‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

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Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes toast to an imminent conception with far-reaching effects.

Caution: This article contains some spoilers! If you have not read the novel or seen the film (what the Hell are you waiting for?!) you might want to save reading this article until after you have!

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In 1967 American culture was exploding on all levels. This was the year of the so-called “Summer of Love”.  The Civil Rights Movement headed by Martin Luther King Jr. was in full swing, as was the Vietnam War, the Sexual revolution, and activism for Women’s Rights. Andy Warhol was making instant movie stars in The Factory. Timothy Leary, a psychologist and researcher with the Harvard Center for Research in Personality who oversaw Harvard’s Psilocybin Project, instructed a crowd of 30, 000 hippies gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” LSD drenched Rock ‘n Roll and psychedelic art was unleashed as an endless parade of young, long haired hippies and flower children, defying all social norms, made transcendental pilgrimages – both near and far – towards a purple-hazy ideal of freedom. Young men were burning their draft cards and the youth in general were motivated towards social change while shaking off the grip of their families long-held belief systems. Things were drastically changing! Utopia was at hand!

An exotic and colorful bouquet of new cults, old religions, gurus and esoteric magic in the Age of Aquarius burst upon the scene: Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Occultism, TM, Scientology, Jim Jones, and the Process Church to name just a few. At the same time, Charles Manson was lurking in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Just the year before there was some publicity when Anton LaVey established the Church of Satan in San Francisco, the first legally recognized Satanic organization in history. Americans took notice of all this and wondered just what in the Hell was going on? The entire world had been turned topsy-turvy, seemingly overnight.

In the midst of this chaotic, sweaty, ecstatic rebirthing of the American Dream (which would quickly burn itself out and awaken into a full-blown nightmare) a book was published that March. Ira Levin’s thrilling best-selling suspense novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was born. A year later on June 12th, 1968 the faithful  film version directed by Roman Polanski was delivered to the world just 6 days after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. We feel it is not quite overstating the matter when we claim that the world has been feeling the effects of this counter-culture ‘Baby’ ever since.

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Hardcover 1967 edition

This was The Mother Of All Devil-Baby Films. It sent some people away from the theaters visibly shaken and muttering “Blasphemy!” under their breaths. It ushered in a flood of Devil and Child-of-Satan themed films and books of both epic and lowbrow proportions. Dozens of various evil incarnations of the premise have followed in the malodorous wake of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, including a made for tv sequel (‘Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby,’ 1976) and a 2-night NBC primetime remake in 2014. Ira Levin himself wrote a sequel: ‘Son of Rosemary,’ (published 1997) which he dedicated to Mia Farrow, who so excellently portrayed Rosemary Woodhouse in the now classic film.

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A challenge to Christian faith

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ appeared at a confrontational time in American society. Remembering this may help explain the nerve that this story hit for many people who were floundering or feeling washed-up by the counter-cultural wave of the day. The most firmly established, traditional and holy things were suddenly no longer sacred. In the film, Rosemary herself says “I was brought up a Catholic, now I don’t know.” Indeed, a stark TIME magazine cover from 1967 plainly asked: Is God Dead? This smacked of sacrilege and blasphemy to the majority of church-going middle America. The 60’s were a time when more people dared to openly doubt and question, not only established religion, but everything they had been taught or told! The hippies were busy rejecting, exploring and unlearning. Everything having to do with “The Establishment” was in doubt. The popular American consciousness was awakening to it’s own sense of independent thinking regarding reality apart from traditional authoratative religious ideas about morality as well as the corruptibility of a once esteemed government.

While ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is a slow-building, intellectual suspense – horror film with practically no blood or violence, it was the climax – a definitive casting down of established Faith in the absence of any God – which sent some believers to confession and nudged some others towards the New Age. It spoke directly to those who felt ill-fitted and hypocritical sitting dutifully in church in their Sunday best as the white Christian  centered society they grew up in collapsed around them. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ threw down the gauntlet; it forced believers to think hard for themselves about some deep questions, the kind that matter: Is there a God? and, If so, where the Hell is He now?

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Abortion was a topic not much discussed in polite company back before the movements towards change in the 60’s and 70’s. It was practically a taboo word, only whispered by mothers gossiping about some unfortunate neighbor’s daughter. In the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the word is spoken twice within a few seconds, which in itself was quite significant for the time of it’s release. Of course even this splinter of dialogue takes place in a scene within which a few women are speaking privately in a kitchen, in hushed voices and with the doors secured. We are given even deeper insight into Rosemary’s thought processes in the final pages of the novel where Rosemary, after the diabolical revelation of the baby’s paternity, considers throwing first the baby and then herself out of the seventh story window. “Choosing life,” to use a pro-life phrase, had never before had quite the same dire intimations. Abortion, Suicide and Satan are all a part of the heady brew conjured by Ira Levin’s novel and Roman Polanski’s faithful cinematic version of it. I have elucidated a few of these aspects of the book and film in this article: Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Maybe that’s all a bit heavy. Plenty of people enjoyed ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ the film as art, and rightly so. It is still widely considered to be not only Roman Polanski’s masterpiece but a watermark in cinematic history, and not only for suspense and horror. It is quite possibly the best horror film ever made. The seamless hand-held camera work, the realistic performances, the perfect casting, the elaborate sets, the 60’s fashions, and the understated horror of it all weaves an effective spell that has rarely been rivaled in cinema since it’s release in June 1968. It has been critiqued, studied, and analyzed; it was also condemned by the National Legion of Decency.

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Cover for the 50th anniversary edition

Yet, despite it’s Hellish premise, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is not without it’s own darkling undercurrent of black humor. Even as  Rosemary’s painful pregnancy intensifies and the stranglehold of suspicion and paranoia increases into a palpable threat, there is a snide kind of wit that permeates the film, sort of like a chalky under taste, right up to the very denouement. New York City in the Swinging Sixties – the materialistic agnosticism of urban culture influencing the good Catholic school girl from Omaha. The strange neighbors all but hiding behind carnival devil masks. Rosemary’s husband Guy Woodhouse is an aspiring actor focused on name, fame and wealth: a materialist interested in the supernatural only for whatever material benefits can be gained by it. He makes fun about seeing the Pope performing a Mass at Yankee stadium on TV: “That’s a great spot for my Yamaha commercial,” he laughs, shortly before pimping his wife out to You-Know-Who. It’s the film’s realism, along with a judicious use of subtle irony and sly wit, that makes the psychological terror all the more palpable.

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L to R: Bruno Sidar as Mr Gilmore, Patsy Kelly as Laura Louise McBurney, Charlotte Boerner as Mrs Leah Fountain, Almira Sessions as Mrs Sabatini with her cat Flash.

And we can’t help but relish Minnie and Roman Castevet and the other lurid characters surrounding Rosemary. Polanski mostly cast theater people and prolific film extras in these roles as witches, so we get an odd feeling of something not-quite-right and familiar about them at  the same time. Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet; a role she killed – leaving it impossible for anybody to match it. It is fun to think of the Castevets and some of the other extras as demons trying (a little too hard) to pass themselves off as human. We smirk at the irony  of a young, naive first-time mother’s helplessness before a coven of smiling, well-meaning old geezers who are (she thinks)  plotting against her and her baby. And, when there are no witches hovering around Rosemary, there are several authoritative men “mansplaining” things to her.

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“look at his hands!” Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet.

Want to know more about the witches in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A ‘Who’s Who?’ in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Read our Interview with cast member Ernest Harada who appears in the film’s climax: An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 Years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

The deal is made with the Devil of course, but Rosemary, ignoring warnings from a dear old friend, has already sold her soul (and good sense) by falling in love with the old apartment building’s gothic charm and by begging her ambitious actor husband Guy to get them out of “the other lease” in order to take the apartment in the looming Bramford (need we mention the infamous Dakota where the exterior shots were filmed?). After moving in she does her best to redecorate the rather solemn interior with white and yellows; but as Rosemary remakes the Bramford’s interior to suit her tastes, the Bramford remakes Rosemary’s interior to suit it’s own sinister plans. That’s because Rosemary’s metamorphosis is America’s metamorphosis. Innocence is lost. Once the post WWII “high” of the 1950’s and ’60’s faded, the public  grew numb after numerous political and social upheavals, celebrity deaths and the consumer complacency which ushered in the 1970’s. Off come the pig tails, gone is the girlish smile, and a pain – “like a wire inside of me getting tighter and tighter” as Rosemary laments – settles in our core.

We can argue that things are still changing drastically today, perhaps in even more ways than they were in ’67. ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ is now 50 years old and still walks among us like a smug iconoclast at a cocktail party – sneering and scoffing at our outmoded ideas regarding religion or morality – wearing a cheap Halloween Boogey-man mask as he laughs at our nervousness at letting go of our old fears and inhibitions. And yet we wonder after the final revelation at the end of the story: is it a happy ending or a terrifying one? The answer of course is “Both.” Rosemary’s baby is alive, safe, adored, worshipped; but that in itself spells certain doom to the world we know, or at least the world we used to know “back then.”

– H.B. Gardner

Women From Hell: Cinema’s Greatest Ladies from Hades

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The Devil Is A Woman – Hollywood seems to have known this for some time. Perhaps it is our Western Judeo-Christian heritage with it’s misogynistic imprinting that has left us with a pre-formed suspicion of the Woman-with-the-Serpent.

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Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery. The Tree of Knowledge ever bears forbidden fruit.

Seductress, Temptress, Witch, Murderess, Madwoman, Child-Snatcher… what causes this particular archetype to rise with such horrific force – like a primitive shadow from the collective unconscious – into our cinematic plays of shadow and light? Women have often been among the most numerous and the most devoted of the Devil’s servants. Though we would’ve enjoyed seeing Marlene Dietrich celebrate a Black Mass in a devilish thriller directed by Hitchcock, that remains a lost fantasy. It has really only been since the 1960’s that we’ve seen some celluloid Femme Fatales with a true sulphuric sense.

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Hollywood has always known: The Devil Is A Woman (1935)

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Marlene would’ve made a marvelous Madame de Montespan

We have constructed a list (in vaguely chronological order and by no means exhaustive) of Cinematic Diabolical Dames deserving of recognition for the characters they brought to wicked life. They can both delight and disturb us, and they often have some of the best lines in films. These women are really in touch with their dark sides. Let’s celebrate Our Ladies In Hades.

Note: We were unsure whether to include the Possessed to our list as, while they may be human, they are not entirely themselves, so to speak. Therefore we decided not to include the notoriously infamous  Regan MacNeil / Pazuzu character from ‘The Exorcist,’ but we did include the less widely known Sister Jeanne from ‘The Devils.’ ‘Carrie’ White’s mother could be added because her extreme Christian religiosity makes her act evil… but let’s just accept that she is a psycho. We’ll try not to get complicated. Enjoy!

As an actress, Barbara Steele deserves special mention because of her bewitching presence amongst Horror Cinema’s tortured and lost souls. Her dark beauty still provides a template for gothic divas today. We certainly include her as the vampire witch princess Katia Vajda/Princess Asa Vajda from the influential ‘Black Sunday’ aka ‘Mask of Satan’ (1960) directed by Mario Bava, which is saturated with Gothic atmosphere and creepy  effects which are still, well… effective!

In Curse of the Crimson Altar’ aka ‘The Crimson Cult’ (1968), which also features Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, Barbara Steele plays Lavinia Morley who leads a witchcraft cult. She also appeared with Vincent Price in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum.’ We could go on listing her devilish films and her appearances in Dark Shadows but we hope you will discover her magic for yourself if you haven’t already had the pleasure.

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Barbara Steele in ‘Black Sunday’

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Barbara Steele in ‘Curse of the Crimson Altar’ (1968)

Sister Jeanne of the Angels in Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS as played by Vanessa Redgrave      An excellent performance in an excellent film. Sister Jeanne is a hunchbacked  Ursuline nun with a beautiful face in 17th century France. We watch in horror as the good nun and her repressed sisters – tormented by both fear and desire – become possessed by some really sinister Devils, namely the Church and State.

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The Evil One is always tempting us… Vanessa Redgrave discovers some dirty habits in Ken Russell’s ‘THE DEVILS’

Mrs. Blaylock from ‘THE OMEN’ (Billie Whitelaw – original [1976] & Mia Farrow – remake [2006])  When Mrs Blaylock arrives to be the nanny for young Damian Thorn we feel certain there is something a little bit off about her, though nothing obvious at first. Is she human? Is she a demon sent from Hell? What is certain is her devotion to her young charge. Those feral eyes that appear through a sheer layer of gossamer nightgown as Katherine Thorn attempts to dress herself in the hospital, like a shark steadily approaching a drowning swimmer… Heaven help us!

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Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Blaylock

Although we don’t care much for flawed remakes or sequels, we must give the Devil Her due. Mia Farrow accepted the stunt casting for The Omen 2006 reboot which, in a deft marketing ploy, opened in America on 6-6-’06. We were present for the event at a packed theater in Orlando when, at the opening of the film just as the opening credits were starting to roll, the celluloid burned in the projector – causing a sizzling psychedelic suppuration to spill across the movie screen. One nervous young woman of color exclaimed that this film was evil and possessed by the Devil’s power and quickly exited the theater with an amused and peeved date following her out. They never returned. It was a clever move to have Mme Farrow play the Antichrist’s guardian as she is so well known for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. Her sweet portrayal of Mrs Blaylock truly makes the remake darkly-delightfully watchable.

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Mrs. Ann Thorn in ‘DAMIEN: OMEN II ‘     Lee Grant is believable as a devoted stepmother to two young men. Her reactions to the drama around her feel genuine so we must admit she shocked the hell out of us the first time we saw this film. Her final treacherous move just before delivering her lines – which are legendary in Satanic Cinema – (“Here’s your daggers!! ….I’ve always belonged to Him!”) left more than one pair of jaws agape. Nobody saw this ending coming until it was too late.

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Lee Grant as Ann Thorn prepares to skewer and barbecue.

Charlotte Rampling as Margaret Krusemark in ‘ANGEL HEART’    Sophisticated,  tasteful  and dignified, Margaret Krusemark is one classy dame, but her unusual profession and her taste in jewelry and home decor let us know that she is, in no uncertain terms, into more than just star-gazing and black magic. Tis pity she has a criminal connection with old heart-throb Johnny Favorite, though a special kind of Valentine will see them reunited.

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“I don’t think you’d like what I see in your future.”

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Mickey Rourke and Charlotte Rampling star in Angel Heart

Hellraiser’ & ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’   Clare Higgins as Julia Cotton & Female Cenobite    There is no mistaking Julia Cotton for a sweet hausfrau. This icy woman is frigid with her dull husband but fiery-hot and passionate with his brother Frank! In the first film she is the Wicked Stepmother, in Hellbound she emerges as The Evil Queen. No doubt she is on the highway to Hell. Her desires and cruelty should mark her high (or should we say Low?) on our list, ranking her one of the true Queens of the Damned! A woman who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it!

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“Now everybody’s happy.”

While we are in Hell(raiser) we may as well pause to genuflect and offer an orison to the Female Cenobite. This creature is unique in Horror cinema. Though other female cenobites have followed since the first two films in the series, she causes us to cringe with her taste for flesh and pain. Two separate actresses portrayed the female cenobite in the first two films. In the first Hellraiser the Female Cenobite was played by Grace Kirby who also happens to be Clive Barker’s cousin. In Hellbound, the role is played by Barbie Wilde who has authored some fiction which you who are reading this should check out. The Hellraiser themed short story collection Hellbound Hearts (2009) contains a backstory she wrote for her Female Cenobite character titled Sister Cilice which we highly recommend.

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Barbie Wilde in Hellbound

You may also enjoy reading ‘The Venus Complex’ by Barbie Wilde

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“Perhaps you’re teasing us. Are you teasing us?”

‘The Ninth Gate’    Emmanuelle Seigner as “The Girl”, or as we prefer to call her The Mysterious Familiar Demoness. Part Succubus, part guardian daemon, this mysterious creature is ever unperturbed, has a great sense of timing, and is almost playful with Johnny Depp’s character… as a cat is with a mouse. She is fierce in the film’s ….umm, fiery climax.

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Ms Seigner is married to director Roman Polanski who directed The Ninth Gate and is famed for his contemporary Satanic masterpiece ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.

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‘Rosemary’s Baby’ How can we NOT mention lovable old Minnie Castevet ?- With a whiff of Tannis root perfume this crass character has a sense of style unsurpassed in Satanic Cinema. This nosey neighbor will creep you out even as she attempts to creep into your heart. Ruth Gordon‘s portrayal of a hip geriatric witch from Manhattan’s Upper West Side won her a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, winning perhaps the highest recognition of our sister Satanistas in Cinema – ever! Don’t be fooled by this harmless looking old lady!

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And the 2014 ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ TV remake with Carole Bouquet as Margeaux Castevet . Wiser heads must have prevailed at the studio – knowing the impossibility of even attempting to match Ruth Gordon’s flawless portrayal as Minnie Castevet – they instead took a more continental direction for the character with the sleek and sophisticated Carole Bouquet. We are certainly in praise of the older woman when speaking of the ladies Castevet.

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Mrs Ulman from ‘House of the Devil’  played by Mary Woronov    Creeps us out of all proportion to her time onscreen. Effectively evil in an understated way that is rarely accomplished in cinema these days. Hers is a throwback to those good old Omen days; as if Mrs Blaylock had survived and relocated to America in the 80’s. Mary Woronov has led a fascinating acting career through Warhol’s Factory, Punk, off-Broadway theater and numerous appearances in Cult and Horror and genre films and TV.

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In Rob Zombie’s ‘The Lords of Salem’  (2013)     We get several witches worth their cinematic salt! Besides Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi La Rock / Adelaide Hawthorne, we also get to savor Judy Geeson as Lacy Doyle, Meg Foster as Margaret Morgan, Patricia Quinn as Megan, and Dee Wallace as Sonny. A veritable coven of conniving women who usher an unsuspecting Heidi through a metaphysical mental metamorphosis to create a perfect vessel of demonic vengeance. We don’t view Heidi as demonically possessed, though she may certainly be classified as demonically obsessed.

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Sherri Moon Zombie as Heidi in The Lords of Salem

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You get your witches’ worth in this Rob Zombie flick! The Three Witches: L to R: Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson and Dee Wallace.

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Meg Foster is perfect as Margaret Morgan

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The Assumption of Maria is Satanized into the Descent of Heidi

This great iconic image reminds us of one of our favorite paintings…

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‘Diana of Ephesus and the slaves’ (1893 – 1898),  by the severely under-appreciated Italian symbolist painter Giulio Aristide Sartorio.  Was Rob Zombie inspired by this painting?

Did you know?

The cult statues of the many-breasted Ephesian Artemis / Diana were often rigged as fountains in Her ancient temples. These fountains would spew forth milk from the nipples at the climax of the celebrations. These temples were vandalized and desecrated by Christian zealots centuries ago but some images remain. The Goddesses have been demonized since that time, but fortunately She is in recovery.

We could go on and on with this list, and perhaps we will add others as time permits. We can certainly include more. If you think of some we have missed that really deserve to be added in here please let us know.

An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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Ernest Harada played the Japanese photographer (named Hayato in the novel) in the final scene of Rosemary’s Baby.

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – absolutely our most favorite diabolical film – Devil In The Details is proud to present our interview with actor and performer Ernest Harada, who appeared as a Satanic Japanese photographer in the climactic scene of the 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski. The novel was published in 1967, and the film was released the following year, making 2017 and 2018 the Golden Jubilee of one of the Horror genre’s most classic and influential books and films.

Born Oct. 20 1944, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ernest Harada studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), class of 1965. LAMDA is the oldest drama school in the UK. He also studied political science at Syracuse University and graduated from Mid-Pacific Institute, class of 1962.

Mr Harada is happily retired in Honolulu. He performs occasional concerts, most recently in Germany and New York and Hawaii. We reached out to Mr Harada to ask questions regarding his career and professional experience and he has been very gracious with his time. We were charmed and intrigued by some interesting insights from one of the last surviving cast members of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ regarding his perspective as an Asian American artist in Hollywood and on Broadway, on working with Polanski, and what was in that black bassinet?

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Mr Ernest Harada

Sonny Gardner: Is this Mr Harada speaking?

Ernest Harada: Yes. Is this Sonny?

SG: Yes, thank you so much for taking my call.

EH: My pleasure.

SG: Good Morning. How are you?

EH: I am good. I am back in Honolulu and recovering and doing my physical therapy and hopefully will be back in shape again.

SG: I’m glad to hear you’re back in paradise. Honolulu sounds marvelous; it’s where my parents met many, many years ago, though I’ve never been there myself.

EH: It’s a great place. I think it’s as close to Paradise on Earth as you can get. I mean weather-wise and ultimately the people-wise. It’s a wonderful place. That’s why when I had to retire I came back home.

SG: So you are from Hawaii originally?

EH: I was born and raised here. I left here when I graduated high school at 18. I went to Syracuse University for one year and, at the University, realized I wanted to pursue acting and was given an opportunity actually by a director from the Royal Shakespere Company who suggested I should be in London studying Drama. Up to that point I had no idea I wanted to be an actor. I was there for Political Science, I mean I was going to become an international lawyer and basically represent the up-and-coming Japanese economy. My father was visiting Japan since the early fifties and he realized what a business behemoth Japan was becoming, and that they would need, once they got big enough, representation in America and that was going to be me.

So I went to Syracuse because they had an excellent school – Maxwell School of Citizenship – which basically dealt with international law. But I got involved in theatrics there and a director of the Royal Shakespere Company who happened to see ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that I was performing in, he pulled me aside and said that I should be studying in London. He assumed I was studying Drama at Syracuse, which I wasn’t. So he said I should be in London and suggested three schools. He sent me their addresses; of course I auditioned for them, and when I was accepted at all three of them: the Royal Academy, the London Academy and Central School, I decided Yes, this is really what I wanted and I moved to London and studied there for three years.

SG: Wow, that’s fascinating.

EH: Yeah, that’s how I began my choice of being an actor.

SG: I read that you had attended the London Academy of Music Dramatic Art, class of 1965 I believe.

EH: Yes.

SG: So, what was your family’s reaction? How did your father and the rest of your family react to you going off into the Arts when you had focused on international law?

EH: Well, he always thought I’d outgrow it. He never thought it was a viable occupation. Even when I was supporting myself and making money,  uhm.., it just was not a legitimate profession. But they learned to live with it.

SG: I’m glad to hear that. So you grew up in Hawaii with your family there, a family of Japanese heritage.

EH: Yes.

SG: So you were born right at the tail-end of World War II, were you not?

EH: Yes, ’44.

SG: Right. So, I was just curious, I’ve been living in Japan now for about 8 years and I’ve been coming and going from Japan for more than that, going on 15 years, so, I’m a little familiar with the culture and some of the history. I was wondering about what it was like for somebody who was an American citizen but also of Japanese heritage at the end of WWII ? Especially in Hawaii, you know with Pearl Harbor and all?

EH: Well, basically in Hawaii we were spared the kind of discrimination that they faced in the West Coast of the mainland of the continental USA. They thought about incarcerating the Japanese population here, but wiser heads prevailed. They realized that you cannot incarcerate one-third of the population – which was the Japanese population at that time – and have a viable economy. I mean the entire economy would’ve collapsed. So basically they just jailed or relocated the ringleaders – the ringleaders being anyone who was educated: people in newspapers, community leaders, religious leaders, well-educated doctors… anyone they could think… or they thought could possibly might – might – be dangerous. And in fact absolutely none of them were.

SG: Right.

EH: There was absolutely no case of espionage by anyone. And we knew that as Japanese here. I mean we were American Japanese, especially by the Nisei [note: Nisei = second generation of Japanese immigrants], there were some Isei’s that had feelings for Japan, as my grandfather being a first generation always felt very strongly Japanese, but that was his heritage. But anyone born in Hawaii was immediately – this is our loyalty – I think, more to Hawaii than to America.

Hawaii is a very unique microcosm. (thoughtful Pause) I really think Hawaii is going to be the model for the world. We get together and live together with various races and  cultures and religions. There was no majority. There still isn’t a majority. We are a community of minorities and we make it work.

SG: That’s marvelous. It really is a unique culture in the world.

EH: Yes!

SG: And especially in American culture it’s very unique.

EH: Well, I mean it’s only… it’s like having Barak Obama, though he is of mixed parentage, he is himself… I mean they ask him “Why do you bring your family here for Christmas every year?” He said ‘I want my daughters to grow up knowing who they are and where they came from.’ Which means he associates being Hawaiian as much as being a black man, and I think even more so. I mean this is the culture that nurtured him. And what I have discovered – the uniqueness of the Japanese Americans coming from Hawaii and a lot of Japanese that I’ve met – I mean Japan Nationals on the mainland – said there’s such a difference in the Japanese from Hawaii and the Japanese from the (US) mainland. I said, well we were not imprisoned; we are not intimidated. We have a spontaneity; we are a more fulfilled personality. We never were caught and beaten down as so much of the Japanese Americans in California and the West Coast were. I mean a lot of them were afraid even to admit they were Japanese. Even now.

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Ernest Harada, 1977

SG: Yeah, you’re right. There is so much fear and paranoia of foreigners these days…

EH: Well, it’s persecution! They were persecuted, you know?

SG: Truly.

EH: Yes, and I visit Japan a lot.

SG: Oh, do you?

EH: Yes. I’ve been there 8 or maybe 10 times. My father had a company there and we would go and visit. In fact, we were there just maybe a couple of years ago. I took my whole family down; we came from Yamaguchi prefecture. And so we went to visit the valley from whence we came, where my grandfather emigrated from. My grandmother came from Hofu and my maternal grandparents came pretty much from the Iwakumi area; so we visited all of that. My brother and sister had never quite seen it before. And it was lovely, it was a lovely trip. I love Japan.

SG: I’m so glad to hear that. And my (Japanese) wife will be glad, too. (laughs)

EH: Oh, yes, My sister’s partner said, you know after having visited Japan she said, it is absolutely the most sophisticated culture on Earth. They have thought of everything down to the nth degree, and I feel she’s absolutely right. And I’m glad she appreciated that about the Japanese sensibility. Everything is thought of, to the minutest detail, which  sometimes can work towards their detriment; I think it curtails their spontaneity.

SG: Right. (laughs) True.

EH: But as a culture I mean it has created a marvel, something I’m very proud of. I’m very proud of my Japanese heritage.

SG: Yes, it really is a pleasure to live here. It’s quite comfortable and people are so polite.

EH: Oh, it’s clean, it’s efficient, and everything works! (laughs)

SG: Oh, yeah… (laughs). Well, moving back to your professional career, you mentioned how you had gotten interested in acting while you were in school, and you were encouraged. I was wondering, from your perspective as someone of Japanese heritage – and of Asian heritage in general, but also of American Hawaiian heritage – your perspective as a performer over these years in the world of Hollywood and show business, if you have anything you’d like to share about that.

EH: Well, by the time I got to Hollywood, here I was totally capable of doing Shakespere, and if you wanted classical theater I was totally capable of doing it, and knowing how to wear costumes from the 17th century on – and basically being slammed into a work environment where you’re going to play waiters and gangsters and things that were totally unchallenging. A handful of us started an organization first called Brotherhood of Artists advocating for Asian-Pacific American actors; and later it became the Association of Asian-Pacific American Artists and I was one of it’s founders and it’s president, oh for too many years, (laughs). And our primary purpose, our sole purpose, was to advocate for better roles for the Asian artists. Also, I was one of the founding members of the East West Players, which is still going, a professional theatre company in Los Angeles. I was a founding member there because we needed someplace where we could act and stretch our muscles and become better performers.

And that was pretty much all of my career there. All the while I was active in Hollywood I was in an advocacy group, most likely heading it, and of course supporting the East West players. At a certain point I dropped out, I could no longer perform with them, I was just too busy. But it doesn’t matter, you know, it was successful and thriving and we created something that was wonderful.

SG: Yes, that’s true. I had asked you before if ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was your first film but you mentioned you were in ‘Valley of the Dolls’ from the year before ‘Rosemary.’

EH: I was…, I think I opened a door; I don’t even know whether I said anything. What had happened was I had gotten to Hollywood, I was on route to New York to become a starving artist, I mean this is after Europe.

SG: Right. After your studies there.

EH: But I had a friend who was involved in the Columbia new talent program, Studio Players, and he got me involved so I immediately got an agent. One of the very first people she set me up to meet was Joe Scully who was a casting director at 20th Century Fox, and he was working on a film called ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ and at that point they were screen testing and he liked me and I liked him and we hit it off and he said “You’re going to need your Screen Actors Guild card.” So he got them to basically write me in on screen tests. So I had like a week of screen testing with Patty duke and Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate and when the film came around he put me in it! (laughs)

SG: Excellent!

EH: Right. I mean, basically he was just helping me to get my screen actors guild card, not that there was a specific role that was called for. And in a sense that’s also what happened with ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ My agency was the Bessie Loo Agency.  My agent was Angela Loo  her daughter, who began her career at the same time as mine. I got a call from my agent and she said “Oh, you have a job on ‘Rosemary’s Baby’.” It was a bestseller in every showcase in the bookstores so I immediately rushed out, read the book twice, I called her back, I said there’s no part for an Asian in this, are you sure you have the right movie? And she said “Yes, I have the contract right here in front of me!” I said well, what part do I have? She said “Well, I don’t know. I went in and tripped and fell – I was supposed to meet Roman Polanski and your picture was lying on top at his feet – and he said “Him. I want him.”” (laughs) And she said “Oh, but he’s my most expensive actor.” At that time I was her only actor (laughs) .  So I mean, if they say that’s what luck is, that’s what luck is. But, literally she tripped and fell, and my picture was on top because I had just met with her a couple days before, and she was a brand new agent and we both got our first jobs together with Roman Polanski.

SG: How lucky!

EH: And that’s how I got the job for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and I walked on set and still didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do!

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Actors Phil Leeds and Ernest Harada both appeared in the film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and both  appeared in a Halloween episode of Roseanne with a ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ twist!

SG: And the scene you were in was filmed in California, I believe.

EH: Yes, it was filmed on the Paramount lot.

SG: Right. Do you recall around how long it took to film that final scene that you appear in in the film?

EH: You know, I think the original contract was for a week, but I think we went ten days.

SG: Wow! Ten days!

EH: Not that I knew much about film making; I mean I was a total newcomer. But what Roman was doing with the hand-held cameras without any kind of break… I mean I had worked on ‘Valley of the Dolls’ so I knew what dolly shots were, and close-ups and how they set up a shot, but what Roman was doing with ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was having the camera on somebody’s shoulder walking through these elaborate sets all in one take! And even during the scene itself when Rosemary finally comes in, rather than using a tripod or a dolly, he had the cameraman literally over her shoulder filming reactions on people.  That’s how he could get really, instead of fast cuts, he would get an unbroken feeling from the audience viewpoint – Rosemary’s point of view – of reactions. It was, as I  discovered later, a trend-setting kind of a thing he was doing.

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On Roman Polanski : “It was, as I discovered later, a trend-setting kind of thing he was doing.”

SG: Yes, it’s really a unique perspective. Everything in the film is from Rosemary’s point of view or the camera is always on her face or what she’s doing. There’s just something so enchanting or enthralling about that film with the camera work and the point-of-view.

EH: Exactly. Yes. And only someone who really understands how to put a film together appreciates what the camerawork was, and that’s what took up so much of the time. But in the film it was seamless, it was flawless. I think that was his secret to making it as horrific as it turned out to be; there’s an absolute smoothness about the whole thing and a reality – a different reality.

SG: So, what was your impression of the role you were given in the film?

EH: Well, I asked him finally. I said my part isn’t in the book at all. He said “No, but if you look around you see these Japanese business men all over the place and they all have cameras – they’re like in groups of three and four and five, and they’re running all over the world – Europe or America – and they all have cameras! So he said “I wanted to put that in, so you’re it!” (laughs)

SG: Wow, what a stroke of genius.

EH: Well, he is. I think he is. A bonafide, certified genius.

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Ernest Harada on the left at the climactic moment of Rosemary’s Baby.

SG: Your character is quite conspicuous in the final scene. It’s kind of an odd character to discover there in that scene of the story.

EH: Yes. (laughs). Every character in that scene is kind of odd! (laughs)

SG: True. (laughs)

EH: It’s not a usual assemblage of folk.

SG: True! This selection of character actors and theater folk was really, I think, another example of Polanski’s genius; they all appear odd yet somehow familiar at the same time, all of these people.

EH: Right. I mean individually you look at them (and you think) “Oh, she’s a nice old lady,” but in that setting suddenly that nice old lady has another dimension. It was making what was normal extraordinary. And a lot of those people – the older people – were extras but he cast them extremely well. Even I was kind of creeped out whenever we were on the set.

(laughs)

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Ruth Gordon as Minnie Castevet, behind her are Natalie Masters and Elmer Modlin.

SG: What was it like meeting with and working with the cast and crew there? Do you have any interesting memories of working with the actors?

EH: By the time they filmed that scene Mia [Farrow] was already getting divorced from Frank Sinatra. So she was experiencing an emotional trauma. Between takes she’d rush to her trailer, and she had a dressing trailer right in the middle of the sound stage, so we never saw her. But I became good friends with Sydney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon. And sometimes, I mean we had a lot of lunches together, Sydney was trying to bring me in and telling me I have to get to New York. That’s of course primarily where he was, he was a great matinee idol on the Broadway stage. And Ruth, Ruth Gordon hadn’t become the big star she was then. I mean she was primarily known as a writer. But she had just been to New York and seen ‘Cabaret’ the musical so she was singing the songs and tried to teach them to me. We were having a great time. And sometimes Patsy Kelly would join us. And that was pretty much it, I mean Sydney, Ruth, Patsy Kelly and myself; we hung-out around a lot during the filming.

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Sydney Blackmer as Roman Castevet / Steven Marcato with Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse

SG: That’s so great! I mean, getting to hang out with these great actors. I was born in 1970 so I recall seeing a lot of Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly while growing up in the ’70’s.

EH: Yeah! They’re delightful people. I mean I love actors. I’ve spent my life with them!

SG: (laughs) Good people!

EH: Yes, they are.

SG: Was there any particular direction you were given for that final scene?

EH: No, it just was “Say this” or “Do this” and it would change on different takes. He (Polanski) never… part of it was – and I’ve worked with other directors like that – who just say “Do it the way you feel it; that’s why I hired you. You’re the actor.” And Roman was pretty much working with the camera people or whatever. I don’t recall him giving much acting direction – to any cast members, per say. I mean privately he may have said something, but not on the set. Everyone pretty much knew what they were going to do and he pretty much let us do what we wanted to do with it.

SG: Marvelous. Your character, like you mentioned before about the (common sight of) Japanese tourists with cameras, and your character really does seem like he just stepped off the airplane and just arrived and is there; and your Japanese accent is perfect. I live in Japan so I was really intrigued by your character because I wondered ‘Did they just run to the airport and pick up this guy and hire a taxi to take him to the set? I mean he’s just flawless! But you must have been familiar with a Japanese accent I think.

EH: Well, I was good with a lot of accents. I certainly heard enough of it! (laughs) That was not a big stretch. Later on I’d go to interviews and they’d said “We need this part and we need it in a Japanese accent.” So I’d do it and this one producer said “That’s not a Japanese accent.” Excuse me? I said, What do you think a Japanese accent is? And he said “Well, like Richard Loo in all the World War II films.” I said, well I hate to inform you, I know Richard Loo, he’s from Maui in Hawaii, and the accent he has is basically a Chinese accent. His name is Loo, that’s Chinese. That’s a Chinese accent; that is not a Japanese accent you are hearing! All of the Japanese American  actors were incarcerated at various relocation camps  around America [during the war].

But then that was symptomatic of all the kind of stereotypical things that we were demanded to do that we, and I personally, fought so hard against. I said, why can’t I speak the way I speak? I mean, you want the Queen’s English? I’ll give you that. (Mockingly as a perturbed producer): “Oh no! No!”

SG: (Laughs) Wow! Now, I have a question: in that final scene, when you were on set, did you look in the bassinet? Was there a baby or a doll prop in that bassinet? Because in the film we never see a baby.

EH: They later, I found out, tried to do a baby in the set and they realized that it was not horrific. But no, there was no baby in the bassinet. Mia did a fabulous job!

SG: She really did! When you read the script, and when the movie came out do you recall any reactions from family or friends as to the story or the content of the film?

EH: Basically my people were actors and people involved in film, and this is in California and Hollywood, and they realized what a great horror film it was. My family was just happy to see me working. (laughs) But then they were not movie buffs or critics in any sense of the word. But no, even when it was first released there was a sizable group who realized that it was a great, great film. The fact that there was no blood; it was Hitchcokian in that sense, it was so suspenseful. Horrifically suspenseful with no blood or anything, it just slowly built into this horrendous ending. And it’s really a very unlikely story! (laughs) The Devil’s child! He [Polanski] made it happen! It became real! And that was really Ira Levin and Polanski. And really the story is kind of preposterous.

SG: Yes, truly. It’s almost a little humorous; like darkly humorous, in a sense.

EH: Exactly! But they made it very real.

SG: And without all the blood and violence. These days every horror film I see relies way  too much on graphic effects and gore. Rosemary’s Baby is such a perfect film without any of that; the horror is all cerebral.

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EH: Yeah, and the other film that’s always drawn, as far as horror films, is The Exorcist! And Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t have all that slime all over the place or the heads turning 360 degrees, and green people and bodies flying out windows… You know as an artist I realize the artistry in ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ I mean the effects it got from so little was extraordinary. I mean I can’t think of a horror film on that kind of a caliber.

SG: Me either. Do you have any opinions on the cultural impact of Rosemary’s Baby?

EH: The cultural impact is when people say “What films were you in?” and I’ve done a number, I mean I starred with Tom Hanks and John Candy [as the powerful drug lord Chung Mee in Volunteers 1985]  but the one I mention is ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and everybody instantly knows it. It’s certainly become a classic. And they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!’ (They say) “What?!”

SG: (laughs) That’s funny!

EH: Yeah, well then they say “Hey wait a minute! There wasn’t a baby!” But I’ve seen, subsequently, maybe on Youtube, them trying to put a baby together that was properly horrific. And I’m glad they didn’t because the baby that your mind creates of course is even more frightening than anything they could show you practically.

SG: I agree; that was another stroke of genius on the part of the artists who worked on this film was ‘do not show the baby.’

EH: Exactly. Your mind creates that baby; but that was the entire film, you know?

“…they say “Oh, what part did you play in ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘?” and I tell them ‘The baby, of course!'”

SG: Right. Now, I kind of skipped over your appearances on Broadway. A few nights ago my wife and I watched ‘Pacific Overtures’ on Youtube on our television so we got to enjoy that. You seem as comfortable in front of the camera as you do onstage; so, do you have a preference for working onstage in theater or in front of the camera for film?

EH: I have always loved the stage. Mainly because when you are performing onstage it’s you and the audience, with film it is never that. With film it is always the director’s eyes and the actor really has no control over anything. You come up with a performance but whether that performance gets on the final film is another matter; I mean it’s filtered through the director. Whereas on the stage, once you’re onstage, it’s you and the audience, and I’ve always loved that. In fact I’ve used my film and television career to finance doing my stage work. The stage does not pay. And I did a lot of stage like Milwaukee and La Jolla, um… and basically I was losing money, going out of town and doing these plays, but that’s where my heart was.

SG: You’re a true artist.

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Ernest Harada during the original 1976 Broadway cast recording of ‘Pacific Overtures’ written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman.

EH: Well, it’s what I loved, and I believe in pursuing what you love. Do it! And I didn’t get rich and famous but I had a very fulfilling, fulfilled life as an artist. And even on Broadway at that time, when it was offered to me, I had another offer umm… “Stay in town, stay in town. I’m doing a pilot you are perfect for.” This writer-producer said “I’m doing this show [TV series] and you and [well known movie star] would be perfect together.” And I told him, you know I’m an actor, how can I turn down Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim? This is a chance of a lifetime. Until then the last show was ‘Flower Drum Song’ twenty years before, and after ‘Pacific Overtures’ the only show that used Asians was ‘Miss Saigon’ twenty years after. So if ever I was going to do Broadway I had to take it. Of course I could not call myself an actor and turn down Broadway for television. And maybe that was a dumb move, I don’t know. Later on that producer-writer wrote a couple of pilots where I would have been one of the major characters but they never sold so… But then I’ve never regretted doing Broadway; it’s one of the crowning achievements in my life, more so than anything in film.

SG: I agree. I imagine it’s a really wonderful experience.

Link: Ernest Harada performs Welcome to Kanagawa from Pacific Overtures.

EH: Well, to be on Broadway you’re on the creme de la creme; you know? I mean just many people never even get there. Film – you can take somebody off the street and make a star. With Broadway it requires work. It’s discipline. It’s the art of acting and performing. And no, there was no way I could turn it down, and wisely so. I mean twenty years later ‘Miss Saigon’ comes into town and we had to protest it because the lead role – this supposedly Asian man – was cast with Jonathan Price! – a white man – and we stopped the show from coming to Broadway.

SG: Really?!

EH: It was a big hit in London. Cameron Mackintosh is as big a producer as you could possibly get at that time; he was going to bring it to New York, it was going to be a smash hit. So we went through Actor’s Equity; they would all need to be permitted by Actor’s Equity to bring the London people over. And Colleen Dewhurst was then president of Actor’s Equity and we explained to her our plight. The claim was there were no Asian stars, that’s what Cameron Mackintosh said. And our argument to Colleen and the Actor’s Equity Board, was how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?

“…how can there be an Asian star when we are never even given the opportunity to play the Asian roles?”

SG: Right?!

EH: So I said, you tell me any Asian who’s played ‘The King And I’ and they couldn’t! Because it had never been played by an Asian. And I said it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that there’s no Asian stars if we are never given the opportunity! Not even to audition! We’re not even in the consideration if it’s an Asian lead role; and this was in films also. There were no Asian leading men! The last one was Sessue Hayakawa from way way back; I mean the ’30’s!

Anyway, we stopped the show  from opening for awhile and that was important. Then  our biggest advocate Colleen died. Now 25 years later, there is some progress, they have just revived the show.  It has just opened on Broadway. The lead Asian male is being played by an Asian. It is gratifying, and I am very proud of what we have done to create this opportunity.

SG: Wow! That’s so great. Now, I have a Devil In the Details question which I would like to ask you, and anyone who I get the chance to interview: What do you consider evil in today’s society?

EH:  I think evil is any deliberate act of cruelty.  It is selfishness and greed. Evil is what you get when you lack empathy and altruism.  In our current society I would say that we, as a country, have focused on the wrong things.  Money and greed at the expense of everything else.  I don’t see how you cannot provide healthcare for everyone and how you cannot protect the environment that we exist in.  I don’t understand how you can dismantle environmental protection and not think of your grandchildren down the line. I don’t see how you can believe money will protect you from a  totally diseased and totally polluted world.  Evil is selfishness and greed.

SG: Very well said, Mr. Harada and thank you so much; this has been not only an honor and a privilege but a real pleasure to be able to call you and speak with you and to ask these questions and you have been so kind and generous with your time.

EH: You are very welcome. Aloha.

SG: Aloha.

This interview took place on April 7th, 2017 Tokyo time, April 6th Honolulu time.

Want to know ALL the witches in the Castevet’s coven? Read our article: All of Them Witches: A “Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

SUSPIRIA: In the Eye of the Peacock

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Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion in SUSPIRIA

Suspiria (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. There is so much going on in Suspiria that one blog post cannot cover all the occultism that saturates this film. The Three Mothers motif, inspired by the work of Thomas DeQuincey, will find it’s own exegesis in a separate post. For now, let us focus our dark adapted eye upon a particular set piece and give the Devil His due. And please, don’t think us mad until you have digested all what we are communicating to you here.

Suspiria 4When looking for the Devil in the Details in Suspiria, you cannot help but notice the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climactic scene. That such exquisite yet superfluous beauty as the male peacock exists at all in the world can be seen by some as proof positive of a beneficial Creator – a thumb print, if you will, of the work done by the hand of the Divine Artist. The Peacock is a symbol of Beauty, Vanity and, of course, Pride – Lucifer’s sin.

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The Fall

The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stirred up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankind, what time his Pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his Host
Of Rebel Angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equaled the most High,
If he opposed; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Raised impious War in Heaven and Battle proud
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,

From: Paradise Lost by John Milton

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The Fall

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A new opportunity presents itself…

In Suspiria, the presence of the Peacock with several marble spheres at it’s feet recalls certain pre-Islamic religious traditions such as the Gnostic Manichaeism philosophy, or the later Yazidi tradition wherein which the ‘Peacock Angel’ Melek Ta’us – an entity often mistakenly confused with Shaitan / Satan / Iblis by Judeo-Christian and Muslim interpretation – is responsible for the 7 created worlds, and the 7 Heavens.

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The Yazidis are peace-loving monotheists, believing in God as creator of the world, which he has placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Peacock Angel , vowing to bow only to God the Almighty, refused to bow to God’s human creation – Adam. By refusing a direct order from the Almighty, this “Fallen Angel” is given the task of challenging humankind with all the difficulties of incarnated existence with it’s endless parade of Sighs, Tears and Darkness.

The Peacock Angel, as world-ruler, is Prince of this world – our created, material world; and if this world is a shadow manifested by the deepest condensation of the divine light of the Almighty, would it then be a complete error to call this entity the Prince of Darkness? Melek Taus is the one who causes both good and bad to befall individuals, and this ambivalent character is reflected in myths of his own temporary fall from God’s favour, before his remorseful tears extinguished the fires of his hellish prison and he was reconciled with God. As has often been observed, the Devil’s power lies in that ‘He suffers.”

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A Yazidi emblem with the Peacock Angel presiding over the created world.

In certain Gnostic traditions a reconciliation is made between God and the Devil.

We find a peacock idol presiding over several (five? the number of the Pentagram?) spheres in the climactic scene of Suspiria, just after we witness Madame Blanc, “the Vice Directress,” (wink, wink nod) of the Dance Academy and her coven of wicked witches invoking “Satanas.” The presence of  this idol is either coincidence or somebody did their occult homework. Or, perhaps, the art director was influenced by other, unseen forces?

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Archon: Gnosticism will give some superficial insight into The Hebdomad, the Seven Spheres or Heavens, often recognized in popular Occultism and Kabbalah as: Saturn – Cronus, Jupiter – Zeus, Venus – Aphrodite, Moon – Hekate/Diana, Mercury – Hermes, and Mars – Aries all gathered around the Sun/Sol – Apollo. Seven colors are also expressed by the spectrum, the degrees of manifest Light – a peacock’s rainbowed fan of categorized material expression of Spirit.

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Now, sometimes, when seeking out the Devil in the Details, you find the Devil seeking right back out at you! Don’t drop your Tarot cards Minnie… but after a close observation of ‘Suspiria’  it appears the Peacock image in Our Lady of Sighs – Mater Suspiriorum’s – chambers has 15 “eyes” on it’s tail. Fifteen is of course the number of XV THE DEVIL card in the Tarot! 

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Whichever Tarot deck you use…

However you shuffle your cards…

THE DEVIL remains number XV !

The redemptive tears of the Peacock Angel…

Fifteen “eyes” on the peacock sculpture in SUSPIRIA…

THE DEVIL in the Tarot is numbered 15…

and, oh yes, the Hebrew letter attached to the XVth Arcanum of the Tarot – THE DEVIL card – is Ayin, which just happens to mean “an eye”.

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AYIN = Eye

The three DEVIL Tarot cards below (from three different packs) each carry a visible letter AYIN. We know our Tarot thoroughly and highly recomend it’s study.

Charms and decorations with eye-like symbols known as nazars, which are used to repel the evil eye, are a common sight across Armenia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Greece, the Levant, Afghanistan, Southern Spain, and Mexico and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists.

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After crashing into said Art Deco peacock idol, Suzy Bannion – Our heroine in SUSPIRIA – manages to snatch a fallen peacock plumed stiletto from the overturned idol with which to dispatch the powerfully evil and wicked witch Mater Suspriorum, a.k.a. Helena Markos, by stabbing her through the neck. Mater Suspiriorum, Our Mother of Sighs, is pierced in the neck, the throat, the very reservoir of sighs! Silencing forever that corroded, blasphemous craw!

But of course we do continue to sigh,

and to weep,

and to stare long and deep

into the gaping jaws of Time.

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Something about that Peacock just sticks in my craw !

The religious persecutions and genocidal campaigns executed against the Kurdish Yazidi people of Iraq are horrendous and continue today. How often do you hear the name of the city of Mosul in Iraq in the news?  Mosul is the area closest to the largest Yazidi population in Iraq. You may recall the  2007 Mosul Massacre.

Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL

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Yazidi children have also been victims of Islamic terror and genocide.

For centuries the Yazidis have been tormented and accused of being “Devil-Worshippers.” Religious extremism in the form of the zealots of the so-called Islamic State and other forces in the region have caused untold miseries upon these people who have seen their people massacred and their children sold into sexual slavery. We must use caution so as not to pour gasoline on the fire by misrepresenting the Yazidi people as “Devil-Worshippers” in the Horror film sense of the term. Their tradition is an ancient one containing elements of Gnosticism, Sufism, Christianity and Islam – and yet is completely unique. Comparisons from a solely Christian or Islamic perspective can only result in misinterpretation and misunderstandings. It is it’s own Faith.  Please research the topic to educate yourself further.

Yazidi Woman Who Suffered IS Enslavement Lobbies Washington for Help : May 27, 2017

May we suggest:

‘Survival Among the Kurds; A History of the Yezidis’

by John S Guest

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Yazidi traditions have a strong emphasis on bodily purity.

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Yazidi gathering at their sacred site in Lalish.

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A Yazidi gathering. Yazidi traditions differ from those of their neighbors but they are most certainly not “Devil worshippers” as certain intolerant groups have claimed.

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Displaced Yazidis fleeing from genocide by the savages of the so-called Islamic State

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Islamic extremists give Yazidis only one choice: Convert or die.

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Yazidi genocide by Islamic zealots.

We await the apocalyptic splendor of a world without religiously motivated genocide.

By: H. B. Gardner

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Satanic Cinema; Our favorite devilish films

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An ongoing list of diabolical films which (we feel) have the most redeeming value, or are otherwise notable for interesting Satanic, Black Magic, Witchcraft, Pagan or Occult, content. Beware! Spoilers abound! This list will be added to as time allows.

First, of course, are Cinema’s infamous “Unholy Trinity” of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen. We of course refer to the original films and not any remakes nor sequels, prequels or fecals. That is not to say that some of these sequels are not enjoyable, but these original films (and novels in the case of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist) stand out as having had a widespread influence in popular culture regarding beliefs in an actual devil, or Satan, and the powers of Evil. Each of these three films was a smash hit at it’s time of release and have spawned any number of imitations, sequels, remakes, spin-offs and wannabes.

The seventies and eighties were arguably the best time for these films. However, none before or since, has had as visceral an impact as The Exorcist.

Our personal favorite is Rosemary’s Baby, so let’s begin there.

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Rosemary’s Baby ushered in the whole Devil Baby cinematic motif

Rosemary’s Baby  (1968) Although this may first sound like a bit of an overstatement, this film (and the book it came from) caused millions of people in the 1960’s to seriously examine their religious beliefs. This was done deftly – in print and film – without any onscreen violence or gore. Hands must have surely trembled as they turned the final pages of this thriller when it was first released in 1967. The film, which followed the following year, closely adheres to the original novel in every way but has been brought to vivid and believable life through committed performances by Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Minnie Castevet. This is the Mother of All Devil-Baby Movies and has spawned any number of imitations.

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The Exorcist works on many levels

The Exorcist (1973) What can we say here that hasn’t already been said? It is a tense, dark, psychological and spiritual drama. The scenes of  the possessed girl are deservedly famous, but it’s truly the spiritual crisis of the character of Father/Dr. Damien Karras which stands at the center of this gripping story. Father Damien Karras is a Jesuit priest who loses his faith and subsequently achieves a kind of perverse heroic redemption in his own self-destruction – or does he?

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The Omen echoed the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ motif and became a franchise

The Omen  (1976) caused a good many people to start attending church or paying closer attention to the last chapter of The New Testament. A number of people went home and shaved their kid’s heads in order to inspect them for the Devil’s birthmark. Spectacular death scenes which can be interpreted as coincidental “accidents” or the work of Evil forces.

Other notable cinematic demons (old to new) are:

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Häxan (1922) Is a strange creature that is also a real treasure. English title: Witchcraft Through the Ages is a Swedish-Danish documentary-style silent horror film  based partly on the director’s study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors. Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatised sequences of perverted and criminal Diabolic rituals and tortures enforced by the Inquisition. We recommend the version narrated by William S. Burroughs because… well, William S. Burroughs. Link below:

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Horror Hotel  (1960) aka The City of the Dead. Features Christopher Lee as a Satanist.

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The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death  (1964) Based upon the lovely-dreadful poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The inimitable Vincent Price compels us to join him in the “glories of Hell.”

The Devil Rides Out (1968) Christopher Lee is NOT a Satanist in this film! But he knows an awful lot about black magic. Charles Gray is the Satanic High Priest-Magician in this Hammer horror thriller. The opening credits are fantastic.

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You’ll discover many dirty habits in Ken Russell’s The Devils

The Devils  (1971) Excellent film – if you can find it. Directed by Ken Russell, banned for years, it is still usually available only in edited forms. Based on actual events known as the  Loudon Possessions. A seventeenth century “nuns gone wild.” The best DVD release so far (from BFI) can be found through Amazon UK.

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Dracula AD 1972 (1972) A satanic ritual performed by hippies using the dried blood of Dracula himself brings Christopher Lee back to (from?) the Undead. Or is it the un-undead? Peter Cushing is present as a descendent of Van Helsing, of course.

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With more than a touch of evil, Orson Welles gives us Necromancy

Necromancy  aka The Witching (1972) Orson Welles is the leader of a group dabbling in the Dark Arts. A  not-so-great film, but gives you that ’70’s occult paranoia vibe.

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Orville’s coming-out party is not to be missed in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things  (1972) Is sort of like Night of the Living Dead, but with a young theater group dabbling in necromancy. Flawed but effective 70’s gem.

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The Satanic Rites of Dracula  (1974)  Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, ’nuff said. But with the added thrill of an elite Satanic fraternity planning to release a plague on the unsuspecting earth, with Dracula (suffering from a severe case of ennui, no less) at the center!

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Nastassja Kinski and Christopher Lee in a Devil flick. Sounds like popcorn night to me!

To the Devil a Daughter (1976) Three reasons to watch this film: 1. Christopher Lee as a Satanic priest – he does it so well! (look at that smile after a satanic birth near the beginning of the film!), 2. A 15-year-old full frontal nude Nastassja Kinski  (we also love her dressed as a nun), and 3. Really unusual Satanic rituals.

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Nastassja Kinski

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Paula Sheppard in ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’.

Alice, Sweet Alice   (1976) Is a frightful 70’s American slasher gem reminiscent of Dario Argento’s giallo shockers. This creeper spills over with blood and over-the-top with Catholic paranoia, thanks to Jane Lowry as Aunt Annie DeLorenze who was really going for the Oscar in this project. Did you know Linda Miller (who plays the mother in this classic) was married to Jason Miller who portrayed Father Damien Karras in The Exorcist?

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Sometimes we just can’t get enough SUSPIRIA !

Suspiria  (1977) Is a film that stands out in horror cinema and remains perhaps the most artistic horror film ever made. Dario Argento’s masterpiece. Note the sculpture of the Peacock in the film’s climax – the Peacock is of course a symbol of Pride (Lucifer’s sin). The Three Mothers motif is carried on in the sequels Inferno 1980 and The Mother of Tears (2007).

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John Carradine in The Sentinel

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The Sentinel (1977)  The gateway to Hell requires a vigilant ward. The requirements for the position are a rather particular sin. The Sentinel is kind of like a blend of Hell House and Rosemary’s baby, with some Law & Order mixed in, and with enough names in it to give even a jaded movie goer pause: Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, and Beverly D’Angelo in…. well, an unforgettable scene. Make-up effects by the legendary Dick Smith. This somewhat gritty ’70’s devil movie is sure to creep you out.

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Clint Howard gets harsh treatment in ‘Evilspeak’

Evilspeak (1981) This one is rather unique as it is the first (and perhaps only) film to use the high-tech demon-summoning-computer motif (this was the beginning of the 80’s) by the bullied young man out for revenge – like ‘Carrie’ but with a male misfit instead of a young woman in the lead, who turns to the Devil for unholy revenge. Practically in a category by itself, innit? Enjoyable but often overlooked for it’s eccentricities, Evilspeak is a rare 80’s gem that is delightfully nasty. The scenes of the cruelties by young men in a military academy who gang up on a weaker one are especially unpleasant with gratuitous shame. This film carries some rather heavy Satanic themes with a vicious and gory climax to boot, which caused it to be banned for a number of years in the UK. One of the few Satanic horror films which draws upon the less popular porcine symbolism of the Devil. Kind of want a shower after watching.

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‘Evilspeak’ 1981

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Robert DeNiro and Mickey Rourke in Angel Heart

Angel Heart  (1987) Excellent. Atmospheric. Pulls you in and won’t let go. Mickey Rourke in his prime. Based on the novel ‘Falling Angel’ by William Hjortsberg. The book is centered in New York and never travels to New Orleans. It depicts a Black Mass that takes place in an abandoned New York subway. Well, that scene didn’t really make it into the film but we get some good Voodoo ceremony there along with a (at the time it was released) controversial and passionate sex scene which is interspersed with images akin to the novel’s orgiastic depiction of the Black Mass.

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DeNiro is unforgettable as Mr Louis Cyphere in Angel Heart

Hellraiser (1987) & Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) Are very significant films in their dramatic revisioning of Hell, it’s demons, landscape and all their accompanying mythology. This is all due to writer/director/visionary/artist Clive Barker and the cinematic artists who helped realize his nightmarish ideas of Hell on film. Based upon Clive Barker’s novella ‘The Hellbound Heart’ we discover a deal-with-the-devil story twisted with perverted family relations. The simple Faustian premise is amped up to exquisite extremes of Hellishness where Pleasure and Pain become indistinguishable. The Cenobites, perhaps the most unique diabolical figures seen since the Fin de siècle,  are “Demons to some, Angels to others,” offering us to taste their pleasures of sweet suffering.

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Prince of Darkness (1987)  Has a seriously effective creep factor. Do not watch it alone late at night. This is a movie that compels us to switch the lights on after waking from a nightmare and needing to make our way to the restroom in the middle of the night. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, In the Mouth of Madness) there is something really disturbing about this movie. “Hello? Hello? I’ve got a message for you, and you’re not going to like it.”

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Not exactly what most people have in mind when they say they are going to The Church.

The Church (1989) (Italian title: La chiesa), also known as Cathedral of Demons or Demon Cathedral, is an Italian horror film directed by Michele Soavi. It was produced by Dario Argento (along with a list of others). Asia Argento is a young girl in the film. Amazing set pieces, demons, Satanic rituals and plenty of gore. There are some definite nods to ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, including an old couple patterned on Minnie and Roman Castevet that tour The Church. You should go to The Church.

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The Sect offers diabolical face-lifts

The Devil’s Daughter  (1991) (Italian title: La Setta), also known as The Sect and Demons 4, is another Italian horror film co-written and produced by Dario Argento and directed by Michele Soavi. The film stars Kelly Curtis (sister of Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘Halloween’ 1978) and Herbert Lom. It’s a film that follows in the footsteps of Rosemary’s Baby but with some truly bizarre twists, some dreamlike imagery along with some gore.

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Lost Souls  (2000)  Although not a great movie it sure looks good. An interesting, but slow and subtle, take on the coming of the AntiChrist. John Hurt has a small but effective role as an exorcist.

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The House of the Devil  (2009)  Inspired by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s; the story feeds on the fears people had at that time. The film takes place and even appears like it was filmed in the ’80’s. A very good, slow-paced thriller with a Grand Guignol finish.

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Peek-a-boo! Can you discern The Witch?

The Witch (2015)  The Witch is an atmospheric period piece set in 1630 New England. A  folktale saturated with fearful religious paranoia that inexorably tears apart a family of English Puritan settlers trying to survive on the edge of a vast forest after being banished from the safe confines of their colony. The fear of Satan’s power may be real or imagined or seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Committed performances and some unsettling imagery of classical witchcraft (so rare in cinema) make this film a must-see for those who move in certain circles… around a bonfire… beneath a full moon.

Sympathy for the Devil: The Sublime Satanism of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

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By: H. B. Gardner

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Is God Dead? Yes, this was an actual cover for TIME magazine in 1966.

Note: All passages in purple are direct quotes from the novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin.

Rosemary’s Baby is perhaps the most positive Satanic book (and film) ever made. Certainly there will be die-hard fans of Joris-Karl Huysmans who insist that his 1891 novel Là-bas  (translated as Down There or The Damned) is the ultimate piece of Satanic literature;  however, it’s confused philosophical digressions, not to mention it’s darker and more grotesque passages, keep it far from the field of the positive. Rosemary’s Baby, both as a  novel penned by author Ira Levin and as a hit film directed by Roman Polanski, works on an entirely different level from Huysmans’ masterpiece of decadent diabolism. A level so close to our own, in fact, that we cannot help but be pulled into the story and accept that which must be considered by devout Christians to be the ultimate unacceptable thing – to purely love the spawn of Satan – the Antichrist incarnate. The other choice which presents itself in this thriller is suicide – a grave matter – and a mortal sin that has been judged unpardonable in the past.

We are left wondering at the end of the story. We wonder if it is indeed a happy ending or a terrifying one. By the end of Rosemary’s Baby some people’s deeply held beliefs are called into question regarding: the Devil’s power, Is God dead? and, if you were Rosemary Woodhouse, a sense of what would you do? We must examine and consider our reaction to the final scene where Satan’s power is fully revealed in the apparent absence of any God. A child has been birthed who is destined to “overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! ….redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” A true ‘Mother’s Love’ is certainly the purest kind of love to be found on Earth but what to do in this case?! We are left wondering – ‘Wouldn’t it be better if she throws the baby out the window and jumps out after it?’ as is suggested in the novel. Or, we might choose to look at it differently. After suspecting through much of the tale that the baby was in mortal danger from the coven, ‘Isn’t it marvelous that the baby is not only safe at the end but fiercely adored?’

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Virtue and Vice symbolized.

Sister Light, Sister Dark

In the story we (“we”are Rosemary – for the entire story is from her perspective) meet (Theresa) Terry Gionoffrio, a former drug addict with a sketchy past whose life has been turned around by a nice old couple, the Castevets, who in the way of the Good Samaritan (in a parable told by Jesus in the Book of Luke) have literally picked Terry up off the sidewalk, brought her home with them, and are bringing her back to full health and (in the novel) even planning on putting her through secretarial school – giving her the promise of a second chance, a new  future. But their home is the Bramford, a dark gothic apartment house on Manhattan’s upper West side with an even sketchier past than Terry’s. For over a hundred years all manner of scandals and crimes have accumulated within it’s darkly woven texture: suicide, murder, cannibalism, diabolism… But the Castevets seem kindly enough, “like real grandparents” as Terry says.

“I was starving and on dope and doing a lot of other things that I’m so ashamed of I could throw up just thinking about them. And Mr and Mrs Castevet completely rehabilitated me. They got me off the H, the dope, and got food into me and clean clothes on me, and now nothing is too good for me as far as their concerned. They give me all kinds of health food and vitamins, they even have a doctor come give me regular check-ups! It’s because their childless. I’m like the daughter they never had, you know?”

Terry says that at first she suspected the Castevets had some kind of ulterior motive, “a sex thing” he, or she, or they would want her to do. “But they’ve really been like real grandparents. Nothing like that.” It must have broken her heart when the revelation came that they actually did indeed want her for a “sex thing,” just not in the way anybody could have possibly imagined.

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Cult-ivated for great things

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Mater Dolorosa

Rosemary and Terry meet in the Bramford’s gloomy basement where, as we learn early on from our friend Hutch, that “a dead baby wrapped in newspaper had not so long ago been found. Whose baby had it been, and how had it died? Who had found it? Had the person who left it been caught and punished?” She considers researching the incident “but that would have made it more real, more dreadful than it already was. To know the spot where the baby had lain, to have perhaps to walk past it on the way to the laundry room and again on the way back to the elevator, would have been unbearable. Partial ignorance, she decided, was partial bliss.”

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Tannis anyone? Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the coven.

A more appropriate meeting place could not be devised for these two women who each live “in partial ignorance and partial bliss.” The basement, being underground, is the womb – tomb of the “Black Bramford”. It is the location of a horrendous discovery “not so long ago”of a dead infant. Rosemary and Terry meet at the nefarious scene where a dead baby was discovered; a strange yet subtle twist involving the fates of these two women. The Bramford’s basement laundry facilities is a witches’ crossroads of devouring death; the dark steamy maw of the Dark Mother who gives birth to, and devours, her young. Were this story a Grimm’s fairy tale we could just as easily imagine the meeting of the relatively innocent pig-tailed Rosemary and the more worldly-experienced Terry taking place in some deep dark forest, at a crossroads where criminals are hanged, the unquiet dead are buried, and necromantic rituals take place in the flickering light of black candles made from the fat of unbaptized babes. They meet in the basement of the spooky, gothic witches’ mansion. The basement which is also, of course, the subconscious – where the monsters live. With it’s “steamy brick walls” it is the Bramford’s bowels, a moist womb. A gestation place for all evil conceptions. As Terry proudly exhibits her lovely, yet foul-smelling, gift from the Castevets, the umbilical threads of Fate are rewoven by the hand of Satan between these two women.

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“I’m not mad about the smell either.”

With Rosemary and Terry we are reminded of a pair of women that occur as a choice in many hero journey myths. Or, as card number six ‘VI The Lovers’ on the Marseille style Tarot card. The Dark Woman represents Vice, the Light Woman represents Virtue. Sister Dark and Sister Light – each represent a temptation. The somewhat exotic, brunette Terry – with her history of illicit sex, prostitution, and drugs; and fair, strawberry blond, girlishly pig-tailed Rosemary – the good Catholic school girl from Omaha, Nebraska. In the novel we learn (Minnie’s voice coming from the nun in the dream on the night of Terry’s suicide): “All she has to be is young, healthy and not a virgin. She doesn’t have to be a no-good drug-addict whore out of the gutter.” Very simple qualifications for the required candidate the Castevets need. Terry has been staying with the Castevets for a few months. Has Terry inquired about their taste in art? Or have they removed their paintings from the walls?

‘There aren’t many like Mr and Mrs Castevet,’ Terry said. ‘I would be dead now if it wasn’t for them. That’s an absolute fact. Dead or in jail.’

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Who’s your Baby-Daddy? In the novel, Rosemary brings Terry to her apartment to meet Guy. This photo imagines that scene which looks like it may have been filmed but edited out from the final cut.

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Some interpret the two figures flanking the male Lover as personifications of Vice & Virtue

Is suicide a sin?

Not long after meeting Terry we find her dead in the street, quite literally in the gutter you might say, right after she jumps from the Castevet’s seventh story window. We are shocked and appalled at this sudden loss of such a beautiful young woman we have only just met (in the novel we learn everyone mistakes her for the actress Anna Maria Alberghetti; in the film she resembles Victoria Vetri – who actually plays the role under the name Angela Dorian). “She was a very happy girl with no reason for self destruction” mourns Minnie. We are left to wonder as the suicide note is read silently; though Minnie Castevet tells us later that the suicide note “made it crystal clear” that they (the Castevets) hadn’t “failed her in some way”.

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Minnie, your only failure is your sense of fashion

Of course we come to learn just what Terry’s dilemma was. She was being groomed by the Castevets to become the mother of Satan’s child. Apparently the Castevets had wisely withheld this information from Terry up until and just before her suicide. Rosemary and Guy hear Minnie’s midwestern bray through the walls of their own apartment: “But it’s impossible to be a hundred percent sure!” and “If you want my opinion, we shouldn’t tell her at all; that’s my opinion!” The film hints that the suicide occurs the night after Rosemary and Guy hear the “singing and the flute and the chanting” coming through the wall from the Castevet’s neighboring apartment. The novel tells us the Castevet’s had one of their parties on the Saturday night before Rosemary meets Terry, but we are uncertain whether Terry was present. Perhaps she was, and perhaps that was when she was presented with the antique Tannis charm. On the night of the suicide Rosemary overhears the distraught voice of Minnie Castevet through her bedroom wall as she drifts into sleep. The voice seeps into her dream in the form of an angry nun from her Catholic school girl years complaining: “Sometimes I wonder how come you’re the leader of anything! If you’d’ listened to me, we wouldn’t have had to do it! We’d have been all set to go now instead of starting all over from scratch! I told you not to tell her anything in advance….. I told you she wouldn’t be open-minded! Time enough later to let her in on it.” 

Terry felt compelled to choose between willingly giving birth to Satan’s child, or suicide. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin? This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds.

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“Didn’t she have a brother? She said she did. In the Navy.”

Whenever – and under whatever circumstances – she was informed of the Castevet’s diabolical plan, Terry felt compelled to choose between submitting to having sex with Satan and giving birth to his child, or suicide. We are presented with a soteriological dilemma. Which choice is the lesser, or greater, sin?  This is the question that unconsciously worms it’s way into our minds. According to the theology of the Catholic Church, death by suicide is considered a grave matter, one of the elements required for mortal sin.

A mortal sin (Latin: peccata mortalia), in Catholic theology, is a gravely wrongful act, which can lead to eternal damnation, if a person is not absolved of the sin before death (an impossibility for a successful suicide). A sin is considered to be “mortal” when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God’s saving grace.

Suicide is contrary to love for the living God. Not only is suicide seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity, but it is forbidden by the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother”. There is some debate among denominations and theologians, and differing opinions, as to whether suicide is, as a sin, pardonable or not.

As to why Terry didn’t just try to get out of there – we might well imagine her despair at the idea of going to seek help with her crazy story!  She would have quite assuredly imagined – knowing what she surely figured out before taking her own life (remember, Terry knew poor old Mrs Gardenia who used to live next door before slipping into a coma after a falling-out with the Castevets) – that the Castevet’s coven would take immediate black magical action against her, causing her to go blind, deaf or worse! Even if the Castevet coven resisted casting any spells against Terry (Ha! As if!) she would almost immediately have been shut away in some hideous New York mental hospital (this is 1965 remember). Or, she could choose to risk going back to the streets of New York in 1965, where she would most likely end up falling back into her old ways, and end up dying in the gutter anyway. Falling or jumping as a form of suicide holds some close connection to the idea of Satan’s Fall from Heaven. Poetic, no?

 

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He  moves in mysterious ways…

“Minnie said, ‘He chose you out of all the world, Rosemary. Out of all the women in the whole world, He chose you. He brought you and Guy to your apartment there, He made that foolish what’s-her-name, Terry, made her get all scared and silly so we had to change our plans. He arranged everything that had to be arranged, ’cause He wanted you to be the mother of His only living Son.'”

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“Look at His hands!”

We are given some valuable extra information about Rosemary’s thinking process in the final pages of the novel. After the awful revelation she is sitting with a hot cup of Lipton’s  tea and thinks…

“The thing to do was kill it. Obviously. Wait…. and grab it and throw it out the window. and jump out after it. Mother Slays Baby and Self at Bramford. Save the world from God-knows-what. From Satan-knows-what.”

Yet, she struggles with the idea whether it is even human and decides “He couldn’t be all bad, he just couldn’t. Even if he was half Satan, wasn’t he half her as well, half decent, ordinary, sensible, human being?” She considers that she could exert her own good influence over him to counteract their bad one. She even considers going to a priest. “It was a problem for the Church to handle. For the Pope and all the cardinals to deal with…”

Her motherly instincts take over when she hears the baby crying and sees that Laura-Louise is rocking the baby too fast. Roman Castevet tells her to rock him. “She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. In the film Sydney Blackmer, excellently cast as Roman Castevet, with a suffering look of pure pathos says “Aren’t you His mother?” In the novel, her eyes then move to the window  and she suggests that Roman should oil the squeaking wheels of the bassinet. It’s as though she is still deciding just what to do. Window? Wait?

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“She stood still and looked at him. ‘You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,’ she said. ‘Aren’t you His mother?’ Roman said.”

As she is rocking him she begins to think his eyes, which so startled and revolted her at first, are actually “pretty in a way,” and asks what his hands are like as they are covered in black mitts. She is told that he has very tiny pearly claws and they’re covered “only so He doesn’t scratch Himself, not because His hands are unattractive.” Her anger flashes at the appearance of Dr Sapirstein but she is quick to say: “‘Not you,” to the Baby. ‘It’s not your fault. I’m angry at them, because they tricked me and lied to me. Don’t look so worried; I’m not going to hurt you.'” She loosens the neck of the baby’s gown to make Him more comfortable. Tells Him He has a very cute chin. 

Indeed, it isn’t the baby’s fault. “Poor little creature.”

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“Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!”

Rosemary insists the baby be named Andrew John rather than Roman Castevet’s favored Adrian Steven, after his devil conjuring father and his own true name. A point she refuses even to argue about. And, “He can’t wear black all the time.” She has come to fully accept her baby, with budding horns, tail and all. Naming it, claiming it. Speaking sweetly to it as the coven gathers around the black bassinet in awe at the dark miracle before them and exclaim “Hail Andrew!” and “Hail Rosemary, mother of Andrew!” and “Hail Satan!” Rosemary Woodhouse gave birth just after midnight on June twenty-fifth. Exactly half the year round from you-know-who. She has become the first Satanic Madonna and has not even joined the coven. She calls the baby Mr Worry-face’. Roman assures her the baby knows she will not hurt him. She asks Roman “Then what does he look so worried for? The poor little thing. Look at him.” As a final touch, in an effort to erase what she sees as a “worried expression” from the baby’s face, she taps the silver ornament dangling above the baby – an inverted crucifix suspended by a black ribbon bound around the Christ’s ankles – and sets it swinging.

The genius of Rosemary’s Baby lies in it’s so successfully aligning the reader, or viewer, with the character of Rosemary that we too can’t help but condone her motherly instincts. With an intense interest in the subject Jules Bois wrote in 1895 in Le Satanisme et la Magie that the devil’s power lies in that “he suffers;” an idea expressed so well in Milton’s Paradise Lost we find ourselves wondering which side Milton was on. Rosemary sees her own baby “suffering” in the midst of a coven of aging witches – surrounded with black, gown uncomfortably tied, rocked carelessly and without a mother’s good sense, her own breast milk she’s been pumping out being fed to her baby in bottles when she had decided to breast feed, etc..). In Rosemary’s Baby, book or film, we find ourselves choosing life rather than the murder of an innocent baby – whatever it’s  paternal, or infernal, origins may be.

By: H. B. Gardner

All of Them Witches: A”Who’s Who” in Rosemary’s Baby

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By: H. B. Gardner

 

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‘All of Them Witches’ by J.R.Hanslet is a fictitious book used in the novel and film ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’

You already know Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, Minnie and Roman Castevet, and perhaps a couple of other characters from Rosemary’s Baby. We admit, it takes a special kind of obsessive personality to bother with secondary characters  in a film or book, even one as important as ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ Most of these characters are mentioned in passing, by name only, in the novel; but they are practically complete strangers to us in the film. Very few of these actors are even mentioned in the film’s credits! Some are rather well-known character actors, others are more obscure. It took a studied re-reading of the novel, a close viewing of a few choice scenes of the film, and some obsessive horror geek research on the internet, but we seem to have identified the witches in Minnie and Roman Castevet’s coven. It is our own interest in the book and film that compels us to look for The Devil in the Details.

Look What Happened to Rosemary's Baby
Left to Right: Hope Summers as Mrs.Gilmore, Patricia O’Neal as Mrs.Wees, Robert Osterloh as Mr.Fountain, Ralph Bellamy as Dr.Sapirstein, Walter Baldwin (in shadow) as Mr.Wees, John Cassavetes as Guy Woodhouse, and Mia Farrow as Rosemary.

There is a kind of surreal banality to these characters. They seem just like anybody else you could meet on any given day. We feel like we met some of these people in our parent’s church, or a few of these women were in our mother’s Bible study group. It may be this sense of unfamiliar familiarity with them that so disturbs and intrigues us.

As pointed out by author Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke) in an introduction to a 2011 edition, the horror of Rosemary’s Baby comes from the idea that “The Enemy Is Everyone.” This is a point that becomes more and more clear as the plot unfolds. One disturbing scene in the story is when, after locking herself within the apartment she shares with her husband, the very pregnant Rosemary is suddenly accosted by what we have come to suspect are a coven of witches – who also just happen to be her acquaintances and neighbors. They almost quite literally come crawling out of the woodwork! To have your home invaded by a conspiratorial cadre of Diabolists offering reassurances that they are your friends and are only there to help when at your most vulnerable is truly terrifying. How in the hell did they get in? she must be wondering.

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This painting of Witches by Goya, seen in the Castevet’s hallway in the film, certainly inspired the bedroom struggle scene in Rosemary’s Baby

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From left: Bruno Sidar as Mr.Gilmore, Hope Summers as Mrs.Gilmore, Patricia O’Neal as Mrs.Wees, Robert Osterloh as Mr.Fountain, Ralph Bellamy as Dr.Sapirstein, Walter Baldwin as Mr.Wees, John Cassavetes and Mia Farrow.

It was a stroke of Polanski’s genius to cast the coven members based primarily on their looks above any other considerations. Most of these character actors and actresses are background faces in film and television. In this way, they somehow seem hauntingly familiar…

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Mr.Micklas (novel), or Mr.Nicklas (film) is the very first resident of the Bramford we meet. Played by Elisha Cook Jr. (December 26, 1903 – May 18, 1995). We know he lives there as a kind of superintendent or manager because he not only shows the apartment to Rosemary and Guy but he appears at the scene of Terry’s suicide wearing striped pajamas under a trench coat. He presumably grants the police access to the Castevet’s apartment to inspect the scene where Terry’s suicide note was found (stuck to the windowsill with a band-aid).

It is doubtful however that he is a member of the coven. He never appears at any of the gatherings in the Castevet’s apartment in either the novel or the film. In the novel he has fingers missing from both hands. In the film he keeps his fingers in odd positions. We just don’t know about him.

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Mr. Micklas in the novel by Ira Levin became Mr.Nicklas in the film, played by the ubiquitous Elisha Cook Jr.

Elisha Cook Jr. is well known as a Hollywood character actor, appearing in many films and on TV. He appeared in a number of horror genre films like Voodoo Island 1957 with Boris Karloff, House on Haunted Hill 1959 with Vincent Price, Blacula 1972, Messiah of Evil 1979, and ‘Salem’s Lot 1979. He has, as do some other actors listed here, a Wikipedia page.

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Why would she cover up her vacuum cleaner and her towels?

The ubiquitous Mr Cook…

And what about that unfinished letter glimpsed on poor old Mrs.Gardenia’s desk?

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“I can no longer associate myself….”

Who or What could she no longer associate herself with?  She probably wasn’t the first (and we know she’s not the last) person in the story to mysteriously fall into a coma.

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L – R: Bruno Sidar as Mr Gilmore, Patsy Kelly as Laura-Louise McBurney, Charlotte Boerner as Mrs Fountain, Almira Sessions as Mrs Sabatini with her black cat, Flash.

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Patsy Kelly and Ruth Gordon and Mia Farrow

Laura-Louise McBurney “lives up on 12” (12F to be novel-precise) in a “small dark tannis-smelling apartment.” In the novel, the character Laura-Louise bakes cookies, reads Reader’s Digest with a magnifying glass, and is knitting a pair of “shaped-all-wrong booties” for Rosemary’s baby (for cloven hooves, we imagine ). Don’t be fooled by her friendly demeanor! She threatens to kill, “milk or no milk!”

Here is a link to a great article By Michael Koresky about Patsy Kelly’s performance as Laura-Louise, “The Witch Upstairs”:  Patsy Kelly in Rosemary’s Baby

https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2824-the-witch-upstairs-patsy-kelly-in-rosemary-s-baby

Patsy Kelly (January 12, 1910 – September 24, 1981) was an American stage, radio, film and television actress who began her career in vaudeville as a dancer at the age of 12. She appeared in film through the ’30’s and 40’s but was shunned by Hollywood for 17 years because of her being “out of the closet” at a time when that sort of thing was just not acceptable.

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Thelma Todd & Patsy Kelly in the 1930’s

At a time when being openly gay was not socially acceptable, Kelly was open about her sexuality. On occasion she would frankly disclose, in public and with typical candor, to being a “dyke”. During the 1930s, she disclosed to Motion Picture magazine that she had been living with actress Wilma Cox for several years and had no intention of getting married. She later claimed she had an affair with Tallulah Bankhead when she worked as Bankhead’s personal assistant.

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“Take your pill, Rosemary.”

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Dr.Shand used to be a famous dentist. He is introduced to us this way by Minnie Castevet at her and Roman’s New Year’s Eve party. He made the chain for the Tannis charm the Castevets give to Rosemary. Guy says Dr.Shand also happens to play the recorder (how does he know it’s not a flute or clarinet?). In the film Dr.Shand is the one driving the car when Guy and Dr.Sapirstein arrive to take Rosemary away from Dr.Hill’s office (in the novel it’s Mr.Gilmore behind the wheel).

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A sweet smile that says: “Get in, sit down and shut the hell up.”

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Dr. Shand arrives just in time for the Witching Hour on New Years Evil!      “To 1966 – the Year One!”

Phil Leeds (April 6, 1916 – August 16, 1998) was an American character actor.
Leeds was born on April 6, 1916, in New York City, the son of a post office clerk. He started his career as a standup comedian and then went on to appear in several films and sitcoms including Beaches, All In The Family, Three’s Company, Night Court, Wings, Ally McBeal, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Larry Sanders Show, and almost yearly appearances on Barney Miller; as well as making guest appearances on Car 54, Where Are You?, The Patty Duke Show, The Monkees, The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Friends, Mad About You, The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Golden Girls.

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Mr Leeds got in the habit in The History of the World Part 1

Leeds was blacklisted during the McCarthy era after pleading the fifth when examined by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The man was a part of a modern American witch-hunt!

At age 80, he appeared on an episode of Roseanne – Season 9 Episode 7: Satan, Darling (First Aired: October 29, 1996) – in which Roseanne finds herself drawn into a creepy ’90s version of Rosemary’s Baby in a crossover with the ladies from Absolutely Fabulous. Ernest Harada (see below) also reprised his role as a photographer in this episode. Leeds also memorably appeared as a friendly spirit in the 1990 film Ghost. His final role was a brief scene in Lost & Found (1999).

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Phil Leeds and Ernest Harada appear as supporting cast in Season 9 Episode 7 of Roseanne – Satan, Darling

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Phil Leeds as a friendly ghost in GHOST with Patrick Swayze

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Mr.Wees is the first person to “Hail Satan!”in the climactic scene of both the novel and the film version of Rosemary’s Baby.  Mr.Wees was performed by Walter Baldwin (January 2, 1889 − January 27, 1977). Mr Baldwin was a prolific character actor whose career spanned five decades and 150 film and television roles, and numerous stage performances.He acted in films like The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) but was probably best known for playing the father of the handicapped sailor in ‘The Best Years of Our Lives‘ (1946). He was the first actor to portray “Floyd the Barber” on The Andy Griffith Show. He also played the husband of  a housekeeper who succumbs to the evil machinations of Boris Karloff’s mad scientist in ‘The Devil Commands’ 1941.

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You can spot Walter Baldwin in this old thriller.

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Walter Baldwin was “Hank” (uncredited) in this old classic.

Walter Baldwin was featured in a lot of John Deere Day Movies from 1949-59 where he played the farmer Tom Gordon. In this series of Deere Day movies over a decade he helped to introduce many new pieces of John Deere farm equipment year-by-year.

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Walter Baldwin

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Walter Baldwin

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Mrs.Helen Wees is one of those neighbors (in the gray dress) who creeps into the bedroom before Rosemary goes into labor, saying: “We’re your friends Rosemary,” in a sweet melodic voice. During the frenzied struggle in the bedroom she picks up the phone off the floor to set it back in it’s cradle beside the bed. She is the first person to see Rosemary enter the Castevet’s apartment in the film’s climactic scene. In the novel she is the first witch to say “Hail Rosemary.”

Portrayed by Patricia O’Neal (born 1911, married 1940 aged 29–died 1996?) – mother of actor Ryan O’Neal, grandmother of actress and author Tatum O’Neal. She appears in a couple of her son’s movies in the 1970’s. She is a woman on an airplane in the final scene of 1972’s Barbara Streisand vehicle What’s Up, Doc?

Ryan O’Neal’s character was a love interest of Mia Farrow’s character on Peyton Place… Coincidence?

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L to R: Ernest Harada, Ruth Gordon (seated). Phil Leeds as Dr. Shand and Pat O’Neal as Mrs.Wees (in blue dress suit), hover behind Mia Farrow in the film’s climax

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Charles O’Neal, a young Tatum O’Neal, and Patricia O’Neal at the 1974 Oscars. I think she swiped that lampshade from the Castevet’s.

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Mrs.Leah Fountain was portrayed by operatic actress and singer Charlotte Boerner (dates uncertain). Mrs.Fountain is the witch in a soft rose colored dress who, in a flawless theatrical move, snatches the handkerchief from Mr.Gilmore’s jacket pocket to stuff it in Rosemary’s mouth during the frenzied struggle on the bed. In the novel, Rosemary drugs Leah’s coffee and is then able to sneak out of her room to enter the Castevet’s apartment through the secret passage to find her baby.

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From Left: John Cassavetes, Mia Farrow, the mysterious Bruno Sidar as Mr.Gilmore, and Charlotte Boerner as Mrs.Fountain.

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This witch will shut you up!

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All of them witches…

The actress Charlotte Boerner was normally active (Boerning up, shall we say?) on stage, she only appeared rarely in front of the camera. She was an accomplished opera soprano in her day. The link below will give you a sample of Soprano Charlotte Boerner singing Vissi d’arte (Love and Music) from Tosca in German.

Soprano Charlotte Boerner sings Vissi d’arte (Love and Music) from Tosca in German.

http://www.78rpmcommunity.com/beta/mp3-music/albums/155/song_id/355

Charlotte Boerner… back in the day.

Her first movie was “Die Stimme der Liebe” (’34) where she played the role of the empress. She only continued her film career many years later in the USA where she impersonated several smaller parts.
Besides “Rosemary’s Baby” (’68), she was also in an episode of the serial “Family Affair: A Waltz from Vienna” (’68), George Cukor’s “Justine” (’69) with Anouk Aimée, Dirk Bogarde and Robert Forster and “Wake Me When the War Is Over” (’69) with Eva Gabor, Ken Berry and Jim Backus.

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Mr.Gilmore (Bruno Sidar) and Mrs.Leah Fountain (Charlotte Boerner) taking a rest from tackling pregnant women. Black candles in place on the mantle beside the portrait of Adrian Marcato.

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Mr.”Clare” (Clarence?) Fountain Was portrayed by actor Robert Osterloh. It’s not easy to really get a good look at his face in the movie but he’s visable in a couple of still photographs at the top of this article. When Rosemary is on the phone, just before the witches come pouring into the room, we see Bruno Sidar as Mr.Gilmore (in black suit) and Osterloh (in pinstriped jacket) sneaking past the doorway just over her shoulder. He might be in the background of the New Year’s Eve party. His character can be seen sitting  to the left of Laura Louise as Rosemary enters the final scene where, in the novel, he actually fears (or, hopes?) that Rosemary murdered his wife Leah.

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Robert Osterloh is credited as Mr.Fountain in the film.

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Robert Osterloh (uncredited) played Major White in this 1951 Sci-Fi classic!

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Robert Osterloh as the police detective in ‘I Bury the Living’

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Osterloh (May 31, 1918 – April 16, 2001) was active mainly in the 1950s, playing roles in films such as Illegal Entry (1949), White Heat (1949) (as a gangster killed by gang boss James Cagney), 1951: The Day The Earth Stood Still – as Major White (uncredited). One Minute to Zero (1952), Star in the Dust (1956) and I Bury the Living (1958). In the 1960s, however, he appeared in only a few films such as Young Dillinger (1965) and his last film, Coogan’s Bluff (1968). During this time he also played roles in several TV series such as Bonanza (in several episodes of 1959), and The Untouchables in a 1961 episode.

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Mr.Gilmore appears to have been portrayed by a mysterious man named Bruno Sidar, about which we have not been able to find any information. At the Castevet’s New Year’s Eve party (in the film) he makes a strange comment when handing champagne to Rosemary and Dr.Sapirstein. As he hands Rosemary a glass he says “Happy New Year;” then he turns to Dr. Sapirstein and says “Have a good (finger to lips in silence gesture) year.” Very mysterious Mr.Gilmore; what’s your story?

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Mr Gilmore (Bruno Sidar? on the right) looks on approvingly at an outburst of blasphemy.

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Mr Gilmore (Bruno Sidar) and Mrs Fountain (Charlotte Boerner) appear in the upper right of this poster.

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Mrs.Florence Gilmore was portrayed by character actress Hope Summers (June 7, 1896 – June 22, 1979), known for her work on CBS’s The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD, portraying Clara Edwards. You can find her Wikipedia page.

Quotes from the film: “There’s nothing to be afraid of Rosemary. Honest and truly there isn’t.”

“Rosemary, go back to bed. You know you’re not supposed to be up and around.”

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Hope Summers as Clara Edwards on CBS’s The Andy Griffith Show.   Looks exactly like when she turns to tell Rosemary to go back to bed.

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A very conspicuous character who appears in the final scene in the book and film is a young Japanese photographer. He asks “Is the mother?” when Rosemary makes her appearance just before the climax.

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Sydney Blackmer as Roman Castevet, Sebastian Brook as Argyron Stavropoulos, Hope Summers as Mrs.Gilmore, Ernest Harada as Hayato, Elmer Modlin as Young Man, Natalie Masters as Young Woman.

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Ernest Harada as Hayato the photographer

Called Hayato by Minnie Castevet in the novel, he eagerly snaps photos of the tormented Madonna and child. One wonders how this character ended up as the lucky one to photo-document the event.

Portrayed by actor, singer and Broadway performer Ernest Harada  (born October 20, 1944).  His first film was an uncredited role as Lyon’s houseboy in Valley of the Dolls (1967). He is also known for his work in such films as: The Devil and Max Devlin (1981), Blue Thunder (1983), Dreamscape (1984), The Woman in Red (1984), Volunteers (1985) Blind Date (1987), Wicked Stepmother (1989), and as a coroner in 1992’s Death Becomes Her.

Mr Harada was also part of the 1976 Original Broadway Cast Recording of Pacific Overtures – a musical written by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. The show is set in Japan beginning in 1853 and follows the difficult Westernization of Japan, told from the point of view of the Japanese. Click on the link below to see a video of the Original Broadway Cast, 1976, Starring Mako (who you may recognize as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian‘s Wizard friend). An all male cast for this song, with the fabulous Ernest Harada as the Madam, singing ‘Welcome to Kanagawa’.

Ernest Harada performs Welcome to Kanagawa

Along with other numerous appearances on TV (Mannix, Ironside, Charlie’s Angels, Magnum P.I., Knots Landing, to list a few), Mr Harada also reprised his role as a Devil-baby-photographer when he appeared on an episode of Roseanne – Season 9 Episode 7: Satan, Darling (First Aired: October 29, 1996) – in which Roseanne finds herself drawn into a creepy ’90s version of Rosemary’s Baby in a crossover with the ladies from Absolutely Fabulous. Phil Leeds who played Dr Shand in the film also appeared in that episode.

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Phil Leeds and Ernest Harada make it their business to show up at exclusive Upper West Side Satanic soirees. Roseanne – Satan, Darling.

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Ernest Harada

Click on the link below to read our interview with Mr Ernest Harada!

An Interview with Ernest Harada: Celebrating 50 years of Rosemary’s Baby

The novel ends with the line: “The Japanese slipped forward with his camera, crouched, and took two, three, four pictures in quick succession.”

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Argyron Stavropolous was portrayed by Sebastian Brooks (or, Brook), known for The Gay Deceivers (1969), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), and The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio (1971). We have no other information about him.

His character calls to mind one of the Biblical ‘Three Kings’ who, bearing gifts, attends the birth of the New Messiah. The novel informs us that a few moments after looking silently into the bassinet he lowers himself to his knees, presumably in worshipful adoration. Later, when observing Rosemary weeping he asks “Is this the mother? Why in the name of —– ?”

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The mysterious Argyron Stavropolous  was portrayed by Sebastian Brooks or Brook. Very little info about him.

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Sebastian Brook(s), Sidney Blackmer and John Cassavetes. Ernest Harada in the background.

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Michael Greer and Sebastian Brook(s) working it fiercely in The Gay Deceivers (1969).

These two characters, Hayato and Argyron Stavropolous, like Two Wise Men From the East, give the reader, or audience, a glimpse into a larger world taking place just outside the dark gothic setting of the Bramford. That is to say, Our world. These two characters represent a keen foreign interest in the event which has taken place within this New York apartment building. We are given the idea that Minnie and Roman’s coven extends far beyond the story’s small Manhattan setting, and the birth of The Devil’s child carries international implications. Both of these characters ask the same question, if Rosemary is the mother. And by strange coincidence, both Harada and Brooks appeared in either Valley of the Dolls or Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

These two characters, Hayato and Argyron Stavropolous, like Two Wise Men From the East, give the reader, or audience, a glimpse into a larger world taking place just outside the dark gothic setting of the Bramford.

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Mrs.Sabatini was portrayed by veteran character actress Almira Sessions (September 16, 1888 – August 3, 1974). Almira Sessions was an American character actress of stage, screen and television. Born in Washington, D.C., her career took her through all the acting mediums of the 20th century, spanning eight decades, and led her from Washington D.C. to New York City to Hollywood. She worked into her 80s, finally retiring shortly before her death in 1974 in Los Angeles.

Mrs Sabatini is textbook witch with her black cat (named Flash according to the novel) which she takes with her wherever she goes. She is apparently the oldest member of the coven. With a name like “Sabatini” we can imagine she spent some time at the Witches’ Sabbat back in the glory days. What’s her story?

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Mrs Sabatini can be seen clutching her black cat “Flash.”

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Almira Sessions was a prolific actress from the early days.

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Young Man in the suit with a blue shirt in the final scene was portrayed by Elmer Modlin (1925 – 2003).

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Elmer Modlin as a Catholic priest in something I found in Spanish on YouTube.

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The “Young Couple” on the right – Elmer Modlin and Natalie Masters

Aged about 43 when Rosemary’s Baby was filmed, Elmer Modlin was an American film and television actor. He settled in Europe, working frequently in Spain. He was married to the artist Margaret Modlin. He is sometimes credited as Elmer Modling.

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Elmer Modlin also did some modeling for his artist wife.

He was Brock in the film ‘Edge of the Axe‘ (Original title: Al Filo del Hacha) a 1988 Spanish-American made-for-TV horror film about a masked maniac murdering people in a small Northern Californian suburb.

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Elmer and Margaret Modlin

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Young Woman (Natalie Masters) and Young Man (Elmer Modlin) stand behind  Minnie (Ruth Gordon) as Rosemary learns the awful truth.

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Young Woman (“Young” is a relative term in the Castevet’s coven. She must have been about 53 when filming Rosemary’s Baby) was portrayed by Natalie Masters. She is the younger tan woman in a sleeveless yellow dress in the final scene.

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Natalie Masters

Natalie Masters was born on November 23, 1915 in San Francisco, California, USA as Natalie M. Park. She was an actress. She was married to Montgomery Masters.

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Natalie Masters had a certain bewitching quality…

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Natalie Masters – publicity photo

Natalie Masters played female private eye “Candy Matson” on the radio series of the same name, which ran on the NBC west coast network from 1949 to 1951. She found reasonably constant work as a character and supporting actress on television, including a recurring role as Wilma Clemson in Betty White’s underrated vehicle A Date with the Angels (1957). Until her death at 70 on Feb. 9th, 1986, Masters had roles in, among others, The Donna Reed Show, The Millionaire, The Patty Duke Show, The Twilight Zone, The Joey Bishop Show, The Addams Family, The Lucy Show, Adam-12, Hart to Hart, Alice, and Riptide.

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So, please consider the next time you take a walk through your neighborhood, or you smile and nod to the kindly neighbor at your apartment building’s postboxes, do you really know anything about these people? What do they do in their spare time? What sort of company they keep? What they may be wearing (or not wearing) beneath their clothes? Just who are the people in your neighborhood?