Thursday, January 27, 2011

Filming of Goodbye Norma Jean at Maybelline Heir's estate in Palm Springs, 1975.

Author Sharrie Williams on the left sitting next to her little sister Billee Williams with the rest of the extras during the filming of Goodbye Norma Jean, at their father Bill Williams estate Casa de Guillermo's in 1975.

 Excerpt from Author, Sharrie Williams' 1975 Diary.

By January of 1975, Billee, my little sister had gone on a cattle call, to be an extra in an independent film called "Good-Bye Norma Jean", and she said I should go up to Hollywood, and see if I could get in the movie as well. Gene thought it would be fun and went with me for the audition. We needed to generate some cash flow with Nana gone, and I hoped I might make it into the movie business 

      and keep the excitement in our marriage going.     

The casting director was a young guy about our age and thought I was beautiful, but seemed even more impressed that Gene was a lawyer with that California laid back confidence.  In other words, he liked us both and thought we were a cool couple.  

He gave us the scene layout for the movie and I pictured the whole thing being shot at my dad's estate in Palms Springs.  I showed him pictures of the grounds, and he said it looked like an old 1930's directors home:  with its circular drive-way, rows of tall palm trees, fountains, wrought iron electric gates, Olympic size swimming pool, tennis court, 5 hole chipping green, Koi pond and stream running through it, as well as a guest house, 12 vintage cars and completely private.  He was blown away and said he had to have it.  I told him I'd ask my dad and get back to him. 

The whole thing was such a high, that I never thought about Nana, Hot Springs, or the  fortune hunter she ran off with at 74.  After all, I was creating my own fantasy-life in which I was the star.

My Dad actually thought it would be fun, so after the contracts were signed -  and some money paid for the use of the grounds -  and he was assured that if any damage took place he'd be covered -  the gig was on!  We shot the movie at the end of February and it was the most fun, exciting thing that ever happened. 

The Director let me cast all my friends and family as extras and a two day nonstop party was on.  Twelve of my friends, cousin Chuck and Anne, plus Gene and I stayed at the estate we were married in, with it's 7 bedrooms and full time maid and cook, while my dad and his cousin Noel and Jean and girlfriend Ernie, stayed at the Casa.  My dad actually had two estates a few blocks apart and the extravagance was off the charts. 

More of the making Goodbye Norma Jean at the Casa tomorrow.  Also read more in the Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind it.   

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