One Year An Extra (part two)
Neither Linda nor I had difficulties on the sets any longer. We just would not put up with nonsense. My innocence was still there, but protected by a strong resolve to no longer be bulled by the lecherous, the offensive, or those trying to exercise what they perceived as their supposed position of power. Our resolve became obvious, and by standing up for our rights; we saw second assistance fired, directors forced to back down, and principles actors apologizing. Once I held up production, actually they held it up because I would not romp around the set in my slip. There were plenty of girls that would, but they always seemed to want me to do such idiocy, probably only because I wouldn’t. Our attitude became such common knowledge that it was whispered that we were either the mistresses of those high up in the tower at UI, perhaps Lew Wasserman himself, or perhaps his granddaughters. We cared what they believed, of course, but some rumors can be of help, as long as we didn’t have to deal with some of the nonsense that passed as so necessary for some people. At one point it was rumored that I was the love child of Vivian Leigh, ridiculous. But some saw a resemblance and then the surname Leigh that I had chosen.
Working on “That Funny Feeling, ” at Universal I would feel sorry for Sandra Dee. There was no way that marriage with Bobby would last. He was already on the make, and I wasn’t the only one he hit on. There were sets and shows such as that, which you abhorred, or barely tolerated. Once Linda was on the set of “Run for your Life,” and the guest star was Chuck Conners. Well Ben Garazza and Chuck competed that day to see who could have the raunchiest mouth, the vulgarity continued to mount, and finally Linda had enough, and went to the assistant director turning in her voucher and said, “I’m leaving I don’t have to put up with this.” To which the assistant, with a look of sympathy, tinged with perhaps his own desire to leave, said, “No you don’t.” On the set of “Camelot, where I played the “goose girl,” I experienced much the same things as dear Linda, the star Richard Harris also had a filthy mouth. He would paraded around the entire day singing a foul parody to the famous theme song of “Camelot,” using a particular word for flatulent, or other biological functions, and various other four letter words. Fortunately I was able to spend most of the day far from his presence.
There were other sets more to our liking. Once we heard a director after seeing who had been cast for a particular role, expressed his disgust, “Get me a girl that looks the part. This one looks like how she earned it.” Usually on such a set, Linda and I in our fresh clean-cut looks would make money, a silent bit or at least a wammie or two.
But always there were the others. The dullness droning on, as actors missed their marks, or flub lines incessantly, or the “Jet-set” or “whores d’oeuores” parading about showing all the flesh they could. On one such set, commiserating with a few extras that were feeling the same way I was, I would utter the memorable words, “Who do you sleep with to get off this set.” All knew the humor in what I said, and we all had a good laugh.
Commercials had also become a nice extra source of income, from shampoos, to deodorants, Pepsi Cola, and then I received a call for a well-known hair coloring company. The interview went well and they chose a girl with lovely blond hair, a glorious redhead, and myself with my dark tresses. Then we were told that they would dye our hair a different color. I was to be a blond, the redhead a brunette, and the blond a redhead. Then our present hair color would be the after, and their dye job the before. This was ridiculous, and I stood up, and said, “You can have this job,” and walked out. And yes, so did the other two girls. Out on the street we could see the advertising agent and the company representatives arguing, arms flaying, and obviously a lot of shouting going on up on the second floor. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of men.
One other commercial deserves mention, Fritos! A number of us were hired to act as if we were at a party and someone puts out Fritos, and suddenly the party becomes alive, as we all gather to eat these fun little corn snacks. Well we didn’t have to act, they had flown direct from the San Francisco Fritos factory fresh, I mean fresh, Fritos. They are fantastic fresh from the ovens, and we ate with gusto, so much so that they ran out. And we cease filming while they made the necessary arrangement to fly more down. The memory of them makes me want to drive to the bay area for some FRESH Fritos.
It is also amazing what such efforts, as hair dos, wigs, and make up can do for some of those familiar faces we all know up on the screen, or our TV sets. There are so many that literally are unrecognizable without all the effort that goes into their look. There are those who are termed “sex goddess,” that can walk the streets and no one knows who they are. The hair just right, and the right feature emphasized, or de-emphasized and the transformation can be astonishing. Perhaps that is what Dennis Weaver didn’t see in me.