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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

About Tom



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.

 
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RIP Jerry Lewis. Fantasy Femmes Remember

Very sad to hear of the passing of this iconic funny man. I always admired his talent and his dedication to help those in need with his many philanthropic causes. Below are comments from some of the sixties starlets that worked with him over the years who had nothing but praise for him that I interviewed for my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema:

Joan Staley:

“Jerry Lewis is Jerry Lewis.  There is no switch that turns him on or off.  He is what he is.  I think every great comedy performer has a dark side.  And I think it is part of that dark side that lends itself to the pathos that you have to have in order to be a strong comedic actor, especially in the type of humor that Jerry does.  I worked on The Ladies’ Man for many weeks.  Jerry Lewis [who directed] was kind enough to let me off after about six weeks because I had an offer for a TV pilot.”

Joan O’Brien:

“Jerry Lewis was totally off the wall and we had a lot of fun working on this film [It’s Only Money, 1962].  He had me laughing so hard and so long during some scenes we had to stop and start over.  We wasted a lot of time and money just cutting up and laughing.  He was such a practical joker and had all of us including our director, Frank Tashlin, in stitches.  You never knew what Jerry was going to do next.  You could play the same scene with him ten times and it wouldn’t come out the same way twice.  But Jerry could be serious also.  He was very generous and gave me a book that I still have called You’re Better Than You Think.  Inside he inscribed, ‘and you really are Joannie.’  I was going through a period of time with a bad marriage and feeling down and depressed.  I was unhappy about a lot of things.  Jerry really set my head straight…”

Francine York:

“Jerry could be a little bit of a maniac sometimes.  When he had someone like Frank Tashlin directing him, he’d fool around a lot.  But when he was directing himself using Paramount’s money he’d be more careful and serious.  Watching him direct himself in The Nutty Professor was really something!  When he called, ‘Action!’ he’d go from being Jerry the serious director to Jerry the actor playing the suave Buddy Love or the nerdy Prof. Kelp.  It was amazing to watch.  On The Disorderly Orderly, he missed one of his pratfalls and hurt his back.  We filmed this up in the Doheny Estates for about eight weeks.  When I did Cracking Up with him in 1982 he was really nervous.  It was right before he had his heart attack and he was a basket case throughout the shoot.  This was a funny movie but Orion went bankrupt and it didn’t get released in the U.S.  But it was a huge hit in Europe because they just revere Jerry.  They thought my part was so funny because I was speaking fractured French and it was subtitled.  But the average American didn’t know I wasn’t speaking real French.”

Julie Parrish:

“Overall I had fun doing this movie [The Nutty Professor]. Watching Jerry Lewis play this outrageous character was a great experience.  He was always making the cast laugh.  However, one moment he’d be a really nice person and the next minute he’d be crazy.  He scared me.  I had a scene with a few of lines.  I drank a lot of coffee that morning because we sat around a lot.  Those were the days when you could be on a movie for three months and not do much.  I don’t even drink coffee but because I was bored I drank it.  I got very nervous from drinking the coffee and I was also nervous about doing the scene.  Since I didn’t do it correctly he yelled at me.  I tried to do it right a second time and he yelled again.  I started shaking all over.  So he cut the scene entirely.”

Celeste Yarnall:

“I was so in awe of Jerry Lewis and thought he was amazing. Frenetic is a good word to describe him on the set [of The Nutty Professor] but he could be charming as well.  He wore Alfred Dunhill cologne, which smelled wonderful.  One day when he walked by I said, “Jerry you smell so good.’  The next day he handed me a bottle of it.  He also gave me a very good talk about being a young girl in Hollywood and what I should expect.  I think he could see that I was a very straight-laced young person.  I was very pristine and was lucky to have gone out in a car on a date at this point.”

Deanna Lund:

“Jerry was just lovely to work with. But to be honest it was a little confusing.  Because he wore so many hats on Hardly Working—actor, director and co-writer—it was hard for me to get my character in tune with the right person.  First you’re listening to Jerry the intellectual analyzing the scene and speaking with the cameraman and the rest of the crew.  And then all of a sudden he’s this lunatic.  It was quite an experience.  I think it is very difficult for an actor to direct himself.  I know it’s done all the time and sometimes extremely successfully but it’s hard.  Jerry’s health also wasn’t very good at the time.”

 

ON THE RADIO

Podcast now online of me discussing 1960s Elvis movies and my book Talking Sixties Drive-in Movies with host Ed Robertson of TV Confidential. Entire program is an interesting listen but if just looking for me I come on about the 30 minute mark or so.

 

NOVA SPEAKS!

In honor of the return of Nova to the rebooted Planet of the Apes movie series in War for the Planet of the Apes, I am sharing a revised interview with the original Nova Linda Harrison that ran in Filmfax magazine.

Linda Harrison will always be remembered as the beauty among the beasts. She left an indelible impression on 1960s moviegoers as the mute Nova, opposite Charlton Heston’s lost astronaut, Taylor, in the classic sci-fi films, Planet of the Apes (1968) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). With her long, dark hair and big, brown eyes, Linda had the perfect qualities to bring Nova to life on the big screen. “Nova means new,” reminded Linda Harrison. “I felt very comfortable playing her. I didn’t even have to audition. Dick told me I had the look they wanted.” Dick was Richard Zanuck, then head of 20th Century-Fox. It was on the studio lot that Linda met Zanuck, whom she married in 1969.

Beauty pageants led to an introduction to a young agent named Mike Medavoy who helped Linda get signed by 20th Century-Fox. The studio was restarting its acting school program for its contract players. At the time, the acting roster included Jacqueline Bisset, Tom Selleck, Christina Ferrare, Lara Lindsay, and Corinna Tsopei. After playing small roles in the unfunny Jerry Lewis comedy Way…Way Out (1966) and the better received comedy The Guide for the Married Man (1967) with Walter Matthau and Robert Morse, Zanuck then handed the brunette beauty the role she would become world famous for that of Nova in Planet of the Apes.

Before she was given Nova, Linda was part of the make-up creations by John Chambers who would go on to win a special Academy Award for his ingenious work. “I was used as a model for the make-up. That is what contract players did back then. You were being paid a weekly salary so sometimes you had to do things like this. The studio heads wanted to see if the makeup was doable. At that point they hadn’t green lighted Planet of the Apes yet. I had to lay back and be perfectly still as they put this plaster mold on my face. You had to know how to control your body. The whole process took about three hours.”

Lucky for Linda and Charlton Heston, they didn’t have to go through this process daily unlike co-stars Hunter and McDowall. Recalling the cast, Harrison remembered, “He [Heston] had a quiet quality about him. Charlton was gentle and was always looking after me. He taught me how to favor the camera. As an actor, I was someone he kind of took under his wing, which was good for the film. Sometimes, simple things like that transfer to the screen, and are very dramatic.”

“Roddy and Kim were great people and fabulous troopers. I’m not just saying that; they were pros. They had a difficult time with all that makeup. And they had to report to the set at 3:00 am!”

Director Franklin J. Schaffner (who would go on to win a Best Director Academy Award for Patton) was chosen to direct and per Linda had his own vision for the movie. “He was a very interesting man—very quiet. I remember Dick and I would have dinner with the assistant director on the movie. He and Dick were best friends. He would tell us nobody knows what the next shot will be, because Schaffner keeps it in his back pocket. He would only tell his cameraman, Leon Shamroy. But that lent itself to this kind of picture. It gave the actors a very interesting edge, not knowing what to expect next. I think his directly style worked very effectively.”

One of the film’s many standout scenes and one that remained vivid in Linda’s mind was when the audience first sees the marauding gorillas on horseback hunting the humans in the forest backed by Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting Oscar-nominated score. It was a very complicated action piece per Linda. “We had the humans running one way, some apes beating the bushes, and some others on horseback. I’m sure this scene was dangerous, but I wasn’t aware of it. I had total trust in the people in charge. This was shot in Malibu on the 20th Century-Fox ranch. They also built Ape City there. I remember it was always extremely hot. Even though I was scantily clad, my costume was made from real bark, with a rubber backing. I still felt the heat.”

After hurling through space for over 2,000 years, four astronauts land on a planet where humans are mute primitives, and apes are their masters. Of the space travelers, only Taylor (Charlton Heston) survives their first encounter with the apes, but he is shot in the throat by the marauding human hunting gorillas on horseback. He is taken to Ape City (along with other humans including an intense beauty he dubs “Nova”) where he tries to convince a sympathetic psychologist Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) and her archeologist finance Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) of his intelligence. When he regains his speech, he proves his superiority, but is thwarted by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) who has always been aware of man’s intellect as well as being the harbinger of death. The film climaxes in the Forbidden Zone with Taylor proving that apes evolved from humans only to have Zaius cover up the proof. Zaius allows Taylor to go off with Nova deeper into the Forbidden Zone only to discover the horrible truth: the planet of the apes is actually Earth, whose civilization was destroyed by mankind. Taylor is on his knees in the sand yelling, “You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you to hell! The camera peers up to reveal a wrecked Statute of Liberty in the film’s final shot.

Planet of the Apes was a critical and popular smash. Linda quickly agreed to reprise her role of Nova in the sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, because “I was to be featured more prominently in this so, as an actress, that suited me just fine.” Heston, however, would only agree to five days’ work because it felt a sequel was a bad idea. James Franciscus was then cast as astronaut Brent, who is sent to find Taylor and his crew. What he finds is a planet of talking hostile apes (“The only good human is a dead human!”) and Nova, sans Taylor. After help from Zira and Cornelius (played by David Watson filling in for Roddy McDowall who was committed to another project), Brent and Nova venture beneath the planet of the apes where they discover the ruins of New York City inhabited by a race of masked telepathic human mutants who worship the atom bomb. After reuniting with the missing Taylor, Nova is sadly gunned down by the invading apes. The battle between ape and human ends with Earth being blown to bits, killing everyone. Or so it seemed.

For Linda Harrison, one of the biggest differences in the film was that Nova gets to speak, albeit briefly, in the sequel. “She says, ‘Taylor.’ Nova was very loyal to him. They bonded, and he was her man. That was an endearing quality about the character. She never forgot him.”

It seems like Nova’s loyalty to Taylor carried over Linda’s loyalty to Heston in real life. When asked to compare her leading men, Harrison replied, “Charlton is a visionary kind of actor. He truly inspired me while making Planet of the Apes.  I felt that Jim Franciscus was more of a cerebral guy. He was an Ivy League graduate, and was more mental rather than inspirational. I thought Heston was a more caring and special guy.”

Recalling the shoot, Linda said, “It was more relaxed on Beneath the Planet of the Apes due to director Ted Post. It was also for me a more physical shoot. I had to ride a horse, and there was lots more running and being chased by the apes. At one point I was racing down this hill, and one of the stunt guys had to jump in and stop me. I had picked up too much speed and couldn’t stop.”

Though she had a bigger role and enjoyed working with Ted Post, Linda knew this was going to be inferior to the original. “It was fun but it wasn’t the first picture. Though Ted was a wonderful TV director, he wasn’t a Franklin Schaffner.”

Despite the Earth’s destruction, one year later Escape from the Planet of the Apes hit the big screen, followed by two additional sequels, a prime time TV series, and a Saturday morning animated series. The millennium brought a Tim Burton not-so-good remake of the original Planet of the Apes (2001) starring Mark Wahlberg with Linda Harrison in a cameo role and then an entire reboot of the series beginning with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and now culminating with War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

For more on Linda Harrison’s career off the Planet of the Apes, pick up a copy of my book Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema.

 

 

AMAZON PRIME DAY SPECIAL

For Amazon’s Prime Day the Kindle price for my book Dueling Harlows is $4.99. Price increases every few hours back up to $9.99. Buy it now!

 

SHE SAID WHAT!?!

Blonde bombshell Bobbi Shaw on Pajama Party co-star Annette Funicello: “She was kind of standoffish…I felt she was jealous…”

Diane Bond on Charlton Heston star of The War Lord: “For years I loathed him for copping a feel under the cloak.”

Read more in my book Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies.

 

 

Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies

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.

NAVAJO JOE, Nicoletta Machiavelli, 1966

 

BearManor Media Sale

Big sale at BearManor Media and great time to buy my book Talking Sixties Drive-In Movies just as the warm drive-in weather is approaching! Ends May 12 at midnight.

 

RIP Quinn O’Hara

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 the Invisible 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 Lively Ones.  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.  Good Neighbor, 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.”

 

 

 

Dueling Harlows

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.

Carol-Lynley-Harlow-1965

 

It’s Tiffin!

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.

Read more in Pamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974.

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