by Len Lear
Carole Mallory, 76, who lives in the Norristown area and gives inspirational talks at area retirement homes, is a native of Springfield, Delaware County, who earned degrees from Penn State and Temple Universities. She became a teacher and then an airline stewardess after getting a master’s degree in art, but she then went to Paris in 1968 in an attempt to break into modeling. The odds were a million to one; right?
“I lost 20 pounds and took a medical leave of absence to try to model in Paris,” she recalled. “I believe my hard work and unpretentiousness were refreshing amidst pretensions of modeling, especially in Paris. Within two months I was working for French Vogue and Guy Bourdin, the best photographer in Paris. When I returned to New York, I was booked to be the stewardess in the award winning Olympic Airline ‘No Dancing in the Aisles’ commercial.”
- One article in a British newspaper said your life was “dictated by the desire to be famous.” Is that accurate?
“My father was my hero, blue blood and a relative of General Lou Wagner, who led the Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War. My father, Herbert Emile Wagner (my maiden name), was proud of his heritage and wanted to be famous, like his lineage. When he developed a mysterious twitch in 1955, the doctors suggested an experiment, a lobotomy. During the operation they discovered he had Parkinson’s Disease and apologized for their mistake. My father became a mistake. Deformed. But he still laughed at my jokes. His only relief was weeding. He climbed steps on all fours. I wanted to find out what fame was about because it meant so much to my father; the lack of his being able to fulfill his dreams led to his torture and suffering. I wanted to be his detective and investigate fame for him to be able to tell him ‘fame is no big deal.’”
- Is it true that you said British men were a lot more interesting than American men?
“Yes. British men are witty. Rod Stewart, Peter Sellers Terry Jones and Dudley Moore were a giggle, but Robin Williams certainly matched them”
- Of all the famous men you have known, who were the funniest?
“Rod Stewart, Kurt Vonnegut and Farley Granger, who was best known for Hitchcock’s ‘Strangers on a Train.’”
- If you had your life to live over again, would you do anything differently?
“Yes. While testing for the movie ‘The Fan Club,’ actor Adam Roarke came in from off-stage and touched my stomach, shouting ‘Rape!’ I was directed to kick and scream while the camera was at the foot of the bed. Six actresses I was told did this, one of whom was Lynda Carter (‘Wonder Woman’). After a few weeks at a party, Raquel Welch said she saw these naked screen tests at producer Peter Guber’s party for the Hollywood elite. ‘What a starlet won’t do to be discovered!’ she said, laughing. Yes, I regret testing for ‘The Fan Club.’ Our screen tests were turned into soft porn for the Bel Air circuit.”
- Do you have any other regrets?
“Yes; not suing Claude Picasso, whom I supported for four years. Pablo Picasso would not leave a will as he felt signing a will would bring on his death. In 1974, when we were engaged, Claude’s mother won her lawsuit against the French government for Picasso’s estate, and eventually Claude became a multi-millionaire.”
- Which movie that you were in was the most enjoyable to make?
“‘Stepford Wives’ because this was what I had become with Claude Picasso. Though we were living on my money from supermodel days, he demanded approval of all the clothing I bought with my own money. Like a dutiful Stepford Wife, I allowed him.”
- What TV show was the most enjoyable?
“The Tony Randall Show. I played a woman who sues the city of Philadelphia because a trolley car hits her, which she claims made her promiscuous. I lose the lawsuit as they prove I was more promiscuous before the trolley car hit me. I also enjoyed ‘The Haunting of Penthouse D’ with Farley Granger, a very funny man who gave me orchids.”
- I read that you came back to this area to care for your ailing mother. Is she still with us?
“No she lived to be 100 and died in Place One in 2000.”
- What do you spend most of your time doing these days?
“Despairing about our current President, the ‘Red House’ and the infiltration of Russia into our Republican Party. I watch MSNBC and CNN and frequently throw tomatoes at the TV when Godfather Trump appears. I write occasionally for Daily Kos … And The Huffington Post has published my movie reviews, but my pets — three rescue cats, Diane, Catherine and Norman, and Herbert, my Maltese — are my family and true loves … I am trying to talk to the spirits of the senior citizens, not their aging bodies, so they can soar over the negative experiences and instead see a positive experience, but above all, to be grateful for all life’s experiences.”
TO BE CONTINUED