Happy Birthday to Bradford Dillman April 14

Bradford Dillman in a scene from the film ‘Circle Of Deception’, 1960. (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Untroubled good looks, faraway poise & self-control, with a sartyrial smile and brushed-aside sophistication  – that’s Bradford Dillman

Bradford Dillman is one of those ubiquitous & versatile actors who you find popping up just about everywhere, and whenever I either see him in the credits or think about some of his performances, I am immediately happified by his presence in my mind and on screen.  It’s this familiarity that signposts for me whatever upcoming diversion I’m in store for, will be something memorable indeed.

He’s been cast as a saint, a psychopath, elite ivy league intellectuals with an edge, unconventional scientists, military figures, droll and prickly individualists, clueless bureaucrats, or drunken malcontents and he’s got a sort of cool that is wholly appealing.

Bradford Dillman was omni-present starting out on the stage, and major motion pictures at the end of the 50s and by the 1960s he began his foray into popular episodic television series and appeared in a slew of unique made for television movies throughout the 1970s and 80s, with the addition of major motion picture releases through to the 90s. His work, intersecting many different genres from melodramas,historical dramas, thrillers, science fiction and horror.

There are a few actors of the 1960s & 70s decades that cause that same sense of blissed out flutters in my heart — that is of course if you’re as nostalgic about those days of classic cinema and television as I am. I get that feeling when I see actors like Stuart Whitman, Dean Stockwell, Roy Thinnes, Scott Marlow, Warren Oates, James Coburn, Lee Grant David Janssen, Michael Parks, Barbara Parkins, Joanna Pettet ,Joan Hackett , Sheree North,  Diana Sands, Piper Laurie, Susan Oliver and Diane Baker.  I have a fanciful worship for the actors who were busy working in those decades, who weren’t Hollywood starlets or male heart throbs yet they possessed a realness, likability, a certain individual knack and raw sex-appeal.

Bradford Dillman was born in San Francisco in 1930 to a prominent local family. During the war he was sent to The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. At Hotchkiss, senior year he played Hamlet. At Yale he studied English Literature and performed in amateur theatrical productions and worked at the Playhouse in Connecticut. Dillman served in the US Marines in Korea (1951-1953) and made a pact that he’d give himself five years to succeed as an actor before he called it quits. Lucky for us, he didn’t wind up in finance the way he father wanted him to.

Actor Bradford Dillman (Photo by  John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Dillman enrolled and studied at the Actors Studio, he spent several seasons apprenticing with the Sharon Connecticut Playhouse before making his professional acting debut in an adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarecrow” in 1953 with fellow Studio students Eli Wallach and James Dean. Dillman referred to Dean as ‘a wacky kid’ but ‘very gifted’.

He only appeared in two shows in October 1962 of The Fun Couple in 1957 with Dyan Cannon and Jane Fonda before the play closed in New York only after two days.

We lost Bradford Dillman last year in January 2018. I was so saddened to hear the news. And I missed the chance to tribute his work then, but now that his birthday is here, I feel like celebrating his life rather than mourning his death, so it’s just as well.

Bradford Dillman wrote an autobiography called Are You Anybody? An Actor’s Life, published in 1997 with a (foreword by Suzy Parker) in which he downplays the prolific contribution he made to film and television and acting in general. Though Dillman didn’t always hold a high opinion of some of the work he was involved in, appearing in such a vast assortment of projects, he always came across as upbeat and invested in the role.

“Bradford Dillman sounded like a distinguished, phony, theatrical name, so I kept it.”

[about his career] “I’m not bitter, though. I’ve had a wonderful life. I married the most beautiful woman in the world. Together we raised six children, each remarkable in his or her own way and every one a responsible citizen. I was fortunate to work in a profession where I looked forward to going to work every day. I was rewarded with modest success. The work sent me to places all over the world I’d never been able to afford visiting otherwise. I keep busy and I’m happy. And there are a few good films out there that I might be remembered for.”

Continue reading “Happy Birthday to Bradford Dillman April 14”

From The Vault: Valley of the Dolls (1967) “Boobies, boobies, boobies. Nothin’ but boobies. Who needs ’em?”

Valley of The Dolls 1967

Directed by Mark Robson, produced by David Weisbart and Helen Deutsch, with a screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley and Harlan Ellison. Cinematography by William H. Daniels (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF 1957, IN LIKE FLINT 1967)

Film editing by Dorothy Spencer (STAGE COACH 1939, TO BE OR NOT TO BE 1942, LIFEBOAT 1944 and CLEOPATRA 1963) Set Direction by Raphael Bretton (HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE 1964 and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE 1972) and Walter M Scott. (THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965 and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969) Art Design by Richard Day (ON THE WATERFRONT 1954, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951 and THE GRAPES OF WRATH 1940) and Jack Martin Smith (BATMAN 1966 and PLANET OF THE APES 1968) and wardrobe by Travilla.

With all that creative talent on board, you can call the film trashy, but it sure has a lot of style!

Starring Barbara Parkins (THE MEPHISTO WALTZ 1971 never looking more beautiful in my opinion. One of my favorite horror films of the 70s, I plan on doing a long winded overview of it this Winter 2012.)

The incredible Barbara Parkins…and her killer boots!

as Anne Welles, Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara, Sharon Tate as Jennifer North, Susan Hayward as Helen Lawson, Paul Burke as Lyon Burke, Toni Scotti as Tony Polar, Lee Grant as Miriam Polar, Martin Milner as Mel Anderson, Alexander Davion as Neely’s 2nd husband the bisexual Ted Casablanca, Naomi Stevens as Miss Steinberg and Robert H Harris as Henry Bellamy.

From the moment the utter fabulousness of this tawdry pulp icon of the 60s starts rolling on screen with Barbara Parkin’s heavenly visage gazing out the train window, and Dionne Warwick starts confessing the movie’s theme song with her soulful voice… I get vaklempt.

Doll a euphemism for little colored pills of varying types of barbiturates… ‘uppers’ and ‘downers.’

Based on the best selling explosively trashy novel by Jacqueline Susann and directed by of all people, Mark Robson.(THE SEVENTH VICTIM 1943, THE GHOST SHIP 1943, ISLE OF THE DEAD 1945 and well his tell tale progression into melodrama land with PEYTON PLACE 1957 and eventually into darker territories with DADDY’S GONE A- HUNTING 1969)

Growing up as a little girl in the 60s there wasn’t a coffee table or bookshelf that I didn’t see a copy of Valley of the Dolls sitting atop next to a hard cover of best selling self help book by Dr. Thomas A. Harris’, I’m Okay You’re Okay which was first published in 1967, the year Valley of The Dolls was released.

There was certainly a copy of it in my own house and I remember seeing the film either during it’s theatrical release or later on the huge Magnavox cabinet tv with only 3 dials. At first I was struck by the incredible score from composer John Williams and songs by Andre Previn and lyrics by Dory Previn. And then I fell under the spell of the badness and the beautifulness of it all….

Standing out is it’s vivid colors of the 60s film processing, the vogue style couture, flashy set design, and mod art direction. Populated by the campy over the top acting in all the right places of course, by the entire cast makes for one hell of a ride through the tunnel of tragic love in high dramaville. As cliche after libidinous, compulsive and histrionic cliche prance across the screen as a story of meandering disassembled desire, by the needful women, and their male companions.

It’s campy and tawdry and melodramatic trash, and that’s a GOOD THING, for us junkies of melodramatic trashy & campy flicks from the 1940s -1960s.

Continue reading “From The Vault: Valley of the Dolls (1967) “Boobies, boobies, boobies. Nothin’ but boobies. Who needs ’em?””