Friday, February 17, 2012

Ali MacGraw...candid chat at "Love Story" screening @ Castro Theatre! Happy Valentine's Day, Ali!

Die-hard film buffs braved a wintry blast on Castro Street the other night to catch a screening of the classic feature - "Love Story" (arguably one of the greatest tear-jerkers of all time) - and to attend a gala tribute to seasoned actress Ali MacGraw.

Ticket-holders huddled in the street shivering, in fact, and excitedly swapped fond memories of the flick - as event staffers tongue-in-cheek - handed out tissues and heart-shaped candies with humorous sweet nothings etched on their face in honor of Valentine's Day.

Although, the opening acts - which consisted of two talentless San Francisco Queens parading around on stage screeching out tasteless (un-funny) off-color material - Ms. MacGraw did not disappoint.

The screen beauty - attired in blood-red skin-tight slacks (which flattered the 72-year-old's slender gams!) and chic black sweater (with hair swept back off her noble-looking aristocratic face) - was upbeat, at ease, and down-to-earth.

In fact, it didn't take much cajoling from the cagey interviewer - who presided over the festivities - to rekindle and dredge up some of Ms. MacGraw's cherished Hollywood memories (to the delight of the rapt audience in the packed Art Deco Theatre).

In spite of the fact MacGraw's humble beginnings on the fringes of the entertainment industry were not always that rosy, she threw caution to the wind and chatted freely about her lettuce days without hesitation or regret.

At the top of the interview, Ali fessed up that early on in her career (before she became known as an actress) - for instance - that she struggled to make ends meet.

During that time frame, the unfocused young talent toiled away daily as Diana Vreeland's assistant, for a paltry forty-or-fifty dollars a week.

The fledgling model's budget was so tight, in fact, that she was often forced to humble herself - on occasion - and in scandalous ways.

For example, when MacGraw first crossed paths with Salvador Daly (the notorious surrealist painter) - and he made a play for her - she toyed with the man.

"I thought - 'Gee, maybe he'll paint a portrait of me, and I'll be able to sell it at an art auction for a fortune' - I fantasized," Ms. Macgraw jokingly recalled.

But, her plans did not pan out.

In a nutshell?

Dali was allegedly a bizarre fruitcake who delighted in humiliating (and toying with) his "subjects".

When asked about her leading man in "Love Story" - Ryan O'Neil - Ali's was quick on-the-uptake.

 "Oh, Ryan was so sexy," she immediately blurted out, just before hesitating for a second-or-two.

"And, very moody!"

The host proceeded to compliment Ali on her onscreen kissing skills at this juncture.

"I loved my job," she cackled spontaneously, as the fans in attendance hooted and hollered and roared their approval.

Ms. MacGraw's first big break came when she was cast in "Goodbye Columbus".

"Originally, four actors went out to Hollywood to test for the lead roles. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of them," she sadly recalled.

But, when the director returned from the coast - empty-handed - he set his sights on Ali for the role after that.

"I just had the strangest feeling that I would get the part," she recalled.

Of course, she thanks "Love Story" - and Robert Evans (her ex-husband) - for catapulting her career into the stratosphere in those early heady days.

Mr. Evans and MacGraw are still great friends today, in fact, according to Ms. MacGraw.

"He's a wonderful man."

Although a brief stint on the popular night-time drama "Dynasty" threw the spotlight on MacGraw in a more mature phase of her acting career - the experience was apparently not a memorable one - if you believe the actresses moanings.

"One day when I was sitting on a bench in a Church when we were shooting a scene for the Moldavian massacre, I suddenly realized that all the actors in my row were not returning the following season. I knew then that I was being written out," she sniffed, with a tinge of disgust in her voice.

At one point, when MacGraw was sprawled out on the floor (after having been shot down by the terrorists in cold blood) she was inclined to ask a producer for some direction.

"Should my eyes be open or closed," MacGraw innocently wondered aloud.

"You're dead. Shut up," was the response back.

Ali noted that most of the crew and cast members on the set were frightened of Joan Collins because of the formidable character she portrayed.

"You'd think Collins was the kind of actress who wouldn't stand on the sidelines and feed lines back to another performer and that sort-of-thing. But, she did. Jackie was one of the most professional actors I have ever worked with, in fact," she gushed in so many words.

Looking back, in retrospect, Ms. MacGraw was inclined to admit that at times she had been a bit of a spoiled brat in her life.

I nearly choked when she made that revelation on the stage.

That was always my impression of her, after all.

My opinion remains forever changed after that entertaining night at the Castro Theatre, however.

Today, Ms. MacGraw resides in Sante Fe where she enjoys a bit of a charmed life, by the way.

"I devote my time to causes I believe in. That's what I like about Santa Fe. It is a community filled with people who care. I never got that feeling from my neighbors when I resided in Los Angeles."

Perhaps Ms. MacGraw has just mellowed a tad over the years?

Me thinks so!

Lovely lady, in the final analysis.

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