"Screen Sirens Descend Upon Winston-Salem"
July 13th, 2011
As I mentioned in last week's column, Shirley Jones is coming to town for
the Western Film Fair. But Shirley isn't the only beauty who will be
appearing at the event. Joining her will be screen sirens Julie Adams, Sherry
Jackson, and Connie Stevens.
Before being discovered by a talent scout, Arkansas native JULIE ADAMS
had worked as a secretary, admitting to me, " I was good at shorthand, but I
was a terrible typist". And though she was armed with a good work ethic,
Julie still had to overcome one obstacle before landing any acting roles.
JA: The talent scout said "First thing you've got to do is lose your
Southern accent. So he sent me to a voice coach.
Julie's first role was in The Dalton Gang
JA: we made it in 6 days. They kind of liked me, so we then made 6 movies
in 5 weeks!
She went on to make many more western films, her favorite of which was
Bend in the River. Adams also appeared in a number of TV oaters, including
Bonanza, The Big Valley, and The Rifleman.
But Julie will always be known as the bathing beauty who was pursued by
The Creature from the Black Lagoon. And while she enjoyed making the cult
classic, she is conspicuously absent from the two sequels.
JA: Well you know she wasn't going to marry that "fella", and they didn't
want him to kill her, so where could you go with it?
SHERRY JACKSON's acting career began at an early age. At ten, she was
already a Hollywood veteran who received stacks of fan mail every week. That i
ncreased when she landed the role of Terry on The Danny Thomas Show.
SJ: I was working all week, and on Saturday's my Mother made me sit down
and answer every fan letter. I wrote a personal note in each one, put it in
an envelope, and mailed it.
Jackson stayed with the Thomas show for five seasons, then was in demand
for guest starring roles on TV, including many westerns, such as Death
Valley Days Wagon Train and Rawhide.
SJ: I also did two Gene Autry segments, and I did an episode of Range
Rider with Jock Mahoney. He taught me how to ride, and I've loved to ride
JL: Of all the famous actors you've worked with, who is your favorite?
SJ: John Wayne in Trouble Along the Way. He was wonderful to me. I had
long pigtails and the Director wanted to cut my hair. I had tears in my
eyes, so Duke came over and touched me on the shoulder and said, "I'm not
gonna let them cut your hair".
I asked Sherry why she liked to attend events like the Western Film Fair.
SJ: I really do enjoy my work, and I want to do these kinds of events for
my fans. I want to reciprocate all their caring about me.
CONNIE STEVENS has a special relationship with her fans too, perhaps
because she's always seemed like one of us. It's that kind of personality that
got Stevens elected student body President of her Brooklyn high school, but
her reign was short-lived.
CS: I was impeached by the teacher because I let everyone listen to the
last game of the World Series. We had the radio on, and we were dancing and
Despite the impeachment, Connie was voted most likely to succeed. Her
early success came as a singer.
CS: Somebody showed Jerry Lewis some film of me singing with three boys
who later became The Lettermen. Then he screen tested me which he paid for
himself. Paramount didn't want me, but Jerry did, and that film (Rock a Bye
Baby) started my whole career.
Stevens guest starred on a number of TV Westerns including Maverick and
Cheyenne, before landing the starring role of Cricket in the hit show
Hawaiian Eye. Concurrently her music career took off as well, and her dreamy
voice was a big hit with record buyers.
Blessed with breathtaking good looks, it was not surprising that, in 1974,
Connie was cast as Marilyn Monroe in The Sex Symbol. But the film ran
into political trouble, and was reportedly blocked by Monroe's former husband
CS: They made us change the names, and I had to re-shoot a lot. It finally
came out on television in an edited version.
These days, Stevens is performing in Las Vegas, heads up a college
scholarship program for Native American youth, and just Directed a new movie
titled Saving Grace B. Jones which stars Tatum O'Neal.
Stevens, Adams, and Jackson will be appearing at the Western Film Fair
from July 21-23 at the Joel Coliseum.
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