Sunday, February 5, 2017

Happy Birthday Barbara Hershey!

“I am afraid of being lazy and complacent. I am afraid of taking myself too seriously.”


Picture Legend

1. Ms Barbara Hersey
2. At Hollywood High School 1964
3. 1968
4. Sarah Bernhardt
5. On “Gidget,” in 1965
6. “The Monroes: 1966
7. “The Invaders,” 1968
8. First movie, 1968 “With Six You Get Eggroll” with Doris Day
9. 1969‘s “Heaven with a Gun”
10. With David Carradine
11. Barbara and David’s 1972 Playboy spread
12. One of my favorite pictures of Barbara
13. “Last Summer” 1969
14. “The Pursuit of Happiness”
15. “Boxcar Bertha”
16. “Love Comes Quietly” 1973
17. With Robert Shaw in “Diamonds”
18. Haley Mills
19. With Carlton Heston in 1976‘s “The Last Hard Men”
20. With Peter O’Toole in 1980‘s “The Stuntman”
21. 1982‘s “The Entity”
22. With Sam Shepard in “The Right Stuff”
23. Legs
24. Opening shot of “Hannah and Her Sisters”
25. With Gene Hackman in “Hoosiers”
26. With John Mahoney and Richard Dreyfuss in 1987‘s “Tin Men”
27. With Jill Clayburgh in “Shy People”
28. Martha Plimpton in “Shy People”
29. Martha Plimpton today (or a couple of days ago actually)
30. In 1989‘s “A World Apart”
31. With Jesus, uh, er, William Defoe in “The Last Temptation of Christ”
32. With Bette Midler in “Beaches”
33. In “A Killing in a Small Town”
34. With Ed Harris in “Paris Trout”
35. With Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”
36. With Eric Idle in “Splitting Heirs”
37. In “Return to Lonesome Dove”
38. With Tom Berenger and some Dogmen in 1995‘s “Last of the Dogmen”
39. In “Portrait of a Lady”
40. In “Breakfast of Champions”
41. Barbara and Naveen Andrews
42. Barbara, Hector Elizondo, Mark Harmon, and Adam Arkin  of “Chicago Hope”
43. With some other actors on “The Mountain”
44. “Black Swan”
45. Smiley face
46. “Insidious”
47. The Queen of Hearts in “Once Upon a Time”
48. In “Damien” 2016
49. Voted “Hottest Over 60“ by everybody
50. Ms Hershey

   This morning it is my great pleasure and honor to give a great big Joyce’s Take Happy Birthday Shout Out to one of my very favorite actresses, Barbara Hershey!
   Like about half of the entire population of the planet Earth, Barbara Lynn was born at a very early age, as a tiny, wrinkly female infant, with no hair, at 10:01am - PST, about 7.2 miles (via the mighty 101 freeway) from where I’m writing this near downtown Los Angeles, in Hollywood, California, where they make all of the movies.
   The year was 1948, seven years before I got here.
   During this period in her life her last name was Herzstein, and not Hershey at all. Oh no, that would come a little later.
   Her dad, Arnold Nathan had that last name as well, and her mother, Melrose, used to be a Moore, but became a Herzstein when she married Arnold.
   Arnold was a horse racing columnist. His parents had come to the United States from Hungry and Russia. He was Jewish I am told.
   Many are.
   He was born in Manhattan, New York. Melrose came from Arkansas, just like my mom. She was a Presbyterian of Irish descent... like me, although I’m not a Presbyterian.
   I don’t know what I am really. I feel so lost.
   Barbara has two older siblings. No one knows if they were her brothers or sisters. Hell, maybe she had one of each!
   Only Barbara knows and she’s not talking.
   As she got older her family nicknamed her "Sarah Bernhardt," because she wanted to become an actress.     
   Sarah Bernhardt was a famous French stage actress.
   She attended Hollywood High School, which is perfectly reasonable. She was a good student... a member of the drill team and pom-pom squad.
   In 1965, when she was 17, either her high school drama teacher helped her find an agent, or she was discovered by a talent agent. No one knows which one.
   In any case she got an agent and landed a role on the Sally Field television show “Gidget.”
   “Gidget (a portmanteau of "girl" and "midget")” was about a surfing, boy-crazy teenager called "Gidget" and her widowed father Russ Lawrence, a UCLA professor.
   The very first episode in which Barbara appeared in was called “Chivalry Isn't Dead,” in which the Gidg decides that her boyfriend, Mark, needs to learn a little chivalry. She and her girlfriends all gather at her house for a pajama party to teach all their boyfriends a lesson (I’m not exactly sure how a pajama party translates into a lessen, but let’s move on).
   Well I certainly don’t blame them. There certainly isn’t enough chivalry in this Trump infested, soulless world.
   This episode aired on the very first day of December in 1965, and thus the world was first introduced to Barbara. Here’s a clip.
   By this time she had adapted the stage name Hershey.
   She appeared on three episodes of “Gidget,” which only lasted one season itself. She also appeared on two episodes of “The Farmers Daughter,” with Inga Stevens and William Windom, and 26 episodes of “The Monroes,” as young Kathy Monroe, a western about five orphans trying to survive as a family on the frontier in the area around what is now Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming.
   Fortunately cannibalism never became a plot device.
   This was Barbara’s third acting job and it was the that of the female lead. Pretty damn good! It lasted only one season though, from September 7th of 1966 until March 15th, 1967, due to stiff competition from the likes of “Lost in Space, “ The Virginian (who’s star, James Drury, at one time owed my dad money from buying too much booze from my dad’s liquor store),” and the freaking  “Beverly Hillbillies.” Here’s a clip.
   According to The New York Times All Movie Guide, Barbara graduated from Hollywood High School in 1966, but David Carradine, in his autobiography, wrote that she dropped out of high school after she began acting.
   She kept working in television, on shows like “Daniel Boone,” with Fess Parker, “Run for Your Life,” with Ben Gazzara (who came into my dad’s store once), and a favorite of mine, “The Invaders,” with Roy Thinnes. Here’s the full episode of “The Invaders,” entitled “The Miracle,” with Ed Asner and Barbara.
   The first film she was in was 1968‘s romantic comedy “With Six You Get Eggroll,” with one of the most popular actresses ever, Doris Day, and with one of my favorite character actors, Brian Keith. The comedian George Carlin (one of my favorite human beings) made his film debut as well. Here’s a clip.
   In 1968 Barbara worked with Glenn Ford and Morticia Addams, uh, er, Carolyn Jones, in the western about a gun toting preacher in “Heaven with a Gun,” which was released in 1969.
   Here’s the trailer.
   Barbara would work with an actor named David Carradine in this movie. They began a domestic relationship that would last until 1975, having one son, who they named Free.
  Barbara was getting the reputation as being kind of a hippie girl... someone who would likely name her son Free (Free wasn’t putting up with this crap though, and would change his name to Tom when he was nine years old).
   Barbara and David would work together quite often. She would make guest appearances on Carradine’s television show “Kung Fu,” for example. They posed together in a nude Playboy spread, recreating some sex scenes from “Boxcar Bertha.”
   Unfortunately the relationship proved toxic to Barbara. She said that this period of her life hurt her career; "Producers wouldn't see me because I had a reputation for using drugs and being undependable. I never used drugs at all and I have always been serious about my acting career."
   Their  relationship fell apart around the time of Carradine's 1974 burglary arrest (high on peyote he had been walking around nude in his Laurel Canyon neighborhood at night when he broke into a house busting a window and cutting his arm. He bled all over the homeowner's piano. At some time during this episode he accosted two young women, allegedly assaulting one while asking, or demanding of her, if she was a witch (she was).  The police literally followed a trail of blood to his home. The burglary charges were dropped, as nothing was found to be missing, while Carradine pleaded "no contest" to the mischief charge and was given probation), when he began an affair with another actress who had appeared on “Kung Fu,” Season Hubley (who would later marry Kurt Russell). 
   1969 also saw Barbara in the X rated drama “Last Summer,” wherein she played Sandy, whose character persuades two young men to rape another girl, Rhoda, played by Catherine Burns (who would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in this movie) Here’s the trailer.
   A seagull died during the production of this film.
    "In one scene," Hershey explained, "I had to throw the bird in the air to make her fly. We had to reshoot the scene over and over again. I could tell the bird was tired. Finally, when the scene was finished, the director, Frank Perry, told me the bird had broken her neck on the last throw." Hershey felt responsible for the bird's death and changed her stage name to "Seagull" as a tribute to the creature. "I felt her spirit enter me," she later explained. "It was the only moral thing to do."
   So her name was Barbara Seagull for a while, due to advanced hippiness. However a lot of people didn’t care for that name change at all. When she was offered a part opposite Timothy Bottoms in “The Crazy World of Julius Vrooder,” in 1974, she was required to forfeit half her salary, $25,000, to be billed under the name "Seagull" because the producers didn’t like it, and were greedy bastards anyway.
   Barbara played a hippie surrogate mom in 1970‘s “The Baby Maker (sounds like a good name for an alcoholic drink).”
   While criticizing the directing and writing of James Bridges, critic Shirley Rigby said of the "bizarre" film, "Only the performances in the film save it from being a total travesty." Rigby went on to say, "Barbara Hershey is a great little actress, much, much more than just another pretty face."
   I agree.
   She worked with Michael Sarrazin in 1971‘s “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Here’s the trailer.
   In 1972 Barbara worked with Carradine again in Martin Scorsese’s second feature film, his first Hollywood produced film (good old Roger Corman, who is responsible for so many of the problems our nation now faces, produced the film), “Boxcar Bertha,” the fictionally true story of a girl and her boxcar.
   Shot in six weeks on a budget of $600,000, “Boxcar Bertha,” was a period crime drama, along the lines of Corman’s “Bloody Mama,” and Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie and Clyde.”
   Working on the film, Barbara said “"was the most fun I ever had on a movie." Here's a clip.
  While filming she introduced Martin to Nikos Kazantzakis’s historical novel “The Last Temptation of Christ.” 16 years later, in 1988, they would both make a film version of the novel, he directed and she played Mary Magdalene. That film got an Academy Award nomination for the director and a Golden Globe nomination for Barbara.
   In 1974 she won a Gold Medal at the Atlanta Film Festival for her role in the Dutch-produced film “Love Comes Quietly."
   She worked with Robert Shaw, Richard Roundtree, and Shelly Winters (who happened to play the lead in Corman’s “Bloody Mama”) in 1975‘s “Diamonds,” a heist film made in Israel.
   1976 found her in “A Dirty Knight's Work,” with John Mills (father of my very first love, Haley) and my favorite character actor, Donald Pleasance.
   That year Barbara was cast in “The Last Hard Men (which suggests there are no more hard men around. Sorry ladies)," with Charlton Heston and James Coburn. Here’s a clip.   
   Barbara hoped the film would revive her career after the damage she felt it had suffered while she was with Carradine, believing that the hippie label she had been given was not a good thing, at least for her career. I know it never worked for me. She went back to her old name abandoning aquatic birds. Yet for the next four years, until 1980, all she was offered was work on crappy television movies, like “Flood,” with Robert Culp, a crappy 1976 disaster TV movie, and  “Sunshine Christmas,” a crappy 1977 Christmas romance TV movie, and “The Glitter Palace,” with Chad Everett, a crappy crime, drama, romance, lesbian 1977 TV movie.
   Not that work in television is bad, or inferior to feature films. It’s not.
   It’s just crappy, that’s all.
   Then in 1979 writer / director Richard Rush hired Barbara to star alongside veteran actor Peter O’Toole and Steve Railsback in “The Stuntman,” a very weird action/comedy/drama, concerning a man on the run from the law who takes shelter within movie production crew that’s on location. O’Toole plays the film’s director. Here’s a clip.
    “The Stuntman” premiered on June 27th, 1980.
   It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Peter O'Toole. He lost to Robert De Niro in ”Raging Bull”), Best Director (Richard Rush. He lost to Robert Redford who directed ”Ordinary People”), and  Lawrence B. Marcus and Rush for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Alvin Sargent won for “Ordinary People”).
   Here's an interview with Barbara talking about the film.
   1982 saw Barbara in one of my favorite horror movies, “The Entity.” It’s one of my favorites not because she gets naked. By God, I’ve seen Barbara naked plenty of times before. It’s getting to the point that I wish she’d put some clothes on.
   “The Entity,” is a fictionalized account of what supposedly happened in real life to one Doris Bither, who claimed to have been attacked and raped by an invisible entity.
   Martin Scorsese considers “The Entity” one of the scariest horror films of all time. Here's the trailer.     
   Barbara appeared in the epic historical drama, “The Right Stuff,” playing the wife of test pilot Chuck Yeager, who was the very first person to break the sound barrier. In an airplane. A jet airplane.
   The next year, 1984, Barbara starred with Robert Redford in the baseball drama, “The Natural.” Here’s the whole damn movie, if you care to watch it.
   She would appear in a couple of television projects  before she packed up all of her stuff, and moved with Tom from California to Manhattan where she got a nice apartment. Three days later she met Woody Allen, as one is likely to do if one visits New York. Woody offered her the role of  Lee in “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Here’s a clip.
   “Hannah and Her Sisters” was for a long time Woody’s biggest box office hit, until May of 2011, when “Midnight in Paris” was released.
   It won three academy awards.  Best Original Screenplay (Woody) and for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress (Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest).
   Barbara was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for her work in “Hannah and Her Sisters. (she lost to Judi Dench in “A Room with a View“)”
   Along with her new Manhattan apartment, Barbara bought a home in rural Connecticut. I don’t know why.
   That very same year... the very same, she joined Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper in the cast of the basketball drama “Hoosiers.” Here’s a clip wherein Hackman starts smooching on her.   
   Barbara worked with Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito the next year in Barry Levinson’s “Tin Men.”
   “Shy People,” told the story of two branches of a family that reunite with unfortunate results, the setting being the  bayous of South Louisiana. Barbara won a Best Actress Award at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival for her portrayal of Ruth Sullivan, the matriarch of the Louisiana branch of the family.
   I watched the film again a few days ago and the actress who played Jill Clayburgh’s daughter looked very familiar to me, but I didn’t follow up on my inquisitive nature until I researched for this post. I discovered she was, and is the wonderful actress Martha Plimpton, who I knew as Virginia Chance on the sitcom “Rasing Hope.” She’s been in a lot of great films it seems, and is very lovely in a very distinctive way.
   But enough about her!
   Get back on track Joyce!
   Barbara was considered for the role of a dangerous obsessive woman in 1987‘s “Fatal Attraction,” but lost out to Glenn Close.
   This happens all of the time in the film/television industry, but what makes Barbara’s loss noteworthy was the incredible success the film had, finishing as the second highest-grossing film of 1987 in the United States and the highest-grossing film of the year worldwide, receiving  six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture (which it lost to The Last Emperor), Best Actress for Close, and Best Supporting Actress for Anne Archer, though both lost to Cher and Olympia Dukakis, respectively, for “Moonstruck.”
   Many can make the argument that the success of the movie was due in a large part to the peculiarities of Glenn Close’s performance. Would the film have been as successful if Barbara had gotten the role instead?
   Yes, it would have.
   Probably more successful.
   I know these things.
   Although she did not win the “Fatal Attraction” part she was still on a roll (and making history), winning another Cannes Best Actress Award the very next year (1988) for her portrayal of anti-apartheid activist Diana Roth in “A World Apart.” Here’s the trailer.
   She is the only actress ever to win back to back awards for acting at Cannes
   I think that’s pretty cool... don’t you?
   1988 was a good year for Barbara professionally. She appeared in three films that were released that year. “A World Apart.” She  was also in Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ,” playing Mary Magdalene. Some could say that she was responsible for this film being made having given Martin the book back when they made “Boxcar Bertha.” As a matter of fact I will say that. Barbara is totally responsible for “The Last Temptation of Christ” being made!
   There I said it.
   Here’s a long clip concerning a central plot point of the film.
   By the way... Barbara is the only actress (female) to be cast twice in a major role in a movie by Martin Scorsese.The Last Temptation, and “Boxcar Bertha.”
   More history
   Of course actors like Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio have appeared in multiple Scorsese films.
   Also in 1988 we saw her in “Beaches,” with Bette Midler.
   Wikipedia tells us ”Beaches,” is “The story of two friends from different backgrounds, whose friendship spans more than 30 years through childhood, love, and tragedy: Cecilia Carol "C.C." Bloom (Bette Midler), a New York actress and singer, and Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey), a San Francisco heiress and lawyer.”
   I believe saw this movie once before, probably with some girl. I did not watch it again to prepare for this post as I did not think my masculinity would be able to survive a second viewing.
   I took a chance finding this clip!
   “A Killing in a Small Town” is a 1990 CBS television movie starring Barbara and Brian Dennehy.
   What is important about this movie is that it is the vehicle that allowed Barbara to win a 1990 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie.”
   Way to go Barbara! We’re all so proud.
   Here's a clip.
   She worked with Dennis Hopper again (quite frankly he was hard to get rid of) and Ed Harris in 1991‘s television movie “Paris Trout,” a story of race and murder.
   Barbara got married to artist Stephen Douglas in August of 1992. The couple separated and divorced one year after the wedding.
   Sometimes things just don’t work out.
   In "Falling Down," Michael Douglas plays a disgruntled divorcĂ© and unemployed former defense engineer on a destructive trek across Los Angeles to get to Barbara’s house, or rather Barbara’s character’s house in  who is Michael’s ex-wife. Their daughter is having a birthday party. Robert Duvall plays a policeman who is after Michael.    Barbara talks about “Falling Down” here.
   She works with Eric Idle , John Cleese, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Rick Moranis in the 1992 comedy, “Splitting Heirs.” Here’s the very best of Duchess Lucinda.
   Anjelica Huston morphed into Barbara in order for her to “Return to Lonesome Dove,” a 1993 four part television miniseries. Anjelica and Barbara played the same character, Clara Allen, a ranch owner in Nebraska. She worked with republican asshat Jon Voight.
   Am I being too harsh on Jon... too mean spirited and vindictive?
   Yes, and delightedly so!
   Here’s a clip.
   1995 found Barbara alone in the mountains of northwest Montana with Tom Berenger of all people, in “Last of the Dogmen,” the story of the search for a lost tribe of Indians that time had forgot. Here’s a clip.
   My first wife’s parents had a set of books (remember when people used to read books) that collectively were entitled “50 Greatest Books of Western Civilization.” In that set you could find the “Iliad,” and the “Odyssey.” The “Aeneid,” “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” the “Divine Comedy,” “Paradise Lost,” “Don Quixote,” Michel Eyquem de Montaigne’s “Essays.” “The Brothers Karamazov,” “Moby Dick,” and “The Portrait of a Lady,” by Henry James.
   I read all of those and more. This was back in the 70‘s, but I remember Portrait. It was long.
   New Zealand screenwriter, producer and director Jane Campion decided she wanted to make a movie of this book, and in January of 1997 it was released.
   It stars Barbara, Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Donovan, Shelley Duvall, Shelley Winters, Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale, and John Gielgud. What a cast! Here's a clip.
   I saw the film just the other day, and in my mind it was one big, long movie about getting married, or arranging marriages, or seducing others into a marriage. No monsters or explosions at all!
   But the acting was top notch, and earned Barbara an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress (everybody nominated that year for Best Supporting Actress, except Juliette Binoche, lost to Juliette Binoche for her work in “The English Patient.”).
   Barbara really wanted the part of Madame Serena Merle, auditioned for it, made the movie (here’s a clip), found out OJ was judged not guilty, then went on the Charlie Rose Show and talked about it here.
   Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions,” was not in the “50 Greatest Books of Western Civilization,” series, but he is one of my favorite authors, and “Breakfast of Champions,” one of my favorite books.
   And a movie was made of it. Barbara was in it. So was Bruce Willis, Albert Finney, Nick Nolte, Glenne Headly, Buck Henry, Will Patton, Owen Wilson, Alison Eastwood, Shawnee Smith, and Michael Clarke Duncan. Hell, even Kurt made a cameo appearance as a  commercial director.
   Here’s a clip.
   In 1999 Barbara starred in an independent film called “Drowning on Dry Land.” During production she met co-star Naveen Andrews, with whom she began a romantic relationship that lasted until 2010.
   She appeared in 22 episodes of the television show “Chicago Hope,” in 1999 and 2000, and 13 episodes of “The Mountain,” in 2004.
   Barbara played ballerina Natalie Portman’s mom in 2010‘s “Black Swan.” Wyona Ryder and Mila Kunis also star. Here’s Barbara talking about the film and her role. 
   “Black Swan,” made a lot of money... a whole lot. It cost 13 million to make, and grossed $329.4 million worldwide. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture (losing out to “The King's Speech”), Best Director for Darren Aronofsky (losing to Tom Hooper, who directed “The King’s Speech”), and Natalie won for Best Actress.
   2010 also saw Barbara in “Insidious,” with Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson. The true story of a boy entering the astral plane and being held captive by a nasty old demon.
   Here she is talking about the film.
   2013 saw her in “Insidious 2,” because, well, they just had to do it again.
   Now this is a little complicated, at least for me. From 2012 to 2013, Barbara had a recurring role in the first two seasons of the television drama “Once Upon a Time,” as Cora, the Queen of Hearts and mother of the Evil Queen.
   Then in 2014, she reprised the role in one episode of the show's spin-off “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.” She reprised the role once more in 2015 when she returned to the show for an episode of its fourth season, and in 2016, she appeared again for two episodes of the show's fifth season, and it’s 100th episode. Here she is talking to Travis Smiley about her work.
   Last year Barbara portrayed Ann Rutledge, the world's most powerful woman on “Damien.” It’s her job to make sure Damien fulfills his destiny as the Antichrist, which is no easy task, believe me.
   “I look back on my life like everybody does but not just career. I mean I look back on my life as a whole, so I don't think that I dwell there or anything and in terms of work I hope that there is a lot in front of me.”
   So do I.
   Let’s see, what else.
   She appears to shunned the stage completely. She is the only actress that I know of who does not work in theater, and I don’t blame her. Harrison Ford doesn’t. Tom Cruise doesn’t. Screw that working everyday and twice on Sundays. That’s too much like real work.
   And you to like memorize your lines! Not only that you have to memorize the actors lines as well so you know when to say your lines.
   It gives me a headache just to think about it.
   I applaud the direction she has taken.
   Her five favorite films of all time are “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), “Bicycle Thieves” (1948), “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964), “Raging Bull” (1980) and “The Ballad of Narayama” (1983).
   “I am not afraid of aging, but more afraid of people's reactions to my aging.”
   I won’t be afraid of aging to then. She gives me strength.
   Her name in Elvish could be Raerauntha Ularona. I’m not saying it is absolutely. The Elvish name generator has been acting up, but it might be. Let’s say it is.
   And that’s about it... for now.
   I have to tell you, it has been a complete pleasure to go through the years with Barbara, as she is one person I really admire. She has done with her life exactly what she has wanted to do as far as her career goes at least. She says she just takes the best part offered to her at the time, and she can’t really plan on how things are going to go. Well who can? But she has worked in her chosen craft pretty consistently throughout her entire life, since she was 17. And like our British friend Diana Rigg, she doesn’t want to stop.
   And she seems like a very nice person as well.
   And she’s very pretty... for a girl.
   And all of us here at Joyce’s take wish her and her’s all of the best and continued good fortune, and most of all a very happy birthday.
   Gosh, I miss her already.
   “Everything will be better in the morning. It always is.”

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