Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday Joanna Cassidy!

                Blade Runner

Picture Legend:

1. Joanna
2. Philadelphia
3. With a pre-Close Encounters Bob Balaban in her first co-starring role in 1974‘s “Bank Shot”
4. The Roller Girls
5. Buffalo Bill
6. At home
7. Zhora Salome
8. Bradbury Building
9. With Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman in “Under Fire”
10. On “The Love Boat”
11. On “Dudley,” with Dudley Moore
12. In “Hotel Malibu,” with Cheryl Pollak and John Dye
13. As the Vulcan T’Les on “Star Trek: Enterprise”
14. With Frances Conroy and a little kid in “Six Feet Under”
15. With Corbin Bernsen on “Boston Legal”
16. With Dana Delany on “Body of Proof”
17. Sexy
18. “Odd Mom Out”
19. Relaxing with Pierce Brosnan in “The Fourth Protocol”
20. With Bob Hoskins in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
21. Promotional picture with Gene Hackman for “The Package.”
22. With Dabney Coleman and Uma Thurman in “Where the Heart Is”
23. Promo with Christina Applegate for “Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead”
24. In 1993‘s “The Tommyknockers”
25. Promo with James Garner for “The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A.”
26. With Keanu Reeves in “Chain Reaction”
27. In “Ghosts of Mars”
28. Working on art stuff
29. Ms Joanna

   It is my great pleasure and honor this morning to give a great big Joyce’s Take Happy Birthday Shout Out to one of my favorite actresses, Zhora Salome herself, Ms Joanna Cassidy!
   Similar to a large percentage of the general population, Joanna Virginia Caskey was born as a teenie tiny female infant at a very early age in Camden, New Jersey ( 39° 56′ 24″ N, 75° 6′ 18″ W. ). Well why should we care about Joanna Virginia Caskey, you ask? And rightly so! It is highly probable that at some point, more than likely at an early stage of her career, Joanna Caskey changed her name to Cassidy.
   You can see Philadelphia from Camden as it’s right across the Delaware River.
    Isn’t it wonderful!
   Today Camden has been described as the murder capital of the nation, which I had always assumed to be Poughkeepsie, New York for some reason. This is what the journalist Chris Hedges wrote about Camden in 2010 for The Nation magazine in an article entitled “City of Ruins.”
   “Camden, New Jersey, with a population of 70,390, is per capita the poorest city in the nation. It is also the most dangerous. The city’s real unemployment—hard to estimate, since many residents have been severed from the formal economy for generations—is probably 30–40 percent. The median household income is $24,600. There is a 70 percent high school dropout rate, with only 13 percent of students managing to pass the state’s proficiency exams in math. The city is planning $28 million in draconian budget cuts, with officials talking about cutting 25 percent from every department, including layoffs of nearly half the police force.”
   I worry about the people who live there, but I’m sure it was much nicer in Camden when Joanna was born. In any case her artist parents, Virginia and Joe, moved from Camden all the way to Haddonfield, New Jersey (39° 53′ 43.57″ N, 75° 2′ 3.46″ W), a little over 9 miles away... about a 14 minute drive if the traffic isn’t too bad, when Joanna was very young, and that’s where they raised her.  At an early age she took up painting and sculpture. She attended Haddonfield Memorial High School, where she described herself as being "a rowdy kid," “rowdy” being defined in the noun form as “a noisy and disorderly person.”
   Haddonfield Memorial High School is famous for it’s Marching band. The co-writer of the television show “Monk,” Andy Breckman, also went to school there. So did a lot of other people.
    At the appropriate age Joanna went on to major in art at Syracuse University, which is located in Syracuse, New York (43° 2′ 49″ N, 76° 8′ 40″ W), which is approximately 225.79 miles due north from Haddonfield...  266.46 miles by car.
   In 1964, while at Syracuse, she married Kennard C. Kobrin, a doctor in residency, and worked as a fashion model to help get him his degree.
   They moved to San Francisco (37° 47′ 0″ N, 122° 25′ 0″ W), which is 2,433 miles west from Syracuse...  2,797 miles if your driving.
   Kennard set up a psychiatric practice. Joanna continued modeling and gave birth to a son and daughter. Thuckland Isildur and Mimi Nakamara respectively. 
   While modeling gigs and and appearing in the odd commercial or two, she found work in small roles in what some might consider major films, such as 1968‘s “Bullet," with Steve McQueen, which the Internet Movie Data Base lists as her first acting job. Many consider that film to contain the best car chase ever. Here is the beginning of that scene, and here’s the end.
   She appeared in the Jason Robards, Katharine Ross romantic drama, “Fools,: in 1970, three “Mission Impossible,” episodes, two as an uncredited stewardess, and one as an uncredited model. Her contribution to the show may or may not have inspired the Tom Cruise movie franchise.
   In 1973 she finally got a credited role playing Rita Mailer in a revenge, crime/drama, “The Outfit,” starring Robert Duvall and Karen Black.
   She also appeared that year with Walter Matthau in “The Laughing Policeman, which was no comedy, but in it Joanna displayed her characteristic “infectious, howling laugh.”
   1973 also saw Smokey the Bear impersonating Joanna in a public service announcement. I’ll leave the obvious moral, ethical and legal implications of this tactic up to you dear readers, and just reproduce said PSA here.
   She and Kennard divorced at some point in 1973, and Joanna moved to Los Angeles, where I live.
   She was either 27 or 28 at the time, and here’s what she told Jennifer Juniper Stratford for something called Vice:
   VICE: When did you decide to become an actress?
   Joanna Cassidy: I was 27 or 28, which is pretty late to get started in the business. I was a wife for a while. We had children and I raised them, but still there was a wild streak in me. It wasn’t enough. I had to see life in a new fashion. I don’t know why. It’s the big question. In 1972 or ‘73, I moved to Los Angeles to see where it would take me.
   In 74 she scored her first co-starring role with none other than the master himself, George C Scott, in “Bank Shot.”
   She won another co-starring role in 1974‘s supernatural thriller, “The Night Child.” In 76 she appeared in the television show “McCoy,” with Tony Curtis, and a small role in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first real theatrical film (discounting 1969‘s “Hercules in New York,” in which he more or less played himself), “Stay Hungry,” with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field.
   1977 saw her in three films. The 70‘s film parody, “American Raspberry,” with Warren Oates, the comedy mystery/thriller “The Late Show,” with Art Carney and Lilly Tomlin, and with a pre-Quentin Tarantino Robert Forster in “Stunts.
   The next year she won a regular gig, well a four episode gig on “The Roller Girls,” which ran for six episodes. The series centered on the Pittsburgh Pitts, an all-girl roller derby team.
   “It was the first time in my career that I found a role I was naturally prepared for. I was one of those first people in Venice roller-skating. I even got my kids into it and we were down there every weekend. I even did roller-dancing. The show was great fun but they only made six episodes. My roller derby name was “Books” Cassidy!”
   Here she discusses the show with Johnny Carson and demonstrates her roller skating proficiency and her classic laugh.
   And a clip from the show.
   She also guest starred on one of my favorite sit-coms, “Taxi,” and one of my least favorite, “Starsky and Hutch.”
   “It used to be such a stigma, making that transition to various entertainment medias. There are a couple of actresses who have cut it quite well and I consider myself one. You have to work, you have to have your craft. Every job you do, you gain more experience. You never stop learning.”
   Joanna continued pretty much in this same vein, TV shows, television movies, and the occasional theatrical film until she gained a lot of attention, and a Golden Globe Award, as a regular on the short lived sit-com, “Buffalo Bill,” with Dabney Coleman and the lovely Geena Davis.  The show was loosely based around the character Dabney created for the film “9 to 5,” and featured the misadventures of an egotistical talk show host, played by Dabney and his staff (including Geena and Joanna) at WBFL-TV, a small TV station in Buffalo, New York. It premiered May 31, 1983 on NBC and ran for only part of two seasons (1983–84).   
   Here’s a clip of Joanna winning her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series Musical or Comedy.
   She also received a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
   But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Slow down Rick. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Continue...
   On March 9th, 1981, filming began on Warner Bros. “Blade Runner,” a neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott (his third feature film, coming right after the success of “Alien”) and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, and Joanna as the assassin replicant, Zhora Salome. Filming lasted four months. The Bradbury Building, here in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of 3rd and Broadway, within walking distance of where I’m typing this (I could walk there right now if I choose to do so. As a matter of fact I think I will. Please excuse me.    Okay, back now), was one of the filming locations for “Blade Runner.” There’s a Subway sandwich place on the ground floor now.
   Vice: “Not only did you get to play a replicant in Blade Runner, you also have one of the most beautiful death scenes in existence. How did you land the role of an android working as an exotic snake dancer?"
   Joanna: “I told the director he had to give me the part because I was the only actress in town with a pet snake who knew how to handle them.”
   The film was released in 1,290 theaters on June 25th, 1982. It didn’t do well in the United States closing it’s initial run earning just $32,868,943.57, worldwide, on a production budget of $28 million. Wow, that’s $4,868,943.57 in pure sweet profit you say. Hold your horses there partner. When marketing and distribution costs are added in, which roughly equal the production costs, that makes the total cost to put the film out there at about $56 million. So “Blade Runner,” actually lost approximately $23,131,057.57, which sucks, especially if you’re the producer.
   Reviews of the film were what they call “mixed” at the time, which means some liked it, others didn’t.
   I liked it. Roy’s “Tears in the Rain,” monologue, which Rutger Hauer, the actor who portrayed Roy, wrote himself, is one of the most touching and effective scenes emphasizing the impermanence of life that’s been captured on film... ever.
   It makes no sense scientifically, but is very poetic.
   The film has gained what they call “cult status,” which Wikipedia tells us is: “A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following. Cult films are known for their dedicated, passionate fanbase, an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings, quoting dialogue, and audience participation. Inclusive definitions allow for major studio productions, especially box office bombs, while exclusive definitions focus more on obscure, transgressive films shunned by the mainstream.”
   Wikipedia also tells us: “While not initially a success with North American audiences, the film was popular internationally and garnered a cult following. The film's dark style and futuristic designs have served as a benchmark and its influence can be seen in many subsequent science fiction films, anime, video games, and television programs. For example, Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, the producers of the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, have both cited Blade Runner as one of the major influences for the show. Blade Runner continues to reflect modern trends and concerns, and an increasing number consider it one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. It was voted the best science fiction film ever made in a poll of 60 eminent world scientists conducted in 2004. Blade Runner is also cited as an important influence to both the style and story of the Ghost in the Shell film series, which itself has been highly influential to the future-noir genre.
   The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently used in university courses. In 2007 it was named the second most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society.”
   Wow. And Joanna is a big part of that, as well as most of the other cast members. Of all the television shows and films she has appeared in, she is probably best known for her performance in “Blade Runner” (of course Rutger’s portrayal of Lothos in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” overshadowed “Blade Runner,” completely, as did Hannah’s “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman,” in 1993. Harrison Ford, who I’ll never forgive for killing Joanna, went on to have a small measure of success in several films before and after “Blade Runner”).
   The next year she starred with Nick Nolte, Ed Harris, and Gene Hackman in the political/war/drama “Under Fire.”
   Joanna appeared in many television shows, some of which I liked. Some include “The Love Boat” with Siegfried, “Hart to Hart” with Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, “Trapper John, M.D.” with  Pernell Roberts, “Lou Grant,” a regular gig on “Falcon Crest” with Jane Wyman, “Fantasy Island” with Khan Noonien Singh, “Northern Exposure” with our conservative friend Janine Turner, another regular gig on“Dudley,” with Dudley Moore, “Burke's Law,” with Gene Barry, “Murder, She Wrote” with Angela Lansbury, three episodes as a judge on “L.A. Law” with Corbin Bernsen.”
   In 1993 she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in Children's Programming, for her work in a “CBS Schoolbreak Special,” entitled “Other Mothers.”
   In 1994 she starred in “Hotel Malibu,” along with a young Jennifer Lopez, before she made it big in movies like, “Money Train,” Blood and Wine,” and “Selena,” in 1997.
   The show concerned a hotel in Malibu, California, and ran on CBS for 6 episodes, and... that’s it.
   She’s also been on “Melrose Place” with Heather Locklear and Courtney Thorn-Smith. In 1997 and 98 she provided the voice for Inspector Maggie Sawyer for 8 episodes on an animated version of “Superman” along with Dana Delany and Lisa Edelstein. Another 8 episodes on “Diagnosis Murder” with Dick Van Dyke, 3 episodes on “The District,” with Craig T Nelson, “Good Morning Miami.” She played T'Pol’s (Jolene Blalock) mom for 2 episodes of  “Star Trek: Enterprise.”
   In 2001/2005 she was the recurring character Margaret Chenowith, the psychologist mother of Brenda, Billy, and Kristin, and the wife of Bernard, in “Six Feet Under.” For her work she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
   In 2006 she appeared as an aggrieved wife in 5 episodes of “Boston Legal” with James Tiberius Kirk and Raymond "Red" Reddington. 2 episodes of “Heros” the next year with Hayden Panettiere.  She is seen in a photo of the twelve senior members of the show's mysterious Company, then appeared as Victoria Pratt in the tenth episode of season two, "Truth & Consequences," during which her character was killed, and if I ever get my hands on David Anders who killed her there’ll be hell to pay (even though she tried to cut off his head)!
   She’s been on “Ghost Whisperer,” with our lovely and talented friend Jennifer Love Hewitt. “Criminal Minds,” “Desperate Housewives.” “Hawthorne,” with Jada Pinkett Smith. She worked with Dana Delany again, playing her mom, on 14 episodes of “Body of Proof.” Here’s a clip of her promoting the show on “The John Kerwin Show.”
   Joanna has also appeared on “Bones,” “Call Me Fitz,” “Perception,” and 6 episodes of “Odd Mom Out,” the last one airing 6 days ago, July 27th, on Bravo.
   Alright, back to movies.
   In 1986 she appeared with Robin Williams, Peter O’Toole, and Rick Moranis in the comedy “Club Paradise,” which was directed by Ghostbuster Harold Ramis. The next year she was a Russian spy in “The Fourth Protocol,” with Michael Caine, a pre-Bond Pierce Brosnan, and Ned Betty. 
   Again, I’ll never forgive that Irish son-of-a-bitch Brosnan for killing her. Mother F_ _ _ _ er!
   Of course we all remember her in Robert Zemeckis’s 1988, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” playing Bob Hoskins girlfriend in the animated/live action adventure/comedy. Here’s a clip.
   And here she is at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences celebration of the 25th anniversary of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
   That year she also starred with pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr, pre-Jack Bauer Kiefer Sutherland, Bruce Dern and Winona Ryder  in “1969,”  a drama concerning dissatisfaction with the war in Vietnam.
   I re-watched “The Package,” a few nights ago, a 1989 action/thriller Joanna made with Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Pam Grier. It was actually better than I remembered.
   She worked with Dabney again, along with Uma Thurman in 1990's comedy/drama “Where the Heart Is.”
   I have no idea! Where is it?
   Here’s the whole movie if you’d like to watch it. Don’t worry, I can wait. Take your time.
   In 1991 she played the boss of one of another favorite actresses of mine, post-Bundy Christina Applegate, in “Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead.” Here’s a clip.
     In 1993 she played real person, public relations expert, Linda G. Robinson, in the television movie “Barbarians at the Gate,” along with James Garner, Jonathan Pryce, and Tom Hank’s lovely wife, Rita Wilson. The film tells the tale of the 1988 leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco. “Barbarians at the Gate,” aired, or actually cabled, on HBO, so in it you get to hear James Garner say “F_ _ K” a lot, which is rather unnerving.
   She also appeared as Sheriff Ruth Merrill in Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers,” that year, the true story of what happens when you discover a buried spaceship filled with hibernating evil aliens in your backyard.  The television mini series also stars Jimmy Smits, CSI’s Marg Helgenberger, and our good friend Traci Lords.
   “The Tommyknockers,” aired on ABC, so there was no swearing involved... just lots of creepy violence.
   In 1994 she worked with Garner again as his ex-wife on the T.V. film, “The Rockford Files: I Still Love L.A.
   She worked with Eddie Murphy in Wes Craven’s 1995 comedy/horror/romance, “Vampire in Brooklyn,” starred as Judge Martha Knowlton in the drama/thriller television movie “Eye of the Stalker,” appeared in 1996's “Chain Reaction,” with Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, and our friend Brian Cox.   
   2001 saw Joanna in a John Carpenter joint, “Ghosts of Mars,” along with Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, and Clea DuVall. The film made $8,709,640 on a $28,483,221 budget, and drove Carpenter from the movie business until 2010.
   I liked it. I’m going to watch it tonight in fact. I sincerely hope I will suffer no adverse effects.
   In 2009 she worked with “Mad Men”’s Jon Hamm, the original Lara Croft, Rhona Mitra, and Jessica Chastain in the crime/drama “Stolen.”
   And besides working and excelling in many other fine films, shorts, and television shows, Joanna just wrapped (finished) “Too Late,” opposite John Hawkes and, completed the Blumhouse feature “Visions,” opposite Isla Fisher, Jim Parsons, and Eva Longoria.
   When she’s not working Joanna  is devoted to her art (painting, sculpting, acupuncture) and is a dedicated animal activist who advocates for animals, as well as miniature golfer, hot air balloonist,  free style spelunker, Irish stepdancer, and collector of old things, or  antiques.
   She presently resides in the Los Angeles area with her dogs, Kosygin, Ratmoor, and Mustafa Gahten.
   Her name in Elvish is Nessa Aldaríon.
   Vice: “It’s interesting that 30 years later, Zhora is still in you. What inspired you to create a YouTube video of the scene that was cut from the movie?”
   Joanna: “The older I get, the harder it is to be normal. I can’t stand all the things people say you aren’t supposed to do when you are older. I’m a dignified and eccentric lady who just doesn’t want to quit letting my imagination play out. I like doing silly things but deep down it’s a statement about not suppressing your creativity.”
   Here is the Snake Dance that was left out of “Blade Runner.”
   And finally, all of us here at Joyce’s Take wish Joanna and her family and friends continued good health and fortune, and of course, a very happy birthday.
   Happy Birthday Joanna!

No comments:

Post a Comment