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WHEN JOHN TRAVOLTA AND TOMMY LEE JONES WERE THE HOT NEW TINSELTOWN HUNKS

1977 was the year I interviewed a number of Hollywood veterans for a New York Times article titled "The Sound That Shook Hollywood." That same year, I talked with numerous other Hollywood stars and directors, most of whom were too young to have experienced the trauma of going from the Silents to the Talkies. Here's what was on their minds. --Guy Flatley


"I love being regarded as a sex symbol, but I can't take it too seriously...the three-picture deal I made with Stigwood exceeds a million dollars and includes percentages, so I could be a millionaire within the next couple of years. In the meantime, I love the publicity that makes me out to be one now. It's fun to see your future spread out before you."--John Travolta

"I haven't decided what I'm going to do with my career when I grow up. Thank God, I don't have to decide, because I've got a long way to go before I grow up." --Tommy Lee Jones

"It's amazing the fascination Jimmy Dean still holds for so many people. By the standards of that time, Jimmy seemed eccentric, but I didn't find him strange at all. He was intense and introverted, but he wasn't into drugs or anything like that. They say he was self-destructive, but I never thought so. We became very close while we were making 'Rebel Without a Cause,' and I spent a great deal of time with him. We used to go to lunch together on his motorcycle, and I never regarded that as destructive." --Natalie Wood

"Most young directors today think they are David Lean; they spend over a year on a film and the we get robots that talk. 'Star Wars' was infantile and it put me to sleep." --Ryan O'Neal

"God, is Clint ever a fantastic director! Two words from him means more to me than10 speeches from any other director. More than anyone I've ever met, Clint is a man of instinct. He can feel everything that is going on in everyone around him, and he makes acting so natural, so easy. Of course, I've always been impressed with him as a star; he may be the only one on screen today who has that incredible magic the old stars had-that bigger-than-life quality that goes beyond talent." --Sondra Locke

"'Black Sunday' was a real downer for me. It was a minor success, but a major disappointment. I guess the subject of terrorism was a turnoff; it was too close to home. People are not interested in going to the movies to see what's happening in headlines." --Robert Evans

"Jane Fonda is a brilliant girl, with very sure instinct and colossal technique, but she's not the easiest person to work with. On the other hand, Montgomery Clift wasn't very easy either...but that's all right-you don't have to marry your actors." --Fred Zinnemann, director of "Julia," "The Search" and "From Here to Eternity"

"My part in 'Foul Play' does call for someone tall and handsome. At least, that's what it said on my script; the script they sent Al Pacino called for somebody short and handsome." --Chevy Chase

"I took a lot of chances with 'New York, New York,' shooting in the style of the 40's, taking the trappings of an old-fashioned musical and using studio interiors that are supposed to be exteriors. I wanted to set up a tension between a style that distances you from the characters and a drama that brings you close to them. By showing a modern relationship set in the old days, I was trying to show that things may not have been so different then." --Martin Scorsese

"Bertolucci was wonderful to work with on '1900,' but he was really very naughty. He knew damned well he wasn't going to make the 3-hour picture he had contracted to make for Paramount. After all, it's a 50-year historical perspective of the life of Italy...When he came and asked me if I'd do '1900,' I said there was no way he could afford me, no way he could meet my usual salary. So I worked for nothing. There are times, however, when I do a film like 'Cassandra Crossing' simply because I need the money. I kid you not." --Burt Lancaster

"The sight of a couple having sexual intercourse is not a good enough reason for people to spend money on babysitters. As Groucho Marx says, 'I wouldn't pay $10 to see a naked man, when I've been looking at myself in the mirror all my life for free.'" --King Vidor

"I liked Marilyn Monroe very much. She was a nice girl. But it was difficult working with her in 'Don't Bother to Knock.' Darryl Zanuck wanted to make her a dramatic actress, even though acting scared her to death. So we had a lot of trouble just getting her out of her dressing room." --Richard Widmark

"It was said that I allowed my personal picturesequeness to interfere with my talent, that I had become a buffoon, a court jester. Like my hero, Dylan Thomas, I was beginning to believe my own publicity; I was worshiping at my own shrine. Finally, after 20 years of Rabelaisian drunkenness and boudoir folly, I met somebody who said, 'Hey, stand still!'...Peter Finch is gone now, and Stanley Baker. And Peter O'Toole can never take another drink. All my old chums gone, all the lads I drank with. Gone. I'm going to outlive them all." --Richard Harris

"Mostly, I remember the movies I did by what was happening offscreen-who I was married to, what child I had, which house I was living in. I look back on a movie like 'Nightmare Alley' with fondness because of my affection for Ty Power. He was a darling guy. And I got to work with Clark Gable in 'Adventure.' You never heard anyone say a bad word about Gable. Hell, he was so damned nice to everybody...occasionally Jim Cagney and I will talk on the phone. You don't keep up all the old friendships, though; there are people you love and there's nothing that's going to shake that love, but that doesn't mean you're roommates." --Joan Blondell

"'The Late Show' is a conflicting-report film. It's been playing in Seattle for 10 weeks, and we get a third of the audience who hates it, a third who loves it and a third who doesn't know it likes it until two days later. A lot of my films get that response." --Robert Altman

"I never want to work again. This is the day of the agents. The average producer today is a businessman, someone who is good at packaging things and then running away. In my time, we were as creative as the director or anyone else. I used to bring the director onto a movie 10 days before we began shooting, and I let him go the day we stopped shooting." --Pandro S. Berman

"The publicity has grown like a monster, lurking around every corner, so that I'm afraid to go to the grocery store because I know the man behind the counter is going to say, 'Sylvia, you're everywhere!' But I've got to buy groceries, just like everyone else. They're driving me crazy with this partygirl stuff. Look at Tammy Grimes-she goes to parties all the time, yet nobody says a word about that. And I'm the one actress who won't give up New York for the big money of Hollywood. On the other hand, it has been said that I make it out to the airport to greet everyone who comes in." --Sylvia Miles

"I remember escorting Bette Davis to a concert where there were to be a number of the greatest Hollywood directors in attendance. I said, 'Bette, I'm nervous about mixing with all those guys,' and she said, 'Irving Rapper, if I didn't think you were better than every one of them, would I be here with you in this car right now?' And then, the next day, she would say, 'Irving? Irving who?'" --Irving Rapper

"I experienced so much pain making 'Myra Breckinridge.' The first day Mae West saw me, she turned to Michael Sarne, the director, and said, 'I told you I'm not working with any other blondes.' So they zipped me over to the beauty shop and put brown streaks in my hair. But Raquel Welch was evidently tired of her dark hair, and she had blonde streaks put in. Then, when she saw my streaked hair, she walked off the set. Late one evening, I flubbed a line and Raquel threw down her script and said, 'I can't work with that dummy-she doesn't even know her lines.'" --Farrah Fawcett

"If they say I am sexy, there ain't much I can do about it. I just act. Once in a while, I catch myself standing in front of a mirror, combing my hair, wondering...and then I take a good look at my face, this mug with its broken nose and its 20-degree warp, and I have a terrific time laughing." --Roy Scheider