I was one steamy baby boomer, with the emphasis on “baby.” In my first and most famous role, I played a fourteen-year-old nymph seducing a dignified middle-aged professor who falls ga-ga in lust with me. Just so happens I was the same age when cast.
I beat out over 800 mostly older boomer pretties, including very precocious Tuesday Weld who remarked: “I didn’t have to play the character, I was the character.” Part of the reason I won was my ample breasts. Nervous producers worried a too adolescent look couldn’t sneak by the censors. Remember, this was 1962, before the baby boomer sexual revolution turned Hollywood movies into a long-running version of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.”
Lolita was oh-so-controversial but still nominated for 7 Academy Awards. I won the Golden Globe for the Most Promising Female Newcomer. Continuing my sexy baby, baby boomer ways, I seduced Richard Burton as a tortured defrocked priest in Night of the Iguana. I’m not one to gossip, but…my illustrious co-star drank so much at night I had trouble ignoring the alcohol odor oozing out his pores during the filming day. He also dominated tag-along Elizabeth Taylor, who I found very meek. That was one shrew he really did tame.
I had a few less provocative roles, including a missionary worker in China and the wife of Evel Knievel, but by the mid-1970s my career was drying up. A comeback slipped through my fingers when Warren Beatty dropped me at the last minute and cast Faye Dunaway as his crime moll in Bonnie and Clyde. Sure, she was a bigger celebrity and better actress, but I was hotter. I scored a minor role here and there and finally drifted to the television wasteland of baby boomer has-beens: Love, American Style and Fantasy Island. I couldn’t stay a teenager forever. I may have been a flash in the pan, but it was quite a flash.
I’ve gone through husbands like bon-bons, not always making the best choices, but with practice, I finally got it (almost) right. At least I never hitched up with any Hollywood jerks. My marital resume:
#1: one and half years
#2: less than a year
#3: less than a year
#4: less than a year
#5: 17 years (divorced)
#2 was Roland Harrison, a black photographer and football coach. America wasn’t ready for a Hollywood interracial marriage so we lived in Spain.
I met #3, one Cotton Adamson, while he was serving time for murder and robbery. We were married in 1973 and I walked out when he committed another robbery.
My final marriage was to a radio engineer. We stayed on the same frequency for years.
Night of the Iguana was shot in a small town just south of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. At the time there was no road from Puerto Vallarta to the location, so the cast and crew commuted via barges.
Sue got $25,000 for Lolita. Two years later she could command $75,000 for Night of the Iguana.
BABY BOOMERS TRIVIA QUESTIONS
►Who wrote Night of the Iguana?
►A few Hollywood marriages are made in heaven. Only one of the following has been divorced:
Answers to Baby Boomer Trivia Questions at end of post
NOTABLE QUOTABLES: Boomer Bon Mots
Just saying ‘no’ prevents teenage pregnancy the way ‘Have a nice day’ cures depression. ~ Faye Wattleton
Sex at age ninety is like trying to shoot pool with a rope. ~ George Burns
I feel sorry for her [the character of Lolita]. She’s neurotic and pathetic and only interested in herself. ~ Sue Lyon
TODAY IN BOOMER HISTORY
1995 Salt Lake City is awarded the 19th Winter Olympics Games for 2002.
1989 Ghostbusters II movie premieres.
1987 The so-called Subway Vigilante, Bernard Goetz, is acquitted of shooting four young men who tried to rob him on a New York City subway.
1980 Blues Brothers premieres in Chicago, the location of the movie.
The Supreme Court decides that new forms of life created in laboratories may be legally patented.
1977 Beatlemania opens on Broadway. It’s advertised as “Not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation,” and runs for 1006 performances.
1969 The Supreme Court rules that the House of Representatives had acted unconstitutionally when it excluded Harlem Representative Adam Clayton Powell for a variety of offenses. By that time, he had already been re-seated.
1967 50,000 attend the Monterey Pop Festival in California. Many of them drift down to San Francisco for the Summer of Love.
1966 Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In premieres on NBC television.
At the Tony Awards, The Man of La Mancha is Musical of the Year. Marat/Sade wins Play of the Year.
1961 After 9 years as host of the first television Today Show, Dave Garroway is fired over contract and other disputes. The final straw comes when Garrroway lays down on the NBC studio floor and refuses to get up until his contract demands are met.
Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects to the West.
1960 The movie Psycho opens in New York City.
1947 The first television network news debuts: Dumont’s News From Washington.
ANSWERS TO BABY BOOMERS TRIVIA QUESTIONS
►If it’s hot, steamy sex, you can bet Tennessee Williams wrote it.
►Ronald Reagan’s wife and First Lady Nancy was number two. His first marriage was to Hollywood A-List star Jane Wyman, with whom he had 2 children: Maureen, who died in 2001 and adopted son Michael. They were together 8 years and split the year Wyman won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1948. B-List actress Nancy Davis and Reagan were married in 1952. They seemed made for each other. Charlton Heston called it “the greatest love affair in the history of the American Presidency.”
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