Friday, August 19, 2011

Magic (Happy Birthday Jill St. John)


Stunner in Black & White

Stunner in Bathing Suit

The Riddler's Moll

Jill with Doug McClure

Bond Girl

From Russia With Love

She Cooks Too!

Jill & Robert

It is my great honor and privilege to give a mighty happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses, Ms Jill St. John.
Jill Arlyn Oppenheim was born at a very early age right here in Los Angeles. That makes her an L.A. Girl! Take that the rest of the world!
Her mom was Betty Lou Oppenheim, who had hopes of a show business career for her young daughter and pretty much pushed her in that direction. Sadly Betty Lou died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 85.
I can't find any information concerning Jill's father. Presumably she had one. Hell, they just get in the way most of the time anyway.
Jill made her radio career debut at the age of 5. At the age of 9 she appeared in a television production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," as Missie Cratchit, along with another of my favorite actors, Vincent Price, as the host/narrator. You may be familiar with the story. Comes on about every Christmas. Taylor Holmes played Ebenezer Scrooge, but no one knows today who he is because he died in 1959.
I'm sure he was a very fine actor though.
That was in 1949. A couple of years later she appeared with some more of my favorite actors and comedians, George Burns and his lovely wife Gracie Allen, on their television program. By golly, I have DVDs of that show right here in my box. I think I'll watch one right now. Please excuse me.
Wow that was fun. That Gracie sure was a crazy one. Crazy like a fox.
Anyway, the next year, in 1952, she appeared in one of my favorite T.V. shows, although I was not alive yet to watch it. "Sky King," with good old Kirby Grant as Sky King, flying with his daughter Penny in their Cessna 310 all over the place causing trouble. "From out of the clear blue of the western sky comes Sky King!" They don't make'em like that anymore.
Also at about this time Betty Lou changed Jill's name from Oppenheim to St. John. I don't know why. Oppenheim is a fine and respectable name. Maybe she had a thing for Apostles.
By the time she was 16 years old she had over 1000 radio and 50 T.V. credits to her name. This led to her getting a contract with Universal Studios, which began her career acting in major films.
By the time I was 16 I was learning how to smoke pot and ditch High School. But that's a whole different story for another time. I don't really want to go into it.
Naturally Jill attended Beverly Hills High School. Another ballet girl, she was in the same class with Natalie Wood and Stefanie Powers, whose birthdays we've celebrated in the past. All three lovely ladies would have long term relationship's with the lucky actor Robert Wagner, who I've met as well, although we've never had a relationship... yet.
Actually he's really not my type. Too many commercials concerning reverse mortgages. I did see him dressed in drag as a nurse once, but that's a whole different story for another time. I don't really want to go into it.
Jill met Robert when she was 14. Robert would later marry Natalie, and after her tragic death, Jill and Robert would marry. That was in 1990, and they've been married ever since. They spend their recreational time skiing, horseback riding, golfing, and eating cookies in bed, I'm told. His nickname for her is "Magic."
Jill's very smart for a human being with and IQ of 162. What does that mean? Good question dear readers!
Well IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient," which is a score derived from one of several tests that one can take if they're smart enough to do so. These tests and the "IQ" score supposedly rate a persons level of general intelligence in the broadest sense of the word. It's not a perfect system, but it is certainly the most often used, and the most familiar to the public.
Now if Jill has an IQ of 162, what does that mean? Not a damn thing by itself! But in relation to other IQ scores one gets a sense of how intelligent the scorer is.
Mensa International is a high-IQ society for really smart people who get together to make fun of the rest of us. In order to get in Mensa one needs to have at least an averaged IQ of 130.82. Now Jill's IQ score is 162, which of course is way higher than the 130.82 which it takes to get into Mensa, so she could get into Mensa anytime she wants probably. I don't know if she's a member. I'm certainly not.
Now I'm told the average IQ of a high school graduate is 100. That of a university professor as was our president, Barack Obama is 135 upwards. Unskilled workers is 87. Adults that can harvest vegetables like illegal immigrants is 60. Those who can do domestic work, or basic carpentry is 50. And those who can mow lawns and do simple laundry (as opposed to complicated laundry) is 40.
Now that doesn't mean that every fruit picker, or maid has less than average intelligence. Oh no. There could be lots of folks out there who are mowing lawns right now with an IQ of 150 or more. They may just like to mow lawns. Some people do. Take Jill St. John for instance. She has an IQ of 162 and she became an actress of all things, when she probably could of discovered a cure for cancer by now. Shame on you Jill.
In a strange anomaly we've discovered that former president George W. Bush has an IQ of 57, which may explain his constant desire to cut brush with a chain saw while he was in office.
My IQ stands at 15. I'm dumb as a freaking rock, and have to pay a smart person to move my fingers across the compter's key board to type this.
I think.
Anyway, Jill was so smart she began studying at UCLA, which is a big college here in L.A., when she was just 14, leaving two years later when she starting working at Universal.
She also got married for the first time when she was 16 (how did that happen? Did she need a note from mom?) to Neil Dublin, whom I'm told was a millionaire. Not a bad catch for a 16 year old. They got divorced a little over a year later.
And she continued working getting her first film role in the John Saxon vehicle, "Summer Love," in 1958. Then two years later Jill would appear as the female lead in "The Lost World," with Michael Rennie (who had played Klaatu in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," nine years previously), and with the Invisible Man himself, Claude Rains.
I liked this film very much as a very young person watching it on T.V. years after it first came out. It had lizards in it dressed up as dinosaurs. Way cool.
The year earlier Jill had gotten married again to Lawrence Graf von Haugwitz-Hardenberg-Reventlow (Lance), an entrepreneur and race car driver. Another rich guy (us poor guys never had a chance with this girl. She was too smart), his mom was Barbara Hutton, an heiress to the Woolworth fortune. He was also the step son of actor Cary Grant. They were married for three years before divorcing.
Jill continued making films like "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone," with Vivien Leigh and Warren Beatty (recently remade with Helen Mirren in the title role), F. Scott Fitgerald's (Tender is the Night," with Jennifer Jones and Jason Robards. She played opposite Jerry Lewis in "Who's Minding the Store," "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed," with Dean Martin and Samantha the Witch, Elizabeth Montgomery.
In 1964 she returned to television in another of my favorite shows (for a little while. It soon became very silly) "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," reuniting with actor David Hedison who she worked with in "The Lost World," film. She appeared three times on the "Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre," between 1963 and 1965, and would accompany Bob on at least one of his famous USO tours to entertain the soldiers who were fighting in Vietnam (Bob liked her. I don't blame him. She would appear a total of 11 times on his specials between 1967 and 1983). In 1966 she appeared on the first episode of the original Batman television program as the Riddler's girlfriend, Molly. Unfortunately she was the only woman to get killed during the entire series. I don't know why.
She worked on "The Big Valley," television show with Barbara Stanwick, and as a stripper in the film "The Oscar," with Stephen Boyd (of "Ben Hur," fame) and the singer Tony Bennett (his first film role).
In 1967 she married the singer Jack Jones for one and a half years before divorcing again. She would remain single for the next thirteen years, but dated guys like Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery, Jack Nicolson, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (he's so cuddly) from 1973 to 1977 (which explains the above photo where Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev was... er... checking out the scenery, on I believe his only trip to the United States, here in California in June of 1973. Tricky Dick Nixon can be seen on the right).
Also in 67 she appeared with Doug McClure in "The King's Pirate" (picture above), who my dad used to deliver booze to while he was working in the T.V. show "The Virginian."
In 1971 Jill appeared on the Red Skelton television show. Here's the clip:
That same year she starred with Sean Connery in what a lot of people believe was her best known film role, as the beautiful diamond smuggler Tiffany Case in "Diamonds are Forever," the seventh James Bond film, and the sixth and next to last for Sean. Jill was the first American "Bond Girl," and in my opinion the best thing about the somewhat campy movie. I got very mad at Bond when he slapped her in it. How rude and brutish.
It is interesting to note that Lana Wood, Natalie Wood's sister, appeared in a small role in the movie as Plenty O'Toole, a uh, opportunistic working girl, a part that was first considered for Jill herself. Natalie at the time was between marriages with Jill's future husband, Robert Wagner... literally. They had once married from 1957 to 1962, and would marry again in 1972, and remain married until Natalie's death nine years later in 1981.
Jill continued working. Here are some of my favorite shows she was on: "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," eight times on "Rowen and Martin's Laugh In," in 1979 the pilot episode of "Hart to Hart," which of course starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, which went on to air until 1984, hence Stefanie's long term relationship with Robert.
Jill appeared four times on "The Love Boat," once on "Magnum P.I.," "Fantasy Island" twice. In 1982 she was acclaimed for her performance as a cruel warden in "The Concrete Jungle," and in 1997, an episode of "Seinfeld," with her then husband, Mr. Wagner. I don't think she's appeared as an actress on television or film since 2002.
As I've mentioned Robert and Jill married on May 26th, 1990, and remain married to this day. They reside in Aspen, Colorado. She has three step daughters with Robert, and has written several cookbooks. She has also served as a food columnist for the USA Weekend newspaper.
Well there you go Robert. I've now written a birthday tribute to Stafanie, Natalie, and now Jill, three unique, talented, and very beautiful women who have been very important to you throughout your life.
Glad to do it. They've been very important to me (and millions of others) as well.
Continued good fortune and health Ms St. John, and from all of us here at Joyce's Take, have a very happy birthday.
Happy Birthday Jill!
Here's a small tribute video:

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