Harassment in Hollywood Is Not New! Sixties Starlets Share Their Stories
With all these stories spewing forth from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie in light of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment accusations, you would think that this was a new phenomenon in Hollywood. Hell it has been going on for decades. I started interviewing 60s starlets in the mid-1990s. A lot of the actresses I spoke with had long been retired but even then some who shared incidents about being sexually harassed by actors or directors or producers were still hesitant to name names. Even if the guy was deceased some didn’t want to shame his living relatives. even though their loved one behaved badly.
Fortunately their were a few brave ladies who recounted with names some of their worst experiences in Hollywood though thankfully none are as bad as what Weinstein is alleged to have done. Here are their anecdotes from their own lips from some of my books.
Julie Parrish in Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Hollywood:
“I couldn’t understand why an old guy with white hair would be after me. I was revolted by it. From the beginning, my agent taught me to make excuses to get out of these situations. The main thing was to not hurt their feelings because they might fix it so you didn’t work again. I would look at my watch and say, ‘I would love to stay and talk but I have another audition I’ve got to go to.’ I really had nobody in Hollywood to guide me. Anne Helm and I talk about this a lot. We got ourselves into situations that were pretty insulting—just because we believed everybody. In those days a lot of us were very naive—much more than the young actresses of today.”
“I really wanted to work with Elvis. I was in every Elvis fan club around when I was a teenager. I would even do Elvis imitations with the long sideburns and guitar when I was in high school. So I convinced Hal Wallis to give me another shot and did the test over. Then I got the part. Mr. Wallis, who was married, was an old letch. I think he felt there was an unspoken promise that I would sleep with him since he allowed me to re-test for the part. On the day before filming began, he called me into his office, led me over to the sofa, and briefly kissed me on the mouth. He said, ‘Little girl, we’re going to have a long talk about your future.’ I made up any excuse to get out of there. While on location he was constantly calling me and asking me out. It was quite annoying and insulting. He called me one last time in Hawaii and said, ‘Little girl, you’d better think again.’ I knew I would probably never work for him again, but that was fine with me. This whole incident highly offended me.”
“I really didn’t get along with William Shatner [on Star Trek]. I’m not blaming him because he was of that generation of actors and really didn’t think that women had feelings—we were just something to use. Even though it was early on, he really played up being the star of the series. There was one particular day when I was broke and decided not to go out to lunch. So I went to my dressing room to lay down and rest. Shatner knocked on my trailer and said, ‘The electricity is out in my trailer to you mind if I use yours.’ I said, ‘Sure, come in.’ But I didn’t bother to get up. He entered and suddenly he was on me! I remember saying to him something like I would like to have a choice about this. He stopped but then he treated me badly for the rest of the week. It was so unprofessional. Majel Barrett [Nurse Chappel] told me that he that he used that excuse about the electricity with everybody.”
Chris Noel in Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Hollywood:
“I did not like Edd Byrnes [her leading man in Beach Ball]. He was so egotistical! We had a kissing scene and he would slip his tongue practically down my throat. I felt that was uncalled for. I didn’t like it. It was invading my privacy. I told him he was a jerk. He still wouldn’t stop! So I went to Lennie Weinrib [the director] and said to him, ‘Get Byrnes to stop or I’m walking off the set.’”
Marlyn Mason in Film Fatales:
“We [she and Robert Vaughn on The Man from UNCLE] had to do a kissing scene. In those days when people kissed on television and in movies it was all very tame stuff. There was no slurping and nobody was eating anybody’s face like you see nowadays. So we do this scene and Vaughn just jams his tongue down my throat. Of course the actress in me just kept on acting but I was not responsive. I was trying to keep my mouth shut. I was so stunned and I decided that I was just not going to say anything. We did this in one take but I thought, ‘There is no way that they are going to see this in the dailies and pass it. We’re going to have to do this again.’ Sure enough, the next day the director came and told us we had to do the scene over again. I was watching out of the corner of my eye as the director took Robert Vaughn aside and told him, ‘You can’t kiss her like that.’ We did it a second time and he made a half-ass attempt to do it again! But my mouth was tightly shut.”
Sharyn Hillyer in Drive-In Dream Girls:
“I was a nervous wreck [doing her first topless scene in A Guide for the Married Man]. I had never done anything like that before. I took the first tranquilizer that I ever took in my life in order to do this. They put pasties on me because I was nude from the waste up. Joey Bishop knew my husband at the time and he still came on to me. I was so angry at that asshole. I just felt he was an absolute creep especially since he was friendly with my husband. That made it very uncomfortable doing this scene over and over with him all day.”
Linda Rogers in Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood:
“My agent got me an interview for this [Winter a-Go-Go] with the director Richard Benedict. He got fresh and I ended up dumping an ashtray in his lap. I wasn’t used to that at all. As you can tell I just fell into these roles. My agents would tell me where and when to show up. I hardly ever interviewed so when I came across him [Benedict] I was stunned. I never in a million years thought I’d get the part because I rudely told him off. He left me alone after that. But I know he would make remarks to the other girls.”