Joan Rice in America

My posts on Joan Rice (1930-1997) are always very popular and I would like to thank you all for your kind messages. It makes it all worthwhile to read comments from my readers.

Christian is a regular visitor to this web site and recently sent me some lovely pictures of our Joan, including these from her last big movie, His Majesty O’Keefe (1954). I have also included some of my own.

Sadly, this film, with Burt Lancaster, would be the pinnacle of Joan’s very short rise to stardom. Why she faded from popularity with Hollywood remains a mystery. But her memory lives on in the pages of this web site and one fascinating article that I posted a few years ago, gives us an insight into how she felt, flying out to America for the first time.

The Picturegoer Magazine dated September 13th 1952, printed a ‘letter’ from Joan Rice about her experiences flying to the States to film ‘His Majesty O’Keefe’. In this remarkably candid letter we read of her experiences of home-sickness, stage nerves, height problems, engagement, her plans for marriage and preparations for film production. 

Below is a short snippet:
His Majesty O’Keefe’ is a period picture, and as well as sarongs I am going to wear two lovely gowns. One is lavender lace and velvet wedding dress with a bustle. I hadn’t seen the script then, but I knew there’s an amusing scene where I try on the dress and then refuse to wear it, because I have got it on the wrong way round and I don’t like that “hump” (that is the bustle) in front.

The studio hairdressing department is like a Bond Street salon. Even in the waiting rooms the appointments are magnificent. Hollywood really tries to make its stars feel good. And the clips they used for waving hair are better than ours. They give a softer wave without risk of breaking or making a “line” in the hair.

They had to build me up on the chair because I am rather short in the body. I didn’t quite reach the dryer. They piled cinema magazines under me, so I really sat on the stars. I noticed the picture on top was of Ava Gardner. Some of the Warners stars very kindly came to say “hallo” to me as I spent those long hours in the make-up and hairdressing chairs. I couldn’t talk to them (ever tried to talk with your head in a dryer, or while a man’s painting your lips?), but it was all very friendly. Steve Cochran was particularly charming.

Friendliness is one of the things about Hollywood. Leroy Prinz, the director, said I was to come back to Hollywood and he’d put me in musicals. I don’t know about that. I only know I’m booked for four months on this film, in Fijii with Burt Lancaster, whom I’ve met only once – at a Royal Film Performance. (I was very nervous-it was my first stage appearance. Afterwards he grinned and said: “Well, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”) I think the really surprising thing about Hollywood is that it’s just what you would expect. If you’ve seen it in the pictures-you’ve seen it. People do just the same things, in the same way, as on the screen. Of course, the sunshine is indescribable-there just aren’t the words. It’s sun, sun, sun. You almost expect it to blaze all night.”

To read the complete article, please click here


Clement Glen said...

Thanks to Christian for the pics of Joan Rice.

Joan Rice (1930-1997)

Anonymous said...

From Joan's letter she says that she had met Burt Lancaster at a Royal Premiere in London before His Majesty O Keefe. He was in England to film The Crimson Pirate in 1951 and left here on 8 December 1951 so by then Joan would have finished on Robin Hood in the summer of that year. The Royal Premiere in 1951 was Where No Vulture Fly which I think was in November 1951 so she must have met him there. Also she says that she appeared on stage at this event which was often the case with these film stars. One good thing about the internet is that we can look up all these events and come to some conclusions but as I have said before it tends to leave more questins than answers.

Neil said...

Should have used my name Neil and NOT Anonymous. Clicked the wrong button in my excitement.