Skip to main content
#
The Independent Critic

 Joan Benedict Steiger Interview, Page Two 
Facebook
Twitter
Reddit
LinkedIn
Pinterest
MySpace
Add to favorites
Email
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It's my understanding you have a feature film coming out in 2011, a Universal Pictures release called Dead Border?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

It's being edited now. I think it's now called Deadly Border. It's a mystery, but I really can't mention too much about it right now.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

You were also recently on Fox's Dollhouse...

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Yes. I don't know if you get KCET where you're at...I've been doing celebrity hostess for fund-raisers. They just asked me back again for July and August.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Let's go back for a minute and talk about your relationships. You've been in three long-term relationships with successful actors, including one Oscar winner. How hard was that? It sounds intimidating to me!

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

I remember speaking at Rod's memorial at The Actor's Studio. It was such an awful day outside - it was pouring rain and it was so packed. Nobody could get in. Everybody was doing all these laudatory remarks and so forth. When I got up, I said "The first thing I've got to say is Rod Steiger was a pussycat." The roles he played were very strong, but that man brought me roses every day. He brought me jewelry, gifts. I was afraid to ever admire anything. One day I bought a hat and said "Oh, I love it." He said "Go back and get another." He was just the sweetest, most loving man. All of them were. They were a bit different, but they were all wonderful, wonderful men. I've been fortunate. When I hear all these stories about divorce, and I had these wonderful men and all three of them dying of different cancers. The only way I can reconcile that is to say "If they were all so wonderful and they died and I'm here, then there must be a big reason that I'm left." I have to do something good. What else could be the reason?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

That reminds me of a quote that I read that was attributed to you. You can tell me if it's actually true, but the more I listen to you the more it sounds like you. A writer asked you about your greatest accomplishment and you replied "To have been loved throughout my entire life." That's really profound.

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

I have had the greatest love my entire life. Every man in my life has had these tragedies. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm bad luck or something. I adored my father, and I lost him when I was 15. He died in a terrible accident. It's hard to figure out. They were all wonderful, loving men. You know, the other thing is that I'm a very positive thinker. People ask me how I've dealt with it saying "You've had all this love, but you've had all this tragedy." I've never focused on the tragedy. I've just focused on the love. It comes naturally. I'm sitting here looking out at the garden right now... it's a gorgeous day. My daughter said "You'll live to be 100"... I said "Oh, I can't believe I won't be here forever." That's the hardest thing to believe. I feel so wonderful.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I think it's amazing that you were in three long-term relationships where you felt loved for the entire relationship. Yes, it's absolutely tragic how they passed away, but I think it's amazing that all three of your relationships worked wonderfully and you felt completely loved.

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

You might think this is strange, but believe it or not I was with all three of them almost every day. People find that so hard to believe. I remember when I first got together with John people would say "Are you kidding? He's the biggest ladies man." When he was working, he wanted me with him on the sets - the same was true with Rod and Jeremy. I was with them all the time. They wanted me with them all the time. I don't know how to explain it. I was just loving and giving. I helped them ... I must have typed I don't know how many scripts. John was also a writer. He wrote with Tim Conway for a couple movies including a really funny one The Private Eyes with Don Knotts.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I love Don Knotts.

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Don and I used to have the same birthday, July 21st. He was a great guy. Now, the funny thing is there's a guy who was a real Romeo. Isn't that the big joke of all time? You talk about these glamour boys, but no, Don was the real ladies' man.
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I also read that you don't like abbreviations? Or that misuse of the English language could be considered one of your pet peeves?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Since I've matured, people call me "Joanie" all the time. When I was younger, they would call me Joan. I guess it's a form of endearment, but it's so informal. My mother called me Joan, everyone in school called me Joan. Everyone's calling me Joanie now. Rod called me Joanie - that was okay. John called me Joan - he had sweet little nicknames. The Joanie thing bothers me. I'll tell you what I don't like. It probably sounds like some kind of an elite  thing, but I think it's just proper. You can go into the store or almost anywhere these days and they'll look at you and say "Okay, Joan." I feel like saying "Joan? I'm Mrs. Steiger." That's just the way I was brought up. It's all just very informal now. Of course, you're from Indiana and you're probably more friendly...I've never been to Indiana. I've been all over the United States and Europe. Being married to Rod, I've been to practically every country.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Well, yes. We do have that "Hoosier Hospitality" thing going for us. Do you have a favorite place that you've been?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

The Amalfi Coast is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. I haven't been to Palermo. I would love to go there.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

One of the things that I think is most interesting about actors or anyone who works in film is that it seems like this is something you do your entire life. Do you ever think about just retiring?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Oh god, I was in tap class yesterday. I was showing this woman a picture of me that's in the Malibu paper today with Paul Sorvino - I was presenting him a "Father of the Year" award. She said "Why don't you just retire?" Retire? You don't understand it - an actor is what I am. It's my being. Retire? I can't stand not working. Retire and go play golf? That's the most boring thing in the world. I used to play tennis all the time and that's exciting. I hurt my knee, even though I still tap. This has been my life since I was seven. The regular kind of life, I don't know what you'd call regular, but the regular kind of life I just couldn't do. I could never been in a women's club or anything like that. That would be the death of me.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Why do you think you were able to have those successful marriages? Did you just get lucky?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

No, because I really give a lot. Most kids today go into a marriage, if they do at all, with the idea that if they don't like it they can just get out of it. With me, I just absolutely adored them and they absolutely adored me. We started out that way. If there were certain things that were not exactly my favorite, I would go along with those. There's an old saying "Try it, you'll like it." I'm not a baseball fan, but John used to love to watch baseball. I thought "Oh, this is boring." I decided to watch one day and I got into it. I like to go to a baseball game, but watching it on television is no good. Now, football I adore. My brother was a football player. It's just all give and take. For all the giving that I gave, I got 200% back. I think first of all you've got to have something in common with the person that you're marrying.

I go to lunch everyday, because I've never cooked a day in my life. Guys either took me out or cooked. John cooked for me, and Jeremy and Rod took me out. When I go out, I'll sit and watch couples who will sit together dining and never say a word. I can't imagine it. I think that's the most unusual thing.



THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Is there anything professionally that you'd like to do that you haven't had the chance to do yet?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

I'd like to do another play. I'd love to have a TV series. So, if anybody's out there in Indiana...

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Well, hey. I'm willing to push for it! How would you say that Hollywood or the industry has changed? I mean there's obviously a lot of technology changes, but what about the industry itself?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Here's one right now. I've been to a couple auditions, television auditions. You probably know...the camera's are like you're doing a home movie or even smaller. It's the strangest thing to me. There's a producer and a casting person and this tiny little camera on a tripod and I felt like laughing. I'm used to the big cameras and the slating. I find that so strange. I'm probably sounding like I'm some little old lady or something, but here's something else. I have my regular old cell phone. It doesn't do anything but ring, answer and make a phone call. That's all I want to do. I have a computer and I do e-mail with my PR person and agent. I deal with that, check e-mail and get out of the house. That's all I have to do with anything mechanical. I see people at lunch and their fingers going all the time on that phone with whatever they're doing.

The industry itself is so changed. I used to have an agent. This was in the early 90's...She was fabulous. She smoked like a chimney, and you could barely go into her office. Of course, she died of cancer. She handled just about a half dozen people. She had Universal Studios, but at the time you knew people. They would call over to her and say they had this role and they'd ask her "Who do you have?" I'd go right over to the producer, because they knew to get with this agent you had to be good. Now, it's running in for an audition and looking into one of those homemade cameras in front of people who don't know you.

The fortunate thing is that I don't need to do it. I could be just traveling all over the world. I'm very fortunate and I have this beautiful home. Like I told the girl yesterday in tap class, "I'm an actress."

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

If I understand correctly, you do have children?

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

I have one daughter and two grandchildren. Claudia used to be a producer on The Love Boat. She's now divorced. My one granddaughter just graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in fashion journalism. She's in New York trying to get her first job. My other granddaughter goes to Malibu High School and she's a sophomore.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Is it easier to keep working in theatre as you get older? You always hear about the age bias in Hollywood.

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

Oh sure. I think Mary Martin was 60 when she was doing Peter Pan. On the stage, you can play many ages. That's what I love about the theatre.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I understand, at least to a certain degree. I was a theater minor. I'm a disabled adult and I found in the theatre that a creative director could open doors that weren't possible anywhere else. I found my niche' in writing.

JOAN BENEDICT STEIGER

So, you understand. You love theatre as much as I do. People are encouraging me to write my life story. That's one reason I've been collecting and organizing all my scripts and projects. The problem isn't that I have writer's block. I write like I talk, which means I ramble a lot. I can't stop and I think to myself "I don't want to be doing this. I want to get out of the house." I have a lot of notes. I've got somebody who was recommended to me and I'm supposed to meet with him in a week or so.


Joan Benedict Steiger continues tapping away and her upcoming film, Dead Border, is due for release yet in 2011 according to IMDB. We can only hope she'll stay inside long enough to finish her memoirs! For more information on Joan Benedict Steiger, you can visit her official website or visit her IMDB page.


© 2011, Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 



    our twitterour facebook page pintrestlinkdin

    The Independent Critic © 2008 - 2021