For forty years the HFPA has audio-taped celebrated actors and actresses. The world’s largest collection of its kind is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Library. The audios are fascinating. To veteran stars, our HFPA journalists are family; they banter with them and speak openly and frankly about themselves and their artistry.
Few people wake up one morning and find they’re Famous; most wake up and find they’re late for work. Then there are those who, for whatever reasons, attract the attention of local television. They think they’re famous when, in fact, it’s just a slow day for hard news.
Everyone who’s been in a movie five minutes thinks they’re famous. I went into a restaurant where a waitress kept staring at me. She finally came over to me and asked,”Haven’t I seen you before.?” I said, “You might have seen me in the movies.”
“Maybe,” she replied. “Where do you usually sit?”
When I told her who I was, she asked me what’s it like to be on the top. Exactly, I said, like before. Except I have to be in hair and makeup longer. You still have to pay your taxes, sweep the floor, clean the dishes, wash your underwear.
Sure, you have more help, but you have to order the maid to mop the floor. Maybe it’s worse. You don’t have any privacy, and you can’t go out without hair and makeup, which is really boring.
The studios manufacture this idea that there’s paradise here in Hollywood. People come streaming in here because they believe it. Actually the work is mostly drudgery, but they never talk about that.
I’m sitting in a trailer for two hours saying, “This is soboring, I think I’m gonna kill myself,” and then I come out and have to eat the same wilted, tired lettuce sandwich.”
When you’re a star people are nice to you. But you can’t escape rudeness. I remember growing up in the Forties and Fifties. It was so polite. There was so much politeness. Then suddenly in the Sixties there was no politeness, a complete breakdown in civility. People questioned all kinds of authority. I was fascinated by that.
—–Researched by Jack Tewksbury