I was thrilled to hear that Patty McCormack–who brilliantly played evil little Rhoda Penmark in the 1956 camp classic The Bad Seed–is portraying the marginally less scary Pat Nixon in the imminent movie of Frost/Nixon.
I interviewed Patty onstage at the Castro Theater in San Francisco a bunch of years ago and loved getting to talk to her about her slice of Hollywood history. Alas, the evening was full of zany, degrading mishaps that brought things down for both of us. When we first came onstage, our microphones didn’t work—always an ominous sign. Once they were fixed, the overzealous organizer decided I should talk on the phone to actress Carol Lynley, who had some tenuous connection to Patty–though it took a while to connect with her and then you couldn’t hear her through the mics! I went back to interviewing the guest of honor and in addressing the delicate plight of child stars, I mentioned that the night before, over dinner, Patty and I had discussed JonBenet Ramsey’s sad scenario and how it could have been prevented. The audience started booing. (This was somehow too politically incorrect for a crowd that had come to watch drag queens mock a movie about a child murderess. God, I hate San Francisco.)
Then, even Patty turned on me at one point and and answered a gossipy question with, “I’m certainly not going to tell YOU that!” What’s weirder, the audience cheered, strangely thrilled that they had paid to hear dish, but they weren’t going to get any! And then the organizer had one more surprise up his sleeve–I was now going to have to present a short movie Patty was in and introduce the filmmakers, by which point I was nearing collapse and could barely read their names off the sheet I was handed.
But I still love Patty McCormack!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2008