While reading John Heard's obituary yesterday I was reminded of one of his greatest performances, as Cutter in Cutter's Way in 1981.
I thought it was a cool movie at the time -- and I still do -- but what may have made the biggest impression on me was Nina van Pallandt's brief appearance. She played a rich Santa Barbara socialite who pays co-star Jeff Bridges for his services. Her one line is to tell him, after they've had sex, "Buy some Vitamin E." (Her entire cameo is included at the 1:01 mark of this trailer for the film.)
That one brief glimpse was enough to sear her into my memory banks, even though she was 49 at the time (I was 27). Maybe part of the reason she made such an impression was because it was so ridiculous to think that someone who looked like that would have to pay for sex.
(She had a larger role in American Gigolo, as Richard Gere's "pimp.")
When I read later that she had been involved with Clifford Irving at the time of his fake Howard Hughes "autobiography," somehow that slightly checkered past made her seem even more alluring.
A few pictures:
Her mouth may be a touch too generous, and her nose a little hawkish. But those "flaws" and the fact that her nose actually tilts to the left keep her from being a standard issue blonde beauty. She actually looked a little like Farrah Fawcett, the leading sex symbol of that era. But van Pallandt exuded a playful intelligence that made her far more appealing.
She remained lean and beautiful and elegant-looking for a long time. Here she was in her 20's:
And here she was at 50:
Van Pallandt started her show business career as a singer, and at age 37 sang "The More Things Change" for the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. (A little ironic that she would stay behind the camera, given that she was more attractive than any of of the actresses in that movie.)
She had three children with her second husband, Frederik, Baron van Pallandt. (I Google-imaged her daughters but could find no pictures.) She was married three times, the last marriage being a brief one in the 1970's.
She turned 85 a week ago today; she probably won't make the news again before she dies. In the meantime, she seems to have led a full life, which, for some reason, makes me glad.
There seems to be a long list of actresses who are far more attractive than the ones who went on to become huge movie stars, something I've never fully understood. Here's another one, and here are a few more.