Hollywood Iconoclast, Bobbie Chance
There’s a gun on the table – but it’s only a movie prop.
I guess you can expect this when you are sitting at the home office of Hollywood legend, Bobbie Chance. Bobbie is known for taking some of the Industry’s greatest actors to new levels of performance. An iconoclast, she is opinionated, outgoing, and interesting.
Upon entering her home in Los Angeles, CA, I stepped into the 2-story foyer. Her husband designed their house, and it is elegant and sophisticated, yet warm and inviting. As we entered her office, I was delighted to see movie posters from the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach party era. Bobbie began her acting career in Hollywood during the 1960’s and told us about how it was an entirely new era for movies. Previously, there were no films for teenagers and the beach movies had started a completely new trend.
She had just come to California from Florida and was living in sunny Malibu with her new husband when her uncle suggested she visit a friend of his. Bobbie went, and that impromptu meeting led to a seven-year studio contract. Her uncle’s friend said, “You look like a Swedish girl, and they are looking for one for a starring role in a new film with Frankie and Annette. Go and read for it.”
“I did” Bobbie explained, “I was just open and available to the universe. I did a monologue with a Swedish accent, and I was making it up as I went along. The funniest thing is I didn’t know how to end it, so I walked out of the director’s office, and left the building! They couldn’t find me! Later, they called me and said that I had gotten the starring role in the first beach party film with Frankie and Annette.”
Her partner in most of the beach films was film legend, Buster Keaton. Bobbie fondly remembered him and said, “Buster Keaton to me was just a sweet, dear old man. I was seventeen and didn’t know who he was. He was a genius, and most people say he was more gifted a comic than Charlie Chaplin. Buster took me under his wing. In fact, I had lunch with him in his dressing room for over two years. He taught me rope tricks. He never smiled; that was his trademark. I got him to laugh and smile. When he smiled, he was missing two teeth in the front! He taught me everything about comedy and it was an honor.”
Bobbie continued acting and eventually moved on from the beach movies to more dramatic material. She said, “They were grooming me to be the next Marilyn Monroe. That was cool, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do heavier stuff.”
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