Maureen Stapleton Was Hot For Dick Van Dyke!

Categories: Film

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Maureen Stapleton was the pinchably pudgy, heavy-drinking, brilliant actress who copped Tonys and an Oscar.

According to Dick Van Dyke's recent memoir, she also wanted a Dick.

At a dinner party for the 1963 movie of Bye Bye Birdie, in which Maureen played Dick's mom, the actress made her intentions known.

As she lay on the floor, completely toasted, Dick said to Maureen, "Wouldn't you like to sit in a chair?"

"I'd tell you where I'd like to sit," replied the actress, "but your wife's here."

Years later, the two star-crossed trophy winners reunited for the film The Runner Stumbles, shot in the cozy rural town of Roslyn, Washington.

Maureen was up to her own tricks, which often involved boozing it up and trying to land a trick.

Van Dyke says some townspeople blanched when they overheard this exchange outside Maureen's trailer:

Dick: "I'm going to get coffee. Do you want anything?"

Maureen: "I want you to come in here and fool around with me."

Pause.

"Consider it a mercy mission."

Alas for her, it was mission impossible.


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11 comments
Melinda9
Melinda9

Another book I want to read.

rolph
rolph

A lot of people went into show biz to fuck Joel McCrae.

MSpeer
MSpeer

And who got him? Frances Dee. How nice for her. Ah, well. There are so many others for whom I'd have made that trek to Hollywood, Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers (politics notwithstanding), Lew Ayres, Leslie Howard, Gary Cooper....

Gregorama
Gregorama

When Stapleton accepted the New York Film Critics Award for her role as Emma Goldman in the 1981 movie "Reds," she acknowledged  that the only reason she went into film "was because I wanted to fuck Joel McCrea."   I hear ya on that one, Mo!  Does anyone remember her on some awards show in the 80's...or was it the "Night of 100 Stars," when the visibly bombed Ms. Stapleton actually met the very elderly McCrea, which turned her into a babbling mess?  It was touching, though I remember being a bit unnerved by it at the time.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Some of the best and funniest theater stories involve Maureen Stapleton .

When she was rehearsing to play Marthy opposite Marilyn Monroe's "Anna Christie" at the Actor's Studio, Marilyn confided to Stapleton that she was afraid her voice wasn't strong enough to project from the theater stage. A Monroe business associate came calling and Marilyn took him into another room, where in her "real" voice she began to ream him out, read his beads and call him everything but a child of God.

She returned to Stapleton, who patted her on the hand and said, "I wouldn't worry about projection, honey. Your voice could project through steel walls."

Her two great crushes were Joel McCrea and Laurence Olivier, whom she called "Sir," when  they played Big Mama and Big Daddy in the Natalie Wood-RJ Wagner TV "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," filmed in England. She was outraged when Tennessee Williams visited the set and told "Sir" that his accent was off: "This ain't Mayfair, y'know."

Maureen was a HUGE movie fan and could beat everyone at movie star trivia.

Once, she stumped me on the name of a "star of a biiiig MGM movie musical in the 30s whose initials are MJ." It turned out to be soprano Miliza Korjus in "The Great Waltz."

While I squawked that Korjus was an opera star, for Crissake, Maureen just smiled and said, "I pulled that one outta my ass."

Locke
Locke

Did Janet leigh also realize that the new opening number was the best thing in the movie???

MSpeer
MSpeer

That's right! And did Leigh's singing sound just a bit off key to you? She looked pretty in the part but was totally miscast.

Bwaybill
Bwaybill

They should have used Chita Rivera, who played it on Broadway.

Brogan
Brogan

Did that really happen? I always wondered why she didn't play Rosie in the film. She had just come off the Oscar win and would have been perfect. 

mjm
mjm

or Rita Moreno (who was originally supposed to do the movie of Bye Bye Birdie until a spat w/ her manager forced to her drop out)

Musto
Musto

Also in the book, Dick talks about Paul Lynde's behavior at the same dinner. Lynde turned to Ann-Margret and said, "I just want you to know that I'm the only one at this table who doesn't want to screw you!"But costar Janet Leigh obviously wanted to wring her neck. Leigh was horrified when she realized the director was obviously fond of Ann-Margret, who was getting lots of screen time including a new opening number. Leigh didn't feel this was the movie she'd signed on to do.Similarly, Van Dyke talks about how Rose Marie was irked when Mary Tyler Moore's part on The Dick Van Dyke Show turned out to be bigger than she'd thought it would be. Rose Marie thought the show would be all about the writers. But she got used to it.

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