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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mommie Dearest!

Faye Dunaway would cringe to see my headline. She would like nothing better than for everyone to forget the film version of "Mommie Dearest" and her over-the-top performance as Joan Crawford. More fiction than memoir, the film is a camp classic and the chances that people will ever forget about it are nil to zero.

January 14 marks Ms Dunaway's birthday and Dj Buddy Beaverhausen and his readers wish her a happy one. Born in Bascom, Florida, she attended Florida State University, Boston University and graduated from University of Florida as a theater major. In 1962, Dunaway enrolled in the American National Theater and Academy. She appeared, notably, on Broadway, in A Man for All Seasons and Hogan's Goat.

Faye has had a long string of successes as a major star in films, largely in the 1960s and throughout the '70s. She also had a long, ongoing reputation for being difficult. Her first film was 1967's The Happening (theme song by The Supremes). Also, in '67, however, she starred in Oscar Preminger's Hurry, Sundown. According to Wikipedia: Preminger regretted casting Dunaway, who stated that Preminger knew nothing about the process of acting. She resented having him yell at her in public and commented, "Once I've been crossed, I'm not very conciliatory." After filming was completed, she sued Preminger to win her release from the five-film contract she had signed with him. An out-of-court settlement was reached in March 1968. Dunaway later admitted in her autobiography, "It cost me a lot of money to not work for Otto again . . . I regretted paying him [but] I thought he was awful."

Ms Dunaway has a long history of rumors and difficulties on the sets with directors and fellow cast members, it must be said. She was notorious for showing up very late for filmings. The make-up artist on The Eyes of Laura Mars said, "No amount of make-up is going to hide this luggage [under her eyes]!"

William Holden, on the set of Towering Inferno, got so angry with Faye severely holding up shooting with her extremely late arrivals, he reportedly pinned her to the wall to shout out just how he and the cast and crew felt about it, expletives not deleted.

And Bette Davis, when asked by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1988, who she wouldn't want to work with again said (without missing a beat): "One million dollars on Faye Dunaway! Anybody you would put in this chair will tell you the same thing. She's just totally impossible... totally uncooperative... unprofessional!" Ms Davis worked with Dunaway on the NBC-tv movie, The Disappearance of Aimee, and reportedly told the press: "She is well named. Many a time I wished I could have done away with her!"

Faye Dunawaye is best known for her starring roles in Bonnie & Clyde, The Thomas Crown Affair, Chinatown, Network, Three Days of the Condor, The Eyes of Laura Mars, Mommie Dearest, Barfly, The Handmaid's Tale, Don Juan DeMarco and Master Class.

New Yorkers, in particular, will appreciate the following story. Per Wikipedia: In August, 2011, Dunaway was sued for eviction by the landlord of her rent stabilized apartment on East 78th Street in Manhattan. The suit alleged that she was not actually residing in the apartment but rather lived in California. Rent stabilization rules require tenants to live in the apartment they are renting as a primary residence, not as a second home. If Dunaway were to leave the apartment, rented by her on August 1, 1994, the landlord could receive more than double the $1,048.72 per month rent paid by Dunaway. In a voice message to The New York Times, Dunaway said that she had not been evicted, but had chosen to leave the apartment because of its condition and that she had been spending less time in New York City.

In dealing with a NYC landlord, being a difficult diva can pay off. Unfortunately, in the face-off, the landlord got his way because, well, this isn't Hollywood.

Happy Birthday, Faye Dunaway!

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