This is a new feature for The Classic Preppy... A Monday post that's "out of nowhere," has nothing to do with being preppy, and probably doesn't qualify all that much as a "classic." (Well, perhaps in my mind...but nowhere else!!)
When I had dinner with Diane Ladd in New Orleans, I was thrilled that the conversation turned to the classic days of film and television. She shared some wonderful stories, which she says might be in her next book...so I won't spoil them here. Classic films and the stars of the heyday of Hollywood have always been an interest of mine, so the conversation was grand!! I had one question that I was dying to ask, but I kept debating internally whether it would be appropriate or not. It was in reference to an early guest appearance she did on television. I wasn't sure she'd want to talk about something that might be insignificant in the overarching scheme of things...but I was DYING to know one particular thing, involving one of my all time favorite stars of stage and screen... so I ventured forth.
"Ms. Ladd (I just couldn't call her 'Diane,' even when she introduced herself that way)," I opened carefully, "One of my favorite pieces of work of yours involves one of my all-time-favorite actresses, Shirley Booth. What was it like working with her, when you guest starred on Hazel?"
Now, remember....I am asking a multi-nominated Academy Award actress about a little television show filmed more than 50 years ago!! Her response? "Oh, yes!!! I loved working with her. She was such a pro...so generous and kind. It was an episode called George's 32nd Cousin, and it was a wonderful experience." We went on to talk about character actors and what actors have had to go through over the years...and she shared a magnificent story about Spencer Tracy, whom she met on the set of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, when she was visiting her friend, Madelyn Rhue. That's a story about what it truly means to be an actor that should most definitely be in her next book!
Miss Betty always said...and I always agreed....that I needed a "Hazel" in my life. Perhaps that, every bit as much as my admiration for Shirley Booth's talent, is why I have always loved that show. You can catch it weekdays on Antenna TV (check your local listings), but in the meantime, you can see Season 1 via Netflix and there are even some episodes available on YouTube. It was on YouTube where I recently saw the original pilot...with the cast intact, except for Mr. Baxter, played by Don DeFore in the series. The talented (yet somehow always creepy) Edward Andrews plays George Baxter, in the pilot. If you have 25 minutes, grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in. Enjoy! (Mr. Andrews as George is particularly creepy at about the 1:15-1:35 mark on the film...)