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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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A pretty good ride

September 1st, 2003

BY WILLIAM BOGERT

No one in my family remembers when I first announced that I wanted to become an actor. (I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else.) My parents, detecting in me no other obvious signs of insanity, naturally assumed that I would grow out of it. Surely at some point their boy would aspire to replace PeeWee Reese at shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite my genuine affection and respect for Mr. Reese and his compatriots, it never happened.

In 1947, however, I said something that made them feel a little better. They took me to see a movie called The Farmer’s Daughter, which I can heartily recommend, and on the way home I said, “That Ethel Barrymore is good!” My mother and father looked at each other, and their thought couldn’t have been clearer: “Well, he may or may not have talent, but at least he’s got taste. Things could be worse.” And in fact their toleration, if not complete acceptance, of my bizarre ambition was such that three years later, when All about Eve came out, they absolutely forbade me to see it!

My father was a lawyer, and one of the immutable truths that he was at pains to instill in my not always receptive young mind was that Life is by definition Unfair. Despite the one-would-have-thought conclusive evidence put forth on an annual basis by the aforementioned Mr. Reese et al., I took this with a grain of salt. Until the Academy Awards for 1953.

The Oscar winner in 1953 for Best Actress was Audrey Hepburn, for her performance in Roman Holiday. It was a wonderful movie, and she was wonderful in it; she was young and beautiful and very good indeed. But everything that could be said along those lines about Ms. Hepburn applied equally to Leslie Caron in Lili, who I thought then and think today succeeded in a much more demanding role. I was far more crushed at this gross miscarriage of justice than I had been, for example, at the realization that there was no Santa Claus.

Besides, by this time I was old enough to lust after, and I lusted after Leslie Caron.
And so in the course of time I attained maturity, if not wisdom. I have worked with Academy Award winners. I have seen All about Eve, and I think my parents were probably right in not letting me go when it first came out. And despite disappointments, tribulations and the occasional piece of outright crookery practiced upon me, it’s been a pretty good ride.

And in case you were wondering, I was a lousy shortstop. As an actor I’ve at least been able to make a living. •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Bogert | Link to this Entry

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