Film star Jane Withers
Brownie pictures and the stories behind them
November 02, 2000
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Who inspired you to get so involved with pictures?
Well, I guess you would say it's my mom, because she took pictures all the time, and everywhere I've ever gone -- most of my life -- I've always had a camera with me. Because of my work in films, I love people, and I've been privileged to take pictures of people in all walks of life, all over the world. The last five months we have been categorizing most of my stills of just my personal career, and to my great amazement, there were over 7,000 photographs. I couldn't believe it! But that isn't even all the pictures that I have taken. I haven't even begun to put those into categories.
Speaking of all over the world, I would be so excited to know some of you who are calling me from different nooks and crannies of the world. Tell me who you are
and where you're from…I'm really, really interested!
Did anyone teach you to take photographs, or did you learn it by yourself?
No, I've learned everything by doing it, including acting, singing,
dancing, everything I've ever done. I've learned from the actual experience of doing it.
Do you have a favorite camera?
You better believe it! My little Brownie was my number one love,
and I have recently acquired an INCREDIBLE new Brownie camera, it's called the Advantix, and I want to tell you, it's AWESOME! It's much lighter weight than my old camera, and I've got so many things to take around with me always. I was grateful for that. It takes three different kinds of photographs. I've never been so excited with this kind of camera in my entire life.
You call her your mother your "Guiding Light." Why?
Johnny, it was her idea. She thought it would be very interesting
to have a child that would be involved in show business -- she thought it would be a very interesting life. And Momma taught Sunday school, and Daddy taught Bible class, and the Good Lord has always been my partner in everything that I have ever wanted to do.
Mother was very instrumental with my career and also taught me how to visualize
when I was very, very young. She used to study the marquee at the Fox Theater before I was born, and she said she would visualize the name Withers on the marquee.
She would say Withers is a long last name, and she will have to have a short first name to look right on the marquee. She tried many different names mentally while looking at the marquee, and when she came to Jane, she said, "That's it!" She just believed that that was the right name for me to have.
I am from Youngstown, Ohio.
I'm from New York.
My goodness! I would love to talk to you all!
Awwww, you are a true Kodak dream gal.
Twinkie, how cute! Hey Twinkie, bless your heart!
I guess I'm very dedicated to Kodak, because I always get the pictures that mean so much to me and always have since my first Brownie camera.
Did you ever use your camera on a movie set?
Oh boy, what a great question! Ever since I first started "Ginger" I have taken films and home movies of every film I've ever done. And that's why I have such a tremendous collection, after so many years. When I did the film "Giant" I was known as the third unit because when I first started to sign my contract I was reading it very thoroughly, naturally, and suddenly came to the sentence that said "no personal cameras
or photographs are allowed to be taken on the set," and I literally said "I can't sign this contract!" And they said, “what do you mean, you can't sign this contract?”
I said "I've taken still photographs and home movies for every film I've ever made."
I said, "Maybe I could talk to Mr. Stevens and explain to him how much it means to me to have these photographs." So I called him, and he said, "I think we can work this out very easily." And he had a gold card made for me that said on it "Jane Withers, Third Unit of Giant. Signed, George Stevens,” which gave me, literally, the permission to take any photographs or movies that I wanted to take. Wasn't that terrifo? And as a result, I have some incredibly wonderful photographs of Rock Hudson, Jimmy Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Carole Baker, Dennis Hopper, Monty Hale, and Earl Holliman. We all worked together on that film. We'll save that for the next chat!
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