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Movies, Television and Broadway

The Sheepman


The Sheepman was the first film I had done off of the Paramount lot and I was nervous about the western which was starring, World War II marine and tough guy, Glenn Ford. I was the only gal in the film and I arrived on set in immaculate cowgirl togs and immediately was met by the films director, George Marshall who threw a couple fistfuls of dirt over my new clothes. In the first minute all of them [the cast] knocked me down, rolled me in the dirt and said, 'O.K., now you can play a western.' A moment later I doused my tormentors with a bucket of water and asked them if they would like to cool off and from that time on they knew that I wasn't a prima donna and everyone could relax on the set and be themselves. And boy did they ever! Marshall and my co-stars, their language, oh golly!

I learned how to rope and ride a horse on this picture and my role of the hard-boiled cowgirl was the real me. Or at least the way I dressed in this western was me, when at home away from the prying eyes of the media. I loved jeans and sloppy old clothes. I learned about superstition and haunted houses from Glenn Ford.

Glenn had a superstitious ritual that he performed during the first day of shooting on every western, he would take off his trademark cowboy hat and place it under his horse and if the horse peed on the hat, then he considered this a good omen and good luck for the film. The Sheepman turned out to be pretty good! The New York Times said, "The Sheepman treats the standard rivalry between cattlemen and sheepmen with humor and a certain amount of spoof." So I guess the horse came through!

Glenn was married to Eleanor Powell and told me many stories about the haunted house they lived in that used to belong to Rudy Valentino. He swore that Valentino's ghost was still in that house, as furniture was constantly being moved around in certain rooms of the mansion. Both by day and night this phenomenon would occur. Once they came home from a late night party with friends to find their living room in disarray. At first, they thought they had been burglarized, but nothing was missing. Since nothing had been taken they assumed it was a prankster, until one evening after they had retired they heard a loud noise downstairs and rushed in to find chairs and sofas in odd arrangements that defied common logic. And of course no one was in the house except themselves. So, Glenn if you read this, know that you were partially responsible for my early learning experience in the fuzzy world of paranormal.

About Shirley
Shirley in The Sheepman
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