• Welcome to The Fedora Lounge!

Tippy Walker & George Roy Hill

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Senator Jack, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. Never heard this story/rumor before. Found myself rather touched by Tippy Walker's confession that she, herself, posted at the IMDB forum for the film 'The World of Henry Orient'. A member asked why she had quit show business. Here's her reply:

    I kind of backed out of the professional scene. Didn't really mean to, but it was just too rough for me, too nasty. And whoever wrote that about Jennifer on My Mind was very insightful, that thing was hell to do. I cried for hours after excepting it. I had refused it, then my agent, Stefaney(sorry can't remember how to spell her name) Phillips, gave my home number to the director, Noel Black, who when I told him why I didn't want to do it, ie. I didn't like the script and the salary was too low, he offered to change the script and raise his offer. So I sat in a hotelroom with he and Eric Segal for three days going over the things I didn't like and suggesting a more realistic point of view. Much was changed, but Eric did the writing and he just doesn't have the sensitivity or insight to write about someone so wounded(my opinion, sorry Eric), so it was just the same superficial dialogue only slanted differently; but after we had spent all the time and effort, and as their starting date crept ever closer, I felt obligated to do it. After accepting it I went to a friend's house and cried and cried. My instincts were right, worst luck, Noel was just so tough to work with, never gave me anything really nurishing to go on. His directions were always technical, never substantive. He's a sweet guy but not the director I needed for that. It was a miserable experience. My Mom had a nice time though in Venice in the Spring.

    In 1970, the year of Jennifer and The Jesus Trip, some huge personal things happened in my life. My Grandmother died. She was such the great woman, and was the world to my mother, it became clear, and so my mom didn't live long after that, which was the mortal blow to my dad, the domino thing. And the same year my grandmother died, a friend of mine who was another of the big lights in my life fell off a mountain and was killed. Things became even more deeply difficult. So putting up with all the enormous challenges of the movie industry couldn't happen. I couldn't get at all interested about the crap, excuse me, roles they wanted me to do. I changed agencies from CMA to William Morris around 72? to be with David Shaw the son of the founder of the agency, whose name escapes at the moment. David was based in LA and his counterpart in New York, nearest Greenwich,CT, my home base, was going through a divorce and just couldn't get interested in me enough to handle all the intense changes I was going through. William Morris finally dropped me in '74, David Shaw had left the previous year, and the rest is history.

    Honestly, you need a team in that world and I never had that. My family has always been a huge problem for me, lots of contention and drama and jealousy. And I made many huge mistakes in my choices of collaborators. David Geffen wanted to be my agent at one point, and I was persuaded to turn him down; Art Linson(producer of The Untouchables) was my manager in '68, and I let him go at the behest of my CMA agent, Joe "Starsky and Hutch" Narr, and he never forgave me. I should have stayed with my first agents through whom I got the part in The World of Henry Orient, they were fabulous, but I let my mom blow them off over their request for a percent of my salary, not so outrageous, to go with CMA which was just a huge blundering ambitious bunch of money people, so not the group I could deal with with any trust. They got me work but with no concept of who I was or what I could do with any real comfort. For Instance the role I had on DR. Kildaire was hell. She was spurned by him. It was the first work I did after Henry Orient, I was so new and untried. I loved Dr. Kildaire, watched it for years, to play someone he had to tell off was so hideous for me, I could hardly do it. They almost fired me. I took everything so to heart. Murmerings of, how unprofessional, how absurd I was were traveling everywhere. But isn't that the very core of acting, to take everything to heart??? It was all a huge mess from there on. Peyton Place too was so tough for me to do, another very unhappy girl, and that year my older brother was in Viet Nam, so I had to do battle on the set week after week while keeping my subconscious directed fully to protect him(not the only one, I know), which I wasn't aware of til he got back and I quietly passed out in a chair at a friend's house.

    There is also the tale of my relationship with George Roy Hill following me which I never realized until much later. We fell in love during the filming of the World of Henry Orient and remained so through most of my senior year in high school[actually, the story goes, he had lunch with me every day starting during the rehearsal period to win my trust and calm me down and gradually gradully we developed a strong bond. he was one of the only adults that sanctioned my personhood ever, my family was so competitive and I was the daughter. We stared filming in June, I got more and more used to the camera as time went by, never comfortable, never really confident, but had begun to be able to think abit after the terrifying ACTION. So, it was August, I was in his office, a basement cement block room reaking of lysol, the whole place reaked of lysol except the soundstages which reaked of aerosol--movie making wasn't the healthiest environment, having the framiliar lunch, suddenly he jumped up, I can't remember what we were talking about whether there was some sort of creciendo or if it was apropos of nothing, and came over to me saying he was going to teach me how to french kiss, and started to kiss me in this most passionate way-agressive-serious sloppy way. I know I had a second to react, a world of thought rushed through my mind, a jam of screams and curiosity, resistance, fear. How could I refuse him? the director, he had become the only person in the world I depended on for validation, he made my performance in the film possible, how could I turn him away? Risk the loss of his support, admiration? I was 16, and not the worldly 16 that is so often depicted now or then. I had never had a boyfriend, was so shy I could hardly speak to the soft spoken ladies in the library. I was sophisticated in asthetic ways only, I could write and draw, I knew what great music was, I could stand up when I needed to to defend another's life, but my own was always sacrificed. It happened, he Kissed me, and that line was crossed. To this day I wish he hadn't or that I had been able to be firm in a self protective way, but I didn't know how. On the other hand, these things happen at some point. That it was him for me was so intensely romantic and profound. I loved him, he loved me, I believe. It had no future. There was no marriage there. I would never want to ruin his family. The secrecy nearly killed me, and the controversy. No turning back, very tough to go forward. Mr. Hill was such the combination of tough strict upperclass values-Yale, the opera. tweed jackets, wellborn manners- and giddy childish rebellion- go for it in your face audacious rebellion( and I believe it was this dichotomy that killed him). It was 1963, those terrible perverse clamps of puritan and victorian sensibilties were lifting. It happened. It Happened. It happened. I have a really hard time accepting alot of my life, whine and run away and freak out, but I shouldn't. It happened and we didn't let it destroy anything or one else, maybe alittle ourselves. That too is another aside. He came up to see me at school, I can't remember if it was Spring of junior year or Fall of senior. We were hanging out in between two sections of the back of the big school building at Dobbs, asphalt, big high brick building walls. I was treading a raised stretch of blacktop, that little low devider for marking parking spaces, and he was watching me in his long dark blue soft camel hair coat. I did that kind of thing alot, maybe as a metaphor for higher ground and structure. Then I, without any forethought, or at least at that moment, turned to him and said, "We shouldn't be doing this." He just looked at me, nodded almost imperceptively, and we parted without much distress, maybe not even immediately. He wrote me one letter blaming my mother. It was me, but I never told him that, actually I could never figure out where it came outof. Couldn't shoulder the blame myself, so left it off. We always had the remains of the love we felt for each other, always.] It was very innocent, very real, very profound and very impossible. I was a very young sixteen and he was forty and married to a great woman with 4 brilliant kids, so it had no future but was one of those romantic hybreds, a poetic anomally, beautiful and doomed. There wasn't really much in the way of a physical relationship as I wasn't so into that, being so immature. He cautioned me not to tell anyone which I didn't except for my school friends. He, however, I discovered later, told many of his Hollywood friends. Many people in the industry knew. Johnny Carson wouldn't let me on his show- though that may have been because he didn't like to get caught with the shy types, especially kids; but I thought it was because of the gossip. It was sad. I thought we were very discrete. I was at school, he was in New York, how could we see each other? We spoke on the phone alot, he wrote me long fabulous eloquent letters. Sometimes we saw each other when I could get away during vacations or took trips to NYC to museums with my classmates and such. It feels wrong to be writing about it even now. He took me to the the Gugenheim, to my first Charlie Chaplin movies, took me to see Elvira Madigan, after which I couldn't speak for a good 15 minutes, he watched anxiously. He was so smart and funny and interested in me, for the first time in my life an adult wanted to know what I thought about things, watched me for reactions. I guess everyone's first love feels like that, but Mr. Hill was such the accomplished man. My family was cultured, too, so it wasn't as though he was so alien, but he was so intense and experienced in a worldly way, had been through the war and done so much in theater, tv and movies, which he would share with me(especailly during our first lunches). Had lived in Dublin with the prototype of The Gingerman, Gaynor Crist, wrote to me about him when the book came out, funny I never read it. Finally though, it didn't feel right, couldn't go on, so we let it die...there is more to it than that. So he too became unapproachable and many of his cohorts held me in disrepute, as did many others who just knew the barest glimpses of our relationship. Liza Minelli, I remember, glaring at me from a cross a diningroom, glared at me for years, which I attribute to that piece of gossip, though not sure what she was working on. It wasn't taudry in reality but has become I think one of the little nasty tidbits of the "insiders". It was one of the huge events of my life. And because of the enormous secrecy, having to keep it from my parents, the effect it had on me as a person, my connection to the world was torn apart and I couldn't tell any adult why I was so changed, so rocked, so disaffected suddenly. It was very destabilizing. And at the very beginning of my "career".

    I was young, alone, sensitive and inexperienced, add insecure and you have a good recipe for disaster. Another wrenching relationship-I became involved with Dave Milch in 1965, we broke up in 66, then he came back and lived with me during Peyton Place years, driving me crazy(or even crazier) in his wild period, I had to let him go and he continues to be upset at me for that, though he will send me cash sometimes when I'm desperate(thank you, Dave). ANYway, the whole picture didn't bode well. I'm lucky to have survived. That I didn't stay with it, well, I tried, but it just was too much for me. The other angle is that in acting, especially film acting, you're told what to say, do, wear, how to look, your surroundings are chosen for you, after a while it got to me, one needs to be enormously secure for that, and I just didn't have that kind of personal balast. Even if I had been asked to portray people I truly respected, there was this nagging poison going on about not truly being that person I couldn't get over. I wanted to be the person protrayed....so drifted gradually away.

    So, I went back to writing and painting, made some 8mm films. I do some performing here in New Haven. Read my poetry and stories. Sing and perform in a "circus" here twice a year-- make up a mystical over-the-top clown act with music, get thumping applause sometimes, it's a gas. I'm into as much of the activism scene as possible, want the political-medical-environmental-etc-etc-etc scenes to get real, do alot for the homeless, or try to, here. Feed the wild cats and as many other wild people I can...So I'm not doing nothing. In fact, I consider my writing and painting and other recent artistic and humanitarian-activist acomplishments as important as any of my professional acting credits. I should firmly add that I have always been intensely spiritual, am very much guided by that, very deeply reverent and pray alot. Do a sweat lodge here every few weeks. Consider Grandfather Wallace Black Elk one of my guides and teachers. Have had Native American spirit guides for years. Have an audible spirit voice, which if I would only heed, would guide me out of perilous situations, but still can't get over my unworthiness, the main problem for us all, I believe, so woops. It all began with a vision of Jesus when I was just three, which made church always too rough for me. Decided when I heard for the first time way back then, maybe just after the vision, possibly just before, that people could hear and see spiritually that that was what I wanted to be like.[News flash- yesterday(4/17) I got word from my guide that art is where I should put my energies..acting is one of those, so..., now I feel more confident and settled and not going to try to go fully into shamanism, though I know my spiritual openess is growing] I also did Zen formally for almost three years in the early ninties, til the flow threw me out. Zen Master Dae Soen Sunim is one of my great protectors and teachers and guides. So you can see that the movie thing was quite the stretch. But I love movies, see them all the time with my movie critic friend Bob Paglia(so can go for free), admire those who can get through the preassures surrounding it all to accomplish some amazing, even miraculous things. Could go on and on but feel this is enough for now, eh? Probably more than you ever wanted to know.....By the way the gallery closed in 2002, loved doing it, the landlord wasn't into it.

Share This Page