Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dinner With Shirley Maclaine December 7, 1970

Dad once said he preferred to keep the distance between himself and any movie star approximately the same length as a movie screen and a darkened middle-row aisle seat. But in December of 1970 he met Shirley Maclaine on a movie set, watched rushes with her in a projection room, drove her across Manhattan in our yellow volkswagon bus and had a martini and dinner at her apartment.

He was writing a story for The New York Times Magazine.
Maclaine was filming "Desperate Characters", directed by Pulitzer prize winner playwright Frank D Gilroy. During a break in the action, Dad followed Maclaine to a bedroom set aside as a dressing room. She lay down. He sat to the side and listened to her stories of growing up middle-class in Richmond,VA.

"Once I asked Mother what the difference was between things boys were interested in and what girls were interested in. She said 'Oh, that's easy: boys are interested in things they think about, what they'll do when they grow up and how best to make a living' something to that effect, and 'Girls are interested in how they look and what ribbons'-- I'll never forget that!'--what ribbons they should wear and how to easily make a man think he can do those things that he's been thinking about' Well, that's it. And that's the way it was."

By 1970, Maclaine has earned three Oscar nominations, written a critically acclaimed autobiography (Don't Fall Off The Mountain), seen the world, been called a "kook" and served as a California delegate at the Chicago convention.

"But don't you remember any particularly good times with your family?" Dad asked.

"Well, that's an interesting question, " Maclaine said. "..( the other night while sharing childhood memories with her brother Warren Beatty) It was as though not only had we been brought up in two different families, but on two different planets! At one point in the evening I realised that everything Warren remembers are the good things, everything I remember are the tragic realities."

That night they watched the rushes from the previous day's shooting. "There was something very strange about sitting next to Shirley Maclaine and watching Shirley Maclaine watching Shirley Maclaine on the movie screen in front of us...And I had an insane impulse to ask Shirley Maclaine to hold hands."

After rushes they drove back to Maclaine's apartment for martinis, some talk of politics ( "We did a lot of crying in those days, It all revolved around Bobby Kennedy and how deeply we realised how much we had lost.") and then dinner prepared by Maclaine's friend and Girl Friday Lori Lee. Veal with wine sauce.

Dad writes: "I had a terrible time reminding myself that this wasn't just a dinner with an ordinary friend, but a candlelight dinner a deux with Shirley Maclaine."

He concludes: "I don't think Shirley Maclaine's unreal at all. Like Auntie Mame, she does say something very important, very subliminally to your seventh mind, perhaps, but she does say it!

No comments:

Post a Comment