She had planned to attend the gala opening ceremonies and walk the red carpet on the way to viewing the newly restored A Star is Born. In conjunction with the festival Frederick Fekkai hair salon in West Hollywood had a promotion where you could have your hair done for free in the style of any classic film actress you wished. She took advantage of this program, bringing with her photos of Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Barbara Stanwyck. She sent me photos and they did a fabulous job re-creating the look of the 40s. She also got a free makeup application and was assigned to a makeup artist who happen to work with Kim Novak for many years and provided interesting tidbits regarding this association with her.
The gala was exciting. A woman sitting in front of her looked familiar and my sister asked politely if she was the actress from Curse of the Cat People. The woman answered, "No, I'm not an actress, but my mother was." My sister naturally asked who her mother was and she replied "Lana Turner." To say the least my sister was taken aback; she was talking to Cheryl Crane the daughter of one of the most famous stars in Hollywood. Cheryl was very cordial and spoke with my now overwhelmed sister for a few moments. Much to her chagrin my sister was tongue-tied and too nervous to carry on a coherent conversation.
She also happened to be sitting in front of Ernest Borgnine. A fan approached her and asked if she could please take a picture of Mr. Borgnine. The woman gave my sister her camera and my sister asked Mr. Borgnine if she could take his picture. Unfortunately, my sister had a slight problem getting the flash mechanism to work and it took seemingly forever to finally take the picture. At that point Mr. Borgnine yelled "I thought you were shooting The Ten Commandments there!" Apparently Ernie is still robust and active at 94!
Following are a few of the up close and personal moments she had with various celebrities.
Leave Her to Heaven was one of the most anticipated screenings not only because of its unparalleled Technicolor beauty, but because Darryl Hickman, who played the part of the doomed Danny, was going to be there for discussion after the film. He talked about the difficulty of filming the drowning scene which took three weeks to complete. The director John Stahl was quite hard on the boy. The water was so cold that the stuntman refused to do the scenes. Darryl did everything himself and ended up with pneumonia for his troubles. Apparently, Stahl sent a copy of the scene to studio head Darryl Zanuck, who informed Stahl that this was one of the best scenes ever filmed and lauded Darryl Hickman's performance. John Stahl stopped giving Darryl Hickman such a hard time.
If I was envious of any aspect of the film festival it was Nancy Olson's appearance at the screening of Sunset Boulevard. She had worked with my favorite actor William Holden on a least four occasions and I would have loved to ply her with questions about this complex actor. One of the stories she related involves the first time that she and Holden kissed on the walkway outside of the office they worked in as part of the movie. For some unknown reason Billy Wilder invited about 30 people to watch the filming of this scene, including Holden's wife at the time, actress Brenda Marshall! In his direction to the two actors he told them to embrace and kiss, and to hold that kiss until he said "Cut!" The two of them found this rather disconcerting, but Wilder insisted, explaining he needed enough footage for the editing room. So they started to kiss and they held it for what seemed like an eternity. Olson commented that it was a “really good embrace and a really good kiss.” The kiss proceeded without interruption until a voice from the crowd screamed, “Cut, cut! Enough already!" It was Holden's wife, Brenda Marshall.
Meanwhile my sister kept running into Cheryl Crane and they shared hellos and smiles and my sister started calling her 'My new BFF'.
One of her best moments was meeting Robert Osborne. She was impressed by his ability to engage people in conversation, listening and interacting with those he spoke with. My sister relayed to him that she had lost her job last summer and that watching TCM helped console her and provided an escape from the unpleasant situation she was in. Mr. Osborne was genuinely touched by this story and admitted that he never realized how much of an impact TCM had on its viewers.
My sister had wanted to attend the discussion with Norman Lloyd, but had a conflicting schedule; however when she went to grab a bottle of water at Club TCM, she saw that the discussion was still going on and attended the remainder of the event. She later had her picture taken with Mr. Lloyd after the screening of Saboteur.
When I asked her which film was her favorite she replied that they were all so awesome being seen in the movie theater on a big screen that they were all equally wonderful. One of the unexpected developments was that her husband, who had just gone along for the ride, enjoyed the festival almost as much as my sister. He particularly enjoyed the screening of Jubal, the offbeat western starring Glenn Ford and a villainous Ernest Borgnine, who introduced the film.
Two weeks after coming home from Hollywood, they are still experiencing post-festival depression, wishing they were still at the Hollywood Roosevelt, mingling with fans and celebs, reveling in the milieu which fostered instant camaraderie among those who possess a deep and abiding love and respect for the classic films of a bygone era.