Friday, August 1, 2014

Famous Enough by Diane McBain

Diane McBain and Michael Gregg Michaud. Famous Enough: A Hollywood Memoir.Duncan, Ok.: BearManor Publishing, 2014.

At age 16, McBain auditionaed for and won a role in a play at the Glendale Center Theatre. She then modeled, appearing in several national magazines. Then she was going to work exclusively for Revlon yet was badly sunburned when appearing at her first shoot.

McBain appeared in the TV show “Father Knows Best”. Her few lines earned her $200.

A Warner Brothers talent scout, Sally Bianco, asked McBain to audition. She did and then did an episode of “Maverick” followed by an episode of “77 Sunset Strip”. She found Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. “mannered, stylish, and sophisticated” while she found E Bynes “insufferably egotistical”.

At age 18, McBain signed a seven year contract with Warner Brothers Studios at $250 a week. She writes men began at $275 a week and women began at $250 a week.

Her first movie, “Ice Palace”, was filmed in 1959. She later learned Richard Burton saved her from being fired. Burton knew the director wanted to replace McBain for struggling with memorizing her lines. Burton deliberately flubbed his lines so the blame on delays would be on him and not McBain.

McBain lost her virginity to Richard Burton yet writes his penis was too large to complete intercourse.

“Ice Palace” received poor reviews and lost the studio millions of dollars.

McBain observes movies are “profoundly infused with homosexual aestheticism. I think their cultural influence was so powerful, it’s mystifying to me that so many people---people who loved the movies---harbored homophobic prejudices.”

McBain continued with memorization difficulties while filming “Parrish”. She appeared with Troy Donahue who explained “method-style” acting. The movie ran 138 minutes which she writes was too long. The length hurt its audience appeal.

McBain was cast in the TV series “Surfside Six”. She was in most of the 74 episodes that appeared over two years.

The studio arranged for celebrity dates for her for publicity purposes. She writes “rather than making me sound interesting, I thought it made me a slut.”

McBain starrted in the movie “Claudelle Inglish”. The movie earned several million dollars. McGain was nominated for a Golden Laurel Award for Top Female New Personality.

McBain was date raped and blackmailed by her assailant who threatened to cliam she was a “whore”. Such an accusation could have ended her career a studio contracts insisted on public morality. She fell into depression.

McBain appeared in the movie “Black Gold”. The director was Leslie Martinson, who McBain writes was “arguable the most neurotically dramatic director I ever worked with” who would “fly off the handle over the silliest things.”

McBain was “rented out” to Paramount Studios to appear in the movie “The Caretakers”. When an actor was “rented out” to another studio, the actor received the same pay while the studio received an “inflated” amount. She found the other female actors “all behaved as if they had something to protect” which “degenerated into ugly bitch fights.” Joan Crawford had a vendetta against McBain and had most of McBain’s scenes removed from the film.

“The Caretakers” did poorly at the box office. President Kennedy asked for the movie to be shown on the Senate floor, which may have been the first time a movie was shown on the Senate floor. The movie is credited with helping the Senate unanimously pass Kennedy’s mental health bill.

McBain worked with Ty Hardin. whom she found a “strange actor” whose real name was Orson Whipple Hungerford, Jr. He was nicked “Ty Hard-on” for his attempts at picking up women while holding a Bible and telling them God wanted them to sleep together.

McBain was in the movie “A Distant Trumpet”. She found Suzanne Pleshette had “the foulest mouth I’d ever heard on anyone in my life---man or woman” although she grew fond of Pleshette.

McBain in 1963 turned down appearing in “Sex and the Single Girl”. Warner Brothers thus terminated her contract.

McBain dated a few men, including producer Aaron Spelling. She found him “very sweet” but “ust too nice. There was no chemistry.”

McBain appeared on the TV show “Batman”. Adam West believed the show was “a comic farce”” and not “campy” as some observed it. To McBain, “the experience was like being in a funhouse on acid.”

McBain appeared in “Spinout” with Elvis Presley, who “behaved like a complete gentleman:.

Johnny Grant, a talk show host, asked McBain to entertain troops in Vietnam on the 29th tour there. Tippi Hedren went with them. At one point, Viet Cong personnel took control of their parked jeepp. Tippi Hedren yelled at them to leave the jeep, and they did so, yet with sinister looks.

While in Vietnam, McBain and Hedren befriended Vietnamese actress Kieu Chinh. Chinh was on the last Pan Am flight out of Vietnam before it fell to the Communists. Hedren helped arrange for Chinch to enter the United States, where Chinch then revived her acting career.

McBain appeared in, which she describe as “a piece of celluloid trash” a movie “I sailed to Tahiti with An All Girl Crew”. At one point Edy Williams was in the water when all ten of her falsies popped out.

McBain appeared in the movie “Maryjane” which Fabian. It was written by Peter Marshall and Dick gaither. It appeared on a double bill in drive in theaters.

McBain performed in another tour of Vietnam in 1968. She saw lots more injured soldiers then. SH felt “an emotional dam burst” and began crying uncontrollably. She deiced “war means one thing---failure to communicate---and no one wins.”

After returning to the U.S., McBain visited many Veterans’ Administration hospitals.

Tippi Hedren’s husband, Noel Marshall, an agent, advised McBain to pose for Playboy magazine. McBain initially did not wish to yet realized it had helped Carol Lynley’s career. She agreed yet regretted it the next day.

McBain appeared in “the Mini-Skirt Mob” and then “Savage Season” which was Ron Harper’s first film.

McBain writes that agent Kurt Frings considered adding her a a client when “he literally chased me around his office and then threw me out when I refused to have sex with him.”

McBain filmed an episode in “ABC’s Wide World of Mystery”. She breast fed her baby at work. This prompted a national debate.

In 1977, McBain was cast in “The Silent Scream”. The film was “un-releasable” and in 1978 Barbara Steele and others were brought in for re-shots. Only 15% of the first filmings appeared in the final produce. McBain was totally cut from the film. This upset her as she “had delivered a good, balanced performance.”

Michael Druxman handled her publicity. One “story sounded amusing in paper, and it was a complete fabrication.”

McBain appeared int he TV movie “Donner Pass”. She writes “Druxman didd the best he could with the press, but the reviews were lukewarm”.

McBain next appeared in “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” with Dan Haggerty.

Christopher Reeve confided to McBain that Reeve’s father appreciated Reeve’s theatrical performances but did not like his “Superman” film performance.

McBain filmed an episode of “Hawaii 5 O”. She found hat actor Jack Lord “proved to be another one of those egotistical males whose manners on the set needed some polish. Everyone handled him with kid gloves.” Lord had it written into his conract that he would not work past 6 pm. At 6 pm he suddenly walked off the set without saying any goodbyes.

As McBain found it harder to find roles, she took an acting class and dieted. She got a role on the TV show “Dallas”, Ten in 1982 she was cast in the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives”. While she worked steadily, she was hired only on days when called. Some other soap opera stars had three year contracts. On that set, she found her wardrobe was from “leftovers”.

On December 20, 1982, McBain was raped and beaten by two strangers. She later did interviews on how women may survive such trauma. “The Days of Our Lives”, though, dropped her.

McBain filmed an episode of “Airwolf”, She worked with actor Ernest Borgnine, who she found as “one of the sweetest actors I ever met.”

In 1988, McBain was on the soap opera “General Hospital” for several months.

McBain visited filmmakers in China. She found they did not know about American movies. She found, of their films, “the technical quality was very good. The subject matter was a bit old-fashioned and very melodramatic.”

McBain got a new agent and was cast on the movie “Puppet Master V: The Final Post”. She had to put on her own makeup and wear her own clothes.

McBain appeared as Granny in an episode of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”. She was told the part would be a recurring character yet she was never called back.

McBain was elected to the National Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Richard Masur was a pro-union President. She supported him even though she was elected opposing him. McBain supported merging SAG with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She “reluctantly” supported the 2000 strike which successfully kept the Pay Per Play residuals and increased cable residuals by 140%.

Actors such as Peter Mark Richman, whom she had liked yet described them as “union busters, attacked McBain’s union activities “with malice, blatantly lying about my political activities and the activities of others in my coalition.” She was falsely accused of distributing pro-union pamphlets on Guild property. She was exonerated of the charges and SAG paid for her legal bills. She notes “I cannot say for sure whether the overt mudslinging or the negative chatters behind the scenes did me in, but the fact remains that after my acrimonious stint on the SAG Board, I never worked as an actress again.”

McBain advises people to give love instead of ego.

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