Jeanne Carmen is probably the exceptional girl who proves the rule. The girl who makes Hollywood her home and gets to laugh about it later. Tinsel town has been chomping on “B” girls and spitting them out for decades. It’s the way of the world, but no one told Jeanne this and now she can be counted as one of the great survivors; still beautiful, still sharp and still wicked after fifty years of living “the dream.”
Like many young girls, Jeanne hit the road in her early teens and headed for New York. At home she had already won a beauty contest and in NY she would do so many times again. Biting into the Big Apple, she met her first husband, Sandy Scott, who worked with Bert Lahr and then get a part in the latter’s burlesque show. This also led to a guest spot on Bob Hope’s very first colour show.
However, Jeanne found a unique way to enter society; hustling her skills with a golf club with daring tricks shots, while always using her buxom beauty and a six-inch pair of high-heels to get the job done. I bet Jeanne is the only girl who could ever hit three balls at once without unduly affecting her 36-26-36 hourglass figure. And not only that, Jeanne could get all those little golf balls either in the hole or so close you’d be thinking she was playing horseshoes with you. After all, it was Jeanne’s great golf grip which led her to the celebrity life long before making Hollywood movies.
Jeanne made eight Hollywood “B” films in three years and the most memorable are “Three Outlaws” and “The Monster of Piedras Blancas.” However, Jeanne will also be remembered for the 1953 cult classic, “Striporama” where she got to play a French streetwalker in an Apache dance sequence, which is particularly ironic, given that Miss Carmen is half-Comanche. The other half is pure brass!
The indomitable Jeanne also made up one half of the wildest blonde duo to ever hit Hollywood with her great pal, Marilyn Monroe. And you will understand more of their great friendship as you read on. While Jeanne never suffered fools, or let them devalue herself worth, her good friend constantly suffered great inner turmoil and self-doubt. And while Jeanne always said what she thought, she also understood when it was better to stay silent. On the very day before she died, Marilyn had arranged a golf game with Jeanne and had even bought her some new golf clubs. To this day Jeanne believes that Marilyn’s threats to talk about her personal involvement with Jack and Bobby Kennedy played a role in her death. This is reinforced by Jeanne being advised to leave Hollywood. As she told GIRL TALK, “They thought I knew more than I did. They gave me a choice. A body bag or get out of town.” As it wasn’t a mink-lined bag she got out of Dodge.
However, you can’t keep this straight-talking dame down forever and the beautiful Jeanne Carmen has long since returned from the wilds of Arizona where she raised three children to tell her fans the way it really was when acting was glamorous and blondes were pure octane. If you want to learn more about Jeanne’s exploits that she merely skirts around below then visit her at her great site at www.jeannecarmen.com and see the dozens of great photos her son Brandon presents there. Don’t forget to check out here True Confessions or the dozens of fabulously sexy signed photos. And if you want to know just how sexy the fans still find Jeanne then you should know that a fan just paid $2500 at the Newport Beach Film Festival to enjoy a dinner out with the Queen of the “Bs.”
David: Did you sign your first autograph when you were winning beauty pageants or later when you became an actress? Do you remember being asked for the first time and how it came about?
Jeanne: I remember signing one of my first autographs after winning THE MISS PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS BALL of 1952 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Red Buttons was the MC and NYC Mayor Vince Impellitari gave me my award. There are pictures of the three of us on my website. After I went back to my table, I was shocked and honoured when I was approached by a young girl who asked me for my autograph. When it first happens it kind of blows you away because you never really think it's going to happen to you. I was lucky enough that night to have the moment captured by a photographer and I still have the picture as you can see. (see attached photo)
David: Can you still manage any of those golfing trick shots you learned from Jack Redmond? Did this skill really help your career or was it the fact that you were the prettiest golfer in Hollywood? And do you think that being a voluptuous beauty helped or hindered your career over the years?
Jeanne: No, I haven't golfed in years so I would not be comfortable asking someone to lie down and let me hit a ball off their face. I was always amazed at how many guys would volunteer for that shot back in the 50's when I was performing regularly. Today, it would probably be harder to get people to volunteer for that shot. I don't even think my son Brandon would do it and he'll do just about anything for me! Although if you look at all the crazy stunts that people volunteer for these days on these reality shows, nothing is out of the question. Especially when money, fame and pretty girls are involved.
Out of all the things I've done in my life such as modelling and acting, it was really the golfing that introduced me to a higher class of people. I think golfing gave me a lot of class that modelling and acting never could. Once my skills on the links became apparent, I was suddenly teeing off with people like Bob Hope and the Duke of Windsor and they were honoured to play with me. I would play with Dean Martin all the time and because I could beat him he never tried to make out with me, like a true gentleman. Although, Dean also knew I was Frank Sinatra's girlfriend so maybe that was the real motive in not trying to shag me...I mean make out with me.
Being a beauty helped my career 100% . Hollywood is obsessed with beauty so anyone who says it is irrelevant is full of it. However, I was up for the lead role in a proposed bio pic about Babe Deidrickson back in the 50's. It was all set to go and suddenly the studio's thought I was way too sexy to be playing the Babe and the project was dropped. So in that case, it worked against me.
David: Being a beautiful and single young woman in Hollywood can be very tough and unforgiving especially when you are starting out. Did you encounter some difficult people and situations as you tried to established your career?
Jeanne: I always had a lot of protective people around me. Guardian Angel types. In fact, that's how I met Clark Gable on the lot at MGM back in the late 40's. I was about 17 and part of a touring Broadway play with Bert Lahr called Burlesque. I remember we stopped in Hollywood to play the Biltmore Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. A talent scout saw me and invited me to MGM for a screen test with a "big producer". I got there early and was outside the bungalow when Clark Gable walked by and said "Well hello there little lady." I was tongue tied at first but he got me talking and laughing in a matter of moments. I told him I was at MGM for a screen test and mentioned the name of the producer I was meeting with. Clark sort of frowned a moment and then wished me good luck and walked off. A moment later I was in the bungalow with the "big producer." He handed me a script and then started to unbutton his shirt. I saw his beer belly spill over his belt. Then he picked up a wooden spoon on his desk and leered at me. I quickly scanned the script looking for the action scene where this was happening. I actually thought the guy was doing a reading with me. He noticed I was confused and said "Fuck the script. Drop your skirt and come jump up on my desk."
With that, the producer cleared his desk clean with one swipe of his arm. Pencils, papers and notebooks flew everywhere. Trying to maintain my cool I said "What's the spoon for?"
"To spank your little butt," he replied. "You know you've been a bad girl." With that he stepped towards me. I stepped back, took a defensive position and warned him I had a black belt in karate. The producer mumbled "Yeah, me too," and took another step towards me. I delivered a solid blow to his neck but he shrugged it off and started to tear at my sweater. "You're ripping my sweater you bastard!" I protested. That had the opposite effect of what I intended and the producer seemed to get more turned on. He started to huff and puff like a choo-choo train. He pushed me onto the desk and unbuckled his pants and they instantly hit the floor. I got a glimpse of his backside in a mirror that was hanging on the wall behind him. His butt was so hairy it looked like someone had glued a shaggy rug to his cheeks. At first I thought maybe it was some kind of a sick joke from the special effects department. When I realized it was real I got disgusted and angry at the same time. I grabbed the producer by the balls and squeezed as hard as I could digging my nails in. The producer let out a high pitched scream and backed off. I reared back and punched him in the jaw as hard as I could. The producer stumbled backwards tripping on his pants that were bunched up around his ankles and fell to the floor with a thud. Right at that moment, Clark Gable barged in and said "What's up?" I blew on my knuckles and replied coolly, "Nothing's up now silly. You should have been here two seconds ago." With that Clark burst out laughing and we became great friends.
Do you remember any stories of other young actresses you knew in Hollywood in the 50s and 60s who were not as successful as you have been?
Yes. I do. And nobody has ever heard of them because they did their best acting on the casting couch.
David: When you first met Marilyn Monroe at the Actor’s Studio did this involve you practising scenes together? What was the wildest thing you remember doing with Marilyn in those early years? And did you ever sign any photos with Marilyn?
Jeanne: I first met Marilyn at a bar near the Actors Studio in New York City. I was preparing for a scene and she was sitting at the bar killing time before her first interview to get into the studio. I sat next to Marilyn not knowing it was her because she was wearing a black wig and had horn rimmed glasses on. We became fast friends and later we went to the bathroom and I went to do my thing while the girl was futzing with her makeup in front of the mirror. When I came out, there was a platinum blonde standing in front of the mirror and I assumed my friend had left. The walked past the blonde and was headed for the door when the blond said "Jeanne" in this Marilyn Monroe type voice and suddenly it dawned on me and I thought "Oh my God, I've been talking to Marilyn Monroe this whole time."
I did a lot of wild things with Marilyn such as going to the movies naked underneath our fur coats. Going to nude beaches with Bobby Kennedy, partying with JFK at Peter Lawford's house. President Kennedy even asked me and Marilyn to have a threesome with him. He said we could think of it as "helping out our country." For more details, go to my website and click on the tab "True Confessions."
No, I never signed any photos with Marilyn. I never would have considered it because it would have been a breach of friendship.
David: What are a few of the more outrageous, funny or bizarre autograph requests you have received over the years? How did you deal with some of these moments?
Jeanne: A guy asked me once to sign a release so he could have my famous pin up photo, the one where I'm reclining on a piano, tattooed on his back. I said "Sure , but I don't think you really need my permission to do that." The guy said he wanted to make sure it was OK because a buddy of his had Mickey Mouse tattooed on his shoulder and Disney sued him for copyright infringement!"
I remember back in the 50's at the premiere for THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS, I was walking the red carpet and there was a throng of people cheering for me. There were a bunch of teenage boys and when I stopped to sign some autographs for them, they started to pinch my butt and grab me. I said firmly "Watch the hands boys." Suddenly this weird hysteria swept through the crowd and the kids jumped the red ropes and started grabbing at me and they tore my dress practically off. My press agent and some bodyguards rushed in and carried me into the building where it was safe. That was the first time I realized how people can get caught up in the moment and lose control and act nutty. But it was all in good fun. Strangely, when you're famous, a lot of things get captured on film so a photographer got a picture of my torn dress and it was in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner paper the next day with the headline "Mob rips her $300.00 dress." (see attached photo)
David: Do you collect autographs yourself? If so what are some of your all time favourites?
Jeanne: No, I don't collect. But I saw an Elvis impersonator a few years ago at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. After the show, he introduced himself to me and offered me an autograph. I'd had a few champagnes too many and said "Would you like to sign one of my boobs?" The guy was stunned and mumbled "Sure, which one?" I replied, "How about the left one. The real Elvis already signed the right one." The guy whipped out his black Sharpie marker and signed away.
David: You have had some great friends over the years like Elvis, Sinatra, the Kennedy boys and Bob Hope. Did you ever sign any photos with these people? Do you remember any unusual or funny stories from your times in their company that you would care to share with our readers?
Jeanne: No I never signed photos with anyone. It never occurred to me and I wouldn't have wanted them to think I was using them. Wow, I have so many stories I wouldn't know where to start. My son Brandon has written a screenplay based on my life and that will tell the whole story in vivid detail. We're busy working on getting it out. It's really hard getting a studio feature out because of all the money and details involved. The casting has to be perfect. So many things have to come together in order for the project to come to life. So it takes awhile. But we're working on it and it's definitely coming.
David: If you were able to meet any person in history and ask them for their autograph, who would you ask and what would you have them right in their dedication?
Jeanne: I would ask Prince Rainier of Monaco and I would ask him to sign "Will you marry me?"
David: What advice would you give to autograph hunters given your own experiences with collectors over the years?
Jeanne: Don't give up. Most actors are willing and happy to give an autograph.
Has it become easier over the years or tougher to deal with collectors?
It's always been easy for me. I enjoy meeting my fans and will always go out of my way to accommodate them.
David: In closing, Miss Jeanne, are there any other interesting stories you would like to share with us about any of your amazing adventures living in Hollywood? And I thank you very much for candour with these questions.
Jeanne: It's been a long and wild never-ending party and it's still going. I feel so honoured and privileged to have been a part of the Hollywood scene. And I'm still here and I'm still talking about it. Here in America, E! Entertainment Television produced a one hour TV biography on my life called THE E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY: JEANNE CARMEN: QUEEN OF THE B-MOVIES. It turned out great and they've aired it dozens of times. I'm now more famous with teenagers and 20 year olds than I am with people my own age which is a rare twist to have this happen this late in the game. Young kids always come up to me and tell me that they want to be me and want to do all the things that I've done. And I always think to myself, "Wow! You're in for one hell of a good time!!!"
Article (c) David Priol 2003
Photos and videos (c) their various owners.