Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida on June 30, 1974 · Page 86
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Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida · Page 86

Panama City, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 30, 1974
Page 86
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St a i Cl\at By Petri. Oppephelamer Joel Grey: *Fifteen\ears Later My Wife Is Still the Best Company I Know I t took me 45 minutes to drive to Joel Grey's rented beach bouse - but 1 arrived early. He'd just finished showering, and stuck his dripping head out the second-story bathroom window to urge me to make myself comfortable in the living room. Inside, his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in "Cabaret" stared unseeingly from a table full of mementos, and his eight-year-old son, Jimmy Rico, busily tested homemade gliders from the second-story landing. Finally, dressed in jeans and open shirt, Joel bounced barefoot into the room. FAMILY WEEKLY: What's the attraction of living way out here in Malibu Colony? JOEL: That's it! It's not convenientl There are fewer distractions, so we have more time for each other. If I had my druthers, I'd live in Martha's Vineyard. But I guess that's too drastic. We're seriously considering buying or building out here. FW: But won't your wife mind being stuck out here? I mean, you do so much traveling. JOEL: Oh, we're never apart! I've never been away from Jo more than a week. FW: Your wife was an actress before she met you. Did she stop because you felt two careers wouldn't work? JOEL: No. Jo worked during the first part of our marriage, but I think she stopped because she wasn't getting enough pleasure out of it. The pull between the responsibility to her family and her career was too hard. FW: How long have you been married? JOEL: Fifteen years, and she's still the best company I know. We're together for hours. We're interdependent. We even go away on vncations to be together more, especially since my work and the children make leisure time hard to come by. FW: Why. after you were such a smash success in "Cabaret," did you go back to nightclubs and concerts? JOEL: It's bad to leave something painful unresolved. I went back to find out if I could do it. I didn't want to leave it Joel Gray MMIJIIS win Jo: HMy*vst never been spirt "I WM always short My father was short, too. As a kid, I was always in the front row. Ths other kids were pretty rough on me. I guess that's one reason I enjoyed going every weekend to the Children's Playhouse.... They treated me as a person, not just a little kid." a mystery. Actually, it was Liza Minnelli who convinced me. She kept saying, 'it's fun! You'll love it!" I kept saying no until they asked us to work together in Las Vegas. After I'd said yes, I found out that Liza had her own act, I'd follow her for 20 minutes — alone —then we'd do 20 minutes together. Then there would be 20 more powerhouse minutes of Liza —and I had to come up with something for the last ten minutes! P.S. ^ No one can prepare just 20 minutes. I ended up getting a whole act ready. FW: Have you made a film since "Cabaret"? JOEL: Yes, "Man on a Swing," for Paramount. FW: How did you like working with Liza Minnelli? JOEL: Need you ask? I don't know what it is when we work together, but something happens. Like when we were doing "Cabaret." We rehearsed the money song for weeks, yet every time we did it, we'd break up laughing! It's impossible to explain. Maybe one makes the other feel more creative. I don't know. FW: When I saw you at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, you bounded onstage and announced that you were 5'5" tall and 41 years old. [Joel just turned 42.-Ed.] Obviously looking young has been an asset, but has being short had an adverse effect? JOEL: Definitely! Particularly in this country with its John Wayne syndrome. Maybe that's why I am what I am to. day. Look at James Cagney. And George M. Cohan. He was so height conscious he wore elevated shoes and had his pants cut to hide them. I think it maimed him psychologically. FW: Were you small as a child? JOEL: I was always short. My father was short, too. As a kid I was always in the front row. The other kids were pretty rough on me. I guess that's one reason I enjoyed going every weekend to the Children's Playhouse in Cleveland, where I was born. I looked forward to that all week. They treated mc as a person, not just a little kid. FW: How did you manage to be in professional plays at ten and still keep up with your schoolwork? JOEL: My father was Mickey Katz, the v comcdian. He insisted I get an education. I was a pretty good student, so when I worked late at night in a play, I was allowed to come late to school- which didn't win me any friends either. If I was very good and did all my homework as soon as I got home from school, after the show I could go out for Chinese food. That was a big thing! I think when I die my last dinner will be Chinese food, I'm so hung up on it. FW: You've garnered an Academy Award, a Tony, the Golden Globe, won the British equivalent of the Oscar. What do you want to do now? JOEL: I'd like to direct, but 1 don't have the time. I'd like to perform in Europc-I did a concert at the Palladium and it was very exciting. FW: What was your worst moment onstage? JOEL: I can do my acts before audiences, but I'm a terrible living room performer. I just can't get up like that. I'm basically shy, I guess. One night I went to see Judy Garland at the Palace. Barbara Harris was in the audience, too, and if there's anyone shier than I, it's Barbara. Judy was doing her thing about pointing out people, and she called on Barbara, who wouldn't get up. I thought, "Phew! What a relief! I won't have to either!" So when she called on mc, I stood up, bowed, threw a kiss, and sat down. Only Judy wouldn't let me go and made me get up onstage. I waved and headed back to my seat when everyone started yelling, "Sing 'Cabaret'!" Now, that was the one song I didn't sing in the show! I realized that Judy had walked off, leaving mc all alone onstage. I was desperate. 1 had to do something, so I said to the orchestra leader, "You start out — I'll pick up on you." I nearly collapsed when he said, "No, you start out. We'll come in after you've done a few bars." There was nothing to do but try. Then I felt a touch on my arm, and there was Judy, moving mc into a totally unrehearsed soft-shoe routine with her. I guess it worked all right, but I was so stunned at the time, I couldn't nm tell how we did! VuM IS • FAMILY WEEKLY, June 30,1974

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