Monday, May 3, 2010
Memories Of Lynn Redgrave
So there I was on the set of the new CBS sitcom House Calls chattering away to Lynn Redgrave and we were having a high old time of it.
The year was 1981 and Redgrave looked forward to hunkering down in the new comedy which should have run for years to come.
The next I heard she had angrily exited the show after Universal mandated she could not breast feed her new baby even in the privacy of her trailer.
Remember this was a sitcom that shot only one day a week with a live audience. The rest of the time Redgrave spent in rehearsals, fittings for clothes, just plain hanging out.
She lost her lawsuit after it dragged on for 13 years and the experience left her broke and heart sick.
I'm remembering all this because the feisty actress died over the weekend at her Connecticut home at the age of 67.
Her brother Corin died at 70 a month ago in England and in March 2009 her niece Natasha Richardson died after a skiing accident in Quebec.
Redgrave's theatrical roots went back generations. Her father Sir Michael was an acting legend, mother Rachel Kempson co-starred in The TV smash The Jewel In The Crown.
Redgrave's older sister Vanessa remains a powerhouse in cinema and stage work.
The two sisters acted on TV in the deliriously silly remake of Whatever Happerned To Baby Jane? and in London's End in a version of Three Sisters (1991) where Lynn publicly rebuked Vanessa for her leftist political views.
But when Lynn was giving a chat at Toronto's Convocation Hall about her life Vanessa who was starring at the Royal Alexandra theater managed to show up and sat in the audience.
I remember Lynn laughing to me she never wanted to hear the music from George Girl again. The 1966 movie garnered her an Oscar nomination and a career as a bright comedienne but she was significantly chubbier then. A strict diet got her a decades long gig as the TV spokesperson for WeightWatchers.
Sometimes Lynn's acting choices simply seemed bizarre: she played The Happy Hooker in one movie that was just plain weird.
But she later had prime roles in such film hits as Shine (1996) and Gods And Monsters (1998) which won her a second Oscar nomination.
The last time we chatted was in the late 1990s in L.A. at a reception for a strange cable TV series that focused on spouses of the stars: I got to chat up Mrs. Charlton Heston, W.C. Fields's mistress Carlotta Monti, Henry Mancini's wife, Rudy Vallee's galpal and Redgrave's director husband John Clark who had once directed plays at Toronto's Crest theater.
Redgrave later divorced Clark in a very bitter battle in 200.
Once again she rebounded this time with the one woman play Shakespeare For My Father. She also co-starred in the 1991 CBC TV drama White Lies opposite Sarah Polley, counseling the young actress to hold firm to her political beliefs and use her celebrity to advance her causes.