Photo: Barbara & Steve McQueen on the set of Sam Pechinpah's Junior Bonner. Barbara played McQueen's girlfriend in the movie and in real life while still dating Elvis and MGM head Jim Aubrey. They pursued her. She juggled.
There is a scene in my audio-book Rock Star Rising that I had to cast. A character named Jimmy goes to Las Vegas to see Elvis perform. He inadvertently gets on the customized bus for another rock star, Shane, with a wild party going on. One of the passengers, Liz, a sexy and free woman, talks with Jimmy and then gets Jimmy into a bizarre situation.
Okay, now how do I cast this? With the other parts, I wanted to have the listener relate to the image of the person. For example, James Darren playing the rock star Shane. George Chakiris, playing a Puerto Rican gangster. Russ Tamblyn, a youthful handsome wise-cracker in West Side Story and The Haunting, playing the same in this story. And so on.
So to play the part of Liz, the sexy rock 'n roll party girl, who comes to Vegas with a one rock star to see another, Elvis, I choose Barbara Leigh. And here's why:
Barbara started off making 50 TV commercials and then became a regular on the Harry O series starring David Jansen. Next came the role of Rock Hudson's wife in Pretty Maids All in a Row.
During the casting for Sam Pechinpah's Jr. Bonner, Barbara began dating Steve McQueen, while still dating the head of MGM studios, Jim Aubrey. Jacqueline Susanne's novel, The Love Machine, and the film adapted from it, were based on Aubrey's life.
Aubrey took her to see Elvis in Vegas and shortly after, she started dating Elvis as well. So if you're counting, she was pursued and 'dated' one rock star, one movie star, and one movie studio head, all at the same time.
She juggled all three until she finally had to tell Elvis not to come to the set of Junior Bonner because she was involved with McQueen. Yet, she remained friends with Elvis and was called by Joe Esposito when Elvis died.
All of this is documented in her book, The King, McQeen, and the Love Machine.
So with a background like that, and still a favorite at celebrity shows because of being the original Vamperilla ever cast, (even though the six picture deal folded), who better to play the hip and wild Liz in the Rock Star Rising.
For her party scene on the rock star's bus, I recorded it with all the actors overlapping their voices, giving it a live "just happening" feel to it. It took a couple of takes to get into the flow of it, with Barbara volunteering to pitch the actor who suddenly and surprisingly gets hit with a needle full of heroin.
His surprise yells on every take sounded completely realistic and painful. But he didn't look like he minded during the four takes.
Barbara was great and fun to work with. I was lucky to get her in the project, as she leads a busy Hollywood life, working for Playboy magazine, entertaining fans at movie and comic conventions and involved in numerous charities such as Animal Rescue and the Star Light Foundation. and
If you like Hollywood stories, or are a fan of Steve McQueen's or Elvis', Barbara's autobiography, especially in audio, which I abridged and directed, should be on your list.
Get it directly from Barbara: http://www.barbaraleigh.net/Guestbook.php
Trailer for Rock Star Rising: http://goo.gl/AUTJeA
Rock Star Rising Kindle with audio: http://goo.gl/OEcIR3