FROM SHOW BIZ TO SUNDAY SCHOOL
Sharon Leann Wyatt’s autobiography
Is It Sexual Harassment, Or Boys Will Be Boys? (Part Three)
His assistant would inform me that I reminded him of a woman from his past that had jilted him. That may have been pure speculation or just this kind considerate soul’s way to make me feel better. But I was not about to let him know how his attitude bothered me.
The girl I was standing in and doubling for, was wide eyed at her stardom. She was easily impressed by the surroundings, most of all by all the stars on the UI a lot. She came on the set one morning all agog as she had just met Robert Conrad. Even her mother seemed to be all a twitter as she told me in minute detail all that ensued between Conrad and her daughter in the makeup department. Her mother was present because the girl was under age, but she didn’t seem too much of a guardian. They twittered and giggled as each particular was told to me. I did try to warn them both about the undue attention of some actors that doesn’t always bode well for one’s future. But they were so sure that he could only be of great help to their plans for stardom in Hollywood. Oh well, it was good for diversion on that gloomy set, although the subject matter left much to be desired. Years later, I would hear a terrible story about this foolish and impressionable and misguided girl, how she had been taken advantage of and her life almost destroyed when she came under the physical dominance of one of the big stars at Universal once she turned 18.
There was very little late work on this set, which was the one thing it had in its favor, and also the fact that there was an unlimited supply of Pepsi-Cola and all Pepsi products on the set. That was thanks to Miss Joan Crawford, who had married the Pepsi-Cola company owner. Actually, I sound quite the ingrate as if there was not a laugh to be had at all. Well, there were, and one was strictly my doing. On the last day of shooting, which incidentally was right on schedule, and on a day I had just had enough of Mr. Biroc’s sourpuss ways, and always with his big cigar shoved in that puss. Well, I stood with my back to him hiding in my hand a big stogie, when he said “girlie turnaround,” I did, and with my best Groucho Marx impersonation said, “did somebody call my name.” The rest of the crew was duly shocked, as I was wearing a fake nose and glasses, with bushy brows and that Groucho mustache. As for the peevish Mr. Biroc, well, he disappeared behind his big camera for awhile, then slowly he came out from behind his machine, the corners of his mouth drawn tense, and he began to laugh to himself, and all joined in a good laugh. When the laugh finally died down I removed my disguise and stood there smiling a confident grin at the old ogre. He was pleasant the rest of the day. I should have done this a lot sooner. He would at the close of the project come to me and say I was a damn good stand in.
I rarely saw Ms. Crawford, she seemed to be a very private person, spending more time in her dressing room then out. I can only recall one conversation that was more than a courtesy upon any confrontation. I was wearing a big cozy cowl neck sweater, that I had knitted for myself, and had done most of that right on the set of, “I Saw What You Did.” She had apparently seen me doing that, and had made mention of how much she liked the baby mohair yarn I was using and how fond she was of the color I had chosen for my creation.
Everyone would come by as I was knitting and ask if they would see me wearing it soon. I guess I surprised them all when I appeared one Monday morning sporting my new blue sweater. When Ms. Crawford saw it, she without any emotion in her voice, but rather monotone said, “you knitted yourself a beautiful sweater. The color complements your complexion very well.” “Thank you, Ms. Crawford,” I replied. “Have I seen any other sweaters you have made.” “Yes, the yellow one, the ivory one, and the raspberry one.” “All of those?” She said. “You know, the raspberry one is most outstanding on you.” She stopped and just looked at me with a penetrating stare, “you’re very beautiful. I’m not one to give compliments, but because you’re beauty is so natural. I can’t help myself.” I responded, “That’s all the more reason for me to remember your flattering remarks, I thank you very much.” Then she replied, “I wish I could wear sweaters, but I perspire so easily.” I was to learn that that was the reason that the set was kept at a constant 60°, and therefore my reason for wearing sweaters. It was to keep warm not for reasons of fashion.