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Audiovisual Cultures episode 96 – Fading Fame with Pam Munter automated transcript


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this is audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of the arts and media join me your host paula blair and the researchers practitioners and enthusiasts i meet along the way see our website at audiovisualculture.wordpress.com and other links in the show notes for more information for now enjoy the show hello thank you for tuning in to another episode of audiovisual cultures we’re taking a virtual trip to hollywood today with my very special guest pam munter who is a former actor a musician an author and a film his story and we do love those on this show we’ll mainly be talking to pam about her latest book of short stories and plays fading fame women of a certain age in hollywood published this year in 2021 with adelaide picks before that though i’d really love to give a very warm welcome to pam it’s so wonderful to have you on the show hi pam hi paulus thank you for having me this is quite a pleasure to be speaking to another film historian that’s a rare treat for me awesome that’s great i’m hoping we can get into some proper nerdy business if i film uh especially early film in hollywood um and i can learn a few things from me as well before we talk about your book as well just wanted to ask how are you doing where bites are you joining us from i live in palm desert california which is about two hours east of los angeles it’s in the desert it’s really interesting when you think back to early early cinema and read about basically what a desert california was you know the whole of it before hollywood was built out of that arid landscape we’re catching up with that a little bit later on with your work would you be happy to tell us a bit more about yourself and your work and your interests sure i had the good fortune i think to be born and raised in los angeles which is a stone’s throw from hollywood uh my parents they weren’t into the business at all nor were any of the neighbors they were pretty solid traditional blue collar kind of folks but my mother took me to a film when i was five years old believe it or not and i remember the movie even and i was hooked i thought you know that’s the kind of life i want to know more about i wanted to be in it i mean it was so different from my everyday life with housewives gossiping about their husbands and drinking coffee and that’s maybe crazy i just couldn’t imagine a life like that so i kept going to movies even as a kid i spent my babysitting money going to movies and where i grew up even though my parents weren’t in the business a lot of people were i went to school with some famous kids in my high school for instance there was ryan o’neal and sandra d and nancy sinatra and a lot of the kids of celebrities sitting next to me in my english class was a mousekateer if you remember those and so fame just didn’t seem that far away to me you know it seemed like a doable thing but back in those days paula there was no mass media telling us what these people really like that we saw on the screen the hollywood was controlled by five major studios and five white men who were lord master of their domain and the only thing we knew about these stars that we adored came from the publicity departments of those studios who funneled the information to movie magazines that was it that was all we had you know there was no cable tv there was no not even any uh national enquirer you know or any uh newspapers that would tell the truth because all of that was controlled by the studios who were very wealthy and usually pillars of their communities but you know i never quite bought that i always wondered even as a kid could all these people be so freaking happy all the time i didn’t understand you know we saw pictures of women and men hugging and there were no gay people of course they were invented later on

they were moving or they were vacationing or they were on the set and they’re all immaculately dressed and i just was so fascinated with that world well i realized very young that even though i loved it and i wanted to be a movie star as all kids did at that age i knew that probably wasn’t really likely so i went into other fields i actually became a clinical psychologist and practiced for a quarter of a century and saw a lot of celebrities in therapy which is interesting and fun for me but i always kept writing about the business it was something that fascinated me i wrote i don’t know maybe two dozen articles very lengthy articles on not so famous movie stars for some of the magazines like classic images and films of the golden age and the ones that told the truth this is after the era of the five studios and i love doing that because i was afraid that people like i don’t know joan blondell or celeste home or joan davis would be forgotten so i took a lot of time out of my life to do that so i was writing nonfiction that was my life i read it i wrote it i loved it never read fiction never liked fiction it was not very politically correct to say since i just produced a book of fiction but that’s the truth i had left the practice we closed it down because of managed care it was just so intrusive it was very hard to feel ethical about doing lengthy psychotherapy when there was so much intrusion into the process from the outside and i went into an mfa program in performing arts creative writing and performing arts and i wrote a autobiography a memoir called as long as i want to be and i was fine i got through with that and then the head of the department said you know you need a second field i thought oh i’m in real trouble now because this is the only one i know he said why don’t you try fiction oh man wow that’s like saying why don’t you fly to mars tomorrow morning you know i just didn’t know how to do it how to go about doing it but then i thought you know i have an awful lot of information about hollywood history in my head to serve no functional purpose at all to anyone what happens if i take some of those stories fictionalize them and in some cases make them anonymous some of the stories in the book fading fame aren’t about a specific movie star but about a collection of people thought maybe i could get away with that you know maybe we could call that fiction because it was now the stories i tell there’s one in particular about joan davis who was a vaudeville performer i don’t know if you’re familiar with that name her history was amazing really she was in radio she had her own shows on radio she was did films for years she had a hit television program called i married joan in the 50s and then there was nothing they canceled their show what happened to joan davis what happens to women who get too old for the studios for the public no they’re no longer desirable even female comediennes like joan davis apparently had a shelf life that ran out so i wondered i wondered a lot i had written some place years ago that she had had an affair with another comedian named eddie cantor who’s also very famous more famous than she actually vaudeville movies all that kind of state a lot of stage work television i thought i’m gonna make a story out of that i mean i don’t know if it’s true i don’t know how long it went on but coincidentally both joan davis and eddie cantor had had homes just a few miles from where i live well as a former researcher i couldn’t help myself i had to drive over there and take a look which i did in joan davis’s house they were working on it i don’t know what they were doing but obviously she didn’t live there anymore she was long dead as was cancer but there were open doors and i thought ah should i go in and look around you know it helped my story maybe if i knew exactly what the setting was and i stopped myself come on come on this isn’t a research piece this is fiction back off but i discovered that even though they had long ended their affair if they ever had one they only lived a mile and a half apart in the palm springs area so what a great story this could be so that was the kind of way i fictionalized real stories for fading fame and there were a couple of others like that where i took the a nub just a little nugget of the reality and turned it into something i thought i could use that’s brilliant to hear yes i wanted to thank you as well for so generously sharing the text of your book with me i really enjoyed the short stories i didn’t manage to get to the place but i really enjoyed all of the stories and that one was really poignant in particular and i was wanting to ask you about to what extent you was anything from historical documentation and how true even is that in the first place um and then how much of it was imagined you know and played with that sort of thing so that’s really interesting to hear that stuff was in my head you know i i didn’t have to do the research i knew that joan davis had been an alcoholic which he is in my story also because of biographies written by other actors who worked with her and talked about her difficulty functioning sometimes because of alcohol in fact a lot of the women in these stories drank too much it was one way of coping i suppose with the loss of their fame you know the people who were in that era of show business had nothing else many of them started very young in mary pickford’s case she was on stage at six supporting her entire family on the vaudeville stage not much education which is true of all of these women none of them were well educated or college graduates few of them were high school graduates for that matter and they didn’t go through the normal developmental stages so their lives were filled with dare i say fame or the acquisition of it and when that was gone it’s like their identity had just been stripped away there was not much left and as you say it’s poignant to see people who were so talented uh mary pickford is a great example of that and she was the first female executive in hollywood she ran her own studio big star in the 20s she was called america’s sweetheart married douglas fairbanks and they were this dashing couple all over the papers and that’s also in my story because anybody who knows hollywood history knows mary pickford i didn’t really have explained who she was but a lot of her success was due to her screenwriter francis marion uh and they became good friends now i have them doing francis marion wanting a little more from mary than friendship but clearly fictionalized i hope i think i don’t know who knows this stuff but mary pickford had such a sad ending she ran the silent films ran out and she ran out i mean there was not much left she had gone through her entire career even up to the age of 40 playing young girls with curly wrinkly hair and at 40 you know you just can’t get away with that too much anymore and the public didn’t want to see her as the actor she had become as mary pickford so she kind of faded away the interesting part was that francis marion went straight up from there she won two academy awards for screenwriting the first woman i think to win two academy awards for writing film and mary who’s really the sad part to me is not just dissolving in alcohol which is sad enough but the fact that she lived in this mansion in hollywood from the early 1920s through two husbands and ended up living there still as she died you know you think about movie stars norma desmond you know the famous fictional character in sunset boulevard and she wasn’t too far from that it was a hard story to write but i thought it was a story that needed to be told even fictionalized because that’s what happens to women who get too old they get thrown away yes i had thought about that comparison with sunset boulevard.com was in my mind quite a bit when i was reading some of those earlier stories and how that’s depicted and i mean it’s made into a film noir and surrounded by you and murder and everything it’s glammed up a bit but there’s so much about what happened and and who didn’t make it when the talkies came in really sad yeah it is sad when technology comes in like that a lot of people get left behind actually with most of the men who got left behind the women get uh jettisoned because their age mostly you know the film moguls want someone they can imagine having sex with and once they got into their late 20s no sorry you know next they didn’t want the ones that actually they had signed the contracts i recently watched bombshell i don’t know if you’ve seen that film but that’s a very contemporary example of that very sort of thing happening at fox news based on a real story it’s very prescient so although your stories are set in the past they’re set in another century depressingly now it’s a very prescient issue is that idea of women needing to be stuck at a certain age and having value only because of what they look like and it doesn’t matter how talented they are or how committed they are how hard they work or any of it yes it’s still very much with us i particularly enjoyed the stories jerry’s interview and the curtain never falls i think because as well as those stories that look at perhaps the more negative impact of all of this context those two stories they have a bit of a lift in them and the characters that are depicted geraldine leonard and maggie bose they get to be quite heroic in their own ways so i was wondering you know if you had any thoughts on that because there are more positive ending stories in the book as well but also are there any any other favorites of yours or any other highlights you’d like to mention well the curtain river falls came out of a single line i heard i don’t know if you’re familiar with rosemary she’s gone now but she was probably best known for a television show called dick van dyke show she was one of the main characters in that but she had a long and illustrious career again on stage nightclubs and stuff like that she had there was a documentary about her just before she died and the interviewer said you know how are you doing and i don’t know she says you know at night when i’m in bed i go over my act i thought ah how poignant is that here’s a woman 80 something at that point and she’s still thinking she’s going to get back to it so there’s a story there’s got to be a story in that and everything that came out of maggie beau’s story came from that one line in the documentary so you never know when uh inspiration is going to strike actually my favorite story i think is the one that’s called dinner with daddy and it’s the story of irene selznick irene mayer selznick who was the younger daughter of elbie mayer the kingpin of mgm really one of the founders of mgm as in metro golden mayor and i have her in the story coming back to the family mansion in bel air which i have actually seen and uh it’s been years since she’d been there she doesn’t know why she’s there it’s a family dinner and daddy’s being daddy and ordering people around and there’s a butler and there’s a younger sister or older sister actually who is on her constantly and all like most of us when we go home as adults some of the old patterns come back so easily in spite of ourselves and we see that in dinner with daddy there’s a lot of history and dinner with daddy that i threw in sort of incidentally i have irene challenging her father on why he would invite charlie chaplin to dinner with a high school girl well it’s again a fact that charlie liked young girls i don’t know if he ever had dinner it’ll be mayor’s house i don’t know if they were friends i don’t know if they work together but it was an irresistible tidbit i also threw in uh in the story about mary pickford a tidbit about peg entwistle who is a sort of a footnote to history she uh was a young actress who is probably best known for killing herself by jumping off the hollywood sign which is very sad i bet i have her at the dinner party with mary pickford and francis maria so any story where i can insert real history even as a parenthetical aside it’s just more fun for me and i think that’s why i like the selznick dinner with daddy story and that’s one that ends happily too incidentally i mean she one of the reasons the family is there is that they’re announcing their divorce and irene helps her mother learn to cope with what she knows will be an awful ending in the family again i don’t know if that happened i do know that irene sort of made her bones as a producer on broadway in the streetcar named desire in 1949 she completely changed careers which one of the things that makes this such a positive story i think she wasn’t a victim like some of the others sort of feels like they were she made the best of a bad situation married to an awful person david selznick who was obsessive-compulsive and a womanizer she had the good sense to leave so some of the stories as you say are positive i don’t know that whether they end well or not affects how i feel about them some of them are harder to write than others everything that mattered was very hard to write because it’s about a real person who actually did kill herself by whom i knew so that made it a little tougher to write in many cases i had met these people in different settings i had met doris day for instance a couple of times i was a huge fan of tourist day i consider myself the world’s expert on doris day so i couldn’t not put a story about her in the book even though it’s it’s kind of dark comedy more than positive or negative and she just never learns her lesson and never did accidentally right up to the end she always put her life in disreputable men’s hands it was a fun book to write really and and as you suggest all the stories are quite different we have young women in their 40s who have been shipped out because of age and we have older women like ethel barrymore who’s probably the oldest subject who is on set with frank sinatra doing a film in which she kind of it’s not a walk-on but it’s a character part it’s not what she has been used to doing and that was hard to write because i knew that she struggled in her later years and i knew she was in that movie because i had seen it it was one of my favorite films i knew the lines and everything was embarrassing and i just had to include her in it somehow so all these stories are a part of me really and they involve people that i felt some some emotional connection with in jerry’s interview to you mentioned she’s in sort of a nursing home sort of a last stage of life dementia process and i knew an actress like that i kind of watched her go through all those difficult stages and she had people around her which gary didn’t have she didn’t have family at least in this story but i thought it was an important story to tell because all the memories you know when you get older like that come flooding back not necessarily in sequence you know she’s an unreliable narrator we don’t know if these things are true she talks about a murderer you know we don’t know if this actually happened the plays are a little different you say you hadn’t hadn’t read those they are also a little bit about real people but they’re lighter there are dark comedies intended to be kind of oh my god did she say that kind of situation same theme though it’s you know the post-metoo era what happens to women after they pay their dues what do they do themselves and how do they cope with that and what are they willing to do to get it back and one of the stories we see one of the women in the plays janet drake private eye we see two women who are fighting over the same role and they’re both older you know they’ve played it once one of them played it on television one of them played it in on the radio which tells you their age and there’s a movie now being made with this character and both of these women want that part well what are they gonna do to get it it was a fun thing to write because i sort of knew those people in a way i hope you’ll enjoy reading the plays when you get to yeah i’m looking forward to it yes just thinking about drawing out more on some of those things that you’ve mentioned as well that idea of competitiveness just runs right through the whole thing that how so many of these actresses and writers and musicians performers in general they were pitted against each other and pitted against other people and new things coming in all the time and and just how much that eats away at them and there’s a lack of really developing deeper relationships that i hope has changed to an extent these days um it seems that actors are more or at least they will maybe continue to perform solidarity and collaboration but i don’t know i feel like some of that’s more genuine these days and so that’s part of the pathos i think of so many of those stories is that they’re underpinned by that competitiveness yeah i think that what has changed today for the better has been the strength of women’s networking you know they didn’t do that then they were at the mercy of men sadly there are still no women at the head of studios they’re still all white men but more at the secondary and tertiary levels of authority and they have helped other women i think rise you know it wasn’t until the 70s that another woman ran a major studio after mary pickford in the 20s took him 50 years to do it which is pretty amazing and discouraging but sadly that was not to last that was a short-lived era we had sherry lansing at 20th century fox and i think she was a ceo at paramount for a couple of years we had don steele at columbia and amy pascal and stacey schneider at universal but i don’t think there are i think a couple of them are dead but i don’t think any of them are in power anymore again the competitiveness at that level was uh every bit as vicious if not more so than competing for a part against a younger actress it’s a tough life you’re never quite good enough yeah it’s that idea of even if you’re more than good enough you just don’t look the way somebody might want you to look or you’re not prepared to do something that a producer wants you to do in private i mean hopefully the landscape’s changing because you mentioned as well earlier that of course these were all white men highly privileged people at the tops of these studios and today we maybe don’t have studios but there are certainly maybe independent production companies so somebody like aveda renee can have her own production company and you know in a way we’ve come so far but it’s been such a difficult fight for somebody like that to you not only have the gender barrier but the racial one as well so hopefully that landscape is changing maybe not fast enough but i don’t know there is a legacy to what these women suffered as you depict well we still have netflix and amazon you know to control the uh cinematic universe as you say there are smaller independents but then there’s people like harvey weinstein who ran them one of those smaller independents who’s notoriously predatory of course we know that he’s in jail which is a good thing and and many of his cohorts have had to resign their positions there’s a group of men at cbs who had to resign because of sexual harassment even feminist ellen degeneres had to explain to her fans why producers were harassing women on the set and fired them or they quit i’m not sure what happened actually so you’re right it still goes on i think that women banding together to help one another climb to wherever as they want to go is probably the best antidote for the sexism in the industry and talent is wonderful but as we know it’s not enough yeah very true

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i was wondering as well pam who do you expect to be the reader for this book and do you have hopes for it it would be great if your book could be part of that landscape of change yes i would hope so i’ve been a feminist since i was about eight and tried to get girls into little league that wasn’t possible back then uh so i’m hoping that it will ring that bell loudly that this is what we do to women and what we’ve always done to women in this business and we need to rethink that because it’s not worth it you know people shelf life it shouldn’t be a matter of shelf life it should be a matter what they can contribute and for how long my publicist was telling me that a lot of the people who are reviewing it are women so i would guess that’s the natural audience i mean the subtitle is women of a certain age in hollywood but i think anyone who is curious about how things were you don’t have to be a film historian to be curious about how a harvey weinstein could happen and be such an ogre for so many years you know how did he get away with that you know the casting couch goes all the way back and it was a normal accepted event if a woman wanted to be up on that screen she had to lie down on the couch first that was just unfortunately a given i don’t know that that’s true anymore i don’t think it is certainly there are those predators out there but it’s not as widespread as it once was and i think anybody who cares about that issue will be curious about these stories at least i hope so it was fun to write because of the feminist background i’ll say that because i was a clinical psychologist for so many years i felt that i could get inside their heads and give the reader some idea about how women think about these things how they process that kind of oppressiveness and disappointment and uh edging process itself you know as we know some of them did pretty well with that i think the strength to my writing is always the internal dialogue it’s not so much what happens it’s how the the woman processes the information and that was extremely fun to write because i think i know more about that probably than anything having been in practice so many years yes i think there are a lot of the characters who tend to almost build themselves back up again by tearing down another woman there’s quite a lot of that and that’s part of the system that’s part of the culture you know you have to really put it in that context and remember that this is conditioning that everybody’s going through that’s right part of that competitive nature the adversarial nature of the business i think continues i i don’t think that’ll change there’s so few slots for stardom and so many people will want to get there and not just women of course but women i think are subjected to a different kind of criteria than men are men can age gracefully carry grant i think is the greatest clark gable the old stars i mean they they acted until they died in their old age and there aren’t many women like that you think of who they might angela lansbury is a favorite of mine and she’s what 93 or something 94 now and it’s acting up until last year i don’t know if she’s still working that i mean there are women who can do it but that’s because she’s so powerful she has produced her own television series has the money and the backing to pretty much do what she wants there aren’t many performers who have reached that pinnacle that she has yes i think they start to get thin in the ground in the uk we’ve got people like judy dench who’s in her 80s now um i think helen mirren would probably be in that category i think she’s in her 70s you know so i think in a way it’s loosened up a bit it has changed but you have to build a lot of power to have that level of control yeah and you can count them on one hand or maybe two if you’re lucky yeah i think there’s still so much discussion of what these women see stars what they do with their bodies what they are socially permitted to do and expected to do and often being hauled over the coals for doing something they’re expected to do that they get criticized for not doing and what are they meant to do you know because i think there’s instances of or there are mentions of facelifts and geoplastic surgery and that sort of thing quite a bit in the book and these are just necessities that especially hollywood stars have had to meet but yet even today the headlines are very derogatory towards people who do anything cosmetic with their bodies there’s still say pressure on people you when when somebody’s had a baby for example to get that weight back off as soon as possible and it feels quite glacial any change in mindsets there i agree i agree in fact there are pictures in the press of mostly women who’ve had bad plastic surgery we don’t see that but men are having it too you know they are under the same pressure that women are to appear to be younger how sad that is i mean the people you’ve mentioned and i’ve mentioned even katherine hepburn who worked almost to the end was old and grizzled and beautiful you know it’s a different standard perhaps that we need to evolve to where the aging process is a thing of beauty not something to be shunned and plastic surgerized out of existence that’s it yeah i mean there’s so much talk now about body positivity and loving your body as it is but yeah there’s still so much tension with you need to be this sheep and that size and hide your wrinkles and dye your grey hairs and all of this stuff i just want people to be able to breathe yes it’s a silly example maybe but i’ve been watching um star trek voyager and there’s the character of seven of nine and played by jerry ryan and she’s squeezed into these corsets and she’s made as tiny as possible and you in these skin tight outfits and i just look at her and i think gosh that’s really painful looking and yet all these teenage boys 20 odd years ago were getting very excited over you know and it’s very strange to me but the whole barbie doll thing you know when i was a kid you could put your fingers around your waist easily you know with one hand the thumb and forefinger and what are we telling girls if that’s the standard to which they have to adhere you know it’s unrealistic and not very healthy i might add be part of the conversation with av cultures pod on twitter instagram and facebook pam was there anything else you’d like to tell us about some of your other work as well while we’re chatting and you know because you’ve mentioned your psychology background and your autobiography as well and you know is there anything else you’d like to point out that might be interesting for listeners to think about too well i think as a writer i’ve pushed myself beyond my comfortable limits writing fiction and writing plays for that matter and i would suggest to people that they do the same thing that they make the best use of themselves they can to use themselves up so to speak to access all their skills and develop some they didn’t know they had to sounds corny but to live life as fully as possible because it’s a it’s a carpe diem world you know we don’t know how long we have and why not take advantage of what you do have and make the most of it whether it’s helping other people or you know writing books like i do in essays i have essays up the wazoo and on my website pamundr.com by the way you know why not it’s part of making life meaningful and you know if you don’t do it who will that’s great yes because i was going to ask you as well if you had any movie advice or just anything you’ve learned over the years as you say you were um you’ve met so many and spent time with so many of these types of celebrity before and i mean if there was somebody who’s maybe aspiring to or is just starting out in the entertainment industry as well as um those really important messages you’ve just said you is there any advice you would give to anyone in that position well i think what we’ve learned from at least the stories in fading fame is the importance of getting an education when i was a kid i thought that walking down sunset boulevard or going to the brown derby would mean i would be discovered you know and some talent agent would come up to me and say you’re the one i want for my next movie well there’s still some of that fantasy i think going on among young actors that if they put themselves in certain settings they will be discovered well if that is ever going to happen you need to get grounded in education first and i mean standard education honor doesn’t mean actors studio education i mean a good liberal arts education so you have a sense of how the world is not just your little world or the world of show business but all of it and it will also stand you in good stead when the fame starts to fade if you’re ever fortunate enough to be famous it’ll give you something more to it than just seeing your name in a marquee and sadly the women in my book fading fame that’s all they wanted and pretty much all they got for the most part wasn’t enough it’s our responsibility to fill our life responsibly i think those are really accent points that puts me in mind again of so many of the characters in the stories they don’t understand their own downfall quite a lot of the time because as you say there’s not that basic education they don’t understand the maths around the money that is disappearing on they don’t understand what because they don’t have basic legal understanding either and again it calls to mind for me the um character of geraldine leonard who has the humility to go and get a job in a typing pool when her work dries up i mean i love that about her i love that she just didn’t care she just i need a job i could do that and she had had that education to be able to do that you know i really loved that part in the story we had her feet on the ground and a lot of these women sadly did not she was a good example of that she knew what she had to do and she went and answered fan mail for an actor who was more famous than she would ever be again as you say humility it’s really nice to see him somebody who’s almost famous she wasn’t quite famous but almost famous yeah and we so often forget about actors who play the smaller characters or supporting characters it was so lovely as well to just have it i really i think that was my favorite story i just i just raced through it because i just loved her so much you know i just wanted to give her a cuddle or something i really admired her you know that she’d been a supporting actor to a much bigger actor and was doing a lot of work in westerns and then tv westerns i was that a bit of a reference to rawhide oh no it was probably before wrong i didn’t okay it was uh i think probably early 50s is where i i had her having her career at small studios i think if she’d been on rawhide she would have been more famous real she didn’t have that happen to her i liked her too i liked her a lot as i was writing her and you know sad that her mental faculties were declining and as you say i wanted part of me wanted to go and say it’s okay it’s okay this is gonna happen to you and you’ll be all right everybody cares about you and you know just a lovely person i think yeah i think she was awesome and because it was sad in a way the dimension how that affects her but her attitude was just so lovely and positive that he just thought oh she’s awesome she’s just so awesome and she doesn’t know how awesome she is it’s great i really fell in love with her she seemed to accept any you know whether it was famous or having to get a job or losing her faculties or having mismatched shoes or whatever it was nothing seemed to bother her very much it’s admirable i think i wish i were selling flat absolutely yes it felt like life goes it’s a really lovely example actually that she wasn’t bothered that she just i think i will shoot him oh well yes oh god i’m glad you like that one yeah i did actually it was one of the last ones i wrote i felt i needed to have something lag ethel you know where the person is clearly coming to the end ethel was not declining mentally but she was declining physically but jerry had uh some issues with dementia as you say and it didn’t diminish her enjoyment of her life though as you say it was uh inspiring that she could look back and still wonder what happened in certain instances and and still miss the man she loved and was with just good memories that she had which is wonderful i would hope that we would all have good memories in our 80s yeah or be a total hero like maggie yes yes indeed pam is there anything else you’d like to chat about today anything we haven’t got to that you really want to say well i could tell you how it all started really the writing thing oh yeah it’s weird it was strange when i was a little girl there was a republic studios and monogram studios which are bmc studios and best sold their entire film load to television stations which were having trouble filling the content and so they would show old movies all the time and one time i saw a movie and i was just captivated by the people in the film there were teenagers and i was just a kid i was probably eight nine maybe and then i saw a couple of weeks later there was another film with the same cast on tv and every time after that i saw it was in tv guide was what we used to those days i would somehow get sick you know i would get a headache or i just couldn’t bring myself to go to school i would come up with some faux illness so i could stay home and watch these movies and there were a whole bunch of them and i couldn’t figure out who they were and how many there were and when i got older and started to do this writing about people i’ve looked up the cast which you could do more easily at that point you know years later decades later and i found that the star of the these movies was freddie stewart and it’s probably the only thing he ever did were these eight movies starring quote the teenagers two words uh and it had the same cast june pricer was in it i wanted to write about him and i wanted to write about them because it was unfinished business from my childhood who were they well the only person left alive was noel neal who was best known as the original lois lane of superman fame and she was still alive she was in her 70s i think by the time we met and i spent a lot of time with actually we became friends a lot of time asking about these movies well they were all shot in two weeks this wasn’t rocket science this wasn’t metro golden mayor if you know what i mean they get the thing and they if they made a mistake they just keep going they just roll right over the mistake and i think it was that that got me interested in knowing more about these people from my own childhood that i saw on television and in movies that transfixed me for some reason freddie stewart had a glorious a conscious soprano voice he sounded male certainly but it was very high and clarion and in fact one of the songs he sang penthouse serenade was one of the songs i did on stage in new york when i was performing because it was like an ode to him you know he had made such a difference in my life in so many ways i met his daughter and he was long dead by the time i was writing but it’s little things in life you can grab onto like that and value and uh you can change your life because you’ve just had so many experiences weird part of being alive it’s supposed to be interesting yeah yeah make it interesting yeah you’ve been so generous with your time and your stories and everything and um it’s been so interesting to hear about that process of doing the historical research and carrying it with you for such a long time and then doing something creative with it that’s a really interesting approach and hopefully it will attract people who maybe aren’t too bothered about reading history or biographies or anything but might go for those you know if they’re framed as stories and you know they’re pretty quick to read as well you know you can sit down and read one um and not that long an amount of time and you know it’s very digestible and they stay with you i think they’re you know they’re visually i think quite striking too so it’s been really great to hear just about that creative process but also just the background that you’re coming from and the you know the psychology of these people and what they what they were negotiating with in their own minds as well as in the outside world i can’t thank you enough for taking so much time oh thank you for having me let me put in a plug for fading fame it’s available on amazon.com also as an e-book as well as a paperback so if your listeners are interested in knowing more about some of these stories they can find it at the end of their keyboard brilliant and i will be sure to put those links for the book and for your website in our show notes wherever people are finding this as well so you’ve no excuse but to go and check them out oh great pam hunter it’s been just such pleasure i’ve really really enjoyed spending this time with you and thank you so much for your generosity with your time and ideas and taking so much out of your morning well thank you paul it’s a pleasure to be with you thank you for having me

this is a cozy people production with me paula blair the music is common ground by airton used under a 3.0 non-commercial creative commons license and is available at ccmixter.org if you’ve enjoyed this episode please give us a good reading subscribe and recommend audiovisual cultures to your friend all of our contact details socials information ways to listen and our mailing list sign up can be found on our website linked in the show notes thank you so much for listening and supporting take care and i’ll catch you next time

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