Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Sharon Tate had trouble finding roles that were worthy of her.

I ran across a vintage article that has a few actresses talking about how hard it is for women in the industry to find good movie roles.  Some of the quotes made me think of Sharon and how Ransohoff handled her career.  We all know Sharon wanted to get better film parts.  She did not want to be the next Marilyn Monroe, she wanted to be the next Catherine Deneuve/Carole Lombard.  Even MM got tired of playing sexy roles and was like Sharon in that respect.  Both wanted to be taken more seriously as an actress.

The article comes from TV Radio Mirror September 1973

Ask the Stars by Bob Lardine

Do you think actresses are discriminated against in show business?

Suzanne Pleshette said: "The last ten years have been really rough on actresses.  Even when the material was available, they had to settle for secondary parts."

Julie Newmar said: "Women definitely are being discriminated against.  And the reasons are quite obvious.  Most of the writers are men.  Most of the producers are men.  Most of the directors are men.

"I say 'most' in the above instances when in some cases the better word would be 'all.'

"It's very difficult for an actress to have a juicy part when the show business field is so dominated by males.  The only solution is to permit more women into the industry."

Stella Stevens said: "I think it's quite obvious that women aren't given the same opportunities as men in show business."

Bette Davis adds: "There's no question that women aren't getting the same breaks as men.  It's a man's world in show business as well as anywhere else."

Sharon's friend, Jacqueline Bisset is also quoted in the article:  "Unfortunately, a lot of men regard women as inferior creatures, or as nothing but sex objects.

"It's really up to the woman as to how she wants to be treated.  If you rebel against being regarded in that light, you discover that people start to look at you differently.

"Though it's true that actresses seldom get juicy parts, it's also true that when they do get them, it results in exciting movies.

"For example, I thought Jane Fonda's part in 'Klute' was magnificent, and it turned out to be an exceptional movie."

I think these quotes fit Sharon's career.  Ransohoff definitely thought of Sharon as a sex object.  He put her in a Marilyn Monroe type part in "Don't Make Waves" as the not to bright sexy Malibu.  It was only when Roman Polanski entered her life that she started to rethink things and Polanski and Steve McQueen helped her in deciding to get out of her seven year contract with him.  She was finally able to do this and who knows what great parts she could have went on to play.  Polanski and Tate talked about doing a western and, of course, "Tess" together.  I have never thought of Sharon along the lines of the Fonda part in "Klute" but, who knows?  She could have gotten it and done wonders with the role.  After all, that role was only a few years after Fonda appeared as the sexy "Barbarella."

I've always thought it was a shame she didn't get the Tuesday Weld role in "The Cincinnati Kid."  We can only imagine what roles may have come her way had she gotten that part. Steven McQueen wanted her for it but the director Norman Jewison didn't think Sharon had enough experience and, after original director Sam Peckinpah was fired from the production, Sharon was replaced by Weld.

We will, unfortunately, never know what might have become of Sharon's career, had she lived.  I have always wished she at least had been able to do one role that she was really proud of.  But, according to friend Sheila Wells, Sharon did not feel this way.  Often Wells says Sharon would say: "Oh, Sheila, the movie I just made was so awful, don't bother going to see it."

I think Polanski would have helped her to become the actress she was wanting so much to be.  I would have loved to see Sharon's career florish as time went on.  But, at least, with this insight into how hard it was for actresses to get the 'really juicy parts' we can see what forces Sharon was up against.

1 comment:

  1. I believe male chauvinism was alive and well in the studio system of the 1960s. Roman definitely would have helped Sharon find substantial parts to play. Sharon surrounded herself with other intelligent, talented people and was starting to "rebel"(as Jacqueline Bisset said)by getting out of/paying off her original contract with Filmways. I could easily imagine Sharon playing the part of Evelyn Mulwray in Polanski's "Chinatown". And I have read that Sharon was to star in "The Story of O" after her pregnancy.