Once upon a time, I wrote about my celebrity crushes that I had before I was 18. My buddy Greg, being the irascible sort, criticized me for being some sort of age fascist. It wasn’t that; it was that there were just so many of them that I was mildly embarrassed to go further.
Worse, I left off at least three:
Lesley Ann Warren – star of a production on CBS of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella in 1965, which would have made me 12. I’m pretty sure it was repeated at least once and that I watched it each time. It’s the earliest item that shows up on her IMDB TV or movie resume when she was 19.
I must say, though, that she was no Barbara Bain (and Leonard Nimoy no Martin Landau) when there were cast changes on the CBS television show Mission: Impossible in 1969 and 1970. Nevertheless, I watched.
Still, I have a soft spot for her Cinderella version, having purchased the soundtrack only in the last couple years, even though her predecessor, Julie Andrews and her successor, Brandy, are both more professional singers.
Here’s a segment of the program; Lesley’s entrance in this scene is at about 2:30, and she sings “In My Own Little Corner” – I do love that song – at about 4:30.
The first time I knew saw Barbara Hershey was in a disturbing little 1969 movie called Last Summer, also starring Richard Thomas, Bruce Davison and the Oscar-nominated Catherine Burns; haven’t seen it since. Leonard Maltin gave it three and a half stars; Roger Ebert gave it four stars. An event on the set was so traumatizing to Barbara, that for a time, she changed her name to Barbara Seagull. Just yesterday, I discovered it on YouTube, but haven’t watched. The compiler called Last Summer “a small twisted film…not easy to find. It’s quite sexual and very controversial for its time.”
Subsequently, I saw her in The Right Stuff (1983), The Natural (1984), Hoosiers (1986), Lantana (2001) and most notably in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986- very fond) and Beaches (1988 – treacle). Oddly, I didn’t see her in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) as Mary Magdalene, and I don’t remember why, since the controversy made me want to watch it all the more. She’s also known as a partner of Lost’s Naveen Andrews, who’s two decades her junior, which is cool.
Above: 30 seconds from 1968’s With Six You Get Eggroll, which I must have seen on TV
From the outset, I was a huge Mamas and the Papas fan. I loved the tight harmonies especially, and bought all their albums, starting with the first one; still have most of them on vinyl. While John Phillips was the primary writer of the group, Michelle Phillips (nee Gilliam) has co-writer credits on songs such as California Dreamin’ and Creeque Alley. Most of the lead vocals fell to Denny Doherty or Cass Elliot, but every once in a while Michele got a bit to show her ethereal pipes, such as on Dedicated to the One I Love or the beginning of Got A Feeling.
Michele’s personal life, it became clear, was a mess. She was married to John but sleeping with Denny. She was friends with some of the victims of the Charles Manson murders. She was once married to Dennis Hopper for eight days.
But in that American second act tradition, she began to act in movies and on TV. Her IMDB record shows her on multiple episodes of Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Hotel before her six-year stint on Knots Landing. I don’t recall seeing any of them.
She sings from time to time, including at tributes to her musical colleagues. Cass died in 1974, John in 2001, and Denny in 2007, making Michelle the sole survi
vor of the group. I believe today is her 65th birthday (I’ve seen references to both 6/4/44 and 4/6/44.)