Monday, December 12, 2011

Karolyn Grimes, Part 2

George “Gabby” Hayes with Karolyn Grimes 
(hopefully not too soon after his buttermilk and cornbread lunch)
Now all grown up, actress Karolyn Grimes, Albuquerque’s little “Myrtle Walton,” tells us how much fun she had in the film’s “runaway” stagecoach, and really only got scared by “Gabby” Hayes’ lunch.

SM: As a child actor, were there different directors who would take the time to work with you a lot? 

KAROLYN GRIMES: Oh yeah, uh-huh. But some of them were scary. I mean John Ford (Rio Grande, 1950) was. [Laughing]

He was intimidating? 

Oh, yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

He didn’t have a lot of time for child actors?

No, no, no, no. And he had a big temper. He didn’t care who was there, whether there was a kid there or not; the words flew. But Leslie Fenton (Pardon My Past, 1945) was a very nice director, I remember him. Henry Koster on The Bishop’s Wife (1947) was super. He’d get on the floor and tell me what to do. Of course, Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946) was just delightful.

What are your memories of “Gabby” Hayes?

He was fun to be around. When he was off camera he acted totally different [than his screen persona]. He was a very capable man, very smart. One thing I will never, ever forget is his lunch. They had all the food catered, tables and tables of all this delicious food. But every single day, he ate the same thing: ­buttermilk with cornbread in a glass, and I thought it was the sickest stuff I’d ever seen! It stunk, it was awful, it would get in his beard. [Laughs] And I remember he did not want to ride in that stagecoach. He did not ride in that stagecoach. He had a stunt double, he didn’t get up there. And he thought it was ­dangerous for me and Catherine Craig to do it. But he didn’t win; we did it.

And you had fun doing it! 

I had a blast, I didn’t think of it as dangerous at all. I thought it was great. But anything could have happened. Horses stumble, fall. It wouldn’t have passed today. They had a [prop] stagecoach, with a thing that the men pushed and pulled on either side to make it jump around. They told me the horses were running away with me and I was supposed to hang out the window. They tell you everything you’re supposed to do. So it was fun; I mean, everything I did on that whole set was fun. I loved the western town and all the horses. And to ride on a stagecoach with all those horses? Wow, for goodness sakes! And what’s really funny is there’s [supposed to be] a dead man in the back of that stagecoach. [Laughing] When you think about the whole thing, [Myrtle is] sitting in this stagecoach, just saw this man shot dead – and it didn’t bother me one bit! ––Originally published in the October 2006 issue of Sedona Monthly

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