As the folks at Turner Classic Movies gear up for their third Classic Film Festival this week in Hollywood, they’re also completing a ten-city “road trip.” I was pleased to host two of these events, with Tippi Hedren in Minneapolis and Jane Powell in Denver. What fun! (TCM hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz handled most of the evenings, held in vintage movie houses around the country.)
Most people don’t have the opportunity of seeing stars from Hollywood’s golden age in person, which is why so many of them travel to L.A. for the TCM Festival; having them turn up in their hometown is especially exciting. It worked out pretty well for my guests, as well: Tippi Hedren grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, and was having dinner with some of her girlfriends from school days after our interview, while Jane Powell was able to see one of her daughters, who lives outside Denver, and two of her granddaughters, who were tickled to see people making such a fuss over their grandmother.
Both women are pretty remarkable. Tippi is 82 and Jane turned 83 on April 1st. It’s not just that they look so good: they have a youthful vitality and enthusiasm that’s both endearing and inspiring. Neither one has had an easy life, but they’ve survived, and embrace the present with a smile. Tippi told me that she just had a skylight built into her bedroom so she can gaze at the stars at night. Jane does Pilates exercises five times a week.
What’s more, they both know how to charm an audience. They don’t whitewash their experiences, but they make it clear that they appreciate the opportunities they had, Jane in the 1940s and ‘50s and Tippi in the ‘60s.
The x-factor on evenings like this is the audience. A man came backstage to see Tippi with black & white prints of photos he took when she first arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1940s and started to model. It was easy to see why Eileen Ford snapped her up and brought her to New York.
During my q&a session with Jane, a woman wondered if the star remembered her, and approached the stage with a framed photo of herself, aged four, when Jane sang to her at an army base—in the mid-1940s. Like the professional she is, Jane said her face looked familiar!
It’s always interesting, and enjoyable, to hear the stars reminisce about the films we’re about to screen. Diehard buffs probably know these stories already, but hearing them anew, in such a congenial atmosphere, is enjoyable all the same.
I had a great time, and I can say with some confidence that the audiences did, too. Right now I’m trying to conserve my energy for the marathon that is the TCM Classic Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday night. I’ll be hosting about ten screenings over the course of the weekend, which is just a fraction of the events being staged…and I can hardly wait. For a complete schedule and more information, click HERE.