After I left New York and my professional life of stage acting, and moved to Los Angeles because I was being offered movie and television jobs, I settled into a life of working and watching Hollywood at work and play, mostly play and much of it deadly play. The late manager-producer, Bernie Brillstein, said, “You’re nobody in Hollywood unless somebody wants you dead.”
One day my agent, known to be one of the Hollywood killers, said to me after I’d committed to do a play in Princeton at the McCarter Theater, “I don’t think you really want to be a star.”
I thought about that. Also, my second marriage was breaking up (all my fault); I was proving to be far too immature to be married. As far as being a star was concerned, that was steadily becoming academic; I hadn’t been paying attention to business. Besides, a lot of my friends were stars and I’m pretty sure most of them were not very happy.
For the next four years, I got lots of psychotherapy, so as not to end up dead before my time. I also began to date—at first, very unintelligently, repeating over and over again my dim-witted patterns. One day, my therapist said—very unprofessionally if you ask me—“You can really be a bastard.”
This sounds as if I’m a little proud of that. I’m not; I wasn’t even then. I didn’t like being alone and lonely. Some people are fine with it, I guess. I wasn’t.
I started to date … methodically. I know, what a cold word for dating. But I really had to do it that way. I “shopped” for a mate. If I went on a date with a woman and heard a list of her life’s problems within the first five minutes, we finished dinner or whatever, I said, “It was nice to meet you,” and we parted ways.
I don’t think it was cold. I think it was smart. Finally.
Thirty-seven years ago I had a blind date with my wife Linda. If she had any problems, she didn’t tell me about them. I didn’t reel off a list to her. We came together like new people, with sort of clean slates. She wasn’t attracted to me because she saw a way of being pulled out of a hole; she just liked me.
From then on, I was not a star, but I was a working actor with a great marriage. Nobody wanted me dead.
Well … maybe one of my ex-wives, but I don’t count that.