yucca near Cahuenga in Hollywood, very close to where I lived for more than 20 years. They both let me know they were homeless, but that wasn’t really an issue.

Persephone was crying, weeping profusely in fact, and explaining that there was a suicide, and she had a grandson she loved, and she had a husband who had disappeared, and “many contracts” that she was ignoring. She didn’t explain what kind of contracts they were.

I asked many times to take her photo, and she said, “No, I’ll GIVE you a photo — a good one — because I look like shit now, because I’ve been CRYING FOR TWO WHOLE WEEKS.” She repeated this like a sad mantra. She started crying intensely, and Bert seemed very uncomfortable with this, and I told her it was cool to cry, and she said, “NO — it’s NOT cool.” And I said all I meant is that it’s okay to cry. And then she wept openly, and then wiped the tears away and laughed with pure joy. And then alternated between laughter and tears.

[She] did show [me] a Playboy centerfold from the Sixties of a blonde woman named Morrow who she said was her. And it did look quite like her, and I believe it was her, and she said that now she dyed her hair dark. I asked her if she knew Hefner, and she looked at me with an expression that said, “How could I not know him?”

[She said] that everything was terrible – she’d been waiting for her husband for days, and he had yet to appear. That she had a grandson she hadn’t seen in too long. Then embraced me with all her heart and told me I was “precious.”

Then she opened a journal of her reflections and poetry, written in a florid script, and asked me to read it aloud, which I did to the best of my ability, as it was hard to make out, but it was about the mythical Persephone, the Goddess of Innocence and the Queen of the Underworld.


I received a message from a fellow flickr-artist [who] had looked her up on the net and discovered a photo of former centerfold Marlene Morrow, at some former centerfold convention or something, taken in 2002. He sent me a link to the photo. I didn’t think there was any chance it could be her.

But then I saw it. And it was haunting. It hit me like cold water in the face first thing in the morning. Because it was her face. Unmistakably.



This is the picture of Marlene at Glamourcon May 5, 2002, to which Mr. Zollo refers.

[I have been] receiving messages from Bebe Buell, who also was a Playboy centerfold – and a good friend of Marlene’s. Together we are hoping to find her. Last I saw she was on the street. If you can help us find her, let me know.

Bebe added more to my tale of Marlene, which follows — Bebe said both she and Marlene dated Todd Rundgren, and that Todd wrote a song about her which is on his “Something/Anything” album, called “Marlene.”

Bebe called and said, “I couldn’t sleep all night after reading your words about Marlene. I am ready to get on a plane to come and find her.”


A final entreaty and heartbreaking epilogue from Mr. Zollo:

I had hoped her life would improve. Sadly, I was wrong. Received a long and sad message from her daughter today telling me Marlene has been attacked on more than one occasion and has lost all her teeth.

Why the world treats some of its children like this is beyond me. She is someone beloved by many. If you know where she is, or have seen her, let us know.


Mr. Zollo is on the myspace and the flickr.

The irreplaceable Ms. Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974, sweet and loving model, actress, and singer in her own right (not to mention mother to equally cramazing and talented Liv Tyler — they are beautiful inside and out), is still seeking to get in touch with Marlene, with whom she was close in the 1970’s. Ms. Buell said that she was told in the early 2000’s that Marlene was looking to talk to her and she lost track of time and did not follow up. She is understandably guilt-stricken about that now and is hoping fervently to find Ms. Pinkard. If you know how to find Persephone/Marlene Pinkard/Marlene Morrow and Ms. Buell has not already heard from you, you may contact her through her website, bebe-buell.com. Please. Contact Mr. Zollo or Ms. Buell any time with any information you have, really.

*(Also, if you follow the link to Ms. Strega’s thoughtful and poignantly articulated story about discovering that Marlene had become Persephone, Ms. Buell’s comment is the first: it includes an email address where she can be reached if you have info about Ms. Pinkard/Persephone. I didn’t want to put it in this entry without her permission.)

If this story has had an impact on you the way it did on me, I’ve hit the charity rating websites pretty hard and come up with a good solid list of some non-profits that you can volunteer with or donate to. Most are national and international so that you can help from no matter where you live, but I made sure to particularly include some charities that may directly affect Marlene’s everyday life, headquartered in LA and environs. All of the charities are top-rated, up-and-up organizations.

Alpha Project for the Homeless

National Alliance to End Homelessness

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest)

Habitat for Humanity

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger (don’t forget that besides outright donating, you can alternately buy the Nice Jewish Guys calendar that I spotlighted way back on Calendar Girls day to support this great organization)

Salvation Army, Western Territory

This one is my personal favorite, and has several different ways you can help Marlene and people in similar positions to hers.

Homeless Health Care Los Angeles 213-744-0724
advocacy
online donation
volunteer
–and this last one I can’t stress enough: DONATE YOUR OLD CAR AND RECEIVE TAX DEDUCTION POTENTIALLY WORTH MORE THAN YOUR VEHICLE PLUS FREE GOOD KARMA FOR LIFE!

Okay, so think about all that? Thanks!

Valentine Vixen — Pamela Anderson, Miss February 1990

February 26, 2010

Very, very special Valentine Vixen. The lovely and talented, and in my book unendingly wonderful with so much more to her than the surface by which she is constantly judged, Pamela Anderson was Miss February 1990. Pammy was only 23 years old, she had just moved to Los Angeles after living most of her life in tiny Comox, B.C, Canada, and her interview will just about break your heart.


Photographed by Arny Freytag.

She was discovered by accident while being her gorgeous and naturally attention-grabbing self at a simple sporting event.

Pamela took in a B.C. Lions football game in Vancouver and made a national spectacle of herself. Duded up in blue, the signature color of Labatt’s Beer, she caught the eye of a national-TV cameraman. Football fans all over Canada called the network to inquire about the sideline stunner at the Lions game. Next thing she knew, Pamela was a Labatt’s poster girl. (“B.C. Beauty.” Playboy, February 1990.)


To keep her wits about her, she kept a journal in which she recorded her experiences. “This is the beginning of a new life for me,” she wrote. She worked as a model and studied airline routes in her spare time. She got her certification as a travel agent, just in case her plans for an even bigger move didn’t work out. (Ibid.)

She kept up the journaling and also expanded to other writing, too. She used to be a regular contributor to Jane magazine back when I subscribed because I was, like, sooooo counterculture and didn’t need any typical beauty magazines (Jane is now owned by Glamour so in my face) to tell my oh-so-over-it ass how to catch boys and flutter my eyelashes, thank you very much, and Pam’s editorials cracked me up. She can be wickedly sarcastic, and turned most of her wit on herself, totally willing to mock the image but then turn around and reveal this sweet and sensitive side, too. Very cool.


She now studies scripts the way she once pored over airline schedules, and more than one casting director has told her she is sure to go far. This, though, is her first big break. (Ibid.)


“Hollywood people are dreamers. Always grabbing for something big. I’m a dreamer, too, so I guess I belong here.” (Ibid.)

Damn. “I’m a dreamer, too, so I guess I belong here.” Think about all the total shit she has been through, the complete Hollywood wringer that has spun her around and wrung her out again and again since she said that in 1990.

Dating abusive and disease-ridden scummy cads, overindulging in the sea of substances that surrounded her rock and roll lifestyle, getting out and keeping her kids clean, being lambasted left and right for her body, judged solely on her looks; having her every move under scrutiny and criticized constantly as if she is some empty-headed set of shellacked boobs and nothing more, when really she is this sensitive and hilarious writer with a huge soft spot for animals and abused children, it’s like — the crux of injustice. Man. Excuse me, I … I have some dust in my eye.

Pamela Anderson has been for many years a highly visible spokesperson for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Yes, I know PETA is not perfect. No, I don’t need to hear about it, because, like I just said, I know. Many nonprofits run in to choppy waters when they are closely investigated and PETA, because its beneficiaries cannot speak for themselves, comes under close scrutiny and is found lacking very often in public forums. Got it. But can we at least agree that it is really cool that Pam Anderson took on the mantle of ambassador to animals years ago and has stuck with it through thick and thin, both in her career and her cup size? I think that is admirable and demonstrative of her sensitivity and persistence.


Bardot and Pammy. Many similarities. Strong, opinionated blonde sex symbols under whose famously nice racks beat determined hearts of gold.

Since two legendary blonde bombshells and all ’round inconic sex goddesses are better than one, Brigitte Bardot and Pamela Anderson have now united to call for an immediate end to the Canadian seal hunt. (“Pamela Anderson and Brigitte Bardot Unite: ‘Love Seals, Don’t Club Them!'” 13 Feb 2008. PETA2 Daily Blog.)


This afternoon while visiting the Brigitte Bardot Foundation in Paris, Pamela filled in for Mme Bardot (who is ill and can’t travel at the moment) and held a press conference publicly condeming the seal hunt and everyone who wears or designs fur. (Ibid.)

The seal hunt, which runs from November through May, really is fucking gross and awful. If you live in one of the five remaining geographical areas that still have it, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but holy hell, write a letter or something, would you? That shit is purely against God’s will, I’m almost positive. It’s got me all kinds of cussing in disgust over here.

The final quote from the interview with Playboy is really heartbreaking.


“I hope that when people see me in Playboy,” she says, “they’ll see more than the surface. I hope they’ll see a Comox girl reaching for a dream.” (“B.C. Beauty.”)

That is just exactly the way of it, you guys. So maybe the next time you are in a group of people and someone makes an allusion to Pamela analogizing her to trash or implying she is some blonde bimbo, perhaps you will remember that she is a sweet, poetic soul from a small town who has never meant anyone harm a day in her life, and you can step up like a gentleman hero and tell that hater to shut their ignorant piehole.