September to November 2011

Happy New Year to one and all and I know that it is the time to look forward and get excited at upcoming events and adventures but I am afraid we are going to have to commence this leg of my blog by going backwards!

I can only promise that this year of 2012 I shall try much, much harder to be up to date with my blog. I have lots to say already and we are only two weeks into the New Year but before I do we need to go back and catch up on the end of last year.

There is something about the term resident alien that always seems to make people smile. It really does seem to describe me as I flip flop back and forth between countries with an extraordinary ease. I have always considered my existence very Jekyll and Hyde ish as the two lives I lead are so very different. I have never managed to shake off the moniker of alien and even though I moved to Los Angeles way back in 1983 I still often feel like an alien. Things are just different here. Of course it amuses the masses that I also play aliens or at least characters that are from another world and indeed being brought up in the heart of William Shakespeare land and spending so much time in LaLa land I do feel that I really do come from another world. Nothing in Stratford is remotely like my life in California and indeed as I sit in the Bel Air hotel talking to my movie star friends I marvel at how different my life styles are. Anyway I have left Stratford upon Avon behind for September and October and in L.A but not before having had the pleasure of celebrating my mother’s 90 th birthday at home with all our family and friends.

Hurray for Hollywood. Sunshine all the way. A stay always lifts my spirits especially when the President of the United States has chosen to visit my local music venue just two blocks from me. The building is a shack like construction known as the House of Blues and it sits shabbily on sunset Boulevard. There was nothing shabby about his visit though and they pulled out all stops to make sure that we all knew he was coming and also that we couldn’t get anywhere too near to disturb his arrival. Road blocks and helicopters and sharp shooters and chaos and every type of Obama merchandising conceivable added to the palpable excitement of the masses. Even I got caught up in it and found myself most put out when on leaving my house I was stopped by the cop at the end of the road. It appears I looked or acted suspiciously and he wasn’t about to let me join my friends who had already staked out there spot. As it turns out the Pres. sneaked in the back door and disappointed many. The one nice experience was that the neighbour’s car got flagged down and pulled over by his motorcade. The President gave them a big smile and a thank you and I think the memory will last for ever for that lucky family.

abbySo it’s convention time. This time it’s the Hollywood Collectors show and I have been invited along to join some of my fellow Falcon Crest cast mates. It has only been 30 years! I have long embraced the whole business of conventions. I often have people say that they have noticed that I am on the ‘circuit’ and to a degree I suppose I am. I enjoy them and try to do two a year and especially in different areas of America.  It amazes and delights me that people will make such efforts to come out and visit. Let’s face it my body of work was way back when and certainly the stuff the fans love was mostly shot a good few years ago. Signing some pics and making a bit of pocket money is really not hard work AND having people telling me they love me is really an added bonus.

I have always maintained that the minute I have no visitors I will stop. I do sometimes see actors just sitting with no one visiting and it must be the most debilitating feeling. There are all sorts of different ways to draw attention to oneself at a convention. This can range from wearing scanty outfits to being overtly loud. I rather err on the side of caution and like to just sit and beam at people and trust they just feel comfortable coming over to say hello. Maybe they will grab a photo or get an autograph it’s all fine by me.

Last year I was offered advice from an ‘actress’ who told me, through her extra white teeth and botoxed face that if I showed a bit of cleavage I would do a lot better and sell more autographs.  Looking at her vast display I rather marvelled that she didn’t topple over when leaning down to sign a picture. Her fan didn’t seem to mind though and I think she could have signed her name Fred Flintstone and he wouldn’t have noticed.

A bit of lipstick and maybe a manicure to disguise my gardening nails is about as far as glamming up goes for me. They get me pretty much as I am. Some people make SERIOUS money and I mean many thousands at these conventions. Often a good business class air ticket is involved and a good hotel thrown in. Just depends. This last visit I was able to luxuriate in a Marriot hotel although the location was the North Hollywood airport of Burbank, not exactly glamorous.  However it was great stay and the most wonderful bed and pillows, it doesn’t take much to please me!

Next Spring I am delighted to be able to visit Charlotte and a new type of convention for me. Horror. Looks like fun and lots of chums will be there and I am sure we will all have a blast. Of course it does mean I shall have to own up to many of the scary movies I have shot and forgotten about. The fans won’t have though. So I shall have to do some viewing, if I dare, so I know what they are talking about!

The following week end I am going back to a favourite place. Stonybrook and the I-con convention. I love this show and the people that run it and I am very spoilt. It also gives me a chance to visit my family in New York which will be brilliant.

I have been very fortunate in my random choice of conventions round the world but sometimes I have got it wrong. I am delighted to say that I am now well protected by my long-time friend Julie who runs a successful business booking and negotiating for her clients who are invited to memorabilia shows and conventions. Thanks to Illumina productions I no longer have to worry about where I am going and who is looking after me and especially if it is legit. As I have said I have always been very lucky but there have been one or two scary calls and as a small example I will illustrate my point!

Two years ago I accepted an invitation to visit Coral Beach in North Carolina. I should have known better and my instinct told me that the person I was dealing with did have a dodgy track record but Hey, he was an old friend and I loved his family and surely he would steer me right. I don’t intend to go into the chaos that ensued or my deep disappointment with this individual because out of the chaos I befriended a wonderful lady who saved the day and I am in her debt. What I will illustrate is just how easy it is to be misrepresented and how easily one can be at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals.

My deal, including air fare, also stated a luxury 5 star beach front hotel. Delicious, especially in winter.  Two flights and a few hours later I was delivered from the West Coast to the east coast to an airport near Myrtle Beach. A drive through the deserted streets soon alerted me to the fact that this was very off season. Most of the shops were shut and boarded and as we approached the beach hotels it was apparent that a lot of them were closed too. However the following day’s forecast was good and even though it was dark and late at night I was aware we were passing a beautiful beach full of big hotels.  Before I knew it we had turned sharply into a driveway leading down into an underground car park. Down and down we went. There were just two cars parked which should have been a clue however I was tired and happy to be led into the elevator that took me to the penthouse.  A deserted corridor open to the elements and a view of a darkened beach and crashing waves added to the welcome , at this stage I did get a niggly feeling that all wasn’t quite as it seemed and the movie ‘The Shining’ suddenly seemed foremost in my mind… a clue of what was to come maybe? But then the door opened into my suite and what a luxurious one it was. A fabulous big bed with silk pillows everywhere. Plasma screens and all mod cons.  There must be a catch? I went to the mini bar. Empty. I was now very tired and hungry and a little cranky so I picked up the phone to call room service. Not only was there no reply but there was no connection…there was no body there. In fact there was no body in the bloody hotel. It was closed for the season. To this day I don’t know how they had managed to get the room opened and cleaned for me but they had.

green poolI slept fitfully assured by the booker that everything would be sorted out the following day. The morning arrived and indeed the beach lay in front of me and the pool immediately below my wrap around balcony. I peered the 10 floors down and could see a large half empty pool. Green and stagnant. Nobody had been skinny dipping in that yucky pool in a long while. Never mind, there was always the beach. However the beach could only be accessed by taking the elevator to the basement and going through the security door and the hole in a fence. Not quite the luxury I had anticipated.

No phone. No service. No hotel staff. No good! Just me and two others guests on lower floors but how could I challenge the agreement? You see they promised me a beach front luxury hotel and they delivered.  I just forgot to ask them if the hotel would be open!!!  Who would have thought?

Since I last wrote things have changed a little and I am now recuperating after an accident in London in early November.  Never one to miss an opportunity to be the centre of attention I managed to curtail a rather lovely dinner party at the fine and glamorous Ivy club by slipping on the hardwood floor and taking a spectacular tumble which left me with a badly fractured hip. I shall repeat the piece printed in the Daily Mail as they did rather capture the moment but it is actually the hospital I want to mention, first though the illustrious Daily Mail report:-
blog-dailymailStill glamorous at 58, Superman baddie Sarah Douglas must have wished for her own superhero flying to her rescue after falling heavily on the polished floors of The Ivy Club. The Falcon Crest actress – she played venomous Pamela Lynch – was enjoying dinner with U.S film executives when she went to powder her nose. Unfortunately for Sarah, the floor was damp.  “I’d taken barely a couple of steps when I flew up in the air” she says. “The noise I made when I came crashing down was like a big piece of heavy machinery hitting the floor.‘
But it was no laughing matter and Sarah was taken to University College Hospital where doctors said she would need a hip replacement. “I was hoping to create a lovely impression with all these bigwigs from L.A and then there I was on the floor in agony.” She tells me. “The funny thing was, as I lay there , I realised I was looking up some of the most glamorous skirts in London.”

So there we have it and here I am now some 8 weeks later with a crutch and a limp and the prospect of one leg a little shorter than the other. Mind boggles as to the roles this will afford me. Suggestions please! On the positive side is the experience I had in our wonderful National Health Service hospital. I could not have been better taken care of in my 11 day stay. Indeed there were moments of misery and lack of sleep but on the whole a positive experience.

I had a lot of laughs with two of the other patients and some great nursing. I was well taken care of by friends and family who visited constantly. I also spent a good deal of time writing down some of the dialogue from a crazy lady who briefly stayed with us and another dear old soul of 93 years who thought she was at staying in a luxury hotel with her mother. It was a real slice of life and also a wakeup call to the ghastliness of ageing. Talking of that I must point out that the biggest laugh came to my ward mates the day a fellow visitor remarked that my friend (who is 4 years younger than me ) was a wonderful daughter to take such good care of her dear old mother. Ok, I know I looked rough and was in a wheel chair and was being pushed to the bathroom but REALLY….her mother for goodness sake!!

Anyhow it did give everyone a well-earned laugh and a serious wake up call to me that I need to get my act together and quickly!!!

Now we are up to date and Oscar time is here and I have already attended the War Horse premiere so lots to tell. Next time!