Wednesday, June 11, 2014

INTERVIEW: Hope Holiday on Billy Wilder, The Apartment (1960) and Irma La Douce (1963)

Actress and Producer Hope Holiday talks with TV STORE ONLINE about THE APARTMENT (1960) and IRMA LA DOUCE (1963).

TV STORE ONLINE:  I have to ask if the thing with the straw was scripted for your character 'Margie MacDougall' in THE APARTMENT (1960)?

HOLIDAY:  Everything was scripted.  Every word.  There's a scene where I walk with Jack Lemmon over to the apartment and he asks about my husband.  The line in the script was "He's like a little Chihuahua."  When we were shooting I said,  "He's kinda like a little Chihuahua."  Billy Wilder said, "Hope, he is like a little Chihuahua, not kinda."  I said, "OK."  So we tried it again and I said the same thing!   I said the same thing over-and-over.  Billy made me do it over-and-over until I got it right.  I.A.L Diamond would lean in every time and say, "LIKE a little Chihuahua."   You had to say every word exactly the way it was written in the script. You couldn't change one word of dialogue with Billy Wilder.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Following THE APARTMENT you also worked on a amazing episode of Bob Hope's Chrysler Theater with Milton Berle in 1963 called 'The Candidate'....

HOLIDAY:  Oh Yeah.  Milton Berle was a friend of father.   He threw me my sweet sixteen birthday party.   I had some very heavy and dramatic scenes in that.  My father had just passed away when I did that.   There was a scene where Berle and I were in his character's hotel room and I break down and start to cry and he comforts me.   I started thinking about my father and the years that had passed for that.   When we were shooting it, Berle started acting like a schmuck.    After one scene he said, "Have I ever gone to bed with you?"   He didn't use those nice of words when he said it to me though.   I said, "No!  You've known me since I was a little girl! Never. Never. Never."  

TV STORE ONLINE:  You worked with Billy Wilder again after THE APARTMENT on IRMA LA DOUCE (1963)....

HOLIDAY:  That was fun. That was like being at a camp.  All of us girls worked on IRMA LA DOUCE from day one until the end of the shoot.   Billy Wilder was such a character.  I remember one day at the end of shooting,  a friend of mine Diki Lerner...She was in the picture with me...We were standing around talking one day after shooting and it was suggested that Grace Lee Whitney had gone off into Billy's private dressing room with him.  We went and knocked on the door.  We knocked a couple times.  We knew that they were in there and then finally I said, "Billy?  It's Hope and Diki....We want to ask you something."  There was a pause, and then Billy said, "Just a minute".  Finally, the door to his dressing room opens up a crack.  He had a chain on the door and he wouldn't open it up wide and he was standing behind the door. We knew.  I looked at him and said, "Nevermind... Nevermind...  We'll talk to you about it tomorrow.  We're going home now."     Diki and I went downstairs at Samuel Goldwyn Studios and waited in a doorway.   Finally, Grace Lee Whitney came down. I said, "Uh-Huh. Uh-Huh. He's misbehavin!'".  It really made me angry for some reason and for the rest of the shoot I really didn't want to talk to him.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You have some great scenes in IRMA LA DOUCE....

HOLIDAY:  When Billy directed me for that scene where Shirley MacLaine and I fight...He told his Assistant Director Hal Polaire, "Tell Hope...I want her to really slap Shirley in the scene where they beat each other up."  He knew that Shirley and I didn't like each other.  I don't know why he did that to us, but it was kind of fun.  We really went at it. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   So you didn't get along with Shirley MacLaine?

HOLIDAY:  She didn't like me.  She wouldn't talk to me during the shooting of THE APARTMENT for some reason, and that really hurt my feelings because it was my first break.  I was hurt by that.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I guess that's why that fight scene is so wonderful...laughing

HOLIDAY:  Laughing....Yeah. Yeah.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Especially when you walk up and kick her when she's on that bar stool...

HOLIDAY:   I know.  We really meant that.   When she kicked me in the rear end I really went flying and fell on the floor.  Then when I hit her over the head with that big, huge purse I really slammed her with that.   When I kicked her she went flying.  It turned out good, because it was realistic.

TV STORE ONLINE:  I love that scene in the Paddy Wagon too.   I love the heart-shaped glasses that you wear...

  Wardrobe gave me those!   (Singing) Little Birdy, Pretty Little Birdy -- Little Birdy, Fly Away with Me.  We Will Build a Little Nest, We Will Build a Little Nest..GET THE BEST...GET THE BEST...In my nest, in my nest!   I loved singing that.

Interview Conducted By: Justin Bozung