Jack Lemmon – ChatterQuote February 2013

IT’S HARD ENOUGH TO WRITE A GOOD DRAMA, IT’S MUCH HARDER TO WRITE A GOOD COMEDY, AND IT’S HARDEST OF ALL TO WRITE A DRAMA WITH COMEDY. WHICH IS WHAT LIFE IS.
Jack Lemmon  Abe Frajndlich

This month’s quote comes from a much-loved American actor Jack Lemmon, an Aquarius born on February 8th, 1925 in Newton, MA, and who died June 27th, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. One of his best and perhaps most iconic roles was in Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe & Tony Curtis. They pretty much set the stage for the later “drag” roles of Dustin Hoffman’s “Tootsie” and Robin Williams’ “Mrs. Doubtfire.” But back to Jack and some of his other classic movies, such as The ApartmentDays of Wine and RosesThe Great Race, and The Odd Couple followed by Grumpy Old Men, both with Walter Matthau.

A big “thank you” also goes to photographer Abe Frajndlich for kindly allowing me to use his wonderful “lemony” portrait of Jack Lemmon! Abe also asked if he could share his story about taking this particular portrait of Jack Lemmon, and naturally I was delighted to do so:

“I had the distinct honor and great pleasure to meet and photograph the actor Jack Lemmon on January 15th, 1996 for an assignment for the Weekly Magazine of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a well-known German daily newspaper.  Jack Lemmon was about to get a lifetime achievement award from the Berlin Film Festival.

Before any of my shoots I would try to do my homework, and before flying to L.A. watched a number of Jack Lemmon movies at home with my then three and half year old son, Lucas. Of course we saw Some Like it Hot together and Lucas had an immediate crush on Sugar, the character played by Marilyn Monroe, and then without my son, The Apartment, Mister Roberts, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Great Race and a few others. When I got to Los Angeles and had to shoot in an all white studio in Hollywood, I brought my own props, including a bag of beautiful lemons, figuring, “why not?”

Jack drove himself to the shoot in a stunning Rolls Royce Silver Cloud convertible, and was running almost a half hour late, and when he got there the first thing he said was, “Can you please park this thing for me, since if I don’t find a bathroom immediately, pee will start gushing out of my ears.” “Of course, Mr. Lemmon.” But I was nervous moving that very expensive set of wheels into the cramped parking space behind the rental studio.

After a half hour in the bathroom where he had put on his own makeup, he comes out and starts to shake hands all around with my assistants and others in adjoining studios and introducing himself, and wanting to know who each of them were. Then as we start the shoot, and he asks what I have in mind, I tell him about my film research and the fact that in Mister Roberts there is that wonderful scene where his character is looking appraisingly with binoculars down on a deck of a smaller boat filled with bikini clad girls, and that I had brought lemons and maybe he could use them as binoculars.

He turns to me and says, “In the 55 years that I have been an actor and been photographed endlessly, no one has ever brought lemons to a shoot. Please do whatever you like.”

This image turned into the cover of the article in the FAZ Magazin(German spelling not a typo) and of my book, Portraits, published in 1999 by Prestel Publishing.”

To see more of Abe’s fantastic work, be sure to visit his website!

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