Happy Birthday Pamela Tiffin!

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Who wouldn’t want to unwrap a gift this holiday season to find lovely 1960s actress Pamela Tiffin inside?

The cult pop icon awed moviegoers with her beauty in her film debut in Summer and Smoke (1961) and then wowed them with her hilarious performance as a Southern fried belle in Billy Wilder’s frenetic satire One, Two, Three (1961). She then became “the favorite airhead of the sixties” and the darling of teenage drive-in movies with State Fair (1962), Come Fly with Me (1963), For Those Who Think Young (1964), The Lively Set (1964), and The Pleasure Seekers (1965). She finally shook off the ingenue image to vamp Paul Newman in the gritty detective mystery Harper (1966) and then took it one step further dying her hair blonde to play a not-so-dumb blonde sexpot opposite Marcello Mastroianni in the Italian 3-part comedy Oggi, domani, dopodomani (19966). She remained blonde and ran off to Italy to escape an unhappy marriage cementing her cult status in America since most of her films did not reach these shores. She did return for one film the very funny comedy Viva Max (1969) with Peter Ustinov and her two movies with Franco Nero the giallo The Fifth Cord (1971) and the spaghetti western Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears (1973) are highlights from her time in Rome.

Check out this review of my book from David Tucker on his Blog.



Happy Birthday Gail Gerber!

In honor of Gail’s birthday, below is an edited version of my Blog from 2 years ago:

agailMy friend former actress Gail Gerber aka Gail Gilmore passed away on March 1, 2014 and I write this with a heavy heart, but wanted to share some of my fondest memories of her. Gail used to get the biggest kick when I would introduce her endearingly to friends and family as “my starlet.” She would tell me, “Oh, Tom, I was a starlet for less than two years after being a dancer for over ten years and a ballet teacher for 25 years.” True, but to me she would always be the shapely blonde twitching on the sands of Malibu in The Girls on the Beach and Beach Ball; or frolicking with Elvis Presley in Girl Happy and Harum Scarum; or terrorizing a town in Village of the Giants.

I met Gail in 2002 at a Greenwich Village coffee shop when I interviewed her for my book Drive-in Dream Girls, a title she knew Terry Southern would have just loved. We stayed in touch and then she relocated to Chicago. I saw her on her infrequent trips back here, but it wasn’t until she moved back to the city permanently in 2006 that we started seeing more of each other. Gail had such a vitality and grand sense of humor. I so enjoyed being around her. But I couldn’t believe I was hanging out with an almost 70 year old. Egad, she was a year older than my mother! But Gail was not like any woman I ever met at that age. Free-spirited, she smoked pot; loved New York City; bashed all Republicans (deranged Donald Trump would have her head spinning); told stories of her life in Hollywood (my favorite is how she “accidentally” dropped a dog in a mailbox to get some publicity and got her face splashed across newspapers throughout the country) and her life with Terry Southern getting high with the Rolling Stones or hanging with the likes of Rip Torn, David Amram, William Burroughs, Larry Rivers, Lenny Bruce, George Segal, Geraldine Page, Roger Vadim, and, I quote, “those fuckers” Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda.

Gerber_TrippinGail had been putting her memories down on paper and I helped her write her memoir Trippin’ with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember. Almost every Saturday for over a year, Gail would come by and we would work on her book. I would send her off with a homework assignment for the next time. Trooper that she was, Gail would take a yellow legal pad, just like Terry would do, and hightail it every Wednesday to the New Leaf, a quaint restaurant situated in the middle of Fort Tryon Park. With a glass of wine accompanying her meal, she would crank out anything she could remember about a point in her life. When the book was finally published, Gail told me laughing, “My brain is empty of all my memories.. I’m going to have to read my own book to remember.” Our efforts paid off with an IPPY Award (given to books from independent publishers). We took the silver medal for “Best Memoir of 2010.”

Sometimes at my house I would surprise Gail with one of her movies or a TV show she never saw. She would moan, “Oh, Tom!” I only wanted to prove that she was a much better actress than she ever gave herself credit for. She had such a vivacious personality and comedic timing. Hell, she made 6 movies in 2 years! She stole The Girls on the Beach from the other bikini-clad gals (including Noreen Corcoran, Linda Marshall, and Mary Mitchel) and she was the only girl on the beach brought back by producers Roger & Gene Corman for their second beach movie, Beach Ball joining Edd Byrnes, Chris Noel, and Aron Kincaid. Once I made her watch her lead guest spot on a Peyton Place wannabe soap The Long Hot Summer with Roy Thinnes. She was amazed how good she was. She was not as shocked on how good she looked, especially when she climbed through a window in one scene, because she remembered the lighting guy and cameraman took a shine to her. “That what happens if you are friendly to the crew,” she said.

IMG_2193_1I think deep down Gail liked that she was a Hollywood actress and I am proud that I helped her appreciate that part of her life even to the point of answering her fan mail. One Friday night at the New Leaf, a young guy from Australia sat down next to me at the bar and began chatting. He had just moved to Upstate Manhattan and it was his first time at there. He only had been to another bar/restaurant nearby called Next Door. “The one with the TVs,” he said. I told him I have been there a number of times and they always have on Turner Classic Movies. He said he sat there watching Elvis dancing with some Arab gypsy girls. I laughed and said, “that is Harum Scarum—meet Sapphire” and motioned to Gail. She smiled, nonchanlantly picked up her drink and raised her glass to him. He couldn’t believe it and almost fell off his bar stool. It was such a crazy only-in-New-York moment.

Happy Birthday to you Gail Gerber! It was one helleva trip!


Happy Birthday Jeannine Riley!

ajeannineA busty brown-eyed blonde who resembled a cross between Carol Wayne and Deanna Lund, Jeannine Riley usually was cast as the naive hillbilly or slutty country girl on television and the big screen but she had the ability to do more. She is most remembered for TV’s Petticoat Junction as the rural comedy hit’s first Billie Jo from 1963 to 1965 (the b/w years that were rarely re-aired in syndication) or from TV’s corn pone Hee Haw beginning in 1969 as the first in a long line of scantily clad Daisy Mae types the Hee Haw Honeys. In between her many television appearances, Riley could be seen on the big screen in low budget drive-in fare such as Ted V. Mikel’s Strike Me Deadly (1963) and the race car drama Fever Heat (1968) to bigger budgeted movies which showcased her comedic abilities such as The Big Mouth (1967) with Jerry Lewis and The Comic (1969) with Dick Van Dyke.

Her most memorable movie with a big cult following was Electra Glide in Blue (1973) starring Robert Blake as a diminutive motorcycle cop of American Indian descent whose dreams of becoming a detective are realized when he questions rightfully an open-and-shut suicide.  However, now partnered with detective Mitchell Ryan, Blake’s integrity comes into play during the investigation of a murder as his adoration of Ryan turns to revulsion.  Riley surprises giving a poignant performance as Ryan’s embittered girlfriend who owns a dive bar where the walls are decorated with childhood pictures from her glory days in high school and as a young dancer who had dreams of going to Hollywood. More dramatic roles should have followed in the seventies but she was relegated TV only. She called it quits by 1980.

REad more about Jeannine Riley in my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.



The one new fall TV series that I am truly looking forward to is Westworld on HBO due to debut this Sunday October 2, 2016. It is a remake of of one of my favorite sci-fi movies Westworld (adapted from the novel by Michael Crichton) released in 1973. The film featured in a supporting role the lovely former Playboy Playmate Anne Randall whom I interviewed in my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.

A sort of precursor to TV’s Fantasy Island, the exciting Westworld (directed and scripted by Michael Crichton) starred Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as rich vacationers to Delos, an adult-themed amusement park, where they can live out their wildest fantasies in wild west world, medieval world, or Roman world. The duo choose to play cowboys in the wild wild west where they battle with Yul Brynner’s robotic gunslinger when Delos’ robots start to flip their lids and begin killing the guests.

awestBefore Anne Randall was cast in Westworld, the lovely blonde was Playboy’s Miss May 1967 and appeared in a number of movies and TV shows. Most memorably she was a teenage temptress in the drive-in exploitation hit Hell’s Bloody Devils (1967); a sex shop receptionist in director Jacques Demy’s Model Shop (1969); and a gorgeous mostly topless private detective in Stacey (1973). Westworld would be her last film appearance. Here she played a sexy wench in the resort’s Medieval World and the first robot to malfunction striking guest Norman Bartold as a Knight trying to seduce her. Recalling her role, Anne Randall remarked in my book:

“It is one of the few movies I made that when watching it I thought, ‘I like this movie.’

Michael Crichton who wrote and directed this was absolutely brilliant. I loved and admired him. For my part they were looking for a girl to be sexy.  That was it. I wore sexy clothes and my hair long to try out for it. I didn’t have to read for Michael because all he did was talk with me. And I got picked for the part. I understand that is how he cast people because he figured if you already have gotten work you would not freeze on the set and should be easy to direct.  I just had a wonderful experience working with him.

I didn’t work with any of the stars because my character worked in Medieval World. My scenes were with character actor Norman Bartold who was a really nice guy.

I was surprised how popular Westworld became. It was the only movie that I was in that became such a smash at the box office.”


Happy Belated Birthday Diane Bond!

adianeDiane Bond was a real looker with long straight auburn hair, green eyes, and a distinctive look that set her apart from the young actresses of the day. The fact that she was extremely athletic and worked as a stunt woman also made her an atypical starlet. A shapely beauty (the press book for A Swingin’ Summer extolled her measurements as being “36-23-36”), Bond was bikini-clad in practically all her film appearances from Pajama Party with Annette Funicello, to Tickle Me with Elvis Presley, to A Swingin’ Summer as “The Girl in the Pink Polka Dot Bikini.” However, her most memorable movie was the spy spoof In Like Flint playing one of the three shapely beauties (bikini-clad, of course) who work for super cool spy Derek Flint (James Coburn). Bond didn’t take advantage of the movie’s success and moved to Rome, ala Mimsy Farmer, where she made a few films including Barbarella and House of a 1,000 Dolls with Vincent Price.

Read my interview with Diane Bond in my upcoming BearManor Media book Talking Sixties Drive-in Movies.


Happy Birthday 60s Glamour Girl Anne Randall!




A sexy mini-skirted blonde in the mode of Alexandra Hay and Melodie Johnson, Anne Randall, Playboy’s Miss April 1967, descended on late sixties movie audiences and epitomized the new breed of independent free-spirited women. You may remember her most from the classic sci-fi flick Westworld (soon to be a new HBO TV series) as a Medieval wench who is the first robot to flip her top. Her film debut was in Hell’s Bloody Devils in 1967 but she quickly progressed to more prestigious fare with The Split with Donald Sutherland; Jacques Demy’s Model Shop with Gary Lockwood; and the western A Time for Dying with Audie Murphy in his last film appearance. She spent time on TV’s corn pone Laugh-In rip-off Hee-Haw before returning to the big screen in drive-ins across the country playing leads in The Doomsday Voyage and Stacey. She retired from acting in 1979.

Read my interview with Anne Randall in Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.



Happy Birthday 60s Starlet Mary Mitchel!

amaryPretty Mary Mitchel resembled and sounded a lot like Connie Stevens.  But Mitchel was more appealing and less annoying than her famous counterpart as she played the ingenue in various low-budget drive-in movies during the early to middle ‘60s.  She danced in the rock-and-roll musical Twist Around the Clock (1961) and screamed her way through Panic in Year Zero (1962), and the cult horror movies Dementia 13 (1963) and Spider Baby (1964).  In 1965, she hit the beach for typical teenage shenanigans in A Swingin’ Summer with William Wellman Jr. and Quinn O’Hara, and The Girls on the Beach with Martin West, Aron Kincaid, and Gail Gerber. During this period she was married to actor/producer Bart Patton. She retired from acting in 1968 to work behind the camera.

Read more about Mary Mitchel in my book Drive-in Dream Girls.



Happy Birthday Elvis Girl Ann Morell!

aannmA sultry petite raven-haired Texas beauty with a lilting Southern accent, Ann Morell decorated a number of sixties movies including two with Elvis Presley but never made it to the big time due to missed opportunities and her strict moral convictions.

Ann Morell’s screen debut was in the sci-fi film Beyond the Time Barrier (1960), which was filmed in her native Texas, followed by a bit role in the forgettable talking duck comedy Everything’s Ducky (1961). For the next couple of years, Morell worked steadily alternating between decorative roles and ethnic parts due to her dark exotic looks while posing for pin-up and cheesecake photos like every good starlet and contract player did during the sixties.  In the Robert Goulet comedy Honeymoon Hotel (1964) she was a newlywed, in John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965) she was one of the many starlets draped in veils as a harem girl, and in Red Line 7000 (1965), directed by Howard Hawks, she was the “Girl in the Café” jilted by two potential suitors after sultry French babe Marianna Hill saunters by. In between movies, Morell also kept busy on television in shows such as Burke’s Law and Branded opposite Burt Reynolds. Back on the big screen, Morell snuggled up to Elvis Presley playing one of the many sexy denizens at a dude ranch for models in Tickle Me (1965) and as a curvaceous brunette itching to work as Elvis’ secretary for his helicopter tour business in Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966). British blonde beauty Suzanna Leigh got the job in the movie while in real life she was nominated for “Star of Tomorrow” at the Hollywood Deb Star Ball in 1967 but lost out to Sivi Aberg.  On TV, Ann’s varied roles ranged from a sexy barber on It Takes a Thief and a Latin American revolutionary on Mission: Impossible, to appearing as herself on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Dating Game.

aelvis-3After being cast as a sexy Italian belly dancer in the long forgotten spy spoof The Phynx (1970), Ann Morell finally landed a co-starring movie role albeit in the Grade-Z production Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) directed by Al Adamson.  Sporting some of the shortest mini-skirts ever worn on screen, she played a former biker chick turned hippie who aides buxom Vegas lounge singer Regina Carroll search for her missing sister at a carnival freak show.  Ann’s last movie before retiring was as a prostitute during the Depression who befriends Barbara Hershey as Boxcar Bertha (1972) produced by Roger Corman and directed by Martin ScorseseUnfortunately, most of her scenes were cut and the film did not generate any more roles for her as her life took a new direction as wife and mother.

Read my interview with Ann Morell in my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood!


Beach Blanket Bingo! Birthday Greetings to Bobbi Shaw!



Blonde bombshell Bobbi Shaw was known for her trademark saying, “Yah! Yah!” clad in her trademark fur bikini in a series of American International Pictures beach party movies beginning with Pajama Party (1964) where she was the sexy foil to comedian Buster Keaton. She made such a huge impression and became an instant fan favorite that AIP paired her again with Keaton in Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). The studio let her stretch her acting chops to great amusement in bigger roles in Ski Party (1965) as an amorous Swedish ski instructor and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966) as a conniving carnival worker. Once the tide rolled out for the beach movies, Shaw began doing improvisation and then teaching.

More on Bobbi Shaw with my interview with her in my upcoming BearManor Media book Talking Sixties Drive-in Movies.


Happy Birthday to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ Dolly Read & Cynthia Myers!

abeyond2Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was the story of All-American girl rock trio who travel across country to Hollywood where they are re-named the Carrie Nations by music industry impresario Ronnie ‘Z-Man’ Barzell (John Lazar) and experience fame, fortune, and heartache. Keeping with his casting of big bosomed actresses in lead roles such as Lorna Maitland in Mudhoney, Tura Satana in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, and Erica Gavin in Vixen, it is not surprising that Meyer cast these two former Playboy Playmates as the girl rockers. British Dolly Read, Miss May 1966, played Kelly MacNamara the lead singer and long-lost niece of her dead mother’s sister Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis). Success goes straight to Kelly’s pretty head as she dumps naive Harris Alsworth (David Gurian) her loyal high school sweetheart and the band’s unofficial manager, falls in with the pot-smoking Hollywood in-crowd, and begins a romance with actor/gigolo Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett) who cajoles her to go after a bigger share of her grandfather’s inheritance held by rich Aunt Susan. Kewpie-face Read projected a sincere naivety with her performance as she spirals down into the valley of the dolls but comes to her senses, ditches the drugs, drops the suit, and reunites with a now paralyzed Harris who accidentally fell from a catwalk during one of her concerts. Read also convincingly lip-synched all her songs including “Come with the Gentle People,” which were actually sung by Lynn Carey and bared her breasts a number of times.



Cynthia Myers, Playboy’s Miss December 1968, clinched the role of Casey the guitar-playing lost soul of the group due to her 39DD cup, which bosom master Russ Meyer flipped over. A powerful senator’s daughter who has been used and abused by men, Casey falls in love with Lesbian clothes designer Roxanne (Erica Gavin). However, when her jealous lover learns that she is pregnant by Harris after a drunken one night stand, she demands that Casey have an abortion. She goes through with it, but pays for her wanton ways when at the film’s climax she and Roxanne have their pretty little heads blown off by the crazed Z-Man who reveals a set of knockers to rival any Playboy Playmate. He goes off the deep end as Super Woman also beheading a bound Lance clad only in leopard bikini briefs.

Russ Meyer aimed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to be “the first rock, horror, exploitation film musical.” And he succeeded spectacularly!

Read more about Dolly Read and Cynthia Myers in mu bool Glamour Girls of Sixtues Hollywood.