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Jane in The Outlaw (1943)

‘Howard Hughes invented a bra for me. Or, he tried to. And one of the seamless ones like they have now. He was way ahead of his time. But I never wore it in The Outlaw (1943). And he never knew. He wasn’t going to take my clothes off to check if I had it on. I just told him I did. They held up The Outlaw for five years. And Howard had me doing publicity for it every day, five days a week for five years. Sometimes the photographers would pose me in a low-necked nightgown and tell me to bend down and pick up the pails. They were not shooting the pails.’

[2003] ‘These days I am a tea-total, mean spirited, right wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot, but not a racist.’

[On what happened when she found herself pregnant at 18] ‘The only solution was to find a quack and get an abortion. I had a botched abortion and it was terrible. Afterwards my own doctor said, ‘what butcher did this to you?’ I had to be taken to hospital. I was so ill I nearly died. I’ve never known pain like it. People should never, ever have an abortion. Don’t talk to me about it being a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death.’

‘…in my day Hollywood was Republican. All the heads of the studios were Republicans, and we were fighting Communism. You had John Wayne, Charlton Heston and myself and Robert Mitchum; and President Ronald Reagan came right out of that same group. There were a few Democrats in Hollywood, but we thought they were crazy. I think that our Founding Fathers had exactly the right idea, and we’ve got a great country, and let’s go back to God.’

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‘In Hoboken, when I was a kid, I lived in a plenty tough neighbourhood. When somebody called me a ‘dirty little pig’, there was only one thing to do: break his head. When I got older, I realized you shouldn’t do it that way. I realized you’ve got to do it through education…maybe with a few exceptions.’

‘A well-balanced girl is the one who has an empty head and a full sweater.’

‘Rock ‘n’ roll smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons, and by means of its almost imbecilic reiteration and sly, lewd, in plain fact, dirty lyrics, manages to be the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the Earth.’                                                            

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‘I was the first home-grown sex symbol, rather like Britain’s naughty seaside postcards. When Marilyn Monroe’s first film was shown here [The Asphalt Jungle (1950)], a columnist actually wrote, ‘how much like our Diana Dors she is.’ The figure was fabulous, but my face was never much, little eyes and lips like rubber tyres. I did well because I was the first and only British blonde bombshell.’                                                       

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with Priscilla Presley in The Naked Gun films

[Regarding his camaraderie with his Naked Gun co-star Priscilla Presley] ‘I remember when we first met. We were sitting across the soundstage from each other. I glanced over and happened to catch her eye, and made a face and crossed my eyes. And she did it promptly right back at me.’

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Lorne Greene

[On his fellow Canadian Lorne Greene] ‘The hair would stand up on my arms, his voice was so magnificent. When I met him, Lorne looked exactly the way he sounded, the patriarch. I could never have imagined him riding the range, herding the cattle, as he did in Bonanza (1959). But he became a friend who was always there, always gentle, always friendly.’                                                               

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Priscilla & Elvis – their wedding day

‘Elvis was faithful to me during our marriage. I cheated on him. He passed a lie detector test and until he learned of my indiscretions, Elvis never cheated. Only after I left him. Elvis was a loving, sincere man who respected his home and family. His career took him away from us and, being so young and naïve, I thought wrongly that he just didn’t care anymore.’

[Regarding nudity on-screen] ‘I have a son to answer to. I don’t want my son seeing me nude. I don’t know how these mothers do it. I don’t know how Demi Moore does it. I’m sorry…she’s got three kids. I don’t know how Cybill Shepherd does it. I don’t know, it’s just not in me. It just isn’t me. I’ve got an aunt and my grandchildren. I don’t want to embarrass them.’                                                                   

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Ginger & Lew – their wedding day

[On her second husband, actor Lew Ayres] ‘I was very much in love with a man who was, to my way of thinking, the handsomest leading man in the motion picture world. I was truly smitten with Lew’s good looks and the smouldering glances he gave to the various females playing opposite him. Lew was a natural when it came to acting. He always had a sixth sense about the right thing to do. His intellectual side was a surprise to me and frequently made me feel a mite inferior. He knew something about everything.’                                                                       

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‘I think sex is over-rated. I don’t have sex appeal and I know it. As a matter of fact, I think I’m rather funny looking. My teeth are funny, for one thing, and I have none of the attributes usually required for a movie queen, including the shapeliness.’

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Audrey as Eliza in My Fair Lady (1964)

[On accepting the lead in My Fair Lady (1964)] ‘I understood the dismay of people who had seen Julie [Andrews] on Broadway. Julie made that role her own, and for that reason I didn’t want to do the film when it was first offered. But Jack Warner never wanted to put Julie in the film. He was totally opposed to it, for whatever reason. Then I learned that if I turned it down, they would offer it to still another movie actress [Elizabeth Taylor]. So I felt I should have the same opportunity to play it as any other film actress.’




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