I went to four
different schools after junior high. One in Korea, one in Hawaii and
one in Pennsyvania. You often hear models talk about how they were
unpopular in high school. Like everyone, I had trouble believing
them but in my case it was really true. Kids already had their
cliques and most boys wouldn’t ask me out.
I arrived in New
York when the “All American Look” was at the height of its
popuIarity. Cheryl Tiegs had been on the cover of Glamour
magazine for almost two years straight. I went to Ford on my
first day and they sent me right over to a Clairol commercial, which
I got. So they signed me. I was never drop-dead gorgeous. In some of
those old pictures, with the lighting and everything, of course I
looked great. My mother was not vain at all, so I didn’t grow up
with that sort of value attached to my looks. I’m grateful for that.
Transition to acting
I started studying acting right away, but back in those days there
were only a few models who did, like Lauren Hutton, Jennifer O’Neil
and Ali McGraw. I loved doing commericals and had a lot of them
airing at the time.
An agent at The William Morris Agency had seen me in a highly popular series of Canada Dry
It was such fun. I played “Baby-Face.” I had lines
like, “It’s the ginger ale with the jolt!
It’s got real Bang Bang Flavor!” I wouldn’t sign with them because
I wanted to just study for at least a couple more years. I remember
that he got furious and said to me, “Do you know who we are?” I was
literally that green about the business. But eventually I signed
with them. Thank God. Saved from myself.
The Lords of Flatbush
I recently ran
into one of my favorite directors, Quentin Tarantino who was a huge
fan of Lords. It was so bizarre to hear him quoting all of my
dialogue from Lords of Flatbush, a film that I had made in
1973. We almost got into a tiff because although I think the film
was great, I wish my work was better, that I had more experience. He
was adamant that I was wrong and angry at me for putting down my
performance. What a weird predicament. I didn’t want to disagree
with a master and I certainly wasn’t fishing for compliments but I
was as tenacious as he was and neither of us could let it go.
Fortunately, since he also remembered every detail about my work in
my next film, Report to the Commissioner, which I liked too,
our “tiff” ended peacefully.
Rich Man, Poor Man
I never really
had any idea how I got the role until years later when I ran into
Carol Burnett, one of my idols, shortly after [Rich Man, Poor Man]
started airing. She said to me, “Oh, you ruined my Monday nights!” I
couldn’t believe that Carol Burnett was staying home to watch a show
that I was in! Years later I learned that she was a close friend of
Harv Bennett, who was the [RMPM] producer. She had seen me in
Report to the Commissioner and told him that he had to see
it. He did and that’s how he came to request me. Still my favorite
She was actually
a composite of four characters from the book by Irwin Shaw and she
aged from 17 to 40. It was the best role any actress could wish
for. Once again, I really lucked out.
The Towering Inferno
I was so lucky.
Not just to be able to work with but to get to know them. To have
lunch at the Apple Pan with Bill Holden and share popcorn and beer
with Paul Newman.
Believe it or not, having not grown up seeing movies, I knew Fred
Astaire was a famous dancer but to me he was just this really sweet
guy. We would hang out and talk and he was amazingly humble.
Sometimes after a take, he would even come over to me and ask what I
thought of his performance. He probably wasn’t used to people being
that comfortable around him.
Then, one weekend
there was Fred Astaire retrospective on TV Of course, I was stunned.
He was incredible to watch.
Moving across the screen with more grace
than I had ever seen in nature. His acting was so effortless. I
returned to the set so star-struck that I suddenly could barely talk
to him. True to form though, after hearing why I had turned so shy,
he put me at ease again. It was like dancing.
(playing Eva Braun opposite Anthony Hopkins, Emmy-Winning role as
I don’t think I
realized, when I took this role, what it was going to entail. Of
course, I was elated to work opposite Anthony Hopkins. Working
opposite Hitler was a different story. As I started to research my
role, it affected me more than I ever thought was possible. I was
literally sobbing sometimes reading about the history. But since I
believe a lot of the Germans had to have been sheltered from the
brutal truth of the Holocaust, and I could see that Eva could have
been easily naïve and I could play it as if she didn’t know. Like
many Germans she obviously thought that Hitler was a great man,
their savior. So basically she was elated to marry what she thought
was the most important man in the world and even impressed by the
honor to get to die with him.
How to take a good picture
Think of someone you love dearly (like your dog or kitty).
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