HAY GOOD LOOKIN’
In honor of The Model Shop now available on DVD through Columbia classics and an upcoming screening of Skidoo, below is a tribute to blonde starlet Alexandra Hay (excerpted from my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood:
A long-haired wispy blonde with waif-like delicate features, Alexandra Hay played a number of cool chick roles in the late Sixties before turning to exploitation films and television during the Seventies.
Born in Los Angeles on July 24, 1944, Alexandra Hay began modeling at age twelve. Her mother died when Alexandra was just sixteen and soon after she married her legal guardian, retired British naval officer Cedric Kehoe, so she could spend time in Europe. Returning to California, she had her marriage amicably annulled and concentrated on acting. She performed on stage in The Beard in San Francisco and Los Angeles where she was arrested fourteen times for obscene language and doing stage nudity before landing a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures.
Hay made her film debut in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) playing a gum-chewing teenage carhop at Mel’s Drive-in who, with a deadpan delivery, rattles off the burger joint’s list of ice cream flavors for Spencer Tracy who is craving a flavor he can’t remember. She had a smaller decorative role in the Matt Helm spy adventure The Ambushers (1967) as Kurt Kaszner’s secretary attired in a mod multi-colored zigzag striped mini-dress who jumps up and gushes when agent/fashion photographer Dean Martin enters.
Alexandra began 1968 as “Miss Golden Globe” at the Hollywood Foreign Press’ Awards Ceremony where each year a promising starlet is chosen to hand out the trophies to the winners. In the trying-to-be-with-it comedy How Sweet It Is! (1968) Hay played one of Donald Losby’s hippie friends he accompanies on a tour of Europe with his bickering parents in tow. The pretty blonde’s bid for major stardom rested with her next two movies but both were failures at the box office. Otto Preminger’s debacle Skidoo (1968) a nonsensical comedy that tried to merge hippies with gangsters to attract a mixed audience cast Alexandra (receiving “and introducing” in the credits sung at the end of the movie) as ex-mobster Jackie Gleason’s vapid teenage daughter who falls in with hippie John Philip Law and his friends. When Gleason goes missing when pressured by head mobster Groucho Marx as God to rub out Mickey Rooney in prison both Hay and Carol Channing try to seduce baby-faced gangster Frankie Avalon to find Gleason’s whereabouts. Hay’s bikini-clad body adorned with painted flowers and the words “love” and “kiss” as seen in the movie was used in the film’s posters and trade ads.
Better received was The Model Shop (1969) director Jacques Demy’s homage to Los Angeles about one day in the life of alienated unemployed architect Gary Lockwood who trapped in a loveless relationship has just learned he has been drafted and takes a photography class where he falls in love with married French woman Anouk Aimée. The sweet looking Hay was cast against type as Lockwood’s live-in girlfriend—a pushy, grasping starlet who aches for marriage. Demy lovingly captured the City of Angels by drenching the movie in a sun-drenched desert hue but what transpired in front of the scenery did not live up to expectations.
Alexandra Hay’s last major movie was The Love Machine (1971) as one of the many lovelies who jump into the sack with handsome but egotistical newscaster John Philip Law. She then followed other Sixties sex kittens into the world of Seventies drive-in exploitation movies with 1000 Convicts and a Woman! (1971). She received top billing as the poisonous nymphet daughter of a British prison governor who is an equal opportunity seducer bedding guards and inmates alike. Despite its lurid plot, Hay remains clothed throughout most of the movie except for one brief semi-nude scene. The failure of this and her other movies at the box office drove Hay to television where she appeared on Mission: Impossible, Love, American Style and in the suspenseful TV-movie The Screaming Woman (1972) starring Olivia de Havilland as a rich matron just released from a mental institution who fears a woman is buried alive on her property but none of her greedy family members including Hay believe her. When it was Hay’s turn to play the beleaguered heroine, she was unnervingly vulnerable on the British TV series Thriller (renamed Wide World of Mystery in the US) in “A Place to Die” as a doctor’s young refined wife newly arrived in a small village after a skiing accident injured her leg. The devil worshipping inhabitants agree she has the requirements as prophesied to become the bride of Satan. Realizing they’ve made a mistake, they plot to sacrifice her instead.
Alexandra next appeared in two theatrical movies that barely were released—How to Seduce a Woman (1974) a stiff sexploitation comedy starring Angus Duncan as a lothario who beds five women including Hay as an art gallery owner tricked into thinking Duncan is the creator of eleven paintings she covets and That Girl from Boston (1975) starring Mamie Van Doren. To give her career a needed boost, Hay posed nude for Playboy in a pictorial entitled “Alexandra the Great” in the February 1974 issue. It was a beautifully photographed pictorial saluting the glamorous Golden Age of Hollywood as Hay posed semi-nude as if she was the new Jean Harlow. But the best that came of it was the road movie How Come Nobody’s on Our Side? (1975) starring Adam Roarke and Larry Bishop as popular biker movie actors so bored with their films that they steal a pair of motorcycles and become drug runners with Hay as the obligatory love interest.
Alexandra Hay’s last acting credit was a small role in the Dirty Harry rip-off The One Man Jury (1978) starring Jack Palance as a vigilante-type cop. She retired from show business in the early eighties. When she passed away on October 11, 1993 she was only forty-nine years old.