Friday, December 18, 1981, 1:00 P.M., MA Maison, Los angeles: Farrah Fawcett, in a black cashmere sweater over black leather pants, both by Calvin Klein, and Joan Quinn, Interview’s L.A. editor, await the arrival of Steve Rubell, the former owner of Studio 54. Although he has been keeping a very low profile, Steve agreed to interview his good friend Farrah for us. Another good friend Ryan O’Neal drops by for coffee.
Joan Quinn: How are you?
Farrah Fawcett: I don’t feel well. You know, quite honestly I tried to call Steve to say I had laryngitis, but I couldn’t find him.
(Steve Rubell Arrives)
Farrah: Hi, Steve! How are you?
Steve Rubell: I was up all night last night. Calvin (Klein) is here.
Farrah: I didn’t know where you were staying.
Steve: So you came back from New York and got the cold?
Farrah: Yes, on the plane.
Steve: You know how long we sat? We came in right on time and then they had no berth for the plane. That plane was just the craziest. Vitas (Gerulaitis) was on it,
Farrah: Is he coming out for the party, too?
Steve: Yes. He’ll be at the party.
Joan: Are you giving a party?
Steve: No, Sandy Gallen and Dolly Parton are giving a Christmas party and we’re supposed to wear red, white and green; it’s a midnight party that begins at ten o’clock….
Farrah: Nobody told me red, white or green until this morning and I’m saying to myself, “Red, white, green – what do I have?”
Steve: You must have something white.
Farrah: Summery whites. Maybe just a poinsettia in my hair.
Steve: What happened this year? What was that all about?
Farrah: It was the engagement. Everybody went crazy. Ryan actually gave me a ring three days after we met just because he liked me, and since then the press has made a big fuss. It actually started out because they said to me, “Let us see the ring you lost in Europe.” I had lost it and then found it on the Fabergé jet. It’s gotten all out of proportion.
Steve: You’re not wearing it today.
Farrah: Because I’m wearing pearls and gold.
Steve: So the next day there was this article on Farrah and Joe Namath and they made a big deal about it – I guess because they were in towels. Â
Farrah: When Time called – this is not really what we were talking about – when Time and Newsweek called for a quote, I didn’t want to talk to them. I mean, first of all I didn’t have anything to say at that point, other than yes, we did a commercial. They kept saying to my secretary, “We want to talk to her,” and when she said, “They’re just not going to leave you alone,” I got on the phone and I said, “You know what I would love? I would love to be one of those actresses who can come out with a film or come out with a new commercial without the world knowing about it.” I would like to do commercials that just air, and people say, “Oh, interesting,” or “Not interesting,” or “Sexy,” or “Shouldn’t this be censored?” – you know, have a reaction. But by the time I get something on, there’s been so much advance publicity. You know how it is. I said to her, “I’d like this to be a secret.” And she said, “No way.” I said, “You’re going to run it anyway?” She said, “Yes, you’re the news and it’s big news.” You read that Nastassia Kinski did a film with Coppola, and you didn’t even know that she did it and it’s coming out.
Steve: You have a lot of charisma and you can’t….
Farrah:Â Be a secretive person?
Steve: Not secretive. You’re very open and warm. You’re not deceiving or misleading.
Farrah: Ask me a question and I’ll tell you.
Joan: Your face is seen much more than Nastassia Kinski’s face, so every time you step out….
Farrah: What about Donald Sutherland?
Steve: But people don’t care just because he’s Donald Sutherland, they care just because it’s you. It’s an asset and a liability.
Farrah: That’s an interesting way of looking at it.
Steve: One summer I was walking down the beach in the Hamptons. I forgot who, but someone said it was such a hassle being a success. I said, “Let me tell you something. I just went through a major failure. Success is much easier.”
Farrah: Good point. Occasionally you need to be reminded of these things.
Steve: You were at the Studio and gave autographs to everyone. I never saw anyone with the patience to do that except Dolly Parton.
Farrah: Us Southern girls. Â
Steve: I never saw Ryan so patient.
Farrah: I think it’s from being with me. We have different ways of looking at the press, at photographers and at people. I know this comes from our upbringing and my mother telling me to be patient. To be rude to someone is not my nature. I almost feel guilty afterward. But he’s gotten much more patient. I think he’s decided – you know, when you’re with someone like me – he said, “I don’t need a press agent anymore. I can just hang around you and get in the paper every other day.” It’s true. He’s had to look at is differently because of me. When we first started dating I was separated. We had filed for divorce but things were touchy. I said, “What I would like is not to be photographed at this point. I’m not really prepared to let Lee (Majors) see me with someone else.” He said, “I agree. We don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know if we’re in love.”
Steve: I can just see Ryan talking like that, too.
Farrah: So we’re ready to go out to dinner. I can’t go to dinner. There are photographers waiting. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Palm, Chasen’s, The Bistro, anyplace like that. So we walk out, and I remember the first photograph that was published of us was Ryan looking around a corner and me in the back looking like this.
Steve: Looking guilty, like you did something wrong.
Farrah: And then getting into a car and leaving. He said, “God. When you said let’s not be photographed, I thought, okay, easy. I didn’t know they would be there waiting for us.” So that’s what has happened with the pushing and shoving because I said something innocently. And we decided at that point that we didn’t want to be photographed, so that’s how he got into trouble. Not from his sour apple report.
Steve: Have you read the thing in New York about Jackie Onassis and Ron Gallela and Caroline Kennedy? They’re suing Gallela. The only photographer I never let into the Studio. He came in one time and Ali McGraw was dancing and she was wearing a blouse and he got a very compromising shot.
Farrah: I know that shot. I’ve seen pictures of me like that. Getting in and out of the car at the airport, with the wind blowing my blouse.
Joan: I thought I’d just get the waiter over here….Hello. Can you tell us about the specials?
Waiter: We have cold avocado soup, hot cream of celery soup, an appetizer of Belgian endive salad. We have some oysters with a beurre meuniere. The entrees: we have fresh shrimp sautéed with mustard sauce, fresh scallops sautéed with tomato and fresh mint, red snapper wrapped in spinach with tarragon steam with white wine and butter sauce, sweetbreads.
Farrah: Do you have chicken salad?
Waiter: We do. Chicken salad. Warm lobster salad, warm duck salad.
Joan: I’ll have the warm lobster.
Steve: Same thing, warm lobster.
FARRAH: I’ll have the chicken salad. Could I get a small bowl of celery soup? A small amount.
STEVE: I was in France and I couldn’t believe it. They run the Charlie’s Angels series there. It’s so popular.
FARRAH: I’d like to hear myself talking in French. My hair products do so well in Europe. I’m much more popular now in Europe, I think because of Charlie’s Angels. I like to think in very European.
STEVE: No, you’re all-American.
FARRAH: They relate to me.
STEVE: They love American blondes….
FARRAH: With big teeth. I get a very nice reaction all over Europe and South America and Mexico. I just got a note in the mail from Helen Gurley Brown and she said, “Thought you’d like to see yourself on the cover of the Latin American Cosmopolitan. Love, Helen.”
STEVE: When I was in jail she wrote me all the time, saying, “Don’t worry, things will be better.” What a nice lady.
FARRAH: I like her. I saw her on a talk show and she was very cute. You know how most people when they’re doing a talk show, just talk to Johnny or talk to Merv. She said, “I’d like to tell you…,” and she faced out at the audience. It was so cute, it was so charming.
STEVE: She is charming.
FARRAH: He said something like, “You encourage women to have facelifts and I happen to disagree.” She decided to take her stand and instead of convincing him, she convinced billions of people who were watching. She said, “This is my point of view and it makes me happy, and I think it works for women.” I think it was good she was able to do that. Not inhibited at all.
STEVE: I think when people see you they want to say hello and they just say hello and let you go.
FARRAH: Sort of. I went into Bloomingdale’s one day; I wanted to pick up some great scarves. So for about ten minutes I could stay in there. I hear people saying, “Yes, it is. No, its not.” By then there’s about 40 people and the minute I say, “Yes, it’s me,” It’s “Can you sign this?” I’ll say, “But I only have five minutes.” They say, “Oh, but I’ll never see you again.” So I stood there and signed autographs for about ten minutes and then I thought, “Oh, I can’t do this.”
JOAN: Do what Meryl Streep does. She says, “Oh, I know I look like Meryl Streep, but I’m not.”
FARRAH: But people say, “Yes, you are.”
STEVE: Farrah couldn’t get away with that. Her recognition factor is probably one of the highest in the country.
FARRAH: The minute they see my teeth. Sometimes I wear glasses, a ponytail or a hat….
STEVE: But you always smile.
FARRAH: My worry is – will a great director want to hire someone who is so recognizable? The minute that I’m on screen people go, “There’s Farrah.” It’s not Jane, wife of somebody, walking in.
STEVE: You really want to work with a great director?
FARRAH: I do.
STEVE: Anyone special?
FARRAH: There are lots of them. William Friedkin is one. More than a director, it would be great to start with a script. I was talking to Sue Mengers last night about a couple of things and I said, “I have to see the script. Don’t tell me the director yet, let me see the script, because I want to be really careful with the next thing I do.” It’s great having Sue as an agent, though – she’s one of the few women I relate to.
JOAN: You’ve changed everyone in your life, as far as your career goes?
FARRAH: That’s right. I have more control now. I don’t know if I want the control so much. I don’t like it and Ryan agrees with me. When we first met he said, “Let’s take a look at what’s going on. Let’s see what you need to change.” Then we talked a lot about careers, because I was unhappy with the state I was in. He said to me a year later, “You just have to throw it to the wind. It’s your career and it’s not like anyone else’s career. You don’t have a pattern, and you can’t stay out of the press because they won’t let you stay out of the press.” I took some time off. I did some theater. I did Butterflies Are Free.
STEVE: Did you enjoy it?
FARRAH: I did.
STEVE: It’s hard work though.
FARRAH: But it was good for me, it was good for my craft.
STEVE: Would you want to do Broadway?
FARRAH: Very much. Sue’s saying to me that I could do Broadway in four or five years. She says, “Let’s look at where the money is right now.” That’s right for Sue; I don’t know if that’s necessarily right for me.
JOAN: Are you taking acting lessons again now?
FARRAH: No, I felt it would be better for me to work, to go out and do some theater. I haven’t had time to take classes. I know it seems like you haven’t seen me in anything, but I have been working. I have a couple of things in development.
STEVE: Who do you have your development deal with?
FARRAH: MGM and ABC.
STEVE: Is it for a series?
FARRAH: It is, but if you ask me, I’ll say, “No, I don’t have a deal. I’m not doing a series, that’s the farthest thing from my mind.” The deal is so lucrative. It would make me one of the highest-paid women in the business. Then, in a couple of years, I would have my own development and production company and I would be able to do what I want. This is what Sue is doing. I have three or four things in development, but I don’t know if I’m going to do them yet. Another reason I was interested in the deal itself was because after the first thirteen segments of the series, I’m guaranteed a picture with MGM. After the next thirteen, I get another picture. After the next season, I have another picture.
STEVE: Do you have creative control over those pictures at all?
FARRAH: If I could combine what ABC wants, what ABC thinks the public wants, and what I want, which would be something with class, something with taste and something with depth – as an actress a real development thing, so that over thirteen shows, you really get to know her character. You like her, she has problems. She’s not some superhuman investigative girl who knows karate – that’s not what I want to do. Now I don’t have a lot of hopes, because I think we’re miles apart; but I’m willing to try it. I’m willing to take a chance and see if the public will accept me this way.
STEVE: You made it plain that you don’t want to do that type of role, so that if you do something good I think the public will like it. But when you’re dealing with television, you’re dealing with such a large audience.
FARRAH: You’re dealing with a large audience and also with TV, where The Dukes of Hazzard is among the top three or four shows. The farthest thing from my mind that I want to do is the Dukes of Hazzard. Now I’m not putting down that show, or the mentality of the people who watch that show, but it’s just not something that I want to do. But you know Hill Street Blues is up there too, and they put a lot of work into the creative end of it. Taxi is a good show, and it’s usually the top ten.
JOAN: Do you really want to do TV, or would you rather make feature movies for the theaters?
FARRAH: I would rather make feature movies because, let’s face it, you take more time. You take seven days to do a show and you take three or four months to do a movie. So the quality of work is better; you work with better people, better directors. Our industry is in a strange situation now. When I talk to Sue, when I read things in the paper, I see everything is going Home Box Office, everything is going video cable now. I talked to David Begelman the other night and he said, “I’m nervous, I’m scared. We’re all scared. I don’t know what kind of scripts we’re going to do.” If they had ten pictures last year, they may do four this year. You’re talking about a studio that used to do 30 pictures a year. There are a lot of roles around. Not good ones. Sue saw this coming for a long time. I don’t know if it has to get worse before it gets better, or if HBO and cable are going to start putting up the money.
STEVE: I think Warners is smart to get into that area. Â Â
FARRAH: So as an actor or actress, do you say, “Okay, I’m going to hold out and wait for a great part?”
STEVE: Broadway is booming, though. Just think in the last year of the women from movies – Lauren Bacall, and Elizabeth Taylor. Raquel Welch just had two very successful weeks in New York and everybody was ready to rip her apart.
JOAN: Do you sing?
JOAN: Do you take singing lessons?
FARRAH: No. It’s not something I’ve wanted to do. I’m so shy.
FARRAH: You realize how difficult it is for me to date someone. If I’m seen with someone….If I’m seen with Joe Namath – If Ryan hadn’t been there (At the launching of Farrah’s shampoo for Fabergé at Studio 54) a lot would have been made of that, a lot. A week earlier they tried to make as much of it as they could with the towels.
STEVE: Ryan handled that great.
STEVE: I said, “Why are you doing this?” and he said, “Oh, because I love that girl.” You weren’t even there when he said it.
FARRAH: I keep thinking that an occasion will come back when I’ll be able to pay him back. But he doesn’t really allow that. No girls really come up and flirt with him in front of me, whereas guys do with me. It doesn’t happen. He has this hands-off attitude which is wonderful. It makes me love him so much.
STEVE: The Ryan I knew three or four years ago was just so different. Everyone was chasing him, and now he’s very content, unbelievably more calm. I’ve always gotten along with him but some people found him difficult. Now he’s easy.
FARRAH: That’s what I said. I don’t find him difficult at all, except that he is so bright and so involved with everything that mentally he exhausts me sometimes. He’s the perfect mate because we share everything, but sometimes my life is so complicated, and his is too, that I just want to sit down. But after letting him talk for five minutes I join right in and say, “You’re doing it again. You said you wouldn’t talk to me.”
STEVE: Will you be married by the time this interview comes out?
FARRAH: M-m-m-m…I have this terrible problem – I’m not divorced yet. So we’ll work out a few things first.
JOAN: Are you living together?
STEVE: Is that a yes or a no? I know when I call Ryan, it’s in Malibu, and I call you, it’s in Hollywood.
STEVE: Would you like to have more children if you get married?
FARRAH: I thought you said, “Would you like to have more jewelry.” Sure, I’d like to have more jewelry. But I’d very much like to have a child.
STEVE: I shouldn’t have said “more” children. Only Ryan has children. Remember when you were dating, there was so much nonsense about whether Tatum approved. They’re both so independent. Neither one is going to tell the other what to do.
FARRAH: True, very true.
JOAN: So Broadway is doing fine.
STEVE: I’m sure there will be videotapes of shows soon.
FARRAH: I have an offer out now to do a play. Three weeks rehearsal and then four days of shooting. It’s for Home Box Office. I have to make a decision by Monday. I don’t know what to do.
STEVE: You make these decisions with Sue?
STEVE: And with Ryan?
FARRAH: Yes. But everything is such a major decision. “Should I? Shouldn’t I? What kind of effect is it going to have?”
STEVE: Yes, what’s the effect? Diana Ross hasn’t done a film since The Wiz and I said to someone, “It is better to do a bunch of films that aren’t so good, or wait?” She’s waited to do the Josephine Baker story and now she’s doing it with Paramount. She’s taking much more control. She produced the new album with RCA by herself. It seems like all the women are taking much more control of their lives.
FARRAH: If I make a mistake now, I would like it to be my own. I’ve made so many that weren’t mine, and I’ve had had to suffer the same consequences. You have to eventually grow up and take control of your life, which is very hard to do. I have parents who are still very protective and loving, and it’s not a natural state for me. Sometimes it makes me tired. I don’t know if I can work and be creative and make decisions and be in the production end of it and the creative end at the same time.
JOAN: Would you like to do a movie with Ryan?
FARRAH: Very much.
JOAN: Is he in the offing?
FARRAH: We’ve had about three scripts that could have gone either way, and nothing happened. But we definitely want to do something together. It’s hard finding a script to suit us both. We’d like to do something romantic, something hot.
STEVE: It would be nice to make love on screen to someone you really care about. Think of how much easier it would be.
FARRAH: Yes. You’d be able to discuss it. Quite honestly, he’s very supportive of me and my work and I’m very supportive of him and his work, so for the person who’s filming, it’s a little easier.
STEVE: I think it would be great if it was the right part. You could be magic together. There’s a natural public interest in the two of you and your relationship. If it somehow could be brought to screen, it would be great.
JOAN: Would be do TV?
FARRAH: I don’t think so. I think that Ryan is in even a tougher position than I am. He started out in television, tried very hard to leave television, and did so successfully. Now to go back – there’s a stigma attached to television. It wouldn’t be as bad for me because I did it, but not for long. People ask me how long I did the show, and when I tell them it was one season, they say, “What?”
STEVE: They keep rerunning your segments. But if you do something good, it doesn’t matter that it’s television. It matters that it’s a good product.
FARRAH: People will argue the pros and cons. They’ll say that Sally Field didn’t start doing films until she did Sybil successfully on television, and that’s true. There’s a snobbism. I still maintain that you don’t work with the same caliber of people in TV as you do in films.
STEVE: What does a TV segment cost-a couple hundred-thousand dollars?
FARRAH: $750,000 at least. My show, if it’s going to be good, is going to cost more, and everyone knows this.
JOAN: Would you like a dessert?
FARRAH: Yes. Of course. You used to have something filled with nuts and caramel with chocolate on the outside. You don’t have that?
WAITER: Yesterday, not today.
FARRAH: I want what you had yesterday.
STEVE: Don’t we all. Certainly there would be no stigma attached to doing something on stage, but that would mean living in New York.
FARRAH: That would be okay at this point in my life.
STEVE: What will you be doing next?
FARRAH: I can’t tell you because I’m superstitious. I feel if we talk about it I might jinx it. What are you doing, Steve?
STEVE: I sold Studio and right now I just help them to help themselves. For one year I am restricted; I can’t do places in New York which I’d definitely like to do. I’m building a place in Paris that will be opening in September. Then I want to build a small hotel in New York with maybe 80 rooms. I like to take care of people. When I go in a room and somebody takes care of me, somehow I feel awkward. I like to give to the party.
JOAN: You can do the wedding, Steve.
FARRAH: I do have to get on with my life. I feel motivated to get married, have a child. That’s this week.
STEVE: So, why don’t you get your divorce and sign your new production deal and then you’ll go on with the rest of your life. You have to pick a date and do it.
FARRAH: Now wait, I even found a wonderful script. Nothing has happened with it, so I can’t tell you any more about it except that the girl in the midst of it has to gain about 30 pounds. I felt we could start the film, shoot everything before the weight gain, then I’dÂ be beginning my pregnancy. No Robert de Niro for me; I’d just do this on the natch and become this big fat pregnant woman. Wouldn’t it be wonderful? I would probably win an academy award because I gained weight. Nothing is happening with the script. So, I did try to plan my life.
(Ryan O’Neal arrives)
Â FARRAH: Doesn’t Steve look cute?
STEVE: This is about the first time you’ve ever seen me in daytime.
RYAN: You’re just as tan. You would think that everybody would be away for Christmas, but not in this town.
STEVE: They’re too busy talking about each other.
RYAN: In loud whispers.
STEVE: Oh, it will be fun tonight – 3,000 maniacs. I was out all last night.
RYAN: Oh, there are ways to stay out all night here, my brother tells me….Did Farrah talk to you about her cable offer?
STEVE: Yes, but she didn’t tell us whether she’s going to do it.
JOAN: Or if you’re doing it with her.
RYAN: You remember when actors used to go out in summer stock? Now they go out on summer cable.
FARRAH: It used to be where actors would read that someone else’s firm was doing well and they’d get kind of depressed. Now we just hope something does well because of the state of the industry. Everybody is banding together now.
RYAN: They haven’t banded together like this since they were after Peter Bogdanovitch. (To Joan) Who are you? I know you.
JOAN: You know me. My kids went to school with your son Patrick. They wanted to call him to take him to the Marymount dance, but they didn’t want to be turned down.
RYAN: He’s still a little on the shy side.
JOAN: My maiden name was Agajanian.
RYAN: The driver’s daughter?
JOAN: Right, J.C.’s daughterÂ
RYAN: Hey! Ascot Park! Saturday night – vrooom. Â
JOAN: Are you a native, too?
STEVE: I don’t believe it. I’ve never met a native.
RYAN: I was born at Cedars of Lebanon, when it was on Vermont, of course.
JOAN: It’s torn down now.
RYAN: How can you tear down a hospital? What about the files? What if I need a birth certificate?
STEVE: My brother was an intern here, but he went back east. He’s a gynecologist now.
FARRAH: We definitely need them. I always thought it would be easier for a woman gynecologist to explain things to you. It seems so foreign for a man,
JOAN: Would you rather go to a woman?
FARRAH: No, I wouldn’t rather go to a woman, but somehow when I talk to my friends and they tell me they do – I don’t know maybe when I get pregnant I’ll want to talk to a woman who has experienced it.
JOAN: You can talk to your girlfriends about it.
RYAN: I don’t allow girlfriends. Only doctors.
FARRAH: He barely lets me go to t he gynecologist.
RYAN: Okay. Honey.
FARRAH: Let’s get right down to it – not out of his sight. Â Â Â