George Kennedy, an interview

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, George Kennedy talks about his memoir, Trust Me, on the Off the Meter radio program, hosted by Jimmy Failla.

Here, they talk about Kennedy’s childhood, his movies, and what he thinks of fellow movie stars. This interview has been re-edited and is being reposted on Onstage and Backstage podcast with permission of Off the Meter.

>>>LISTEN HERE<<<

Trust Me: a memoir by George Kennedy (Applause Books)

“I write like I talk. A long time ago I tried making ‘talking and telling the truth’ one and the same. That isn’t just difficult; it means painfully reviewing things you’ve been led to believe since you were a child. That’s very hard to do. Like many, I have marched along adhering to conventions (sex, color, church, party, gang) without examination. There’s a wonderful, protective ‘togetherness’ in that anonymity. You obey or are damned, less joined together than stuck together. You become an echo rather than a voice. This book is about what happens when you stop fearing and think.” –George Kennedy

George Kennedy Reflects on “Another Happy Day”

“Another Happy Day,” starring Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, and Ellen Burstyn, and featuring George Kennedy, author of Trust Me, opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

If “Another Happy Day” is not a hit, it’s not for lack of Ellen Barkin’s pit bull intensity as producer and star with Demi Moore and Ellen Burstyn.  I will always remember Michigan in Sept 2010, after Barkin (who I didn’t know) phoned and asked me to play her father in a full-bore, angst-ridden family brouhaha.  I made her aware I couldn’t walk.  She said she knew.   If I was going to die while there, however, do it while the camera was rolling.

People have often asked me why I decided to become an actor.  I used to pass it off by saying my mother and father were in Vaudeville, so my instincts were natural.  A precise response would have been that I have never not been an actor.  I can’t help but absorb stage and radio drama, play all the parts in a movie or lose fights to Peter Gunn.

The greatest rewards come from your peers.  You finish a shot.  They call “Print..” and then, “We’re moving on…”  The bubble you’ve been operating in disappears, the center of attention is no longer singular and you’re just sitting there, coming back to a real world of cables and film canisters.  But then, my dears, the good fairy takes a hand.  After one take, Ellen Burstyn was looking at me.  She smiled a soft smile.  She nodded slightly, just once.  Life can’t be more rewarding.

There’s a cast photo (below).  The shoot was over.  It was taken after 2 a.m., when I had five hours to get to the Detroit airport and go home. Every smiling actor you see posed this just for me, a souvenir from hearts which had become part of mine.  So I’ll try to share:

Tomorrow will be “Another Happy Day” as soon as your smile brightens it.

– George Kennedy

a review of Another Happy Day (Salon)

Trust Me: A Memoir

“These are memoirs of a kid born in New York City in 1925. His dad, George Senior, was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader at Proctor’s Vaudeville Theatre, and his mother, Helen, played in a classic dance troupe. Hanky-panky ensued. They married, and I soon was the result…

I write like I talk. A long time ago I tried making ‘talking and telling the truth’ one and the same. That isn’t just difficult; it means painfully reviewing things you’ve been led to believe since you were a child. That’s very hard to do. Like many, I have marched along adhering to conventions (sex, color, church, party, gang) without examination. There’s a wonderful, protective ‘togetherness’ in that anonymity. You obey or are damned, less joined together than stuck together. You become an echo rather than a voice.

This book is about what happens when you stop fearing and think.

Available for purchase here from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.