Actress Jane Withers
Photographs from "Giant"
January 25, 2001
|Actress Jane Withers chats about her experiences filming the 1956 cinema classic, “Giant,” and shares photographs she took of the movie’s stars, including James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson.
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Good evening. Tonight we are honored to be able to bring actress Jane Withers to you via this state of the art chat application. We will incorporate photos from the 1956 cinema classic "Giant" along with candid shots taken by Ms. Withers of stars Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, and more - real-time. Now is your chance to ask questions and participate in this event -- jump right in!
Hello everybody! It's so sweet of you to join our chat. I'm just so tickled that you tuned in to share with us on this special event of my sharing thoughts with you on the fun I had in making the film "Giant" in 1955.
Wow, "Giant," what a blockbuster cast - it must have been an amazing experience. What do you remember as the most interesting aspect of being a part of this film?
I think my first thought would be the very great excitement I had when George Stevens said, "You're going to be Vashti Snythe." He was it as far as "Giant" goes. He did it all as Director and Producer. I was Vashti Snythe in "Giant." Next I have to immediately bring up the extraordinary people that I had the privilege of working with for almost a year in this film. I'd known Rock Hudson for a long time. He had a delicious sense of humor, a joy to be around, and a very nice human being. I didn't know Elizabeth that well but was looking to getting to know her better as we worked in the film together. I'd never met Jimmy Dean at all, but I admired his work, and will never forget the first day that we had a huge party to get everybody together that was going to work together on the film so that we could meet each other. It's the first time I ever saw Jimmy in person. He was very quiet, looking down at the floor most of the time, and sort of mumbling "hello" to different people. I didn't gush over him like a lot of the others did. I stayed in the background observing as I usually do and appreciating this great opportunity.
James Dean always appeared as a seemingly tortured character, what was he like in real life?
Oh dear Gussie! I knew we'd get around to that one. I've been asked this many time ever since I made the film. It's hard to put into words what he was about. He was truly one of a kind. I think he was very intimidated by a lot of the things he had to do in the acting profession as far as meeting and being with other people, some definitely not of his choosing, and he stayed very much to himself. He was truly a loner. I really wondered in my heart if I would ever get to know him, but that time did come in the future. He was very, I felt, inconsiderate where the crew was concerned, and that bothered me a lot. Don't forget, I'd worked in show business since I was 2 1/2 years old.
I didn't know how old he was, and I didn't really care. He was a very good actor, but he had a lot to learn about his fellow actors, actresses and crew. As time went on and we got to know each other better, I had a great opportunity several times to share thoughts with him about this, and I must say that toward the end of the movie, he had changed, not a lot, but a little bit in the right direction as far as being more considerate of his fellow men. I liked Jimmy. My heart went out to him in many ways, and he reminded me of my two little sons who were very small at the time, and as we got to know each better, because he was obstinate and had a definite mind of his own and quite a temper, one night I told him that if he was going to act like a little kid, I'll treat you like I do my sons, so for now on I called him my No. 3 little son. We had a unique and interesting friendship, and I'm very grateful for that.
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