FROM SHOW BIZ TO SUNDAY SCHOOL
Sharon Leann Wyatt’s autobiography
Is It Sexual Harassment, Or Boys Will Be Boys? (Part Two)
During a conversation with my cousin that night he hastened to tell me that indeed there were really fun and fulfilling days ahead for me, but the next few weeks proved to be anything but that. As far as I was concerned the business didn’t afford me opportunity for artistic expression, but rather days of frustration and disappointment.
My cousin’s husband was assistant director on a Joan Crawford movie being filmed at Universal. Scotty called me and offered me a job as a stand-in and double for a 17-year-old girl, who was working for the first time as an actress in a movie. William Castle was the director, and Scotty pointed out that for the most part the days would be short and I’d be close to home.
Up to this point I had been working under the Taft-Hartley law, which allows actors and extras 30 working days until they have to pay their dues. My parent union was the Screen Actors Guild, so I didn’t have to pay the full dues to SEG. But nevertheless the dues were coming up, and the steady job was enticing. It would only be for three weeks, which was the full shooting time schedule for the entire picture, “I saw what you did.”
Make no mistake I took on every job with dispatch and dignity. I was being paid and gave my best for the wages. What was stirring inside my fragile ego was not often divulge to my fellow workers and employers. But whether these feelings were obvious or not to the discerning eye, I could not say. There were times when a sensitive coworker with great insight would in some way or another make mention at what he or she perceived. Now, of course, when in the midst of others who shared my feelings we often commiserated openly.
One thing that can make a set degrading, or unpleasant is unwanted attention. One man who was old enough to be my father and looked it, attached himself to the new-kid-on-the-block. It did not take him long to ask me out on a date. He was polite but his constant presence was making me uncomfortable, but it didn’t bother him, and he kept at it most of the day. When shooting was over, we boarded the bus to take us to the front of the studio, and he sat next to me, I then blurted out, “perhaps you know my family,” and I named several of them, and finished with,” and my father is John Maranto,” which was the name he used at the studios. His attitude changed immediately, and he apologized for making “passes.” “Apology accepted, Larry.” We were to be “distant” friends from then on. Sometimes it takes a veiled threat, my father would have taken him apart and Larry knew it.
The William Castle movie was kept on schedule from day to day. Standing in was even more degrading for me than straight extra work. Had the set been fun, as so many were, it would have made the daily tasks so much more pleasant. But the dreary set and tight schedule did not make for the kind of enjoyment I’ve would have sooner been a part of. And to make matters worse, the cameraman was the most cantankerous individual I had to that date ever met. He had an inborn dislike for me, and made no effort whatsoever to change his attitude. Everyone on the set couldn’t help but notice this uncalled for behavior on his part, but no one dared speak to the man on the matter. I was not afraid of him, but his attitude was intimidating. I would just do my stand-in Job and hastily exited stage right. The poor misguided man was Joe Biroc. His assistant would inform me that……
(Continued next month)