Mamie Van Doren, the American actress, model, singer and sex symbol was born Feb. 6, 1933. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7057 Hollywood Boulevard. This is an edited version my email interview with the now 80-year-old living legend from her home in Los Angeles, California.
You are the sole survivor of the "Three M's"--Marilyn, Mamie, and Mansfield. To what do you attribute your longevity? And don't tell me good sex. I know some 80-year-old virgins!
A. I've always taken care of my health - never been much of a drinker, never smoked cigarettes, never done drugs much, except smoking occasional pot and that's been decades ago. I'm NOT an 80-year old virgin, and good sex really does help.
I'll tell my 80-year-old virgin friends they'd better get cracking in that department!
A. If you didn't have good sex, you might not live a long time, but it would sure seem like it. All that said, one of the interesting things about longevity, if one is a so-called celebrity, is that you are seldom the one hearing the clock ticking. Everyone else goes out of their way to watch the hands and never hesitates to let you know when one clicks to the next number.
Busted. Just ignore the intro, Mamie. In 1980, you were referenced in the controversial Canadian Top 20 hit "High School Confidential" by the popular 1980s Canadian new wave band Rough Trade. In 2005, "High School Confidential" was named the 38th greatest Canadian song of all time on the CBC Radio One series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version. Ever met the band? Carole Pope?
A. No, I've never met Carole, but I love her and I love their song! I often post it on my Facebook page and Twitter. I love it when she says in that raspy voice, "Maaamie Van Doren!" Call me narcissistic, but that knocks me out.
I've seen her do that in person and it is something else! Guess I should ask, what do you think of Canada?
A. Eh? I always think of Canada as being the U.S.'s enlightened zen cousin. You have sensible gun laws, sensible national health care, and you don't go around bombing everyone if they don't agree with you. I have worked all over Canada: Toronto at the Royal York following Deitrich, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Once I was the Queen of the Calgary Stampede, and I was singing when a cowboy rode his horse up on stage to dance with me. Where else could you have that much fun?
I know you are very political. You MUST have stories.
A. Marilyn once cautioned me not to fall in love with a politician because, "when they fuck you, they REALLY fuck you." I wrote that in my memoir Playing the Field and I still see no reason to believe otherwise. Politicians are motivated by power, money, and sex -not necessarily in that order. They may lie vehemently about how much they care for the welfare of their fellow citizens, but those three things are their entire motivation. It is easy to sound cynical when discussing politicians because they make it so. Just listen to the awful nonsense being uttered in Congress about gun control. Our representatives would gladly sell us and our children down the river for the profits of a bunch of gun manufacturers and the blessing of the NRA. Why? Could it be campaign donations?
Do you have some advice for people who want to follow your path; what are three things you should never do in this business?
1. Never, never marry an actor. You will have two giant egos that will not fit in the same room.
2. Never trust a business manager. They will steal you blind.
3. Never give advice.
While you are honest about your sexual escapades I lost count of how many men you turned down: Howard Hughes, James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Johnny Carson, Henry Kissinger. Amazingly, one that didn't get away (which I'm sure will shock many) - Rock Hudson!
A. Warren Beatty was another. People seem shocked that I was so particular. I have never been a successful star fucker or trophy wife.
Marilyn gets a lot of credit for being ahead of her time but in many ways you were independent, a trail blazer in your own sexual revolution and you had a child at the peak of your career.
A. One of the things about being a trail blazer is that you often do it alone. Marilyn would often go to I. Magnin's department store and buy outfits like the ones I was photographed wearing. The sales people would tell me. I was a "working mom" before the term was created. It was difficult back then, but I am glad to have been through it and my son is still a blessing.
Some of the most insightful lines in your book involve your honesty regarding Marilyn, Jayne and yourself:
A. They are still frozen in time and I am still making my mistakes in front of God and everybody on Facebook and Twitter.
You had a hysterical sexual encounter with Burt Reynolds that makes me wonder what Dinah Shore, Sally Field and even Loni Anderson were thinking!
A.No comment on this one.
They'll just have to read your book to find out the story! How would you define a sex symbol?
A. Sex symbols defy definition. I have often tried to define it myself. A sex symbol becomes a code for everyone's erotic fantasy. These codes are very perishable in popular culture. For every Jean Harlow, Mae West, or Marilyn Monroe there are scores of girls (and boys) who never made the cut. If a sex symbol can survive more than a few years, they are very powerful. I am flattered to still be thought of in such a way.
Curse or blessing?
A. Mixed, to be sure. It can help if you're trying to get a good table in a restaurant. It's tough if you're trying to get a new mortgage loan.
The definition of a star certainly has changed since your day. I can't tell a movie star from a reality star. Has Hollywood gone to hell in a handbasket? Or is that just the view from up here?
A. Like everything else in the Universe, Hollywood has changed. In Buddhism this is known as impermanence. We may like it or not but it will still change. I have this notion that 50 years from now people will be saying where are the great stars like Ryan Gosling and Reese Witherspoon?
Hmm. I wonder. You have made a new CD of music. Tell us about that.
A. I have an album called "Still a Troublemaker" that was released digitally. It is still available on iTunes.
Who do you consider gorgeous male/female, past/present?
A. Pamela Anderson is gorgeous. We did a layout together for Vanity Fair and we had great fun. She is honest, funny, and unpretentious. Ryan Gosling & Daniel Craig are two guys that I like to watch. Unfortunately, there are no Gables, Cary Grants, or Susan Haywards anymore because the studio system no longer exists that groomed and promoted them. Nothing remains the same. The universe revolves whether or not we like it, so you might as well smile.
Finally, you've said, "At my age, having an orgasm is like having an occasional cocktail." So, you still drink Mamie?
A. If I find the glass full, I still love to have a sip.