Thursday, September 21, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Me and My Gal

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Thursday’s Tossed Salad: George Clooney ... Wanda Jackson ... Betty Buckley ... and Judy Garland, Actress.

“THE WORST thing you can do in life is be satisfied with where you are,” says actor/activist/humanitarian George Clooney. 

Clooney made the above remark at the end of a long, long article in The Hollywood Reporter.

Stephen Galloway — who has interviewed Clooney previously — did the piece, and it is a fascinating thing. Even at the height of his lounging bachelorhood and sex-symbol fame, Clooney always came off as a kind of serious guy — pranks on pals notwithstanding.
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Black Bear Pictures
Marriage to Amal Alamuddin, the birth of their twins and an ever-increasing striving to do good things in a naughty world, have placed a becoming gravitas upon his leading man shoulders and unabashedly graying head. 

Clooney continues to say he has no plans, no aspirations, no thoughts of ever running for public office.  But the vibe of this article, the continued emphasis that Clooney feels much less an actor, more a privileged and lucky man who has an obligation to do something significant with his privilege and luck, leans toward a future of public service. 
The happy couple in Venice.
Years ago, I recall Clooney saying he simply couldn’t ever enter politics because of his la dolce vita life as a single, handsome movie star. The revelations would be too startling and distracting.  But the election of 2016 changed that, I believe.

If voters could look the other way in the face of some incredibly coarse rhetoric and actions, I hardly think George Clooney’s life as a single man with umpteen opportunities could possibly be held against him. 
Miller Mobley
Clooney says he’d like to think entering politics would make his life miserable, and given his current state of mind, he doesn’t want misery.  He adds, however, “I do think you always have to participate, in your town and your country and the world.” 

A “Vote for Clooney” bumper sticker if I ever heard one.

... The great Betty Buckley — of Broadway, films and cabaret — will offer a five-day “Song Interpretation and Workshop” at Manhattan’s T. Schreiber Studio. This happens from October 2-6.  The award-winning actress/singer will assist aspiring artist and others, with the benefit of her knowledge and expertise. Call 212-741-0209 for info. Buckley will also perform in concert at The Tilles Center on Long Island (October 7th) ... Joe’s Pub in NYC (October 12-15) ... and The Wall Street Theater in Norwalk, Connecticut (November 4th).
... Reprise Records has released nine Neil Young albums from the eclectic and prolific performer’s 1970’s era. The two-box sets — remastered from the original tapes — include “Time Fades Away,” “On the Beach,” “Tonight’s the Night,” “Zuma,” “Long May You Run,” “American Stars ‘n Bars,” “Comes a Time,” “Rust Never Sleeps,” and “Live Rust.”  As usual these days, there will be vinyl versions, too.
WANDA Jackson, the sultry, raven-haired rockabilly/country queen, known for songs such as “Funnel of Love,” “Tears Will be the Chaser for Your Wine,” “Fujiyama Mama,” Riot in Cell Block No. 9” and “Fancy Satin Pillows” has decided to tell all.  Or, as much as she wants to tell.

On November 14th Jackson’s autobiography “Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” will be published.  Wanda, discovered at age 16, was — and she’s still active — one of the most powerful and influential female performers of her era.  Artists as diverse as Adele, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan rave over her voice, style and enduring energy.  Jackson will appear at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles in November, and at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in December, for book signings. Contact for more info. 
AUCTIONS:  In London, on September 26th, famous movie weapons and costumes will go up for sale. For those who have a hankering for this sort of thing, you can snatch up Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Conan the Barbarian” sword ... Russell Crowe’s stunt sword and scabbard from “Gladiator” ... Sean Connery’s machine gun from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” ... Tom Hanks’ Beach Invasion Uniform from “Saving Private Ryan” ... Dwayne Johnson’s (Scorpion King) sword from “The Mummy Returns” and 600 other items. This happens at London’s BFI IMAX. Bids can be placed online at
And on October 6th and 7th at Guernsey’s in New York, in celebration of John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday, there will be a sale of JFK/Jackie items, including paintings, sculptures, and likely most prized, one of Mrs. Kennedy’s famous black lace mantillas.  Also included are items from the Gary Powers Espionage Collection. (Powers was the CIA pilot whose spy plane was shot down over Soviet airspace in 1960.) This batch includes Powers’ flight suit, trench coats, and his writings during two years of captivity in Russia. Visit or call 212-794-2280.
ENDTHOUGHT: What is great acting?  Well, I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. A few days ago, Channel 13 ran an exquisite print of Judy Garland’s 1944  hit, “Meet Me in St. Louis.”  It’s been a long time since I actually sat and watched the entire film, mostly because Margaret O’Brien as “Tootie” the youngest of the four daughters of Mary Astor and Leon Ames, seems to be in an entirely different movie — one about a seriously disturbed child having a nervous breakdown.  But Garland — in a role she vigorously complained about — is splendid. So utterly natural and compelling.  And beautiful.  While it is a myth that her director and future husband, Vincent Minnelli “made her beautiful for the first time” in this film, she is indeed photographed through the lens of love.
Judy’s great gift as a young actress was her ability to stand a bit apart from anything saccharine or false.  As endearing as her early MGM characters were, she herself had a wry appreciation of the absurdities of “let’s put on a show in the barn!” with Mickey Rooney, or mooning after caddish Gene Kelly in “For Me and My Gal.”  She never openly mocked her material, but her own real-life intelligence, wit and sophistication always edged through just a bit — even as Dorothy Gale, yearning to get back to dreary Kansas.
Judy with Mickey Rooney in “Hey kids, let’s put on a show.”
With Gene Kelly in “For Me and My Gal.”
There was also, always, an undercurrent of neurotic tension, giving even her most superficial roles a certain urgency. (As a fully adult performer, this tension, unleashed, was mind-blowing.)  That there was literally no emotion she could not capture and project, her talent was prodigious.  She was incapable of striking a false note as an actress.

Late in her tumultuous life, attempting to resuscitate her film career, Judy reportedly clutched at her throat and exclaimed, “If it wasn’t for this, this! (the fabled singing voice) “I could have been the greatest actress in the world!” 

Ah, but my dear, you practically were.
Contact Liz here.