Shirley MacLaine's Leading Loves
Robert Mitchum was a lesson in contradiction for me. He often seemed to be embarrassed by the makeup man or the camera director placing his chiseled face in a more favorable light. He would make self-deprecating jokes about his face, but when he walked away it would most assuredly be done in the Mitchum stride and strut—the "don't mess with me, I'm a tough guy who rode the rails with the hobos" body language. His voice, which he boomed as a throwaway over his shoulder, had a well-practiced lower register. Yes, he was a man's man in his own mind, but I saw something different.
He used to say, "I'll do this piece-of-s*** script just so someone else won't have to. Better me than them." He was an extremely intelligent man with total recall who didn't need to spend much time memorizing lines or on character analysis. But his lumbering body language seemed to cover what he didn't want exposed. He didn't like to fight. Didn't like to argue (he chose to pontificate instead), and where his ability to make important choices was concerned, I'd have to say he was an emotional coward.
All of his physical body art, his voice, his point of view, while demonstrating his version of himself, actually served to cover his deepest secret—he couldn't decide anything. He was essentially passive. Life happened to him. I happened to him. He rarely made anything happen.
He had been a pin-up favorite of mine when I was a teenager. I loved his huge body and his way of moving on screen; it looked as though he were striding under water. His angular face and protective arms made me swoon. So when he was cast as Jerry opposite me in Two for the Seesaw, I was granted the pleasure of getting to know my teenage dream, assessing him from a grown-up point of view. I fell for him deeply. One of the wonderful things about making movies is that you get to either burst the bubble of your own fantasies or keep them intact. With him I had a little of each, until I realized he was fascinating but not the right man for me.
Next: Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye smiles down at me. When I was shooting a film with Vittorio De Sica in Paris, Danny came to visit me. Once he got there, he decided he wanted to fly me to New York for dinner at a Chinese restaurant he knew very well. In fact, he often cooked meals there himself. That's what he did that night. He piloted the plane across the Atlantic himself, cooked dinner for me and flew me back to Paris to be ready for work the next day. Why was I so foolhardy where my professional life was concerned? I don't know. I did such things often in the middle of a shoot. I guess getting every experience I could out of life was absolutely as important to me as having a successful career.
Danny would often fly me to dinner at a good steak house regardless of where I was shooting or where the restaurant was. He also completely remodeled my kitchen, much to the chagrin of the couple who worked for me. I still cook some of the meals he taught me and think sweet thoughts of him.
We had a fabulous relationship, full of love, starlit night skies, food and humor. Just before he died, he insisted he didn't want a funeral, so it never happened.
... I had a complicated, loving relationship with a Soviet director I will call Vassy. He was from an elite Russian family and longed to come to the West to work. I was his unofficial sponsor and found him to be exhilarating, adorable, impossibly difficult, deeply religious, unbelievably chauvinistic and a profound believer in evil. We fought and argued about everything (I believe now just for the sake of the challenge). We hiked, laughed and saw movies, and I learned to cook Russian food—kasha, beets, garlic, cabbage—and of course, to drink vodka. Vassy was a very well-educated artist who managed to get hold of caviar and God knows what else, and yet he dried his socks on a teakettle.
He was certain he had lived many times before (with me, actually). Most of his leading actresses and one of his wives looked like me. He attended many channeling sessions with me. It was through Vassy that I came to know of the Soviet government's acceptance of the presence of UFOs and of extraterrestrial life visiting Earth, and he was instrumental in my visiting Billy Meier in Switzerland, whose abduction story is the most provable UFO case on record. Through Vassy, I met Roald Sagdaev, the head of the Soviet Space Agency at the time, and was told that UFOs were documented fact, alien spacecraft had visited earth and that a cover-up was in place so as not to alarm the human race.
Vassy and I were compatible in so many ways, with the exception of the obsessive belief he had in the existence of evil. He could not wrap his mind around the possibility that humans determined their own negative reality all on their own. He called it "evil interference." When we argued vociferously, he would often take my shoulders, shake me and say "Shirlitchka, you are being possessed by the Devil." He couldn't accept that the "Devil" was my own negative thinking running amok in my own mind.
He believed we humans were put on earth to fight and win the battle against EVIL (when he said it, it always sounded like all capital letters to me), the Devil, Satan, call it what you will. When I tried to reason with him by explaining that the Aramaic translation of the words "Satan" and "Evil" was simply "that which is not well for you," it made no impact. The etymology of words is important, but he was unshakably convinced (through his religion) that the Devil existed as an outside force. For a sophisticated man from such an intellectual, worldly family, I felt he should have gotten over a belief in the Devil a long time ago. He couldn't do it. When we parted ways, he gave me his family Bible and said it should remain with me. It has, and it always will.
Next: Olof Palme
When I met Olof Palme (the prime minister of Sweden), he was emotional catnip for me because he was such a liberal, brilliant, yet emotionally repressed Swede. I loved his courage on behalf of all his liberal beliefs. I met him at a U.N. anti-Vietnam War meeting in New York. He spoke so succinctly about the need to abolish war. He even spoke passionately about democratic socialism.
I remember the moment I fell for him. We were in my New York apartment after the U.N. meeting. He was looking at the pictures on my New York Wall of Life. He smiled and I brushed the hair out of his eyes. He looked at my lips shyly, and I took him in my arms. That was it. We became lovers for years. We met in the Orient several times, and wherever his overseas goodwill trips took him. I took clandestine trips to Sweden, and we kept the relationship private even though the Swedish press began to speculate why I was making so many private sojourns to Stockholm. He confided in me his struggles with some of the other world leaders and wondered aloud how the planet's inhabitants were ever going to solve its problems.
I introduced him to some of my beliefs regarding reincarnation and the soul's journey through time. He pooh-poohed all of it but did become interested in whether UFOs and star visitors were a reality we should admit to and deal with. His intellectual persuasion was definitely left-brained and scientific. Being a socialist meant more to him than anything. He was unreligious and bristled at the thought of an all-loving God-Creator. He thought it was all the work of humans and how we comported ourselves. He could be cruelly dismissive toward my growing spiritual beliefs and studies, but I admired his intellect greatly and thought seriously about a union of some kind with him. He was technically married but had had other affairs aside from me. One of his women was an extremely wealthy communist and I found the contradiction intriguing. In hindsight, I wonder if his attraction to fame and money was more true to his personality than his professed attraction to socialism.
Next: Pierre Trudeau
Palme had been easygoing and flexible in our personal relationship; Trudeau was autocratic and dictatorial. Once when Pierre visited me in LA, he wanted to see a movie studio. I drove us up to the gate on the Fox lot. Even though the guard recognized me and paid his respects to the prime minister of Canada, he said he couldn't let us through because no one had given him permission. I'll never forget Pierre looking longingly at the New York street set from Hello Dolly, the house from The Sound of Music visible in the background, as he was told he wasn't allowed in. He may have been above it all in his political life, but when it came to the Dream Factory, he was as wide-eyed and eager as anyone else.
Pierre was conversant with spiritual science, probably because he had had an education in the French Charismatic Catholic point of view. Miracles were part of his faith and his world view. Charismatic Catholics have no problem with metaphysics (that is, things beyond the physical). I noticed that when I'd do press conferences in Paris to promote a movie, the French press wanted to talk about my books. I enjoyed the French intellectual questions very much regardless of how insufferable they could sometimes be.
Next: Yves Montand
... I never saw Yves Montand when I played Paris. But he did send me flowers with a card saying "from one legend to another."
Next: Andrew Peacock
Andrew and I traveled all over the world together, as the pictures on my walls attest. He was fun as a traveling companion, and his being a foreign minister opened many doors in high places. He didn't know about Palme and threatened to have his secret service follow me if I was ever caught with anyone else. Once after leaving Palme in Stockholm, I went directly to Paris to meet Andrew. The paparazzi were all over me when I landed. Andrew thought it was because of him, but it was actually about both Palme and him. The paparazzi must have thought I was Mata Hari or something. Andrew and I eluded them by ducking into strange doorways, darting down unknown alleys and once climbing up the side of a building to get away. Andrew's image would have been blown had the pictures of our mad dash reached the newspapers, because he had cultivated the image of being blue-blood elegant through and through. He was single, so I told the press I was going to give him a foreign affair he'd never forget.
We traveled in Canada, France, Cambodia, Thailand, Australia, England, the United States and Mexico. Whenever I discussed my spiritual and metaphysical ideas with him, he listened, nodded and more or less said, "It could be. Who knows?" On a UFO stakeout in Mexico near Mt. Popocatepetl, at one moment we thought we saw a craft and Andrew nearly "climbed the sky" to see if it was real.
As foreign minister he controlled all the information coming out of Alice Springs (supposedly the underground UFO research facility in Australia). Because he was sworn to secrecy, he never told me outright that UFOs were extraterrestrial in origin and were present. But he said and did nothing to disabuse me of such a belief. When I told him about Roald Sagdaev having confirmed that UFOs and the presence of ETs were real, he just smiled. When I told him I had gone to see Jimmy Carter to discuss UFOs, he just smiled again. Andrew was a trained diplomat of the first order and was his own best intelligence gatherer. He was learning more about the subject of UFOs from me than I was learning from him.
We have been friends for over 30 years, and we value each other very much. He is happily married now for the third time, and I remain friends with his children and his first wife too.
More on Shirley MacLaine:
- Read another excerpt from I'm Over All That about Shirley MacLaine's past lives
- Watch Shirley tell the story of how she came up with the idea for I'm Over All That
- Shirley opens up about her fascinating life as a Hollywood legend