STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION
OCTOBER 19 PLUS CLORIS LEACHMAN
By Strange de Jim
Beep beep! Love from Strange
October 19 winner: Jay Leno Headlines: News story about a woman who went skydiving on her 92nd birthday: “She says she doesn’t remember jumping out of the plane.”
October wins: O’Brien 3, Letterman 3, Leno 3, Fallon 2, Kimmel 1, Ferguson 1
The only live shows this week are Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy is off Mondays, so Jay was alone.
Jay Leno: “The Dodgers were so bad the baseball commissioner called and said, ‘Listen, take all the steroids you want.’” “Usually when there’s a flap about a balloon it’s a home mortgage scandal. The Balloon Boy was fascinating while it was happening, though. Maria Shriver was so caught up that she put down her cell phone while driving and switched on her mobile TV.” “President Obama wants to give each senior citizen $250. It’s the Cash for Geezers Program.” “That justice of the peace who refused to marry the interracial couple said in his part of the country a marriage should be within the same race and the same family.” “Out of 800 students in a Chicago high school 115 girls are pregnant. That must have been some prom!” “Turns out Amy Winehouse got those breast implants for safety reasons. Now when she passes out they keep her head from hitting the table.”
Headlines: “Motel under new management. NO FLIES!” Grocery ad for “Tide Ultra laundry detergent with bacon.” Grocery ad for “lean ground ????” Ad for “Sureboner Glue.” Job ad: “Must have imbecile references.”
Cloris by Cloris Leachman, Kensington Books 2009
Cloris Leachman has won an Oscar and nine Emmys. Her second role was opposite Katherine Hepburn in “As You Like It” on Broadway. She had four sons and a daughter with George England, who was Marlon Brando’s best friend until he died. Cloris has been close friends with a whole slew of the accomplished and famous, starting with Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando at the Actor’s Studio. She’s had a number of famous lovers. At the age of 82 she competed wonderfully on “Dancing with the Stars.” But what makes this such a compelling book can be shown by these three excerpts.
Page 141 – Acting with Criminal Intent: I have been guilty of theft more times than I can remember. I have stolen from my children.
That’s not a confession. I say it with pride because to excel, to produce memorable characterizations, actors have to be good thieves. We actors must be on the alert to see, to inhale, the instant when someone is hysterical or sublimely pleased or inconsolably grief-stricken of enjoying her fried chicken. These moments are the currency of good acting. If you want the audience to sigh, to hope, to regret, maybe even to wish to die, then recall a time when you were in the middle of that reality. It is there in the tumble of your experiences.
In a Western TV series called “Stoney Burke,” I played a girl who was mostly a boy. She’d grown up among wranglers, and she knew everything about shoeing horses and mucking stalls and nothing about being female. In one scene I was walking to the corral with one of the wranglers, and he said something that was distinctly related to my being an appealing young girl. The girl I was playing didn’t know how to react. Feelings she’d never known suddenly pulsed through her, she felt gushy and embarrassed. How would I bring all that into my reaction?
I thought back to when my son Bryan was nine years old. He loved go-karts and was expert with them. One day one of the girls who’d come with us to the track watched him win a race and afterward told him how marvelously he’d driven, ow fearless he’d seemed. Love was shining in her eyes. This was all new for Bryan. Sex and the female gender hit him in the face like a lemon meringue pie. His features went askew, he leered, he made a snorting sound, he looked away, he looked at me, and finally, with great difficulty, he looked at her. It was a moment out of time, Adam and Eve realizing they were different from what they’d thought, that they were female and male, man and woman, and, oh my, what a different world theirs would be from then on.
In the part of my soul where the golden memories lie is that one when the maleness in Bryan was stirred for the first time. As I played that girl in “Stoney Burke,” I closed my eyes, not only to see that moment with Bryan again, but to bring it inside me. Using the emotions I’d stolen from Bryan, I created one of the most live and most real moments I have ever put on film. Indeed, it was one of the most tender moments I have ever experienced.
The director and members of the crew told me afterwards how touched they had been as they looked on, how they’d both laughed and cried. I thanked them as inwardly I felt the joy of stealing that moment from my son. I wish he’s been there to tell me it I got it right.
Page 153 – Cybill Shepherd; “Daisy Miller” (1974)
This opulent period picture, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, in which I played Cybill Shepherd’s mother, was shot in Rome.
During the filming, a classic Hollywood backstage drama was going on: the star and the director were having a passionate affair. I can’t say their relationship had any negative effect on the production. In fact, it added a bloom to everything. The paparazzi were everywhere, and Peter and Cybill fairly glowed when they looked at each other.
As for my own role, two things puzzled me. First, I was kind of little, and Cybill was kind of big. Secondly, I was married to a very rich man. I could not explain to myself how I’d ended up with this large, beautiful daughter and how I’d come to be married to a rich guy. So I pretended to myself that I was a little brown duck, and somehow I’d laid a great big white egg, which turned out to be Cybill. As for my marriage, I felt that my husband didn’t know I was a little brown duck. Instead, he saw a large, regal woman. That’s how I played my scenes with him.
Page 161 – Here’s another acting trick that can be useful. When you have to cry in a scene, instead of trying to work up tears, try NOT to cry. It will be more arresting to an audience and will produce a more dramatic effect. This method also works with laughter: when you’re supposed to laugh, try not to laugh. You’ll find the effect is more compelling, and that it makes the audience laugh.
NOTE: I remembered Cloris’s advice when I watched Kristen Wiig on “Saturday Night Live” trying NOT to have unwanted spontaneous orgasms.
“Cloris” is a fascinating book.
See Related: STRANGE de JIM’S ZINGERS COLLECTION
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