Welcome to SixtiesCinema.com the home of award winning author and film historian Tom Lisanti's groovy books on 60's starlets and drive-in movies from Elvis and beach party musicals to biker films to teenage exploitation. Check out his Blog below for updates or tribute pieces on all your favorite '60s starlets and B-movie actors. Purchase his highly entertaining, well-illustrated books directly from Amazon.com
Tom Lisanti is an award-winning author and historian on Sixties B-movies. He has written a series of books on the subject and has interviewed some of the most famous starlets of the time. His latest book Pamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974 is now available and look for his next book Sixties Pop Cinema in 2016.
She said what!?! Talking about the spaghetti western Navajo Joe, Nicoletta Machiavelli commented that her leading man Burt Reynolds “was so snooty that the whole crew couldn’t stand him!” Read more in my book Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies.
Sad to report one of my fave interviewees 1960s starlet Quinn O’Hara has passed away.
A “red-headed gasser,” Quinn O’Hara certainly lived up to that description and became very popular with teenage audiences during the sixties. A former Miss Scotland, this titan-haired beauty began on television before appearing in minor film roles with major stars such as Jerry Lewis and Jack Lemmon. Younger audiences remembered her best for her two back-to-back starring roles in two beach-party movies. O’Hara exuded a natural sex appeal that had every boy’s heart racing either playing the good girl as in A Swingin’ Summer (1965) or the vixen as in The Ghost in theInvisible Bikini (1966). She should have become a major star however, disenchanted with the roles being offered her, Quinn fled to England in the late sixties where she worked on stage, TV and an occasional film.
Quinn O’Hara was dramatically born in a hospital’s elevator going up in Edinburgh, Scotland on Jan. 3, 1941 to a Welsh father and a Scottish-Irish mother who named the impatient newborn Alice Jones. Most of her childhood was spent in a convent boarding school in Wales. When she turned fourteen, she and her mother moved to Quebec, Canada where the blossoming teenager learned to speak French. After three years, they upped and moved to Long Beach, California where the red haired beauty stood out from the myriad of California blondes. Her European origins prevented her from competing in the Miss California contest but she was dubbed Miss Scotland by the Royal Order of her home country.
With all the newfound attention she was receiving and with the acting offers coming in, Alice Jones morphed into the more appropriate name for a titan-hair Scottish lass, Quinn O’Hara. Her big screen debut was in a bit part in The Errand Boy (1961) starring Jerry Lewis. O’Hara would go on to work with Lewis again in The Patsy (1964) playing the minor role of a cigarette girl and in Who’s Minding the Store? (1963), though her scenes were cut.
O’Hara’s first taste of fame came when she was selected to appear with Vic Damone in his 1962 Emmy-nominated summer series The LivelyOnes. The popular show brought O’Hara notoriety and she became very much in demand on TV but she wasn’t having much luck with films. Only her hand was on display in The Caretakers (1963) where she played a nurse. GoodNeighbor, Sam (1964) featured all of Quinn in the small role of a curvy secretary to recently promoted ad man Jack Lemmon. O’Hara kept persevering. She began getting press in all the movie rags of the time and she was chosen by Photoplay to be photographed on a pre-arranged “date” with teen idol Fabian. But surprisingly, the duo hit it off and it developed into a relationship that lasted a year.
Quinn’s Notable Quotable About Working with titan-haired witch Jill St. John in Who’s Minding the Store?
“[She] was an unbelievably cruel person who I am not fond of in the least.”
In 1965 Quinn O’Hara co-starred in one of the better Beach Party knockoffs A Swingin’ Summer with William Wellman, Jr. and James Stacy. Though it was not her first color movie it was her first lead role. She looked terrific in her mod swimsuits and more than held her own with rising superstar, Raquel Welch.
Quinn’s Notable Quotable About Working with diva-in-training Raquel Welch in A Swingin’ Summer
“I had no trouble with Raquel. But everybody else did—including the cameraman and make up person. Lori Williams, who was such a nice girl, also had a terrible time with Raquel. I wasn’t on the set but I heard that Lori had the same color bikini on as Raquel and she told the director to go make Lori change her bathing suit! When we went to do promotion for the film in conjunction with Suzuki, Raquel and I both showed up wearing pink. I said to somebody, ‘If she thinks I’m going to change, she’s crazy.’ Raquel didn’t say a word and went and changed her outfit.”
Quinn next auditioned at AIP for the role of the sexy though bumbling Sinistra in what was then titled Bikini Party in a Haunted House. It was not her first encounter with the studio. The producers and director Don Weis originally wanted her for a role in Pajama Party (1964) but she declined because “I didn’t want to be just one of the beach girls so I turned it down.” AIP decided they needed to pump new life into their beach-party genre so they came up with an idea of combining it with a horror angle, which had worked so well for them with the series of Edgar Allan Poe films. Bikini Party in a Haunted House featured Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley and Patsy Kelly as heirs to a fortune who gather at the creepy mansion of dead millionaire, Hiram Stokely, to hear the reading of his will. O’Hara played the bumbling daughter of crooked attorney Basil Rathbone who instructs the vixen to off Kelly’s interfering nephew Aron Kincaid. But her nearsightedness keeps getting in her way.
The head honchos at AIP decreed that Bikini Party in a Haunted House was not releasable. To salvage the film, scenes with Boris Karloff as the recently departed Hiram Stokely and Susan Hart as his long-dead wife, Cecily, were added and the film was re-titled The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Though the film was not a big moneymaker, AIP was so impressed with O’Hara that they offered her another film. However, it was the laughable low-budget sci-fi flick In the Year 2889 (1967), co-starring Paul Petersen of The Donna Reed Show and directed by self-described “schlockmeister” Larry Buchanan. Much better was the Academy Award-nominated short film, Prelude (1968) starring O’Hara as the bitchy wife of meek John Astin who meets his fantasy girl Karen Jensen in a supermarket.
It was shortly thereafter that Quinn O’Hara departed Hollywood for London to work on the stage. One of the films Quinn O’Hara did while in Europe was a small role as a “witch wench” in the AIP horror film Cry of the Banshee (1970) starring Vincent Price. O’Hara’s last movie was Rubia’s Jungle (1971), which was shot in the Netherlands.
During her time in England, O’Hara made periodical trips back to Hollywood to maintain her working status. She could be seen on TV in To Rome with Love, The Smith Family and Ironside, and on the big screen in the cult sex comedy The Teacher (1974). Then Quinn disappeared from show business. On a trip to Africa to visit her father who was working there she met an Italian guy there. She accompanied him back to Italy where they were suppose to marry but didn’t. When she returned to Hollywood in the late seventies she found it surprisingly difficult to get work. Her friend, director Don Weis, gave her a part in an episode of CHiPs and she landed two small roles on One Day at a Time. Unfortunately, that was all she could muster.
Like a number of her contemporaries, O’Hara took up real estate to make ends meet. After a short-lived marriage Quinn met Bill Kirk who is twenty years her junior in 1981. They married, divorced, and have since reconciled.
In 2008, I attended The Hollywood Show and finally met Quinn in person. A guy bought my Drive-in Dream Girl book and asked for Quinn to autograph near her chapter. She then said the author is here too and can autograph. The guy said no thanks, grabbed the book, and walked away. I laughed but Quinn was so angry and thought that was so rude of him. I said a sale is a sale. That is how caring she was.
Looking back at her beach party days, Quinn said, “Beach movies reflected the times. I think that is important that people look back on these films and remember them for what they were. It was good clean fun not like the smut you see today on the Internet. I am proud to have been a part of it.”
Carol Lynley (fresh off her March 1965 Playboy semi-nude pictorial “Carol Lynley Grows Up”) replaced a fired Dorothy Provine as Jean Harlow in Bill Sargent’s Harlow (1965) for Electronovision–not to be confused with Joseph E. Levine’s Harlow (1965) starring Carroll Baker for Paramount. Read more in my book Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen.
Tuesday Weld campaigned mightily to play ditsy Southern belle Scarlett Hazeltine in director/writer Billy Wilder’s frenetic hilarious political satire One, Two, Three (1961) starring James Cagney and Horst Buchholz, but he cast Pamela Tiffin instead who went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Joan O’Brien stepped in as Cary Grant’s leading lady in Operation Petticoat (1959) after Tina Louise passed due to the “boob jokes.” The WWII comedy co-starring Tony Curtis and Dina Merrill was a blockbuster and went on to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay boob jokes and all. Read more in my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema.
See below press release for my Indianapolis radio debut this Friday April 7, 2017 on Lakeshore Public Radio. If any one is in the listening area there will be 2 autographed books from me and Arlene Charles aka Charlie Smith to 2 winning random callers.
UPCOMING PROGRAMS & GUESTS:
FRIDAY, APRIL 7 — 1:00pm – “A LOOK AT THE ARTS”
Guest: Book Author TOM LISANTI & Sixties Actress CHARLIE SMITH
A well known name to fans of 1960s Pop Culture — TOM LISANTI — has written several books on the topic and in the process of writing those, has interviewed numerous stars, starlets, models and heartthrobs of the era.
Tom Lisanti has a newly release book “TALKING SIXTIES DRIVE IN MOVIES” of which the title says it all! Were you catching the latest beach movies or Elvis flicks back in the day at your favorite neighborhood Drive-In Theater? Then you will want to check out his book — chock full of some folks you saw up on those silver screens between handfuls of pop corn and backseat smooching. Joining Tom on this program is one of those bikini beauties from back in the day — CHARLIE SMITH — a Northwest Indiana native professionally known in those days as Arlene Charles, while popping up in films alongside stars like Elvis Presley, James Stacy, Frankie Avalon and Vincent Price, to name but a few!
Soft cover edition of my new book Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies is now available on Amazon.
Talking Sixties Drive-in Movies is a collection of profiles, interviews, and tributes about actors and films popular with the drive-in movie crowd during the sixties. Interviewees include Arlene Charles, Nancy Czar, Gail Gerber, Christopher Riordan, and Irene Tsu talking Elvis Presley musicals; Bobbi Shaw and Steven Rogers talking beach party movies; Jan Watson and Diane Bond talking spy spoofs; Nicoletta Machiavelli talking spaghetti westerns; Mimsy Farmer, Lara Lindsay, LAda Edmund, Jr., and Maggie Thrett talking alienated youth movies; and Valerie Starrett talking biker films. Some of the chapters center on one movie or a genre while others are career profiles with a main focus on one or two drive-in movies.
Proud to announce that my latest book Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies from BearManor Media is now available in hard cover through Amazon.
The book is a collection of profiles, interviews, and tributes about actors and films popular with the drive-in movie crowd during the sixties. Interviewees include Arlene Charles, Nancy Czar, Shelley Fabares, Gail Gerber, Christopher Riordan, and Irene Tsu talking Elvis Presley musicals; Bobbi Shaw and Steven Rogers talking beach and beach parties-in-the-snow movies; Slaymate Jan Watson and Flint Girl Diane Bond talking spy spoofs; Nicoletta Machiavelli talking spaghetti westerns; Mimsy Farmer, Lada Edmund, Jr., and Lara Lindsay talking alienated youth movies; Valerie Starrett talking biker films; and Maggie Thrett and screenwriter Stephen Yafa talking about the making of Three in the Attic.
Advanced copies sent to the interviewees and below is what they had to say:
“It’s marvelous. Great job!” Bobbi Shaw Chance
“Informative, amusing, and wonderful. This is definitely a book we all need to read at this time. True entertainment…about entertainment.” Christopher Riordan
“WOW WOW WOW! [Tom’s] writing is so descriptive and entertaining. I was absolutely thrilled beyond that you had included so much about me.” Charlie Smith aka Arlene Charles
“Ignited the embers of some distant memories. It’s entertaining and informative, and [Tom’s] enduring passion for those Moviola belles and brutes brings a warm smile.” Stephen Yafa