I shared a lifeboat with Debbie Reynolds in
THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN,
entered Rome with Elizabeth Taylor in
arranged flowers with Audrey Hepburn in
MY FAIR LADY.
But meaning no disrespect to these great stars, the leading
lady I remember
most fondly was four tons of sheet steel with a gleaming two-tone paintjob.
THE YELLOW ROLLS-ROYCE.
I was all of eight years old, and had never even heard
of a Rolls- Royce.
My idea of a luxury car were the Cadillac limos the studio used to squire
us around in. All I knew about the film at that point was that it was about
the various owners of the same car. And I wasn't too happy about having to
give up my annual trip to summer camp to do a damn bit part. All I had to do
in the scene was to have Omar Sharrif carry me from a bombed-out
building, hand me over to Ingrid Bergman, who in turn would then put me in
Sounds simple enough, but this is Hollywood and if we got the whole scene
done in one day it would be a miracle. Omar, Ingrid, and I had to sit around
for two hours waiting for the damn car to arrive.
Suddenly, the great doors to the soundstage opened, and
in she came, a
Yellow and Black Sedanca deVille,
her radiator cowl shinning, and her hood ornament seeming to take bows.
I remember my eyes filling with tears as I watched the driver move the
car into position.
Then the make-up man busied himself smudging me up, snearing
black powder all over my clothes and face. He scowled at my
tear-streaked face, but the director insisted it added to the believeability
of the character. When the cameras began rolling, I realized that Ingrid
was going to be putting me inside that rolling house of regal dignity,
and could hardly keep from smiling.
Omar handed me to Ingrid, who said
" What a brave little boy, and now you get to go for a ride in this
and she set me on the fur rug. I wanted so badly to sit on
that big seat, but with all that fake soot covering me, I didn't dare.
When we shut down for the day, before I left, I gave the car a thorough
once-over. I was in love, and before I left the soundstage, I gave the
radiator a big hug.
In the almost forty years since, my love affair with
Rolls-Royce hasn't abated, and a few years ago I became the proud owner
of an ' 83 Silver Spur which I love dearly. It's been said that the Rolls-Royce
is a car with a soul. And I agree.