There is a silver-toned room in one of the many corridors of Studio B-9 of Universal Studios.
On one side, it is lined with several mirrors and a countertop that is flecked with blue and gold. Upon this counter, there are polished hand mirrors and jars of cold cream and bottles of eye makeup, and dozens of shades of nail polish. There is a sink area where there are tubes of hair coloring and bleaching agents. A bank of round bright lights glare from above the counter, silver globes of polished light that cast harsh, vivid shadows and make the application of makeup an easier chore. Facial flaws are easily spotted and erased with these alchemist’s potions, and beauty can be easily manufactured and flash frozen.
Buddy Ebsen’s dressing room is two doors down, and it is not nearly as choked with such accoutrements. Buddy has a pair of mirrors and a set of barber’s shears, a hair brush and some pancake makeup to help give him a suggestion of spryness. He has a four thousand dollar chocolate-brown leather sofa tucked away in the corner, and an old beige plaid chair he bought in the ‘50’s where he relaxes after each take. He is a kind man, but solitary.
The silver-toned room is the guest-star dressing room and it is here that Dee-Dee Martella rehearses her lines. The hair-and-makeup girls have left for their lunch, and Dee-Dee is reading her few lines with the studied patience of a divinity student. This is the nicest dressing room she’s ever been in. Her reputation as a character actress is growing, and it is finally paying off.
She remembers when she first started: as a walk-in on an episode of Mannix; a waitress in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, a cranky New York tourist on Petticoat Junction and then, finally, eight lines in a Gomer Pyle episode as Jim Nabors’ love interest. It had been a struggle – it still was, in fact – but it was finally working out.
This would be her last “misguided whore” role after a whole bushel-full of bleach blonde whore roles. Her agent was trying to get her an audition for the next James Bond movie, and he sounded hopeful. She wouldn’t be the Bond Girl – she was a little too long in the tooth for that (although Roger Moore was hardly a spring chicken himself). No, the part was for the part of a Russian labcoat’s assistant.
The mirrors look cloudy as she studies her face. The fine lines, the crow’s-feet, the small indentation on her chin have been beautifully puttied and sanded down, and her face looks as smooth as glass. But the shadows from the lights make the mirror look milky and she seems further away than she actually is, like she was looking at herself through a rear view mirror.
She shakes her head and clears her voice. She takes a sip of Evian water. Her throat feels thick and syrupy as she looks down upon her script. Her lines are highlighted in pink.
“Thanks, fellas. Hell of a car you got there. What is it, a ’62?”