Tuesday, September 16

kodak.com presents
Actress Jane Withers

Photographs from "Giant"
January 25, 2001


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Romalove: What did you notice most about Jimmy Dean when he thought no one else was looking?

Jane Withers: He was very concerned that everyone WAS looking at him. I think he often did things that made people wonder about him. He was very complex. He liked being noticed, and he also liked very much being unusual so people would talk about him in that manner, that he was different, and that they didn't know what he was all about. He liked that kind of mystery. I liked Jimmy when you could get rid of that entire facade he was carrying on so desperately about himself; a very nice quality there. I thank God I did get beyond the facade in the making of the film.

John: When I think of Rock Hudson I think of his classic Hollywood star "looks." What was he like as a person?

Jane Withers: I absolutely adored Rock Hudson. He was without a doubt one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful human beings I've ever known. He was very thoughtful of everyone around him. The cast and crew all adored him, as he made all the films with Doris Day and all the other films. He was congenial, had a delicious sense of humor, and I think it showed through in everything he ever did. And about those looks, he was --whooooeeee! He was truly scrumptious! I must tell you too when I was moving to a big house I purchased just before "Giant" Rock volunteered to help me move.

Boy howdy he didn't know what he'd gotten into. He was wonderful. He came with pickup trucks early in the morning and stayed until wee hours of the next morning. I played Mariachi music. It's just joyful music and really makes your bones move. Latin music is wonderful. I always play music all the time. Music is in my soul from the tips of my toes to the top of my cranium. It always helps a lot when you have a big job to do, so I've always played music, especially when we move and have big chores to do, anything that I'm involved in. He never complained.

I always had deli food out on the table for anybody who got hungry. I always felt as long as your tummy is full and your feet don't hurt, you can do just about anything. At least it's worked for me in my first 74 years. I don't think I could say enough nice things about Rock Hudson to totally describe the gentleman that he was, but I hope and pray that this answers your question. My heart really hurt a lot when he passed away. I miss him very much. I think the world does.

Sean: How were you able to take candid snapshots behind the scenes? Aren't they strict about that kind of stuff or did you use a spy camera?

Jane Withers: (laughing) That's a fun question, Sean! No. I never used any kind of spy camera or anything like that, but I love my cameras, and my pictures have always meant a great deal to me. 40 years ago we made this movie, and yet every time I look at a photo it's like instant replay, all the wonderful experiences at that time; they're all so vivid in my mind and makes my heart sing with joy because of the memories that I had in making this film. The pictures were really special. I started to sign my contract for the film and said “uh-oh, I can't sign this contract.”

The man nearly fainted and said, "Why not?" And I said, "Because it says right here in the contract that I am not allowed to take any kind of photos, movies, or anything with recordings of anything on the set or about the film," and I said I can't do that because I've had my Brownie camera and then graduated as Kodak got more sophisticated and so did I. I always had fun and it meant a great deal to take films on all the movies I made and all the sweet people in them. I told them I'd have to do that. It's such a part of my life and means a great deal, so you just call Mr. Stevens I'm sorry and wanted to work with him, but if I can't take my pictures and take my movies during "Giant" then I just can't sign this contract. They called him and he said they could fix that pretty well. Bless his sweet heart, he had a little gold card made for me that said Jane Withers, 3rd Unit of “Giant,” so I got to take all the pictures I wanted to and make some recordings. In the new DVD of “Giant” to be released later this year, I did a 2 1/2 hour interview, but probably only 4-5 minutes will show. I let them use 5 minutes of my home movies. Honest injun, they are a hoot and holler! They reflect the fun we had. It was 115 in the shade and there was no shade. Everybody really pulled together as one giant team to make this film. We were all very proud to be a part of this motion picture. I know I was. I rambled a lot. I hope this answers your question.

Since we're on the subject of Rock, there are a couple real doozies I took of him when clowning around, which he often did. He was always reading something, and if it wasn't the Hollywood Reporter or Variety, he was reading something, and nothing junk -- always something rather intelligent. Also, I love the one of him peeking around.

If he saw me with my camera, he'd do something fun and different with a mischievous look and he giggled a lot. His laugh was wonderful. He laughed from his toes and engulfed you with laughter. There was nothing to do. It was so hot. I didn't go that often to poolside, but Saturday or Sunday afternoons most everybody would go to the country club. We packed it solid. I got some really cute pictures of everybody going swimming. I think these are two wonderful pictures of Rock that I took when he was relaxing. He loved the sun and was in it as much as he possibly could be.

A still photographer took this of Rock and me. Because he moved a lot, and I don't know if because of his size or shape, his tie would get askew. At first I would say, "Do you mind if I fix your tie?" This reminds me of him when I see this picture. Rock said, "Am I 'anti-goggling' or is it just my tie?"

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