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21 Questions with Character: Lorraine Lemond

Author MJ Sherry shares a character from the upcoming Back Page Babylon.

hollyFrom the video archives of Luis Tiandre, host The Celluloid Report

(Spoken Intro) Hollywood: May 14th 1978- Somewhere past the winding curves and whispering cypress trees of Mulholland Drive, a fallen star has finally come to Earth. Long hidden behind iron gates and the old style Hollywood elegance of her Depression-built Spanish Colonial , one of the final remaining players of Tinseltown’s Golden Age has broken her decade long vow of silence to speak to the Celluloid Report.

Lorraine Lemond was one first of Hollywood’s truly great leading ladies, starting in such silent classics as Brides of Babylon, Night Life and Chorus Girls.  She made the jump to talkies, starring in beloved films like The Shop Keeper’s Daughter, Dance ‘Til You Drop and her Academy Award winning turn in Margret Morrie. In those dark, difficult years between the Depression and the Second World War, Lorrie Lemond was America’s most beloved, most bankable film star.

Her star waxed and waned over the proceeding decades as allegations of erratic behavior, marital strife and alcohol abuse replaced the accolades and applause. Perhaps most damaging was the tell-all memoir by Lemond’s adopted daughter, Diane, which pulled back the carefully crafted curtain of this very private star’s inner life with reports of wild parties, scandalous sexual encounters and a nearly fatal mental breakdown.

In the two years since the tell-all, Lemond has withdrawn even more completely from the public eye, letting the gates, private guards and absolute silence speak for her.

Until today.

Or more accurately the previous Monday when our offices got a call from Ms. Lemond’s publicist with an offer to sit down with the legend on the occasion of her 78th birthday. Given the reclusive nature of this most private of Hollywood players, the Report has followed the long and winding road up Mulholland to sit down with this living legend.

(Opening Shot on Lemond, cut to Luis)

Luis:  Ms. Lemond, such a pleasure. Thank you for having us in your lovely home.

Lemond:  You’re very welcome, young man.  I was always very fond of your father. He was true gentleman and good journalist.

Luis:  Thank you for the kind words. He’d truly appreciate that. Happy Birthday, by the way!

Lemond:  There’s nothing happy about a 78th birthday, dearie. My hips are both fake and my boobs are nearly in my shorts.

Luis:  Ummm, ok! Ms. Lemond you are one of Hollywood’s greatest living treasures. And my viewers can see you still look amazing. What’s been the secret to your longevity?

Lemond:  I assume behind all that verbal flatulence, I think you mean to ask why I am not dead yet. Maybe it’s because God doesn’t want me and the Devil is afraid.

Luis:  The Devil is afraid of you?

Lemond: Isn’t everyone?

Luis:   Isn’t that a little extreme? The idea that everyone is scared of you?

Lemond:  Keeping everyone a little afraid of you is a good thing. The great Maricellus Marcus himself told me when we worked Night Creatures that a good actor creates an aura of mystery and uncertainty with everyone. Comes in handy in dealing with autograph hounds and fresh studio execs.

Luis:  What about your millions of fans? They still adore you and your films.

Lemond:  Their adoration of me comes from viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. My hope is the public remembers the quality of my work and respects that more than engaging mere celebrity worship.

Luis:  Really? Isn’t comforting that your connection with the public has endured over the last 50 years?

Lemond:  Let me relate what I mean with a story… When my first talkies came in, the most popular film star in world was a box terrier that could open doors, count to five and save the Bugle Boys at the end of every picture. His star on the Walk of Fame is right above mine. That’s what I think about when I think of the audience’s love of celebrity.

Luis:  So you don’t deny you were sometimes difficult to work with?

Lemond:  I admit to being a perfectionist about my craft. A no BS, take-no-prisoners actor who did not suffer fools gracefully.

Luis:  Are you a little unhappy with that reputation?

Lemond:  No, not at all! I wasn’t one of those silly girls, you know. Always crying about the best seats at the Oscars or why certain directors were harder to work with. I went for the roles I wanted and never apologized for it.

Luis: Those fools seemed to include many of your female peers and co-stars. Were you maybe a bit too competitive in those days?

Lemond:  Like I said, I wasn’t one of those silly girls. I swam in the end of the pool where the sharks gather. A lot of those so-called “actresses” were more shallow side types.

Luis:   I see… Brides of Babylon was the film that helped launch not just your career, but several other Golden Age stars. I’ll throw out some names and you give me your impressions of them. Charlotte Cameron?

Lemond:   A no account, talentless social climber whose greatest acting skill was pretending she enjoyed assuming the position underneath her studio hack husband.

Luis:  Katheryn “Kitty” Newell?

Lemond:   A flower far too delicate for this world of suffering. She was my first friend I made in Hollywood when I got off the bus in 1925. I loved her deeply. But in truth, she was a marginal talent.

Luis: Mary Louise LaVoz?

Lemond:  A once in a lifetime performer. Anything you could do she can do better. Sing, dance, perform… If anyone in Hollywood had used some common sense and not been so damn afraid of all those noisy naysayers and bigots, she might have been the greatest of us all. That little bitch also managed to be drop dead gorgeous… I’m smiling when I say that.

Luis: And, of course, the one and only, the immortal Anna Grafton…

Lemond:  Next question.

Luis;   Now, now Ms. Lemond. My viewers would never forgive me if I didn’t at least ask about Hollywood’s “Golden Rivalry.” What made you two such enemies?

Lemond:  For there to be a rivalry, young man, there would have to be an actual competition between equals. Ms. Grafton was far from my equal. Either as an actor or as a member of the human race… Which I am uncertain she actually belongs to.

Luis: Now, with all due respect, Ms. Lemond, don’t three Best Actress Oscars speak to her acting ability?

Lemond:  No, not at all… Not when you realize that people buy style over substance every day of the week. We had a saying in Nebraska… “No matter how high you stack your cow (response beeped), it still smells the same.”

Luis:  Is why you allegedly broke up her engagement with Larry Lawrence when he starred with you Love’s Labour’s Lost?

Lemond:   You’d have to ask dear ol’ Larry about that one. If he wasn’t six feet under. In fact, speaking of dead lovers, the next time you two chat, you should ask her about Peter Sheck and the fact she killed him in cold blood.

Luis:  That was a scandal, wasn’t it? But I think the jury said it was self defense.

Lemond:  Her best acting job was in front of that courtroom, in my opinion. Ask her about her dead daughter, Sherry, too. Death follows that little fraud like a second skin.

Luis: Is it true you tried to stab her on the set of The Fabulous Lamour Sisters?

Lemond: Obviously, I wasn’t as successful as I should have been. Next question.

Luis:  Speaking of daughters, you’ve been out of the spotlight since your daughter, Diane, wrote her sensational tell-all book “In My Mother’s House.” Do you have anything you want to say to the public about her rather outrageous revelations about her upbringing?

Lemond:   The only response I have to that little viper is I should have seen her for the inhuman changeling she is before I took her home from that orphanage

Luis:  Alright! I think we have time for one last question… What’s the best piece of advice you ever received in your career?

Lemond:  It was to change my name. My birth name was Maureen Anne Bialowieza.  When I was first introduced to  Mr. Szazas in his office at Constellation Pictures, he gave me the once over, puffed on one of his ever-present cigars and said, “Kid, there’s a goddamn good reason why people with last names like ours don’t star in pictures…” He was right. Oh, and lie about your age. I did that until I was fifty.

Luis:  I think that’s a perfect place to stop. Thank you again, Ms. Lemond. It was a pleasure.

Lemond:  I’m sure it was, young man.

(Fade to Black)

 

 

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About MJ Sherry

Hey all! My name is MJ Sherry and I am a fan both of the historical aspect of the Golden Age of Hollywood as well the era's the emphasis on romance and glamour. My upcoming novel, BACK PAGE BABYLON seeks explore the totality of the Hollywood experience from the perspective of five very different women who come the Hollywood of 1927, seeking to find fame, fortune, love and fulfillment. BPB seeks to capture that epic sweep of history with an insider's eye toward the details and background of the classic films loved by so many us in film fandom... BACK PAGE BABYLON author MJ Sherry lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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This entry was posted on December 2, 2016 by in Characters and tagged , , , .
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