Saturday, November 5, 2011

Freda Payne

Photos and Interview by Alan Mercer

All Photos:  Alan Mercer      Gowns: LSO Designs

Freda Payne comes from Detroit, Michigan and grew up listening to different jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday.  As a teenager, she attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts. She soon began singing radio commercial jingles, and took part in, and won many local TV and radio talent shows.

In 1963, she moved to New York City and worked with many different entertainers, including Quincy Jones, Pearl Bailey, and Bill Cosby. The next year, her debut album, a jazz recording entitled 'After the Lights Go Down Low and Much More!!!', was released on the Impulse! label. Three years later, she released her second album, another jazz effort, 'How Do You Say I Don't Love You Anymore,' for MGM Records.  She also made occasional guest appearances on different television shows including 'The Merv Griffen Show'and 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

In 1969, her old friends back home in Detroit, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland Jr., persuaded her to sign with their newly-formed record label 'Invictus.'  Shortly thereafter, Eddie Holland offered her a song titled 'Band Of Gold', which he, along with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier co-wrote with Ronald Dunbar.  In early 1970, the song became an instant pop smash reaching #3 in the US and #1 in the UK.  It also gave Freda her first gold record.  Global sales were over two million.  

In 2011 Freda recorded a duet, 'Saving A Life', with British pop star Sir Cliff Richard for inclusion on his "Soulicious" album.  She also performed with Sir Cliff throughout his tour of the same name last month.  Freda is a long time friend and we talked about her upcoming tour right before she left for Europe.  Along with a couple of new shots I am showcasing some of my favorite work with Freda Payne over the past six years.  This is Freda's second time on the blog.  She was one of my first blog entries in April 2009.  

AM:  Freda I know you must be excited to perform 'Saving A Life' with Cliff Richard on the tour.  Are you singing anything else in the show?

FP:  Well of course I'm singing 'Band Of Gold' which is my signature song.  It is already a long show with six different acts. 

AM:  How did you get on this album in the first place? 

FP:  I got it because of David Guest.  He is a celebrity in England.  I've seen it myself where people on the street stop him and want their picture taken with him. 

AM:  No wonder he lives there. 

FP:  He became a personality there and started bringing in his own shows with people like Billy Paul and Dennis Edwards, Deniece Williams, Dorothy Moore, Candi Staton and myself.  Anyway about a year ago David got to meet Cliff Richard and they struck up an acquaintance.  Last November I performed at a charity event in London and Cliff Richard came and we got to meet.  Then in December David told me Cliff was doing a new album of Soul duets with legendary Soul Artists and I was going to record a song for the album as well.  I told him, "Great. Thanks!"

AM:  Did you  know 'Saving A Life' was going to be the lead single?

FP:  No I did not.  I had no idea.  It was just a cut on the record.  Lamont Dozier produced the majority of the songs.  Lamont's son Beau wrote several of the songs including 'Saving A Life.' 

AM:  What did you think when you first heard the song?

FP:  I loved the song.  It sounds very fresh and young like something Usher or Justin Timberlake would record.  It's very hip! 

AM:  I agree and I love it!!!  Where did you record it?

FP:  Most of the album was recorded in Memphis Tennessee in the month of April.  I spent a whole week there and also performed at a big benefit show at the Peabody Hotel. 

AM:  Didn't Nick Ashford work on this album as well?

FP:  Four of the songs were produced by Ashford & Simpson.  I believe this was the last project he worked on.  He and Valerie worked together but he couldn't sing due to his voice being hoarse.  We didn't know anything at this point.

AM:  When did you hear the finished result?

FP:  They mixed it in June and David called me and told me my song was going to be the lead single. 

AM:  What did that feel like!?!

FP:  It felt great!  Then he put two EMI Executives on the phone and they told me how much they loved the song and it was their favorite on the whole album.  I've listened to the whole album many times now and there are a lot of good songs. 

AM:  It's a good record!

FP:  It's a good record.  There's some great songs on there. 

AM:  It sounds like a wonderful project that is allowing you to have a good time.

FP:  I'm just having a good time and I'm enjoying myself.  I LOVE Cliff Richard. He is a lovely, lovely gentleman. 

AM:  You can tell he is really talented and kind.

FP:   He is and he's professional.  He never says a bad thing about anyone.  You know how with some people, after you are around them for a while, you will hear them be negative and curse, he never does that. 

AM:  I know you have another new song on your own that I love!!!

FP:  Yes I have a couple of songs with Artis Phillips.  One is called 'Free Me From My Freedom' which is a Bonnie Pointer cover. The new one is called 'He Gained' and it turned out great.  It reminds me of something Tina Turner would do. 

AM:  It's a cover of the Angelo Bonds song from the seventies isn't it?

FP:  Yes, it's Angelo's song.  He recorded it but nothing really happened back then.

AM:  I love that song!

FP:  I hope I can get a record deal with these songs.

AM:  Maybe you can get a deal in Europe.  They seem to be smarter when it comes to music.

FP:  For some reason they love American music fiercely.  They cherish music the way some people cherish and value antiques. 

AM:  Speaking of music from the past.  I just got the re-mastered, first time on CD 'Stares and Whispers' and it is fantastic!!!  I'm so grateful for this!  I have loved this album since it first came out.  Do you like having your older work out on CD?

FP:  I don't mind!  It's nice having it out on CD since I don't have a turn table anymore! 

AM:  The CD has that great cut you did with Tavares called  'I Wanna See You Soon.' 

FP:  So the CD is a good deal.

AM:  I didn't realize you were just a teenager when you recorded 'After The Lights Go Down.'   

FP:  I was nineteen.  I went to New York when I was eighteen.  It took almost a year but I got a deal with ABC Paramount.  They had a jazz subsidiary named Impulse so my first album was released as a jazz record. 

AM:  A nineteen year old with a jazz album sounds kind of funny...(Laughter)

FP:  I was singing jazz with big bands in Detroit when was fourteen. 

AM:  You really are one of the blessed ones Freda.

FP:  As long as I can keep doing it I will.  Just remember to count your blessings.

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?Full Film Thanks Glenn!

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? is a 1969 thriller film directed by Lee H. Katzin with Bernard Girard (uncredited), and starring Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon, Rosemary Forsyth, Robert Fuller and Mildred Dunnock. The screenplay by Theodore Apstein, based on the novel The Forbidden Garden by Ursula Curtiss, focuses on an aging Arizona widow who hires elderly female housekeepers and cons them out of their money before murdering them.
The music score was by Gerald Fried and the cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc. The film was funded by American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Palomar Pictures Corporation, and The Associates & Aldrich Company, and distributed by Cinerama Releasing Corporation.


The opening scene of the film sets the tone. Claire Marrable (Page) is recently widowed and at the funeral, she frantically removes flowers from her husband's coffin, while eerie music plays in the background. A few days later, her husband's will is revealed by the junior partner of a law firm (The Bob Newhart Show's Peter Bonerz, in one of his first roles): her husband made bad investments and left nothing to her except a briefcase, a butterfly collection and a stamp collection; the home itself, and the furnishings in it, also do not belong to Claire Marrable. Marrable goes ballistic, smashing the butterfly collection to smithereens and then tearfully frets about what lies in her future. At the lawyer's prodding, she remembers that she has a distant nephew in Arizona.
Forward a few months: Marrable is comfortably ensconced in a ranch home outside Tucson, Arizona. We had seen her murder what we later understand to be one of her housekeepers/companion. She has a penchant for successfully growing pine trees, even out in the hot desert. She lives with a housekeeper, Miss Tinsley (Dunnock). One evening, Miss Tinsley asks Marrable for an update on the stocks she has purchased through Marrable; this upsets Marrable, who threatens immediately to sell the stocks, even at a loss, to rid herself, and the housekeeper, of the anxiety. Upon arrival of a new pine tree from a nursery, Marrable demands that Miss Tinsley go out in the cool night to help her plant the tree. When the two women arrive at the recently dug hole for the tree, Marrable claims her watch has fallen in the hole and asks Miss Tinsley to jump in the hole to retrieve it. When the housekeeper searches for the watch, Marrable grabs a shovel and whacks the housekeeper over the head, then buries her in the hole, using the pine tree as a testament to her latest conquest. We then see five pine trees, in varying size in a long shot of the garden, each in different stages of growth, suggesting this process has been repeated.
Ruth Gordon as Alice Dimmock appears and wins the position of sixth companion, serving Mrs. Marrable well and to her employer's liking, but, in fact, Dimmock is investigating the disappearance of the last victim whom we learn had been Dimmock's own companion. After much intrigue and suspense, another murder is committed, atypical of the previous, plus two more attempted murders, until finally Mrs. Marrable's guilt is exposed, and the enormous value of the stamp collection left to her by her dead husband is inadvertently revealed.


Now discontinued 2000 Anchor Bay DVD release.
  • Geraldine Page as Claire Marrable
  • Ruth Gordon as Alice Dimmock
  • Rosemary Forsyth as Harriet Vaughn
  • Robert Fuller as Mike Darrah
  • Mildred Dunnock as Edna Tinsley
  • Joan Huntington as Julia Lawson
  • Peter Brandon as George Lawson
  • Michael Barbera as Jim Vaughn
  • Peter Bonerz as Mr. Bentley
  • Richard Angarola as Sheriff Armijo
  • Claire Kelly as Elva
  • Valerie Allen as Dottie
  • Martin Garralaga as Juan
  • Jack Bannon as Olin
  • Seth Riggs as Warren

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tippi Hedren

Nathalie Kay "Tippi" Hedren (born January 19, 1930) is an American actress and former fashion model with a career spanning six decades. She is primarily known for her roles in two Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie, and her extensive efforts in animal rescue at Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre (320,000 m2) wildlife habitat which she founded in 1983.
Hedren is the mother of Academy Award nominee Melanie Griffith, and they share credits on several productions, notably Pacific Heights (1990).

Early life

Hedren was born in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1930 to Dorothea Henrietta (née Eckhardt) and Bernard Carl Hedren. Her paternal grandparents were immigrants from Sweden, and her maternal ancestry was German and Norwegian, Her father ran a small general store in the small town of Lafayette, Minnesota and gave her the nickname "Tippi." "My father thought Nathalie was a little bit much for a brand new baby," Hedren explained at a 2004 screening of The Birds.
As a teenager, Hedren took part in department store fashion shows. Her parents relocated to California while she was still a high school student. When she reached her 18th birthday, she bought a ticket to New York and began a professional modeling career. Within a year she made her film debut (minus dialogue) as a Petty Girl model in The Petty Girl (1950) musical comedy, although in interviews she refers to The Birds (1963) as her first film.


Hedren had a successful modeling career in the 1950s and 1960s, appearing on covers of national magazines, such as Life magazine. She was discovered by Hitchcock, who was watching The Today Show when he saw Hedren in a commercial for Sego, a diet drink. Hitchcock was looking for an actress who possessed something of the sophistication, self-assurance and cool-blonde sex appeal of Grace Kelly, with whom he had made three films. Hedren, expensively groomed and mentored by Hitchcock, appeared in his films The Birds and Marnie. At the time of the films' releases, she was criticized for being too passive in The Birds and too expressive in Marnie. It took years before she received respect for her work in both films from American film critics.
At a packed house in Lancaster, California's Antelope Valley Independent Film Festival Cinema Series screening of The Birds on September 28, 2004, Hedren recalled how she was mysteriously selected for a lead role: "I said, 'Well, who is this person? Who is interested?'... Nobody would tell me who it was." (It was Alfred Hitchcock, who soon announced his choice of Hedren.)[citation needed]
Hitchcock put Hedren through a then-costly $25,000 screen test, doing scenes from his previous films, such as Rebecca, Notorious and To Catch a Thief with actor Martin Balsam. He signed her to a multi-year exclusive personal contract, something he had done in the 1950s with Vera Miles. Hitchcock's plan to mold Hedren's public image went so far as to carefully control her style of dressing and grooming.Hitchcock insisted for publicity purposes that her name should be printed only in single quotes, "Tippi". The press mostly ignored this directive from the director, who felt that the single quotes added distinction and mystery to Hedren's name. In interviews, Hitchcock compared his newcomer not only to her predecessor Grace Kelly but also to what he referred to as such "ladylike", intelligent, and stylish stars of more glamorous eras as Irene Dunne and Jean Arthur. Later, Hedren indicated that she didn't want to be known as the next Grace Kelly but rather as the first Tippi Hedren.
Her appearance in The Birds brought a wealth of publicity. In a December 1962 Look magazine cover story "Hitchcock's New Grace Kelly", Alfred Hitchcock compared her to his star of To Catch a Thief and Rear Window, saying, "'Tippi' has a faster tempo, city glibness, more humor. She displayed jaunty assuredness, pertness, an attractive throw of the head. And she memorized and read lines extraordinarily well and is sharper in expression."
Hedren said of Hitchcock, "He is subtle as a psychiatrist and never gives displaced encouragement." With the release of the film, she got a very tepid reception, the only exceptions being critic Bob Thomas ("Miss Hedren makes an impressive debut") and Time ("pleasant and ladylike, as Grace Kelly was.") Years after the film's release, she remembered the location work at Bodega Bay as dangerous and taxing, commenting, "For a first film, it was a lot of work."
For the final attack scene in a second-floor bedroom, filmed on a closed set at Universal-International Studios, Hedren had been assured by Hitchcock that mechanical birds would be used. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). Cary Grant visited the set and told Hedren, "I think you're the bravest lady I've ever met." In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying. A physician ordered a week's rest, which Hedren said at the time was riddled with "nightmares filled with flapping wings". The Birds brought her a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer.
Premiere magazine chose Hedren's character, Melanie Daniels in The Birds as one of "The 100 Greatest Characters of All Time". Marnie (1964), a psychological thriller from the novel by Winston Graham, was Hedren's second Hitchcock assignment, co-starring with Sean Connery. She recalls Marnie as the favorite of her two films for Hitchcock because of the central character, an emotionally battered young woman who travels from city to city assuming various guises in order to rob her employers On release, the film was greeted by mixed reviews and indifferent box-office returns. Although Hitchcock continued to have Hedren in mind for several other films after Marnie, the actress declined any further work with him. Other directors who wanted to hire her had to go through Hitchcock, who would inform them she was unavailable. "It grew to be impossible. He was a very controlling type of person, and I guess I'm not about to be controlled", said Hedren. When Hedren tried to get out of her contract, she recalls Hitchcock telling her he'd ruin her career. "And he did: kept me under contract, kept paying me every week for almost two years to do nothing."
By the time Hitchcock sold her contract to Universal and she was fired for refusing work on one of its television shows, Hedren's career had stalled.
On April 13, 2011, at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY, Hedren stated in an interview with Turner Classic Movies' Ben Mankiewicz, prior to a screening of The Birds, that because she refused Hitchcock’s sexual advances, Hitchcock effectively stunted her career.
Charles Chaplin cast her as the sophisticated, brittle, cheated-upon wife of Marlon Brando in his shipboard comedy A Countess from Hong Kong (1967). She made more than 40 films between 1967 and 2006, including Pacific Heights, Citizen Ruth and I Heart Huckabees. More recently, she has appeared in episodes of The 4400 in 2006 and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in 2006. She was a cast member of the night-time soap opera Fashion House in 2006. Hedren has also appeared in many independent films. In 2009, she co-starred with actress Brittany Murphy in the made-for-television movie Tribute.
Along with Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Joan Fontaine, she will participate to the Motion Picture Academy Tribute to the “Hitchcock Blondes” (2011).


A Louis Vuitton ad campaign in 2006 paid tribute to Hedren and Hitchcock with a modern-day interpretation of the deserted railway station opening sequence of Marnie. Her 1963 publicity picture from The Birds was the cover for Jean-Pierre Dufreigne's book Hitchcock Style (2004). In interviews, Naomi Watts has stated that her character interpretation in Mulholland Drive (2001) was influenced by the look and performances of Hedren and Kim Novak in Hitchcock films. Watts and Hedren later acted in I Heart Huckabees (2004) but didn't share any scenes together onscreen. Off-screen, the film's director David O. Russell introduced them both, and Watts has said about Hedren, "I was pretty fascinated by her then because people have often said that we're alike." Watts was once expected to star in a remake of The Birds (1963) and has dressed up as Hedren's title character from Marnie for a photo shoot for March 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine. In the same issue, Jodie Foster dressed up as Hedren's character, Melanie Daniels from The Birds (1963).
In another issue of Vanity Fair, the magazine referred to January Jones's character in Mad Men as "Tippi Hedren's soul sister from Marnie". The New York Times television critic earlier had echoed the same sentiment in his review of Mad Men. January Jones said that she "takes it a compliment of sorts" when compared to Grace Kelly and Hedren. Actress Tea Leoni said that her character in the film Manure (2009) is made up to look like Hedren.

Shambala Preserve

May 2006: Shambala benefit stage production of The Birds in Hollywood, California. (L-R) Shambala supporter Don Norte, Veronica Cartwright, playwright David Cerda, Tippi Hedren and Shambala supporter Kevin Norte.
In 1981, Hedren produced Roar, an 11-year project that ended up costing $17 million and starring dozens of African lions. "This was probably one of the most dangerous films that Hollywood has ever seen", remarked the actress. "It's amazing no one was killed." During the production of Roar, Hedren, her husband at the time, Noel Marshall, and daughter Melanie were attacked by lions; Jan de Bont, the director of photography, was scalped. She later co-wrote the book Cats of Shambala (1985) about the experience. Roar made only $2 million worldwide. Hedren ended her marriage to Marshall a year later in 1982. The film directly led to the 1983 establishment of the non-profit Roar Foundation and Hedren's Shambala Preserve, located at the edge of the Mojave Desert in Acton, California between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Los Angeles. Shambala currently houses some 70 animals, including African lions, Siberian and Bengal tigers, leopards, servals, mountain lions and bobcats. Hedren lives on the Shambala site and conducts monthly tours of the preserve for the public. Hedren took in and cared for Togar, a lion that belonged to Anton LaVey, after he was told by San Francisco officials that he couldn't keep a fully grown lion as a house pet. More recently, Shambala became the new home for Michael Jackson’s two Bengal tigers, Sabu and Thriller, after he decided to close his zoo at his Neverland Valley Ranch in Los Olivos, California. On December 3, 2007, Shambala Preserve made headlines when Chris Orr, a caretaker for the animals, was mauled by a tiger named Alexander.[citation needed]
Several documentaries have focused on Shambala Preserve, including the 30-minute Lions: Kings of the Serengeti (1995), narrated by Melanie Griffith, and Animal Planet's Life with Big Cats (1998), which won the Genesis Award for best documentary in 1999. The animals at the preserve served as the initial inspiration for the life's work of artist A. E. London, who started her career working for Hedren.

Personal life

Hedren met and married actor/producer Peter Griffith in 1952. Their daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, was born on August 9, 1957. They were divorced in 1961. She married her then-agent Noel Marshall, who later produced three of her films, in 1964; they divorced in 1982. She married businessman Luis Barrenechea in 1985 and divorced in 1995.
Hedren has three grandchildren from daughter Griffith: musician Alexander Bauer, actress and model Dakota Johnson and Stella Banderas. Her current son-in-law is actor Antonio Banderas.
In a Los Angeles Times article and featured on a CBC news story, Hedren was described as being a pivotal figure in the modern development of Vietnamese owned-nail salons in the United States and later spread rapidly along the East and to Canada. Drawn to the plight of refugees from the Vietnam War, she began visiting a tent city at Hope Village, and in 1975, helped Vietnamese immigrants, primarily female, by having her manicurist teach them the skills of the trade and working with a local beauty school to help them find jobs. In Canada, the nail parlour industry is now dominated by Vietnamese immigrants and refugees.

Year Title Role Other notes
2011 Cousin Sarah Betty pre-production
2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Queen Hippolyta Animated series
2009 Tribute Mrs. Hennessey TV movie
2008 Birdemic: Shock and Terror Actor on TV archive footage
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Karen Rosenthal (1 episode, 2008)
Her Morbid Desires Aunt Gloria
2007 Dead Write Minnie
2006 Fashion House Doris Thompson
2005 The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams Grandmother Adams
Diamond Zero Eleanor Kelly
The 4400 Lily Moore Tyler, aged
2004 I Heart Huckabees Mary Jane Hutchinson
Raising Genius Grandma Babe
Return to Babylon Mrs. Peabody
2003 Rose's Garden Rose
DarkWolf Mary
Searching for Haizmann Dr. Michelle Labner
111 Gramercy Park Mrs. Granville
IceMaker Mrs. Kelly
Julie and Jack Julie McNeal
2001 Tea with Grandma Grandma Rae
Ice Cream Sundae Lady
2000 Mind Rage Dr. Wilma Randolph
1999 Replacing Dad Dixie
The Darklings Martha Jackson
The Storytellers Lillian Glosner
1998 I Woke Up Early The Day I Died Maylinda Austed
Break Up Mom
Expose unknown
1997 Mulligans Dottie
1996 Citizen Ruth Jessica Weiss
1994 Inevitable Grace Dr. Marcia Stevens
Treacherous Beauties Lettie Hollister
The Birds II: Land's End Helen
Teresa's Tattoo Evelyn Hill
1993 Perry Mason: The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal Beverly Courtney
Murder, she wrote Catherine Noble
1992 Through the Eyes of a Killer Mrs. Bellano
1991 Shadow of a Doubt Mrs. Mathewson
In the Heat of the Night Annabelle Van Buren
1990 Pacific Heights Florence Peters
Return to Green Acres Arlenn
1989 Deadly Spygames Chastity
1985 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Waitress
1984 Terror in the Aisles archival appearance
1982 Foxfire Light Elizabeth Morgan
1981 Roar Madeline
1976 The Bionic Woman Susan Victor
1976 Where the Wind Dies unknown
1973 The Harrad Experiment Margaret Tenhausen
Mr. Kingstreet's War Maggie Kingstreet
1970 Satan's Harvest Marla Oaks
1968 Tiger by the Tail Rita Armstrong
1967 A Countess from Hong Kong Martha
1964 Marnie Marnie Edgar
1963 The Birds Melanie Daniels Golden Globe
1950 The Petty Girl Ice Box Petty Girl uncredited

Joan Crawford Hosts Greta Garbo Documentary (1969)

Audrey Hepburn,A Intimate Portrait