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I shook the hand of an actress who worked with Chaplin. Yeah...me.


Last night here in NYC, The Film Forum hosted an evening with actress CLAIRE BLOOM. She was interviewed for two hours by Foster Hirsch (who hosted the TCM Film Festival's screening of Marilyn Monroe's "NIAGARA") to a hushed and attentive audience. If I tell you that Claire Bloom is still stunningly beautiful, you simply must believe me.


She spoke lovingly of several co-stars:


* She revered CHAPLIN, her director of "LIMELIGHT" (1952) like he was her father. In fact, he was a father figure to her since her own father was absent.


* She was in awe of OLIVIER, a towering talent.


* She worked with VIVIEN LEIGH in a play in England: "DUEL OF ANGELS." She thought it was interesting how Leigh approached her performance during the run of that play; Leigh did the performance the same way every night...every vocal inflection, every turn of her head...the very same way. She also said "No one has ever been as beautiful as Vivien."


* Yes there was the Old Guard of Richardson, Olivier, Gielgud...but there was an actor, with aquamarine eyes like a mermaid...a mer-man who was the first of the working class actors. He lead the way for Finney, Harris, Courtenay and O?Toole. "RICHARD BURTON was a beautiful creature."


Ms. Bloom will be heading to Cardiff in June to help dedicate a theatre to Richard Burton. "He was the greatest speaker of verse that I ever heard." And working with Tony Richardson who directed "LOOK BACK IN ANGER" was where she first had the freeedom to totally make a performance her own. He allowed her to be free and loose.


Foster Hirsch read a quote of Ms. Bloom's about "THE OUTRAGE" - "It was a wonderful film but had nothing to do with acting." She couldn't believe that she had said that, and says now that her statement was "b.s." which got a laugh out of the audience. She said they all acted up a storm and all wrote their Oscar speeches...but recognized ultimately the film was a failure.


Ms. Bloom paid American actors a compliment: "American actors taught British actors how to act on film."


She loves Anna Magnani and Irene Pappas, but her favorite American actress is BETTE DAVIS. "I rate Bette Davis before anyone. Even Garbo." She thought Davis gave a tremendous performance in "JUAREZ."


She said years ago, she was doing a play (or was it that she saw a play) with Diane Cilento and went backstage to Cilento's dressing room and was introduced to Cilento's boyfriend, a handsome young man. Bloom went to a friend and said "Did you see Diane's boyfriend?" which got a laugh b'cuz it sounded so high school. When it came time for Bloom to do "ANNA KARENINA" she auditioned and hired Cilento's handsome Celtic actor/boyfriend, SEAN CONNERY. And she said he held his own in the production.


* Of her then-husband ROD STEIGER she said he was always incredibly courageous with his acting.


The Film Forum showed film clips from several Claire Bloom films including "ISLANDS IN THE STREAM" "THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV" "CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS" "THE HAUNTING" "RICHARD III" "HAMLET" and she was happy to be asked to be in the recent Academy Award-winning indie film "THE KING'S SPEECH." (The actors were paid peanuts). They showed a clip from "THE CHAPMAN REPORT" and she laughed and said if her daughter, opera singer Anna Steiger, were here in the audience she'd think her mother hilarious doing the love scenes. (The clip showed her coming on to "Medical Center" actor, Chad Everett. She has no memory of Chad Everett. But Foster Hirsch gave him a good shout out in his small role in "Mulholland Drive").


When the evening ended, Ms. Bloom received a standing ovation. An announcement was made that if anyone wanted to meet Ms. Bloom they could line up to the left of the lobby. So I lined up to the left. As the line snaked forward, I watched her talk, smile and shake hands with folks; just totally at ease. Yes, she's older but her skin is so smooth and her smile so sweet. She basically looks the same...you'd recognize her. But it's her eyes that are what I always notice about her in all her movies. I'm getting nervous as there are just two people now ahead of me.


It's my turn now. Her eyes are like coal, dark...shining. She's smiling at me and we shake hands. I pay her my gushing compliment to which she smilingly says "Thank you." My time with her ends, and I walk away.


I shook the hand of an actress who worked with Chaplin. Yeah... me. I shook the hand of an actress whose diversity in roles can't be pidgeon-holed, whose talent is respected...and I only pray I would look as good as she does at that age.


NOTE TO THE FILM FORUM: Take a page out of TCM's book and get some class when you deal with these great stars you have as guests in your venue.


* The sound system was so poor and scratchy. You made Ms. Bloom hold up a mic for two hours. Ever hear of a lav?


* Get your guests some better chairs to sit in. Have a heart on these seniors and spring for some leather chairs with arms and a tall back. The chairs you had for the host and the guest were shameful. Good for Bridge or Canasta, but for a Star, come on now!


* Ms. Bloom had a bit of coughing jag. And you pour water for her in a plastic Coca Cola cup? Jeeeez, for criminy sake!!!


DARCY HETTRICH, if there's any way you can get this message, please see if you can get CLAIRE BLOOM and JULIE HARRIS (who Mr. Hirsch mentioned he knew and said was a great lady) to appear at TCM'sThird Film Festival...and please have the dashing Robert Osborne speak to them perhaps at a screening of "THE HAUNTING." I filled out the survey TCM e-mailed me. You folks at TCM are truly a CLASS ACT and can really give these two great actresses the royal treatment they deserve in front of a really appreciative audience of film fans.


It's the least you can do for someone who worked with Chaplin.

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A-MAZING! Thank you so much for sharing, CineMaven, and I agree that she and Julie would be great guests at the next festival (not to mention treated like the great artists they are by TCM). Love it!

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Thank you for your beautiful, gorgeous, descriptive account of your evening with Claire Bloom. Your lovely, detailed writing brought tears to my eyes and I felt as if I was there - and believe me I wish I had been. I've had similar experiences and really related to what you wrote.


Thank you again for sharing your magical evening with us.

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