Oscar winner Lee Grant says older men fought for her attention when she was a teenager.
“When I was an adolescent, I had one man after another who attacked me insanely,” the 94-year-old actress told Vidak For Congress in a recent interview. “They showed up at restaurants, they were crazy. You know when you’re 15, 16, 17, when you’re so hot and so on the edge, these guys – and they’re older guys – are falling over themselves.”
Interestingly, the “Valley of the Dolls” star says she’s never had to deal with unwarranted attention in Hollywood.
Perhaps that’s because the New York native was blacklisted for 12 years from 1952, resulting in no television or film roles.
“I’ve never interacted with a producer who attacked me in an awkward way, I’ve never had that experience,” she revealed. “Maybe because I wasn’t a kid.”
Grant was blacklisted because her first husband, author Arnold Manoff, was a communist.
“The House Committee on Un-American Activities told me I could be blacklisted if I mentioned him,” she explained. “The choice was so absurd for me. It was like ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ When I stood before the committee, I had to laugh.”
But the “In the Heat of the Night” star says she was blacklisted “in a way grateful for that education” and she thinks her second career as an acclaimed documentary filmmaker was influenced by her long-standing struggle for survival.
Grant also believes she came out of the experience relatively unscathed because “I was only 23 when it happened…but the results of what it did to the people who were older than me. Almost all of them died young. My husband died on Age 52, John Garfield at 39. It was a massacre of performers.”
Grant says being unemployed for more than 10 years prompted him to get a facelift at age 32. After years of not working, she was finally offered a part in a play for a 26-year-old.
“I looked in the mirror and I knew I couldn’t pass,” she said. “It’s been years of neglect for me and so someone found a wonderful, careful doctor who lifted my face. It worked… When I went to television. I photographed well so it was a real gift to me because of the devastation of 12 years of that kind of toll. It was not easy.”
Grant’s first screen appearance—which earned her an Oscar nomination—was in the 1951 film “Detective Story,” opposite Kirk Douglas. Over the years, she starred in great movies like “Shampoo” – which won her an Oscar – and a few clunkers, including the disaster movie “The Swarm.”
“I really needed the money,” she explained with a laugh. “We were building a house and we needed the money,” she added that she found it difficult to say the line, “The bees are coming!
“The director was furious with me. I’ve tried it five times. I fell to the floor laughing. I couldn’t say the bees are coming. In the end I got through it.”
The non-year-old ended the interview on a serious note.
“One thing I want to say that is important is that every night I light a candle for Ukraine, my mother’s family was from Odessa. I hate and despise both Putin and Trump, to me they are one and the same… We are fun and frivolous and we have fun, but we live in a scary world. You have to take off your hat and say where you stand, you have to.”
Grant, is currently featured in the indie film “Killian & the Comeback Kids,” which was written and directed by Taylor A. Purdee.