I wanted to post something Halloween related as the big day nears, but I simply didn’t have the time to devote to it because of the usual gripe of work interfering with my blogging (!) and also the fact that my evenings (prime TV & movie viewing time, as a rule) have been taken up with preparations for my annual Halloween party. Cleaning, cooking, decorating and other planning have overtaken The Underworld!
I decided to pop out a little blurb dedicated to a theme I had been considering anyway, that being hair that is scary in the world of television and films. Now these are not cases of a performer deliberately donning frightening hair on purpose. Most of these are incidents in which the participant was either trying to look good or at least the stylists were attempting to make the performer look good, but the end result fell short. These aren’t even the worst examples out there, perhaps, just ones that sprang to my mind right now. I’d love to hear some of your own favorite hair horrors from the cinema and TV.
What first led me on this path was the remark Stella Stevens made about how Gene Hackman hated to acknowledge The Poseidon Adventure because he was upset about the way they teased and fluffed up his hair for the movie. Hackman, like many a male before and since, was folically-challenged and, like many a male before and since, was sensitive about it. (He even refused to play Lex Luthor shown as bald for most of his appearances in the Superman films, even though the character had been conceived and portrayed that way in the comics for decades!)
What they did to him for the interior scenes was not very attractive, but it was hardly enough to throw a hissy fit over. Where the wheels came off were the outdoor scenes, filmed aboard the Queen Mary (docked, but facing the Pacific Ocean where breezes swept in heavily.) His homemade toupee of frizzled hair kept blowing up and off his scalp and this was kept in the film, to his apparent embarrassment.
Thing was, how could he complain to the producer when the hairstyle he’d been given was merely a reinvention/representation of Irwin Allen’s own dastardly S.O.S. pad comb over?! Allen was not likely to be all ears to hear how horrible the hairdo was to Hackman when it was a near doppelganger for his own crown-topper!
One of my least favorite hair don’ts from a classic movie standpoint is the decision to give Joanne Woodward the look she possessed in The Long Hot Summer. True, her character is meant to be an uptight, sexually repressed Southern belle, but they took things just a tad far. She dons the tightest bun in celluloid history with some “wook Mommy, I did ‘em myself!” bangs in the front that set off her eternally sour expressions in the worst way. It would have been one thing to have her hair that severe in the beginning of the movie, relaxing it a little as her character continued to soften, but, no… she sports this unappealing look throughout, easily allowing costar Lee Remick the ability to gather most of the attention (that is, on the rare occasion our eyes aren’t trained on Paul Newman!)
Speaking of Paul Newman and Irwin Allen… Miss Jacqueline Bisset starred opposite Paul and was hired by Irwin in the disaster debacle When Time Ran Out. While it can be argued (and I will certainly do the arguing!) that it is almost impossible for Jackie to not look good, she tries her darndest here to prove people wrong. Yes, I might be spoiled by the clean, auburn bob (wig) she sported in Airport or the thick brown shoulder length hair she had in Bullit, but by this time in her career, she was spending a lot of time with a frizzy, fluffy, unruly mess on her head that looked like an ungroomed French poodle. It was this way in Rich and Famous, too, among other projects. Like I said, she is still beautiful, but this unkempt, frazzled ‘do is not my favorite. (And I have a cardinal rule with regards to actors and actresses: Do not obscure the face, the chief instrument in emoting!)
At the other side of the spectrum was the time, in 1968, when she hastily replaced Mia Farrow in Frank Sinatra’s The Detective. Mia was busy filming Rosemary’s Baby and was delayed in reporting to her then-hubby Frank’s film, in which she had a role as a sort of quasi-love interest. Frank got so mad at Mia for not walking out on Baby that he fired her from The Detective and filed for divorce! Thus, Jacqueline was swiftly shuttled in, but all the clothes for the character had been deliberately asexually designed for the waifish Farrow with her close-cropped pixie ‘do. The solution was to slap a short brown wig on Bissett and be done with it, even though the look was not as flattering on her as it was on the boyish Farrow.
Again, Bissett is always lovely, but this was not one of the more stellar looks in her repertoire, especially when styled askew instead of neatly combed to one side! For whatever reason, she and Ol’ Blue Eyes shared virtually no chemistry together, though by then he was clearly fed up with his soon to be ex-wife and probably, however unintentionally, transferred some of his resentment to Farrow’s replacement.
I’m always going on about how Goldie Hawn seems to have kept the same hairdo for decades, long after its shelf life has expired. Then I come across something like Wildcats, where she shows off a badly sculpted, impossibly dated and unappealing mullet and I realize I should be grateful that she has clung to her long, layered locks as long as she has.
I admire some of Michael Caine’s acting, but, in my book, his hair has always been awful. Naturally curly, he used to part it and press it into an almost marcelled sort of thing. Then, as the 70s dawned, he let it get longer and more fluffy. In films like Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm and The Hand, among a lot of others, he stuck to the same basic “style” of strawberry blonde, unruly curls, partially brushed to the side.
This was bad enough, but in The Hand his character becomes unhinged and he’s hooked up to some electrode monitors and here the horror really kicks in. He starts looking like he’s gearing up to play Art Garfunkel in a bio-pic. Fortunately, in more recent years, he has kept his mane tamed and clipped down to a reasonable length.
Then there’s the day that Henry Fonda won the Oscar for On Golden Pond. (No, I’m not nasty enough to pick on poor ol’ Hank when he was about to pass away!) He was too ill to attend the ceremony, so daughter Jane, who’d been nominated herself, was on hand to collect the statuette should he be named the winner. He was, of course, which meant that Jane came up to accept the award (I believe this practice is no longer allowed except in rare, pre-approved circumstances.) She revealed to the world, the most overly bouffant, massive mess of a hairstyle imaginable! This was in 1982, before even the most garish excesses of the 80s had come to pass, making it doubly shocking at the time.
Speaking of the 80s, one Miss Lisa Hartman (a costar of Knots Landing), who once had displayed simple, dishwater blonde locks with very little fixative, took to bleaching and frying her hair in every conceivable way. Her foray into music recording featured cover art of her permed, damaged tresses (and the back cover had her posing in lacy lingerie with a denim jacket over it!)
Before long, she was appearing everywhere in gravity defying dresses with strategic areas revealed such as her belly button or ribcage. Her hair got bigger and bigger and more and more obnoxious. (Hey, at least in this shot she was snuggled up to a then-slim, but ever hairy, Alec Baldwin.)
Finally, she went the distance and shot her hair out like possum fur, with the tips tinted dark! It was always a question: “What in the hell is Lisa Hartman going to wear and how outrageous will the hair be?” After marrying Clint Black, she started sporting far more demure looks and reverted to a darker shade for a lot of the time. In fact, for the past decade or two, she has demonstrated extreme GOOD taste in hair and her mane is surprisingly, impossibly, healthy considering what it went through before.
The opposite is true for our next star, Dyan Cannon. In the 1960s, Dyan had the most wonderfully thick, frosted head of long hair. It was off her face and looked like it would take two people to brush properly. As the late 70s came to pass, she went in for the feathery Farrah Fawcett type of hair and seemed hell bent on getting it as big and as full as was possible.
On the rare occasions that she wore it up, there was so much of it and it was so voluminous that she looked like her neck could snap from the weight of it. It began to overwhelm her! Between that and the fuzzy, fussy sweaters she enjoyed wearing, we were having trouble finding Dyan in all the mess.
It’s only gotten worse, though. For years now, she has clung to the long, curly, untamed, Cousin Itt style that obscures most of her (now heavily cosmetic surgery enhanced) features. Somewhere under all the crunchy, sticky curls is the Dyan Cannon we once knew, but good luck finding her. Someone needs to do an intervention.
Over the years, Mr. Burt Reynolds has shown off a wide, wide display of hairpieces. Some of them, and no I am not kidding, have actually looked really good on him (primarily the ones of a shorter variety with some grey flecks in them.) My least favorite of them all is this horror, a bouffant, curly, greasy-looking beast that looks like something a prematurely bald teen would wear if he were cast as Danny Zukko in his school’s production of Grease! Burt was not doing very well at this stage, what with his jaw injury and the soul-draining marriage to Loni, but fortunately he ditched this before too long. (PS-Why do Loni's tits look like the tan lady from There's Something About Mary??)
On the subject of Burt, I can’t resist this last one, even though the look was surely meant to reflect the character rather than the actress. When he made The Longest Yard (the original, natch!), prison inmate Burt had a love scene with the warden’s secretary, a woman with the most off the charts insane tower of hair since The Bride of Frankenstein!
And who was this blonde lovely who found herself unable to resist Mr. R’s charms? None other than the legendary Broadway diva Miss Bernadette Peters!! Now we know what it looks like when she opts to blow-dry and brush out those famously tight curls and it ain’t too pretty.
As you enter the holiday weekend, be careful, but have lots of fun! When in doubt, wig it! I’ll be back soon with yet another post about something related to the endlessly fascinating world of screen stars and their works.