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Movies, Television and Broadway


MOVIES
Two For the See Saw

United Artists 1962

The movie Two for the Seesaw was based on a successful Broadway play. It was written by William Gibson and had starred Henry Fonda and Ann Bancroft. The movie version was originally prepared as a vehicle for Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, but when casting was impossible to arrange, I was signed to play Gittel Mosca, a Jewish girl from the Bronx who lives a lonely life in Greenwich Village. Producer Walter Mirisch considered several actors for the part of Jerry, including Henry Fonda whom they considered too old at the time. (This Hollywood age thing does affect men, too.) Others under consideration were Gregory Peck and William Holden, but Mirisch chose Robert Mitchum!

Life is full of little mysteries and Robert was one of them. I had always had a crush on this man and it began to surface when the cameras began to roll. At first it was the kidding between us that Robert Wise, the director, couldn't stand. Wise often displayed his displeasure. But, this thing between Mitchum and I had started and it was too late to turn back. Mitchum, a gentle giant of a man who seemed to have no ambition, no dreams to fulfill and no drive to prove anything to anyone, fascinated me.

I loved working with Bob. He was considerate and kind. He was never late and he always knew his lines as well as the lines of the other actors. He smoked his cigarettes, drank anything he could pour, and judged scripts by how many days he would have off. Yet, I believe he really cared about his craft. And about me but was to embarrassed to let anyone know we had fun together. We had a way of telling jokes and laughing right up until the time Wise called action. We enjoyed making the sudden, one hundred eighty degree transition from the light side into the depth of emotion that was required in any particular scene. Wise couldn't adjust that fast and as a result I think he felt somewhat isolated from the party. And what a party it was. It was the beginning of a three-year relationship.

The film got mixed critical notices, but it did respectable business. Two for the SeeSaw was the seventeenth film I had done in seven years with Hal Wallis. It would be my last picture under contract with Mr. Wallis. I was tired of being a slave. I bought out my contract and headed for freedom in the land of make believe… Hollywood.

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Shirley in Two For the See Saw
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