Bill Dudley’s Hollywood: The Women Of Film at 2015 TCM Festival

Author: Bill Dudley

Some of the best known female stars of the silver screen visited the 6th annual TCM Festival this weekend, Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, and Ann-Margret. The impact of these women is still so strong today, many disappointed fans were turned away after a 2 (or more) hour wait to see them.

Courtesy of TCM

SHIRLEY MACLAINE has been a part of American film culture since she first hit the screen in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Trouble With Harry way back in 1955. Named after film legend Shirley Temple, and the older sister of Warren Beatty, she is a true original.  Shirley was a dancer when she first hit Hollywood, with no acting experience whatsoever. After her appearances in Mike Todd’s Around The World In 80 Days, and Some Came Running with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Shirley not only became a star, but one of only 2 women to be a regular member of Sinatra’s Rat Pack. Shirley popped out very quick answers to names shouted out from the audience for her comments.

Here are some things we learned from Shirley:

  1. “Dean Martin was the funniest man I ever met”
  2. “Elvis Presley was a true gentleman, very polite”
  3. “Peter Sellers” was totally absorbed into the roles he played”
  4. All the women from “Steel Magnolias” are still friends, as they bonded against the director when he ridiculed Dolly Parton
  5. As for seeing Jack Nicholson naked while filming her Academy Award performance opposite him in “Terms Of Endearment” in 1983: “That is too long a story”. Shirley loved working with Jack, but considered him “dangerous”
  6. She was not at all  positive about her experience with Debra Winger, but highly praised Jack Lemmon, whom she starred with in 1960’s Best Picture winner “The Apartment”, and “Irma La Douce”. “Jack was extremely smart, and very entertaining”
  7. Shirley also appeared to unveil a long kept secret, claiming she had a 3 year “under the radar” fling with Robert Mitchum. “Contrary to popular belief, Bob cared very much about his work, and had a photographic memory.
  8. “Sweet Charity” was the film she loved the most that did the least
  9. Clint Eastwood slugged his horse during the filming of “Two Mules For Sister Sara”
  10. Shirley also told us, she never made a play for Dean Martin, as she “loved his wife even more”

Still very active and in demand, Shirley has made 25 movies in the past 25 years. She has a new film coming out soon she recently completed with Jessica Lange and comedian Billy Connolly Wild Oats. Her most recent release was with her old friend Christopher Plummer, Elsa & Fred.  Shirley gave a short speech at Plummer’s hand and footprint ceremony at The Chinese Theater on Friday, and completely stole the show, as she always does. Plummer enjoyed it. The audience loved it!  Shirley said Audrey Hepburn (her co-star in The Children’s Hour) “taught her how to dress.” She paid her back by “teaching Audrey how to cuss.” Shirley is truly one of a kind in Hollywood:  A great role model for women, but still “one of the guys.”

Courtesy of TCM

SOPHIA LOREN: Making her second of two very rare appearances in the US this weekend was Oscar Winner Sophia Loren. (Sophia was also here for an AFI tribute last year).  Her 1961 Oscar win over Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood surprised everyone, including Sophia. Not believing she had a chance to win, she was a no-show for her biggest night. Cary Grant called her to let her know she had won for Two Women. At TCM Fest, Sophia did the opening discussion with Ben Mankiewicz for Love Italian Style, and the day before, gave a 2 1/2 hour interview to her own son, Edoardo,  a writer and director. The still beautiful Italian goddess made her fans very happy with these appearances.

Courtesy of TCM

ANN-MARGRET: Another hard working actress that has been around almost as long as Sophia and Shirley is Ann- Margret. Best known for Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas, Ann joined us for a screening of The Cincinnati Kid, a film she made in 1965 with Steve McQueen and Edward G. Robinson. The film itself holds up very well, but it was Ann’s comments about her personal life that stuck with me. She said she loves playing bad girls as she did in State Fair and Carnal Knowledge, but blows her own image as she has been married for 48 years to the same man (Roger Smith). A stable marriage in show business is almost unheard of in Hollywood. Ann did titillate her fans by disclosing she likes to ride her lavender Harley-Davidson up and down Mulholland drive at 2am, around 120 mph. When questioned why, she said “nobody is around then.”

Ann-Margret is currently a regular on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.

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