Sat, Mar 17, 2018 09:14 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

JJ's Hollywood

Jackson dishes on behind-the- scenes events in earlier movies

by Jill Jackson

01/18/2008 - HOLLYWOOD ... In my younger days when I was a columnist playing at being an "actress," Ross Hunter cast me in the role of the policewoman in charge of Lana Turner in "Madam X." The film has had quite a run. It's still on somewhere, sometime. My residuals are down to, like, $28. However, what went on behind the scenes would make an ever better film.

You would have thought I was one of the leading players, not one who just held on to Lana and said not one word throughout the entire film. First I had to go to Western Costume to be fitted for a uniform. That done, my hair was trimmed a la a police matron's — short. Then I was given my own little dressing room in the back of the set, along with Lana's, Constance Bennett's and John Forsythe's.

Then the best part: I was given a gun belt and a gun — a tiny snub-nosed .38. Unloaded, of course. BUT would you believe? There was a person hired just to hand me that gun in the morning. Take it at noon when we broke for lunch. Give it back to me when we returned, and then take it again when we closed down for the day. This went on for a week.

But that's not all. Lana and Constance were feuding because Lana felt Constance was getting a fancier wardrobe, and they weren't speaking. One would poke her head out of her dressing room, and if the other was sitting out on the set, she would poke her head in and stay in.

It even got so bad that when Constance would have her close-ups and Lana was supposed to feed her lines, Lana wouldn't do it. Sooo, guess who got to read the lines while the camera was on Constance? That's right, you guessed it. The film finally wrapped without bloodshed, and is one of the most replayed films of all time. What went on in the making could well have been made into another film. Quelle experience!

Ross also cast me in a small role in "Tammy and the Doctor." I was a scrub nurse in the operating room, completely covered with face mask, hair wrapped in a cap, rubber gloves and a long green gown. There was nothing of me out except my eyes. All I had to do in this one was hand a few instruments to a doctor. When shooting stopped at noon, and my scene was over, I went to the dressing room, changed back into my clothes and was headed off the lot when an assistant director came charging after me screaming: "You're not through. Now we shoot from another angle." Sooo, back I went. We shot from the "other angle," and I was finished.

At least when I see myself in this one I haven't changed a bit. That's because you can't see any of me. I might add that I also was a columnist then, and even though my career as an actress in the movies wasn't soaring, I was getting some mighty good stories.

Then there was "Airport." I was one of the passengers on the plane. Also in that one to write a story about the making. We worked six weeks. From 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Just seated in the plane and reacting to all the goings-on. I was a couple of seats ahead of Helen Hayes, who was so wonderful and won a supporting Oscar for her role as little old Miss Ada Quonset. I've seen the film at least 10 times in reruns, and I've yet to find me. However, I do also still receive residuals from that one. About $22 with every showing.

Such was my life as a movie actress. Better to stick to column writing.

(c) 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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