Screen icon Jack Lemmon was a genius, and thankfully his actor/musician son Chris Lemmon is keeping his unique voice alive.
Chris did his one-man show A Twist of Lemmon in a benefit performance at the Players Club last night, and I was there.
Among his anecdotes:
*The flaming George Cukor directed Jack in his first film, It Should Happen to You (1954), and after one energetic take of a scene, he said to the actor:
“Oh, gosh, Jackie, look at you go! It’s really ducky, isn’t it?
“But could you give me less, darling?”
Jack did less, but it wasn’t enough for Cukor, who wanted even less.
This went on for a bunch more takes, after which Jack exasperatedly said, “If I gave you any less, I wouldn’t be acting.”
Replied Cukor, “Exactly!”
*Jack’s “illegitimate brother” was his frequent co-star, the extremely dry Walter Matthau.
While shooting Buddy Buddy (1981), Matthau fell off a wooden plank, hit his head on the ground, and went unconscious.
Lemmon rushed to put a towel under his friend’s head, cradle him, and ask, “Are you comfortable?”
Matthau half-opened his eyes and drolly replied, “I make a good living.”
*Chris also loved his stepfather, Cliff Robertson, though he said Robertson instructed Chris to always introduce him to people as “Academy Award- and Emmy-winning Cliff Robertson”!
With Jack Lemmon, the honor and the glory spoke for themselves.
His favorite wisecrack, by the way, was “Go fuck yourself.”
Once, when he and Chris were on a plane and it hit a bump, Jack opened his eyes, turned to Chris, and spat out, “Go fuck yourself,” then went back to sleep.
I would have liked that guy.