Dorothy's Last Interview
This amazing interview, though short in length is long on substance. In fact I would say I learned more about the "real" Dorothy in this interview than in all the other books, magazines and videos produced about her. These are "her" words about matters of importance in "her" life and I find the "real" Dorothy to be very intelligent, passionate, honest and devoted. Hopefully this interview puts most if not all the
hype and gossip finally to rest. Thank you Dorothy, for being you.
Shortly before her death Dorothy Stratten was interviewed in New York by actor-journalist George Haddad-Garcia. Their conversation has never been published until now:
Q: Did becoming a Playboy centerfold and a favorite of Hugh Hefner's change your life?
A: Yes, in a positive way. I got to meet so many wonderful people, and not only men. I did not feel it was exploitative. I never had any qualms about posing nude. The human body was always an attractive figure to me, that is, if it was in healthy shape, and young. I think I had a more European outlook about the body and sex. The body is in no way dirty, and sex is something beautiful to give to and share with a lover. It has nothing to do with promiscuity, because I only believe in being in love with one man at a time.
Q: Peter Bogdanovich was very big in your life, wasn't he, even before "They All Laughed?"
A: Peter was someone I admired from afar for some years, and I had the dream of someday working with him. I didn't imagine he would cast me in an important, lovely part in one of his pictures but, you see, dreams do come true. Peter always will be very important to me. I learned an incredible, an incredible, amount working with him. And I fell in love with him, yes. We became the best of friends, but there was also a special romantic feeling. This is a very romantic motion picture.
Q: What about Hefner?
A: He is a terrific individual, nothing like his reputation. He genuinely loves and respects women. He and Peter and . . . so many men have been just so kind, so helpful.
Q: The casting couch must be a trap for a lovely young actress
A: I can honestly, and proudly, say that I never was on the casting couch. Oh, of course there have been advances from certain men in the movie industry, but nothing overwhelming. They were careful, just made it known that if I did them a good turn, etc. To me, it's a turnoff. A woman goes to bed with a man if she is attracted; if she primarily does it for personal gain, what can you call it but prostitution? Actresses that I've met, in general, have high standards and aren't easily coerced.
Q: Have the film offers you've received all involved nudity?
A: No, but I do tend to get offered very sexy types of roles. Being a blonde and young makes that inevitable. I never claimed to have any extraordinary talent, just maybe extraordinary curiosity. I can learn, I am learning, and I hope to become a proficient, eventually a good, actress. Several have made the transition from a sex symbol to being taken seriously — that's something I really yearn for. We'll see. I have to be me; we each have our own destiny.
Q: Did you and Audrey Hepburn get along well?
A: Beautifully! I think I'd seen nearly all of Audrey's films—she said to call her Audrey, because I only thought of her as Miss Hepburn. She put me at ease.
Q: It's been said that every man who works with you falls in love with you. Do you develop crushes on all your leading men?
A: I think if you work as an actress and are supposed as a character to be in love with some actor, then to some extent you do have to be in love with him. I did become very affectionate towards John Ritter while making They All Laughed. Not in an intimate sexual way—he's married and happily—, but in an intimate emotional way. He's a lovely man. We became friends, and I could imagine, it he were single, having a beautiful relationship. As an actress, if I can genuinely feel that way, it's great for the character I play.
Q: What leading men would you like to work with?
A: Probably most of them! In a way, I'm like Will Rogers, never having met a man I really disliked. I'm not a vamp. I just like men. Without putting women down at all, I think men are basically decent, kind, fair and childlike. Yves Montand and Toshiro Mifune are two favorite actors of mine, though I've only seen them in a few pictures. They have such personal strength: they're not truly handsome, but that doesn't matter.
Q: Are a man's looks important to you?
A: To an extent — I'd hope my looks only count to an extent. Looks are temporary and don't mirror what's inside. And usually, a great looking man is so vain. Maybe most good-looking women are too. I hope I'm not!
Q: Who else are your favorites?
A: Richard Dreyfuss, whose humor I like, and Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, and I love Robert Morley—you know, the fat British actor who's so elegant and funny? But Audrey told me something interesting, and wise: she said she had built her career and experience by working with the best directors. She gave them precedence over actors or scripts or even money. I would give anything to someday work for, oh, Kurosawa, Bergman, Antonioni. The French ones, too. I really am not as up on all this as I should be; I have so much reading to do.
Q: Then you weren't a film buff?
A: Oh. not like Peter (Bogdanovich)! He's written the books that I have to read to know more acting lore.
Q: You've been likened to Marilyn Monroe. Is the comparison really apt?
A: I'm blonde, but.. . I don't think so. I didn't originally plan to become a celebrity, an actress, a centerfold, whatever. I was happy in the past, I'm happy now for the most part. Marilyn, from what I've read, always sought fame, as a kind of solution to loneliness and an unhappy past. It can't work that way. But I couldn't possibly judge her, and wouldn't want to.
Q: In your Bogdanovich film you play an unhappily married young woman. You yourself are now separated from your husband.
A: It's something I'd rather not talk about. But it has nothing to do with any other man. It would have gone that way, anyway.
Q: However, your husband was also your manager. Was it hard, working together?
A: It's good to have a manager who shares your interests, or goals. You can presumably trust a husband. I don't know if it's the best way to work. I really shouldn't discuss this.
Q: Was there any negative reaction to your posing nude and becoming associated with Playboy magazine?
A: If there was, it didn't touch me directly. I have only good things to say about those experiences. Nowadays, that isn't considered a sinful start. It didn't hurt Marilyn, when she did that calendar — if you want to compare me to her again, which is flattering. When I got to Hollywood, I didn't want to make it only for how I looked. So I got into acting lessons and tried to learn something good from everyone I met. Most actors love to talk about acting, but all they get asked about is their private lives or salaries.
Q: Are you more attracted to powerful, artistic men than ordinary men?
A: It depends on the man. Everyone's ordinary to some extent. But I think men who have creative jobs are more fulfilled. They get to satisfy and express themselves better. Powerful men usually aren't interesting, if that's their whole trip. I don't think a powerful man would be interesting unless he'd be nice, attractive, with or without the power. Men are interested in powerful men. Women are interested in terrific men!
Q: What was it like to become "Playmate of the Year" in competition with so many other beautiful girls?
A: The competition part didn't interest me — truly. But once they named me, it was the most flattering thing that could have happened. It felt wonderful to be the focus of so much attention and consideration. Thinking about the positive aspects boggled my mind. Oh, I loved it.
Q: Is positive thinking your credo for success?
A: For happiness. You've got to do the best you can do, for yourself and others. There's enough rotten stuff in the world without stressing it. If someone's going to talk about me, I'd want it to be positively. The way many write, you'd think only bad things were interesting. If we don't think positive, what's the use? It's a lot more fun, you know..