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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

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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: A Career from Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974 will be released in 2015.

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Movie Stars, Fantasy Femmes & Glamour Girls

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Yesterday, I tweeted about the fabulous-looking new book Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the 20th Century-Fox Archives by Angela Cartwright and also included a link to her promo video. I wished her well with it, but said I would only be getting it if there were photos of my fave 60s gals Carol Lynley, Pamela Tiffin, or Julie Newmar. Angela’s co-author Tom McLaren, who I omitted from the tweet due to space constraints (sorry Tom!), responded and said there are 2 full pages photos of Carol and 3 of Julie. He thinks they have never been published before. 2 out of 3 is not bad. Sad no Pamela Tiffin. Hoping Diane Baker and Jill St. John did not make the cut either, meow! Do know per Tom there are photos of Barbara Eden, Farrah Fawcett plus Raquel Welch, Ann-Margret, Sandra Dee, Tuesday Weld, etc.

The book is now on my Must Have list and just from the video you know it would make a wonderful coffee table gift book for the movie lover in your life. And I think Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema or Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood would make a wonderful companion piece.

 

R.I.P. Mary Ann Mobley

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So sorry to hear of the passing of 1960s starlet Mary Ann Mobley. I always wished I got to interview her for my books. I did come close about 15 years ago but after playing phone tag with her assistant and then her, I stupidly gave up out of frustration and a looming deadline. A few years later her husband Gary Collins’ illness preoccupied her and I missed out again.

Sweet as Southern pie, is the way Mary Ann Mobley was described by some of her co-stars. After being crowned Miss America in 1959, Mobley began honing her singing and acting craft on television for a few years. She snagged the lead and made her film debut in the teen musical Get Yourself a College Girl in 1964. A Sam Katzman production, this is a Sixties Starlet lover’s delight as Mobley co-stars with Joan O’Brien, Nancy Sinatra, and Chris Noel.

But it was her performance as the thrill-seeking girlfriend of John Dillinger (Nick Adams) in Young Dillinger (1965) that won her real kudos and made the critics take notice. She shared the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomers with Mia Farrow and Celia Kaye and was voted a Star of Tomorrow, placing higher on the list than Julie Christie. Mobley next co-starred with Elvis Presley in Girl Happy (1965) as a Southern sexpot who loses combo leader Elvis to coed Shelley Fabares; and in Harum Scarum (1965) as an Arab princess who wins the heart of Elvis this time playing a matinee idol. Her vivaciousness made for a charming Elvis leading lady and she always brighten up every scene she was in with her big Southern smile. But she was not all sweetness, and exuded much sex appeal too.

To spy fans, she is remembered as the original Girl from U.N.C.L.E. on an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Unfortunately, when it was picked up as a series, Stefanie Powers replaced her because the producers felt that Mobley was too soft. She also tested for the role of Batgirl on the TV series Batman and lost out to Yvonne Craig. Fox though chose her to play Wayne Maunder’s love interest in the TV western pilot Custer. The pilot was picked up as a series, but Mobley’s character was dropped.

A few more movies followed (but none that offered the acting challenge of Young Dillinger) including the Jerry Lewis comedy Three on a Couch where she, Leslie Parrish and Gila Golan play kookie patients of therapist Janet Leigh. She needs to marry them off before she accepts the marriage proposal of Jerry Lewis who masquerades as the girls’ three different suitors. Her last leading movie role was in the swinging youth film For Singles Only (1968) with John Saxon, Lana Wood, Peter Mark Richman, Chris Noel, Ann Elder, and Duke Hobbie. Mobley and Wood played two friends who move into a “hip” singles complex in Southern California run by Milton Berle. Though advertised as a light-hearted view of the singles set, Wood’s character falls in love with a married man, contemplates suicide, and then gets gang raped on the beach. Mobley meanwhile brushes off the advances of lothario Hobbie while fighting her attraction to tight pants wearing Saxon. The movie is a hoot because it is too square to be cool even for back then. The title song though is quite catchy.

After 1978, Mobley retreated to television and worked steadily until the Nineties. Her easy going charm was perfect for such lightweight fare as Love, American Style; The Love Boat; and Fantasy Island (where she and Carol Lynley tie for most guest appearances) plus a slew of game show (The Match Game and The Hollywood Squares in particular) and TV talk show appearances. The Eighties saw her replacing Dixie Carter on the last season of Diff’rent Strokes; recur as a psychiatrist on Falcon Crest in 1988; and give one of her finest performances as pertinent Southern Belle tour guide of Old South homes on an 1990 episode of Designing Women where she amusingly butts heads with Dixie Carter as Julia Sugerbaker.

 

 

 

BLOGS

Some great Blog posts:

Hill Place dissects Morgan Fairchild’s cred as “foreign policy expert.”

 

Cinema Retro reviews biker movie The Glory Stompers starring Dennis Hopper, Jody McCrea, and Chris Noel. This is movie high on my must see list (scroll down one past Brannigan review).

 

Finally Stephen Bowie’s look back on the cult late sixties countercultureTV series Then Came Bronson starring Michael Parks for the AV Club.

 

 

Get GET-TV

One of my favorite new TV channels is Get TV. Though it does have commercial breaks, it airs movies in wide screen format and does not edit out any scenes. The channel has access to Columbia Pictures library stock and concentrates on films from the ‘40’s, ‘50’s, and ‘60’s. I recently watched the lush sudsy soap opera Diamond Head (1963). Fun in the sun, as island big shot and hypocrite Charlton Heston freaks out when his headstrong sister Yvette Mimieux becomes engaged to Hawaiian native James Darren (such realistic casting–not). Heston though has a secret Hawaiian mistress France Nuyen who he has knocked up. I also watched some forgotten flicks such as the surprisingly good off-beat teenage exploitation movie Life Begins at 17 (1958) with Mark Damon and Luana Anders; and the dullsville rock musical Two Tickets to Paris (1962) with Joey Dee (resembling a pudgier less attractive Sal Mineo) and Jeri Lynn Frazer (a very poor man’s Deborah Walley).

kissWhat I was most excited to see though was the 1966 spy spoof Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die a.k.a. Se tutte le donne del mond0, directed by Dino Maiuri and Henry Levin. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, the Italian-Portuguese co-production had a nice size budget for a Euro Spy Movie and was beautifully shot on location in Brazil. In this entertaining film, the great Michael Connors played an American CIA agent named Kelly in Rio de Janeiro on assignment to investigate mysterious suave industrialist Mr. Ardonian (Raf Vallone whom I always like) who has perfected a satellite that emits ultrasonic waves that can sterilize mankind. In cahoots with the Red Chinese, he plans to target the U.S only but he double crosses them with his determination for worldwide domination to make up for his implied impotence. While monitoring Ardonian, Kelly learns that is has collected a stable of unsuspecting beautiful women including Nicoletta Macchiavelli, Beverly Adams, and Margaret Lee who he freezes and plans to use to repopulate the planet with him. At first Kelly assumes Brit Susan Fleming (the less great Dorothy Provine clad in over-the-top mod fashions) is just another one of Ardonian’s girlfriends. She is aided by a trusting and resourceful chauffeur (Terry-Thomas). They agree to work together to bring him down. Ardonian discovers that Susan is a spy and Kelly saves her from becoming part of his “hibernation harem” before dispatching of the madman.

 

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die is colorful and fast moving fun. Mike Connors makes a very convincing secret agent and no wonder was snagged for Mannix shortly after this. As Susan Fleming, Provine’s forced British accent is off-putting and annoying. Even so, Provine acquits herself quite well as a prim and proper spy who doesn’t use a gun but relies on some outlandish gadgets (including a mascara tube that emits knockout gas and a ring laced with poison) to waylay her enemies. Provine also displays quite a voluptuous figure when she strips down to her jungle shorts outfit though she is outclassed by some of the film’s other shapely beauties amongst them American starlet Beverly Adams (next seen as Lovey Kravezit in The Silencers and 2 additional Matt Helm spy flicks). She appears briefly as Karin who suffers the wrath of Ardonian when she decides to get married to another man. Before the nuptials can take place, she is killed by a poisonous snake concealed in a beautiful frilly white boa given to her as a wedding gift from Ardonian.

The only other thing that annoyed me about this movie was the musical score a mixture of Latin rhythms with sort of standard sixties spy music. This and Provine’s accent aside, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die ranks as one of the better Euro Spy movies that I have seen and for me stands right up there with In Like Flint in the arena of James Bond copycats.

 

Pamela Tiffin Fun Fact #2

Billy Wilder chose Pamela over Tuesday Weld to play ditzy Scarlett Hazeltine in his classic political satire One, Two, Three (1961) opposite James Cagney.

 

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY

To my friend and former 1960s starlet Gail Gerber (1937-2014). Gail lives on her in beach and Elvis movies and her award-winning memoir Trippin’ with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember. We miss you Gail!

 

Coming in 2015!

 

PTBlogPamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974 pays tribute to the stunning beauty that is Pamela Tiffin. Critics adored her. James Cagney hailed her “remarkable flair for comedy.” Turner Classic Movies dubbed her “Hollywood’s favorite air-headed ingénue in the Sixties.” Yet super stardom evaded her due to contractual obligations and self-imposed exiles in New York and then Rome, though she remains a cult Sixties icon to this day.

Dark-haired Pamela Tiffin debuted in 1961’s Summer and Smoke adapted from the Tennessee Williams play. She then emerged as a scene-stealing comedienne in Billy Wilder’s classic satire One, Two, Three with Cagney, before she became the teen queen of teenage camp in State Fair; Come Fly with Me; two with James Darren – For Those Who Think Young & The Lively Set; and The Pleasure Seekers. After landing a sexy adult role opposite Paul Newman in Harper where the bikini-cad Tiffin jiggled the diving board into Sixties cinema infamy, she went blonde and ran away to Italy. There she starred in sex comedies including Kiss the Other Sheik; The Blonde in the Blue Movie; and The Archangel; a giallo The Fifth Cord, and the western Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears. During her career, her leading men also included Laurence Harvey, Bobby Darin,Tony Franciosa, Burt Lancaster, Marcello Mastroianni, Nino Manfredi, Vittorio Gassman, Peter Ustinov, Franco Nero, and Anthony Quinn.

Not a biography, this book is a career retrospective of Pamela Tiffin’s movies plus TV and stage appearances. Interviewees (including Hugh O’Brian, Lada Edmund, Jr., Carole Wells, Tim Zinnemann, Martin West, Jed Curtis, Eldon Quick, Peter Gonzales, and Larry Hankin) provide a behind-the-scenes look of some of her most popular movies listed above and The Hallelujah Trail; Straziami, ma di baci saziami; and Viva Max. Plus noted film historians Dean Brierly, Roberto Curti, Howard Hughes, and Paolo Mereghetti weigh in on Pamela Tiffin’s place in cinematic history.

 

 

 

RIP Arlene Martel

AMOvershadowed by the sad loss of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, 1960s starlet Arlene Martel also passed away this week from a heart attack. I had the pleasure to interview Arlene for my book Drive-in Dream Girls. Below is an excerpt from it including some of her quotes. She will be missed.

Arlene Martel was one of the many talented Hollywood actors whose face fans recognize but whose name may elude them. In her case it’s even more so since she started out in Hollywood using her real name of Arline Sax. On the big screen Martel had the female lead in the cult film noir The Glass Cage (1964) and played a biker chick in the popular film Angels From Hell (1968), the follow-up to Hell’s Angels on Wheels (1968). But it was on TV where Martel excelled essaying a variety of roles usually hidden under different hair colors and gobs of make-up or speaking in a foreign dialect in such series as Route 66, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hogans Heroes, Star Trek, The Monkees and Bewitched. The exotic, shapely beauty played so many varied roles that she was dubbed “the Chameleon” by honchos at Universal Studios. “I think this was a hindrance because no one knew it was the same actress from week to week,” commented Arlene. “In fact, in one week I was on three different shows. And nobody knew it was the same person. I think it is very good to have that versatility when you are established as a star. They say, ‘Look she can do this and do this.’ But if the audience doesn’t know it’s you, it is not to your advantage.”

Her comments on some of her most memorable 1960s TV appearances.

Route 66 “A Legacy for Lucia”

“This was written by Stirling Silliphant so you can imagine the quality of the writing. I played a young Italian girl who meets this American soldier in Italy. Trying to impress her, he tells her that he owns the state of Oregon and if anything happened to him he’d leave it to her. He dies and she comes to America to claim her property. It was a very touching and beautiful experience. We actually shot it in a lumber camp in Oregon. I still feel the air on my face and I still feel the passion that surrounded this character. Both George Maharis and Martin Milner were just lovely to work with.”

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The Outer Limits “Demon with a Glass Hand”

“When I first read Harlan Ellison’s script I felt inspired by it. I felt I could do a lot in the role of Consuela. This part had a lovely substance that I connected with. Byron Haskin was our director and he was wonderful! He was the reason I got this role. When they replaced me with Christiane Martel [in the 1959 movie The Little Savage], Byron told me, ‘One day I will make it up to you and find something else for you.’ And sure enough he did.”

“I believe Harlan Ellison was on the set during filming but to tell you the truth my concentration was so much on my part that other than Robert Culp I don’t think I was aware of anyone else. I was very focused on what was happening between our characters.  I found Culp to be very attractive in many ways. I got a very beautiful feeling about him. I thought that as a person he projected a lovely sanity. I enjoyed working with him. He remains a favorite.”

“I also had an operation and had just been released from the hospital the day before. If you watch the episode you’ll notice that as I am being pulled by Robert Culp I am running very stiffly with my arm at my side because I was nervous that the stitches would open. I was running in so much pain—up the stairs, down the stairs—but I was afraid to tell them that I just got out of the hospital because I thought that they would replace me. I kept that to myself and just prayed, ‘Oh dear God please don’t let me start bleeding all over the place.’”

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The Monkees “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool”

“The guys were having a ball doing this series. I had an especially good rapport with Peter Tork and Davy Jones. There was a great deal of joviality on the set. I hung out with them one day and it was the first and only instance where I wasn’t on time getting back to a set. The air was thick with smoke and I guess I innocently inhaled. I was twenty minutes late and the director berated me mercilessly in front of the cast and crew.”

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Star Trek “Amok Time”

“[Director Joseph] Pevney kept guiding me towards doing less and less and less [playing a Vulcan betrothed to Spock]. Finally he said, ‘Do even less than what you’re doing.’ I said, ‘But I wouldn’t be doing anything at that point.’ He replied, ‘That’s exactly what I want. It will come through.’ So this very dry, icy, intellectual quality came forth and that is exactly what he was after. But it was very different from everything else I had done.”

“Every time Celia Lovsky pronounced one of the Vulcan words Bill Shatner would whisper something funny about it and get me to laugh, which was terrible to do. It was just terrible of him! Of course Ms. Lovsky wasn’t aware of this. But she had difficulty pronouncing the Vulcan words. Bill was like a naughty schoolboy and suddenly I became five years old too. At one point, the director threatened to throw us both off the set. I have very good concentration but Bill just broke me up.”

“Leonard Nimoy was rather removed. Maybe he was maintaining his character—I don’t know. Or maybe he genuinely didn’t like me! I have no idea to this day. We were cast together in three different shows. Before Star Trek we played a mountain couple in the western The Rebel with Nick Adams and I also worked with him later on Mission: Impossible. I thought I was very good to work with and that I gave a great deal in my work. For some reason, he remained very aloof.”

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ANOTHER HARROWING MEMOIR FROM A 1960S ACTRESS

sharon-farrell-1If I thought Diane McBain had a harrowing life that she wrote about in Famous Enough, it does not compare to what her 1960s contemporary Sharon Farrell revealed that she went through in her fascinating memoir Sharon Farrell “Hollywood Princess” From Sioux City, Iowa: The “Bad Girl’s” Story. First the simularities: both are pretty blondes who were two of the most promising starlets of the 1960s; both had one son from short-lived marriages; both saw their chances for super stardom fade away; both did drugs; and both were rape victims. But for every horrible incident that befell Diane McBain, Sharon Farrell’s was even worse.

As someone who loves reading (and writing) about the back stories in making movies or TV shows, Sharon does not disappoint with her career highlights such as Marlowe with Bruce Lee; The Reivers with Steve McQueen; The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang with Jack Palance; Out of the Blue with Dennis Hopper; The Stunt Man with Peter O’Toole; and her stint as a regular on Hawaii Five-0 during its last season. However, most are unhappy experiences and depressing to read as she is used and degraded (physically and/or psychologically) by practically every leading man and then tossed away once filming stops. She gets credit for not holding back and depicting herself in a very unflattering manner, but as you keep turning the pages you just hope she finds happiness. Instead the drug taking and sexual abuse by many hideous men continues and also because she foolishly binds herself to a man who took so much advantage of her stealing her money and forcing her to relocate to Fiji. Finally free of him and back in the States, Sharon finds herself committed to a psycho ward in California, which is really hard to read considering what she was put through.

What is most amazing to me despite the living hell she was going through in the 1970s and 1980s, is that she worked pretty consistently and got some really good parts well into her forties doing better than her more stable 1960s contemporaries for sure. This was due to her acting talent and her professionalism on the set despite what was happening to her off-camera.

Though Sharon highlights her major films/TV shows, her body of work is tremendous and I would have liked to have read more about them and less of the sex/drug tales she shares. Being self-published, the book is at times a bit disjointed and contains misspelling and such. Even so, I still recommend the book to fans of Sixties actresses and the New Hollywood of the late 1960s (let’s hope actresses in the Golden Age of Hollywood weren’t treated this shabbily). The fact that Sharon Farrell survived all she did and is still alive to tell about it is a testament to her strength and courage. Kudos to Sharon for persevering.

 

MOLLS OF BATMAN: EILEEN O’NEILL as MILLIE SECOND

When I began interviewing 1960s starlets in the late nineties I always asked them about working on TV’s Batman, if they had on their list of credits. It was one of my favorite TV shows as a kid. Though the villains stole the show, I always took a special liking to the dastardly dames by their sides. Some of the most beautiful starlets of the day donned miniskirts to catsuits to fabulous furs to help their man defeat the Caped Crusader. Some repented for their greedy ways while others went down swinging. My next couple of Blogs will pay tribute to some of them in honor of the upcoming DVD/Blu-Ray release FINALLY of Batman this Fall.

First up sultry brunette Eileen O’Neill as the Clock King’s cleverly named moll Millie Second who was one of Batman’s most eager crooked gals who seemed to just revel in her boss’ sinister schemes. Awed by his cleverness, she even calls him Your Highness, but her character, who had a lot of potential, is wasted and not given much to do.

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In “The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes” and “The Clock King Gets Crowned,” which originally aired on October 12 & 13, 1966, viewers are introduced to Gotham City’s newest multi-wrist watch wearing villain as he and his moll Millie Second watch the goings-on at a high-end jewelry store through a hidden camera planted in an antique clock. The Clock King then releases knockout gas as his thugs nicknamed the Second Hands race in and make off with diamond bracelets and necklaces. When Millie Second, clad in a mod striped green and blue mini-dress and always holding a feather duster, gets a peak at all the jewels she coos, “Just look at all these goodies! They’re marvelous Clock King.” Unfortunately, Millie Second is AWOL for the rest of the episode (guess someone had to stay behind and dust all those clocks).  She doesn’t even show up after Clock King captures the Dynamic Duo and puts them in a giant hourglass complete with the sands of time pouring in on them.

With time ticking away, Batman and Robin are able to knock over the hour glass and then like squirrels in a cage roll it out onto the street where they are freed. Unaware that his arch enemies are alive, Clock King boasts of their death at his hands as an enamored Millie and his Second Hands clap in approval. The egotistical thief then makes his final plans to crash Wayne manor to steal the millionaire’s collection of antique pocket watches. “This sure is tingly,” exclaims an excited Millie as they view the goings-on at the mansion through a clock Aunt Harriet bought as a birthday gift for Bruce. Frustratingly, Millie stays behind again to do her housework as the men folk go on their crime spree. She finally does go along for the big score when The Clock King plans to gas the entire city while he hijacks an incoming helicopter transporting a cesium clock. This was the time Millie should have stayed back as the Dynamic Duo ruin his plans. The only time left for Clock King, Millie Second, and the Second Hands is the time they are going to serve in the Big House.

Given more screen time, Millie Second could have been one of the series’ most memorable molls instead of just pretty decoration. Eileen O’Neill definitely had the acting talent to do more as shown by her numerous TV and movie appearances during the sixties. To read more about her, catch my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinemanow available in revised soft cover edition. Below are Eileen O’Neill’s remarks about working on Batman from it:

“Walter Slezak [the Clock King] was another kind man.  We spent so much time talking.  I sensed an effort on his part to share his richness and experience in the theatre with me.  We had extensive conversations on acting.  Again, I appreciated the knowledge you can incur like a sponge when you have an opportunity to talk to people who are so good at what they do.”

“Burt [Ward] and Adam [West] were professional and so much fun to work with.  They both jumped into the zany spirit of their roles.  They played their parts to the hilt and that is why Batman was so successful in its day.”

Next Bat Time, Next Bat Channel: Tisha Sterling as Legs Parker