Sandra Dee Out West ( Page 2)
"My agent made an appointment
for me to read for Ross Hunter, a
producer from Universal-International, on a Monday just after my
father had died in September, 1956.
I didn't want to keep the appointment. I was awfully upset, but
Mother and my agent said I should
go, that Daddy would have wanted
me to do it and that Ross Hunter
had flown all the way from Hollywood just to see me. I went and it
turned out that he had flown all the
way from Hollywood just to see me
and four hundred other girls about
a part in a movie called
The Restless Years. I sat there all day and
I was upset, miserable and angry.
I cried all the time. When I finally
got in to see him, he was in a temper too and we both stared at each
other. Anyway I read for him [Ross
Hunter recalls that Sandra was the
only girl he saw who asked for ten
minutes to look over the script before reading for him] and after a
little bit he asked, how would you
like to be in the movies and come
to Hollywood? I thought he was
crazy and left. I went home and
told Mother he was a real nut.
couple of weeks later I was working on a fashion layout for a magazine and the magazine called me
and asked me if I was going to be
in town the next couple of weeks,
because of their shooting schedule.
I said sure I'm going to be in town.
I'm right here. Where did you think
was going? They said, 'You're going to Hollywood.' Louella Parsons
had had an item in the paper that I
had signed a contract and I didn't
know a thing about it!
"Mother and I went out to
Hollywood where they were going to test me. When I got to the set I found out they
were only trying me out to see if I was as good as someone
else they had lined up for the part and the whole thing
wasn't as I'd thought it was at all. I
was furious when I found that out at
the studio and Mother was furious
when I told her about it. She was
all set to pack me off back home to
New York. But then the part came
through for me. Before I started
to work for Universal, M-G-M ran
the test and they liked it and put
me into Until They Sail. That actually was my first picture.
"I almost went through the floor
when I saw myself for the first
time," Sandra goes on, "I had my
mouth open all the time. It's not so
bad when I have a part where I
don't talk much, but when my
mouth is open!" She makes a face.
"And you always think you can do
better than what you see yourself
"I never study my lines," Sandra
explains. "I'm lazy. But luckily I
have a wonderful memory. One
look and I remember it, lines, addresses—everything. I don't believe
in dramatic lessons although I did
want to study with a drama coach
for some of the scenes I had with
John Gavin in
Imitation of Life.
But Mr. Hunter said absolutely no.
He didn't want me to be spoiled. In
the beginning I was never nervous.
I simply tried to do what the director wanted me to do and then I'd
forget about it. But now, as the
pictures go on I get more and more
nervous and the first day of any
picture. I'm a wreck. Actually, I
don't really think I need dramatic
lessons to teach me how to feel emotions because they are all things I
can imagine easily—what it might
be like to want to seduce someone
or be kissed or have a drink. Incidentally, I can't take a drink at
parties, not even soda. If I have a
glass of orange juice everyone says
I have vodka in It. If I take Coca
Cola, they say it's rum so I've quit
drinking anything in public.
"When I made my screen test
with John Saxon for
The Restless Years
I was so terribly embarrassed I went to the bathroom three
times. I would be all right up to
the minute we were to make the
test but then I would excuse myself.
Johnnie knew what the trouble was
and he had a big laugh about it. He
thought it was very funny. I had
never kissed anyone before. My
grandmother came on the set one
day while we were doing a scene
in which Johnnie and I kiss each
other and she was horrified. Kissing a boy, and for all the world to
see, she kept saying over and over
again. She couldn't get used to it.
But it was no trouble to kiss Johnnie, you just picked up and threw
yourself into it. It wasn't like the
time I made a love scene with Jeff
Chandler. I felt so funny playing
opposite him—I tried to take him
away from June Allyson, who
played my sister-in-law in
in My Arms, my third movie. All
the time I was in Chandler's arms
I kept thinking how silly it all was,
he was twice as old as I was or more,
he even had a daughter who was as
old as I was. I told him later and he
said he thought about it too.
"When I got to see myself in my
Until They Sail, right
then and there I said I'm quitting
movies for good, I'm not an actress.
Mother was waiting for me in the
next room. She heard me carrying
on and she
came in and I said to her, call
Universal and tell them I'm going
home. I wasn't kidding, I wasn't
hamming anything up. I thought I
was just awful. I never go to rushes
any more. I get sick. At previews
I get even sicker. After
The Reluctant Debutante, everybody went
out to have a soda or something.
You think I went? I went home and
cried. I had good reason on that,
I was awful.
"When I saw The Restless
Years, I didn't like it a bit. I decided after seeing that, that I would
never look at myself again. I used
to see the rushes—the scenes shot
the previous day, which the director looks at so he can see how the
picture is shaping up—but I don't
any more after the first few days.
I can't bear looking at myself.
"Actually," Sandra says, "I have
been very lucky. All my roles have
been different. In one movie I was
sex crazy, in another a misunderstood teen-ager; in
Gidget I was a
regular kid on the beach, in
Imitation of Life
I fell in love with my
mother's boy friend. I wore beautiful clothes in The Reluctant Debutante, I was a mature teen-ager in
"A Summer Place." Sandra makes a
face when she mentions
and the Innocent, in which she
played a western equivalent of a
hillbilly. "It felt awful.
"The Reluctant Debutante was a
terribly hard movie to make. It was
the first time I had ever been to
Europe. We worked six days a
week. I was so tired, I would sleep
all day Sunday. We didn't see Paris,
we didn't see anything at all. Someday I'd like to go to Europe on a
vacation and see what it's like."
Sandra found working in a film
with Rex Harrison unlike anything
she had ever done before. "He takes
so much trouble about everything,"
she says, looking around helplessly
for a moment. "He's so painstaking.
One scene in which be had to pick
up a paper he talked about for two
and a half hours, trying to decide
which hand to use. I saw him give
a fabulous stage performance in
My Fair Lady, and Daddy used to
tell me how wonderful he was in
the movie of The King and I, but
when I actually worked with him
I couldn't believe it. He looked just
"Gidget was a terrible location.
I hardly knew how to swim. A surfboard hit me on the leg, it took ages
to heal. Jimmy Darren cut his foot
and oh, it was cold. We did some
scenes on the beach, and made a
lot of it in the studio tank. They
used to pour buckets of cold sea
water over me before some scenes;
I shivered until my lips turned blue.
Gidget was the hardest picture I've
ever done and yet, it's funny that
it's one of those that I love best. It
was hard because I don't like the
water and I don't like the beach and
I was cold all the time. But I loved
the story and the people. Now I'm
going to Hawaii to make a sequel
for Columbia called Gidget Goes
Hawaiian." (ED NOTE: This did not happen.)
Ever since she made The Reluctant Debutante, people recognize
her in the streets. "They crowd
around and look at me in a funny way,"
Sandra says. "One night mother and I went to a movie and we were sitting there as usual
--I always curl my legs up under me on the
seat and take my shoes off--once I lost a pair of shoes
in the theatre that way--and about have way through the picture I noticed
one of the kids next to me looking at me out of the corner of
her eye and she motioned to one of the kids in the back of her
--there was a whole crowd --and I knew they
were talking about me. People get
a funny look in their eye. I felt
embarrassed. I would have gone
home except that we were watching
Tab Hunter in Damn Yankees and
I wanted to see one dance sequence
so we stayed. I don't know why
people should look at me that way.
I may do things that are different
from what other people are doing
but I'm really normal, just like
everyone else. I always try to stay
that way. Sometimes it goes to my
head and I have to be careful. I
have a big mouth and I talk back
to my mother sometimes, once I
even threw a mirror at the wall
and broke it, but that was the worst
thing I ever did.
"It's funny," Sandra muses, "people don't treat me the same, people
I've known all my life, people I
went to school with back home,
people who went to my church.
Some of them are out here now and
I meet them. They're kids my age
but you would never know it. They
won't even talk to me. If I go to
visit them I end up in the kitchen
talking to their mothers. They just
stand and peer around the corners
staring at me as though I were going to do an act or something."
Until Sandra was sixteen, she
didn't date at all. "I've been around
adults all my life; I have nothing in
common with boys fifteen or sixteen. I never meet anyone my own
age. I go out with Sal Mineo once
in a while when he's in town, but
mostly with people who are older
than I am, boys in their twenties.
We go to parties or to a show. I'm
usually home fairly early. I like to
date people who have nothing to do
with show business although I hate
to be asked questions about my
work. They start asking questions
and I say stop it right there because
it's awful. Even when you go to visit
somebody they begin with what are
you doing and who are you working
with and how is it and there you
are. I tell them point blank, I'm not
going to talk about the business. I
came hereto swim. You have a pool
and I'll swim. Talk about anything
else, clothes, boys, dates, sewing.
"I've been working so hard and
so steadily that actually I don't
have much time for dates anyway.
Tommy Sands called me for a date
once, that is he called Ross Hunter,
my producer at Universal, for my
phone number. He wanted to take
me to a preview, but Ross wouldn't
let me go. I happened to be in Ross's
office when Tommy called and I
whispered, yes, I'd love to go, but
Ross said I couldn't. I had to work
the next morning and he wanted
me to get to sleep early. Usually, I
get up at five o'clock in the morning
and I don't get home until eight-
thirty. We work a nine-hour day
but by the time you get through
traveling and clean off your make-
up, there's nothing to do except
study the script and go to sleep.
By the end of the week. I'm too
exhausted to do anything but sleep.
"Ross advises me about certain
people to go out with, and he tells
me yes or no. If I haven't got a date
for some big smash party, he takes
me. If I get lonely or down, he always knows exactly how to handle
me. I don't know what I'd do without him.
On Saturdays I don't budge from
the house. I just put on my dungarees and
fool around.If I even
bother to get dressed its amazing.
Saturday is the only day I try to
eat a little bit.That's the only thing I ever argue about
my mother. Boys, never. Clothes,
never. Nothing else, only eating.
That's the only thing we disagree
about. I just don't get hungry. The
doctors have tried everything. Vitamins and everything else they can
think of." Sandra, who. can make
an entire meal of a quarter of a
head of lettuce, remembers: "My
daddy used to say, just eat one
steak with me and I'll give you anything you want. Anything! But I
couldn't. I hate to eat. I don't have
any appetite at all. Sometimes
Mother really pounds me because
I won't eat but I don't do a thing
and I'm bigger than she is and I
just let her hit me. She doesn't hit
me very hard. I seem to have
enough energy but I get terribly
tired after finishing a picture.
"Once I said I'd like to quit acting when I got married, but I know
that's not the way I feel any more,
I never thought I would change my
mind but I have. Maybe make one
picture a year or something to keep
my career going. I would like to
get married more than anything
else and have lots of kids. I love
children, I want a houseful and I
want to take care of them and do
things around the house. I don't
want to marry someone in the business—not an actor anyway, actors
are too egotistical. I'm enough of a
ham for one family."
Not. long ago, Sandra bought a
new house. "On the night I came
home from work to move in," she
describes, "The street was roped off
because there was a brush fire on
the hill in back of the house. They
wouldn't let me up. But there's no
place to go when you're under age."
[Sandra was born on April 23,
1942.] "You can't go into a bar and
sit there for a couple of hours. You
don't know what to do with yourself. I told that to the policeman.
I live up there, I said, that's my
home. You can't keep me out. So
finally one of them took me home."
Sandra loved Hollywood from
the beginning. "It's home to me,"
she says with a laugh, talking of
the three years she has been there.
"It's funny. I don't do any sports,
I only swim in a pool and I don't do
anything much outside, but I love
it. The air is cleaner. I love to lie
in the sun and bake myself. My skin
is fair, but I never turn red or get
a heavy tan. I love to get into a
car and drive around—I celebrated
my sixteenth birthday buying a
new sports car with room for mother,
my two dogs, a poodle and
pomeranian, and my clothes.
"Daddy always wanted to come
out here," Sandra adds, "and I
think he would have been terribly
happy now. That's one reason why
he was selling the buildings he
owned in New York. He wanted to
come and live here. He said he
loved the hills arid the climate. And
really, it isn't such a different life."
When Sandra was graduated
from high school last year, she gave
herself a big graduation present—a
week in New York alone with her
best girl friend. "Oh, were we excited," she says. "We stayed at the
Sherry Netherland. We wanted to
do a million things, theater and
stuff. It was great the first few days,
night clubs every night. Then we
both got sick. The hotel doctor sent
me to my grandmother's in Jersey.
So my big-deal gift wound up with
my sitting on the bed with Grandma
as I used te when I was a litle girl!"
Now that she has completed high
school, Sandra feels that although
she had thought about going on
with school, she would rather be
working than anything else. "I'm
always sick when I'm not working.
When I'm working and don't feel
well, I pay no attention. But the
minute I'm through with a picture,
the slightest thing and I am practically dying."
Currently, Sandra, who receives
more fan mail at the U-I studio than
any other star, has little time for
anything but work. Her schedule is
solid. She recently dubbed the voice
for the heroine of
The Snow Queen,
a Russian-made cartoon feature
adapted from a story by Hans
Christian Andersen which Universal is releasing this month. (Sandra
sings a song in this too, Do it While You're Young, which will be paired
with Questions and released as a
Decca single.) She plays an older
girl opposite John Saxon in a
thriller called Portrait in Black,
which stars Lana Turner arid Anthony Quinn. She goes to Italy in April to star opposite John Gavin in the movie version of Peter Ustinov's
and Juliet, besides her trip to Hawaii for Gidget Goes Hawaiian. (ED
NOTE: As noted earlier , Sandra did not appear in Gidget Goes Hawaiian.)
"How lucky I am," Sandra declares, "to have had as many pictures as I've had and to have them
keep coming. I look around at
others who started when I did and
there's nothing happening. It's
rough. I'd like to rest, but I wouldn't give this up for anything.
I love it."
She means it too.
to Sandra Dee tribute