CELEBRITIES I HAVE KNOWN
In Southern California I lived in Westwood by the UCLA campus for several years. It was a hot spot for celebrity watching. At the time when I was living there in a dark but large and quiet apartment, Westwood offered two bookstores. I glimpsed Claire Bloom in one of them, the smaller one with a good collection of film books — next to my dry cleaner. In the other larger and brighter one , on a sunny and warm December afternoon, I spotted Esther Williams who, I felt sure, was Christmas shopping. What do you do when you’re more interested in a celebrity’s co-stars than in the celebrity? Miss Williams, what was it like working with Ricardo Montalban? I am forever grateful now not to have asked Claire Bloom about Vivien Leigh. In reality, that would have been too early. It was two to three years before their play together.
And all this is fantasy. I would never ask anyone anything. I never approach celebrities. I would never spoil the privacy of anyone I admire — or anyone I don’t for that matter.. On a Manhattan bus I once watched a couple, standing in a crowded aisle, address Margaret Hamilton, seated and captive. She graciously received their complimentary remarks, but I was appalled. How would you like to be asked by perfect strangers if you had your ruby slippers with you?
At a panel discussion I attended in Cleveland, during a question and answer session, I did ask Teresa Wright what it was like working with Richard Carlson in The Little Foxes. I was intrigued that she did not answer my question. She talked about what she considered Carlson’s unfortunate role in the film. She described as silly their scene together in which Carlson ended up running down the street in his underwear. She felt bad for him.
I may be taking my own question too seriously, but I feel that she deliberately did not answer it. She replied in a way that could not offend the Carlson fan I had described myself as being, in my question. There is also the factor — possible factor — that Richard Carlson once had, perhaps unjustified, a reputation as womanizer. Was there something about him Miss Wright preferred not to discuss? — something about him, that is, not about herself.
More on Westwood and West Los Angeles in blogs to come.
NEXT FRIDAY POST OCTOBER 14
See you at the movies,