Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction by Linda Gray

Linda Gray. The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction. New York, N.Y.: Regan Arts, 2015.

At age five, in 1945, the author contracted polio. She was told she would be unable to walk. Her parents exercised her legs and her legs regained their functions. Her parents signed her to dance classes. At her first performance, she was scared yet her mother appreciated she could walk and dance at all. In 2012, at age 75, People magazine declared she had the “Sexiest Legs in the Universe”.

Linda Gray started acting in school She “came to associate acting with relief, calm, and confidence.” At age 16, she began modeling work. She auditioned for TV only to learn there was an industrial prejudice against models as people who couldn’t speak well.

Linda Gray enrolled in the CEC Studio acting class in Burbank. Her classmates included  Carl Weathers, Dee Wallace, Susan Blakey, and Veronica Hamel. Hamel would later win an Emmy for which Gray was also nominated. This class used the Conrad Method of memorizing scripts, repeating them rapidly to desensitize the actor to emotions, and remove preconceptions regarding the roles. The acting coach Charles E. Conrad explained that “Acting is reacting.”

Gray received parts on some TV shows, including playing a transsexual on “All That Glitters” where Norman Lear declared to her, and she was not sure how to take this, “You’re perfect for the role.”

Gray auditioned to be on “Dallas”. She won the role of Sue Ellen Ewing. Her portrayal of an alcoholic helped persuade alcoholic viewers to recognize their own problems and to obtain help.

A voice coach helped Linda Gray develop a Texas accent. Gray researched her character to better play the part, The “Who Do It?” episode of “Dallas” drew 80 million viewers, more people than had voted for President a few weeks earlier. Worldwide there were 370 million who viewed that episode.

Gray was nominated for an Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Dramatic Series in 1981. Her contract ended after eight seasons on “Dallas”. She asked to direct a episode. She had studied directing with Lilyan Chauvin. She learned camera shots, blocking, camera height tricks, etc. The show executives at first refused to let her direct and they fired her from the show Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy had directed, The executive’s response was if Linda Gray directed then other women would want to direct. Larry Hagman threatened to leave the show if Gray was not signed, The executives relented and let her direct an episode. The show she directed received great ratings She later directed three additional episodes.

Gray left “Dallas” after its eleventh season. SHe filmed some TV movies. She learned about Aaron Spelling’s new show “Models Inc.” and asked to be considered for the show. She auditioned in front of 30 people and was hired. The show, though, flopped and received bad critical reviews. It lasted one season.

Gray had a recurring role in the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”. She had to memorize 30 pages of dialogue daily.

In 2011, “Dallas” returned with a new cast yet with Gray, Patrick Duffy, and Larry Hagman returning to their old roles. Hagman died in 2012, “Dallas 2.0: lasted three seasons.

1 comment:

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