‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Turns 50 !

4

By: H.B.G.

Rosemarys-Baby-lobby-4-1063x850

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!

images-11

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.

rosemarysbabyfirstedition

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.

RosemarysBaby-Mia-Farrow-Paramount

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?

images-4

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 spell 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.

516wOuNayeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

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, 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: he’s 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.

patsy kelly rosemarys baby 1968 cateye glasses

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.

Rosemarys-Baby-Gordon

“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 to the world we used to know “back then.”

– H.B. Gardner

Advertisements

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

7

Interviewed by H.B.G. (as S.G.)

images-1

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’ – the classic spellbinding thriller – Devil In The Details interviewed actor and performer Ernest Harada, who appears as a Satanic Japanese photographer in the climactic final scene of the 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski. The novel by Ira Levin was published in 1967, and the film was released the following year, making 2017 and 2018 the Golden Jubilees of one of the horror genre’s most influential works.

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

Harada is happily retired in Honolulu. He performs occasional concerts, most recently in Germany and New York and Hawaii. We reached out to Harada to ask him about his career and professional experience. As one of the last surviving cast members of ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ Harada had some interesting insights into life an Asian American artist in Hollywood and on Broadway, what it was like to work with Roman Polanski, and what exactly was in that black bassinet?

13166088_878616825580104_3777264215326369794_n

Mr Ernest Harada, from his personal collection.

S.G.: Is this Mr Harada speaking?

Ernest Harada: Yes. Is this S…?

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: Take Barak Obama for example, he is of mixed parentage. People 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.

Unknown-10

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 glad to hear that. (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)

A Japanese view of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

rosemarysbabyfirstedition

Rosemary’s Baby has the honor of being the first horror novel to reach The New York Times Bestseller list!

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.

rgeyes

Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer play hosts to Ernest Harada (at right) in Rosemary’s Baby

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 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!

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.04.49

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 get an unbroken feeling from the audience viewpoint and from Rosemary’s viewpoint – of reactions. It was, as I  discovered later, a trend-setting technique.

Unknown-25

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.

Please visit and “Like” our Rosemary’s Baby 50th Anniversary on Facebook!

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

EH: Well, I asked Roman about that finally. I said my part isn’t in the book at all. He said “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! I wanted to put that in, so you’re it!”

SG: Wow, what a stroke of genius.

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

Rosemary's Baby with Mia Farrow, 1968

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.

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. The film made 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.

Rosemarys-Baby-Gordon

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.

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

m8droba-ec003

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

SG: That’s so great! 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: 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.  I’ve worked with other directors who just say “Do it the way you feel it; that’s why I hired you. You’re the actor.” And Roman was a little like that in that he primarily worked with the camera people. I don’t recall him giving much acting direction – to any cast members, on the set. He may have said things to actors privately, 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: Your character really does seem like he just stepped off the airplane 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: I had certainly heard enough of it! That was not a big stretch. I was good with a lot of accents though. Later on I’d go to interviews and they’d say “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 asked him what he thought a Japanese accent was. 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, and the accent he has is basically a Chinese accent. His name is Loo, that’s ChineseBut then that was typical of the kind of stereotypical treatment we got that I personally, fought so hard against. 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: 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.

516wOuNayeL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

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 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! And 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.

RosemarysBaby-Mia-Farrow-Paramount

EH: Yeah, and the other film that’s always referenced, 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 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 another horror film of 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 [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!’ And 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. 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. You seemed as comfortable  onstage as you did in front of the camera. Do you prefer one over the other?

EH: I have always loved the stage. Mainly because when you are performing onstage it’s just you and the audience, whereas with film it is always through the director’s eyes and the actor really has no control over anything. You come up with a performance but whether that performance even winds up in the final cut is another matter, much less what form it takes. 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 my stage work. The stage does not pay. I did a lot of stage in places like Milwaukee and La Jolla and I was losing money, going out of town to do these plays, but that’s where my heart was.

SG: You’re a true artist.

Unknown-2

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 life as an artist.

One time a writer-producer told me he was putting together a TV series, and that I and a certain well known movie star would be perfect in it together. But I was on my way to Broadway to do Pacific Overtures – a chance of a lifetime. Until then, the last show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Flower Drum Song’ 20 years earlier, and after ‘Pacific Overtures’ the only show to include Asians in the cast was ‘Miss Saigon’ twenty years later! 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. But then I’ve never regretted doing Broadway; it’s one of the crowning achievements in my life, more so than anything I did 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!

SG: Really?!

EH: It was a big hit in London. Cameron Mackintosh was as big a producer as you could possibly get at that time; he was going to bring it to New York and, 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. Colleen Dewhurst was then president of Actor’s Equity and we explained our plight to her. The claim was that there were no Asian stars, according to Mackintosh. 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. This happened in films too. The last leading Asian man was Sessue Hayakawa from way back in the the 1930’s!

Anyway we stopped the show from opening for a while and that was important. Then our biggest advocate, Colleen, died. Now, 25 years later, there is some progress. They have just revived the show on Broadway and the lead character 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. 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

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

2

By: H.B.G.

Unknown-8
‘All of Them Witches’ by J.R.Hanslet is a fictitious book used in the novel and film ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’

 If you found this article in the hopes of finding or reading a copy of the book ‘All Of Them Witches’ by J. R. Hanslet, we are sorry to disappoint you because the book does not actually exist. Or, more properly, it does not exist outside the fictional world of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’  – the well-crafted and bestselling novel by Ira Levin, made even more famous by the closely adapted 1968 film directed by Roman Polanski and starring Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon, John Cassavetes and Sidney Blackmer. Ira Levin himself had written to a number of inquirers who had, inadvertently, been sent on a wild goose chase for ‘All Of Them Witches’ over the yearsLevin’s response letter to such an inquiry can be viewed at Ira Levin.org – RosemarysBabyAlbum   where you may peruse Rosemary’s Baby Album. “James Hanslet” is a detective in the books of an obscure mystery writer, John Rhode, whose work Levin enjoyed. So, if you are reading this, you certainly already know Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, and Minnie and Roman Castevet. Perhaps you even remember Dr. Sapirstein from ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. If you don’t, then please be aware that this article contains spoilers! 

We admit, it takes a special kind of obsessive fan 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 by Ira Levin; 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 have managed to identify all of the witches in Minnie and Roman Castevet’s coven. It is our own fascination with 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 neighborhood where we grew up, at a family gathering, or at our parent’s church. Maybe a few of these women were in our mother’s Bible study group! It could 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 of this diabolical classic, 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 you are at your most vulnerable is truly terrifying. How in the hell did they get in? she must be wondering.

unknown-15

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

images-16

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 director Roman Polanski’s genius to cast the coven members based primarily on their looks above any other considerations. The director is said to have sketched out the old Hollywood types he wanted for these roles in order for casting to do their job. Most of these character actors and actresses spent years on stage and / or are ubiquitous background faces in film and television. In this way, they somehow seem hauntingly familiar…

tumblr_oo7niziXwX1v00mydo1_500

All of them witches!

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. Levin and Polanski manage to unnerve us right from the start.

unknown-3

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, most famously for his role in The Maltese Falcon. 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.

unknown-4

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

The ubiquitous Mr Cook…

 

 

♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

Mrs Gardenia We never see her. We are, like the voyeuristic eye of Polanski’s lens, snooping through the dwelling place and belongings of a recently deceased 89 year old woman (“one of the first women lawyers in the state.” as Mr Nicklas informs us). She did a little gardening – herbs mostly (wink) – in her shadowy apartment. And what about that unfinished letter glimpsed on poor old Mrs.Gardenia’s desk?

images-15

“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 and die.

♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

unknown-14

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

unknown-13

Patsy Kelly and Ruth Gordon as the Bramford’s welcome wagon.

Laura-Louise McBurney “lives up on 12” (12-F 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.

tumblr_mx59nmJ9Rl1sn2f6uo1_1280

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.

images-2

“Take your pill, Rosemary.”

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Dr.Shand “He used to be a famous dentist.” He is introduced to us this way by Minnie Castevet at her and Roman’s New Year’s Evil 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).

images-2

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

images-3

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 many 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.

images-5

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).

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.04.49

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

unknown-9

Phil Leeds as a friendly ghost in GHOST with Patrick Swayze

♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

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.

Unknown-2

You can spot Walter Baldwin in this old thriller.

The_devil_and_daniel_webster_DVD

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.

unknown-1

Walter Baldwin was the first ‘Floyd the Barber’ on the Andy Griffith show.

79633883_134763295500

unknown-2

Walter Baldwin

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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. NOT to be confused with actress Patricia 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 TV’s Peyton Place… Coincidence? We know Polanski used Tony Curtis as the voice of Donald Baumgart over the telephone to elicit an anxious response from Mia Farrow. Did Farrow have a passing acquaintance with Ryan O’Neal’s mother?

images-1

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

images-16

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.

♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

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.

images-22

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

unknown-9   unknown-4

images-21

This witch will shut you up!

images-4

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” 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.

images-1-2

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.

♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

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 in the same jacket. 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.

unknown-20

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

Unknown-4

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

images-24

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

Unknown-19

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.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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?

6bb940fe474470ceb6c8fb77addff3f11f3e1c90_hq.gif

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

Rosemarys-Baby-poster-B

Mr Gilmore (Bruno Sidar) and Mrs Fountain (Charlotte Boerner) appear in the upper right of this poster. And their names don’t even appear in the credits!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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.”

hope_summers_as_clara_edwards

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.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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.

images-1

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.

unknown

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.

.images

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 12.04.49

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

unknown-16

Ernest Harada

Click on the link below to read our Devil in the Details 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.”

♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

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 found 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 in worshipful adoration. Later, when observing Rosemary weeping he asks “Is this the mother? Why in the name of ….?”

unknown-17

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

unknown-18

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

unknown-10

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 Valley of the Dolls and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls respectively.

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.

♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

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?

unknown-12

Mrs Sabatini can be seen clutching her black cat “Flash” in the background of the Castevet’s apartment.

unknown-1

unknown-2

Almira Sessions was a prolific actress from the early days.

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

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

images-2

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

images-1

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.

images-5

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.

images-2

Elmer and Margaret Modlin

unknown-19

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

♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

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.

unknown-10

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.

unknown-3

Natalie Masters had a certain bewitching quality…

unknown-8

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.

****************

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?

200

Apparently the nude witches in the dream sequence were performed by a different set of actors who were similar types.