of Zicree/Simkins Podcast Interview:
from Marc Scott Zicree's commentary track on "Death Ship"
"Interestingly enough, you'll see he's about to pull out a rocket
jockey I.D. card, and when I was trying to get interviews for 'The
Twilight Zone Companion' I actually took a photo of that I.D. card and
laminated it and sent it to Ross Martin, saying, 'Remember this? I'd
like to interview you.' And a few days later I got a call from Ross
Martin, and I recognized that voice immediately, and I went to his home,
and he was an ASTONISHINGLY gracious man, he took my coat, I remember,
himself, and hung it up, and... very solicitous, very... his manners
were terrific. He was born in Poland and was actually a violin virtuoso
at the age of 8 and he spoke numerous languages - Polish, Russian,
French, Spanish, Italian and, of course, English, at which he was a
master, and of course those different languages helped him enormously
when he was on 'Wild Wild West' playing a variety of different guises.
"In a way, it's a shame that 'The Wild Wild West' is what Ross
Martin is predominantly known for because he was a very powerful actor
and if you watch "Death Ship" or 'Experiment in Terror,' some
of his earlier work, you can see just how fine an actor he was when
given the chance. Unfortunately, Ross Martin died at an early age as
well; he'd had a heart attack in 1968 that nearly killed him and then, a
few years later, he succumbed to a fatal heart attack on the tennis
courts and died. He was very, very missed by legions of fans and people
who really saw the quality of the man, both as an actor and as a human
Host: "Welcome to the Zicree-Simkins podcast, episode 15, Ross
Martin. This is David Simkins and this podcast is a true blast from the
past. Boomers will be familiar with Ross Martin as the actor who, in the
late 1960's, played Artemus Gordon on TV's 'The Wild Wild West,' but
before that, among the many episodes of television he worked in, Ross
did a couple of turns for Rod Serling on 'The Twilight Zone.' In 1978,
Marc Zicree was 22 years old and just beginning the research that would
lead him to write THE book on Serling's masterpiece, 'The Twilight Zone
Companion' - you can find it at Amazon. This interview Marc conducted
with Ross Martin 30 years ago takes you backstage into the world of the
working actor, circa 1961, when the 'Twilight Zone' episodes were
filmed, and into the mind of Rod Serling, the man who did more to define
the world of television science fiction than anyone before or since.
When Marc chooses to let more of these gems emerge from his personal
collection, we'll bring them to you. Ross discusses acting in several
episodes of 'The Twilight Zone,' as well as his work in the thriller
'Experiment In Terror' and the science fiction classic 'The Conquest of
Recorded interview begins
ZICREE: "Well, perhaps it would be best to start with "The
Four of Us Are Dying," the first 'Twilight Zone' you were in."
MARTIN: "Yes. What would you like to know about it?"
ZICREE: "Well, I found an article which was an interview with
Mildred Gusse, who was the casting director at the time."
MARTIN: "Yes, yes."
ZICREE: "How were you cast for that?"
MARTIN: "Well... I don't truly recall. I think it was Millie who
was instrumental in getting me into it. She had great faith in me and
had seen my work earlier somewhere, and she was confronted with a
problem... an ADDITIONAL problem in the casting. There were four people
who had to bear some SLIGHT resemblance to one another, Mr. Zicree,
they... there had to be... even, despite the extension of 'Twilight
Zone,' the constant stretching of imagination required for it, the
constant yielding of your thresholds of disbelief in order to go with
it, it had to have its roots at least TOUCHING in the areas of
possibility. So she needed four people who were inherently somewhat
similar, not in terms of quality, but in terms of general appearance -
they all had to be somewhere near the same height, they all had to be...
if you're gonna go blond, they all had to be blond, if you're gonna go
red-haired, they all had to be red-haired. We went brunet, I think
because the problems were less and all of us were brunet, I think...
Phillip was, is, brunet, at that time... he's, I think, grayer today,
we're all getting longer in the tooth. Harry Townes, myself, and...
what's his name... "
ZICREE: "Don Gordon."
MARTIN: "Don Gordon. Good actor. In fact, indeed, they were ALL
good actors, that was the one thing that, I think, marked that series.
They were meticulous about getting gifted people to work in that. And it
was a pleasure to do, that's all, it was just a pleasure to do. I had a
scene with Beverly Garland - "
ZICREE: "Yes, I have... let's see... "
MARTIN: "I believe that that scene ran - oh, good lord, you've even
got the pictures. Oh, I was never that young."
ZICREE: "And here's... "
MARTIN: "How did you find this? Yes. Now see, that was the
composite... remarkable camera work."
ZICREE: "Yes. And here's the... another composite photo."
MARTIN: "Yes. You can see that it has elements of certain
similarity and step by step could be made to go from one face to the
other, in a sense. And... the scene with Bev was six minutes long and
approximately seven and a half pages, and you know the motion picture
technique, it's pieces and patched together. And it was directed by
Brahm, John Brahm - I'm amazed that I remember, but I do remember the
incident in particular. I think he may have had a little something to do
with this too. I'll tell you why after this particular story, but we had
a rehearsal, and then a second rehearsal, and it felt pretty good, they
said, 'Well, shall we try it and let's see how far we go.' And they
slapped a full magazine into the camera - a full magazine of film, so
that there would be no need to stop because we'd run out of film, and we
did the scene and it ran the full six minutes, and it was one of those
rare things where there were no technical problems, there was no bobble
in the words, and the scene was full and we were fine. He said, 'Print,
that's marvelous, that's take one and print.' And he then went in for a
closer shot, because that was the master, and set the camera up so that
he photographed Beverly and we did it a second time and it was a print
on take two, and we did it a third time, it was a print on take three.
Now, he had anticipated that filming would take... WELL into the
afternoon of this particular scene, he figured to give approximately
two-thirds of a day to it, and here it was 10:30 in the morning and he
was finished! So we really had fun, he began to noodle, he started
pointing the camera lens up our nostrils, you know, and all kinds of
interesting things that he tried to get with it. But it was startling
that in three takes he had his master, his over the shoulder on one and
his over the shoulder on the other, and usually for television that's
more than enough, so that we were fortunate in that that scene had a
certain amount of additional color and colors, so to speak, and textures
that came out of the ability to keep changing the angles and finding
little moments to close in even closer. And that's not possible unless
you have an actress who is trained in theater and can sustain a scene,
which is... Beverly has always been wonderful. I worked with her years
later on a regular basis on 'Stump the Stars,' a game show, as you
ZICREE: "Yes, my wife used to watch that."
MARTIN: "Oh, she was such fun. She used to regularly pound me on
the nose to get me silent or to get me to say a word. I adore her, she's
a great friend."
ZICREE: "When was 'Stump the Stars' on? I don't remember ever
MARTIN: "It was on after 'Mr. Lucky.' It began approximately a year
and a half, maybe, about a year to a year and a half, after 'Mr. Lucky'
had gone off the air."
ZICREE: "Now when was 'Mr. Lucky' on?"
MARTIN: "That was on from - for the season '59 and '60."
ZICREE: "Uh huh. So your 'Twilight Zone' role was... "
MARTIN: "Prior to that."
ZICREE: "No, it was after."
MARTIN: "Was it after?"
MARTIN: "Then it had to be immediately after. Yes, it had to be
ZICREE: "Now, did you work with Harry Townes and Phillip Pine and
Don Gordon to achieve a similar movement? Was any of that... ?"
MARTIN: "Yes, we discussed... as I remember, we discussed some of
the elements that would go into what... Harry Townes, if I remember, was
the central figure, who had to change into the others, and we discussed
how to move from whatever his entering move was going into a given
scene, to how we would carry it from that into whatever our character
was supposed to be, so that certain... not content materials, but
behavioral materials, could be carried for a transition from one
character into another. It was an additional challenge and a lot of fun
and I must say Rod Serling came down on the set personally and visited
with us. He was intrigued by this particular one and chatted with us
about it and asked, you know, about procedures and how we were going
about it and was very pleased at the kind of seriousness with which all
four of us were approaching our roles. I started to say John Brahm -
John Brahm, I think he indicated to me that he had immediately said yes
when my name came up, because I had... I came out to the west coast in
1958, from New York, and I don't think I was out here two weeks when I
got called... cast and called to go back to New York and star in an
episode of... oh, what was that series they used to do there? It's
terrible to be up on titles like this. 'Naked City.' And when I got
there John Brahm was the director. And we had never worked together, and
it was a beautiful story - it was written by Stirling Silliphant, who
was, you know, he and Rod were, at one time, THE two outstanding writers
in television. And it was a story of an immigrant man who had come here
with his family and usually played ten cents on the numbers, hoping to
hit, each day. And on the one day he found a ten dollar bill and he bet
the ten dollar bill and he hit it and, of course, the person he bet it
with simply absconded with the money, it was too big a temptation, he
couldn't stay, and his world kind of collapsed. But there were some very
touching moments in it, we worked under very difficult conditions and I
remember that John, who had never known my work up until that point, was
most complimentary, and... you know, my memory isn't that strong... when
I came to work on "The Four of Us Are Dying," I think he said,
'I'm glad... I wanted you for this.' But certainly Millie, who is an
ardent fan and a most gracious woman, she's a lovely lady - to this DAY
ZICREE: "Do you know where she is? Because I've been trying to
MARTIN: "Yes, she's at Paramount Studios."
ZICREE: "Paramount Studios? Okay, because she was with Ross Hart...
Hunter recently, but then they didn't know where she was."
MARTIN: "I think she's at Paramount Studio, she has an office, or
at least she DID, as of two years ago, at Paramount Studio."
ZICREE: "I'll give them a try."
ZICREE: "How was John Brahm to work with as a director? I
interviewed him, by the way."
MARTIN: "He's very good. He's very brusque, on occasion. I found
him very good to work with. I found that he knew what he was looking for
in a scene, basically. This is not... we're just rambling, you and I,
this is not about "The Four of Us Are Dying," but it is about
that "Ten Cent Dream" thing that I did in New York. There was
one scene after he had hit in which... he was a Puerto Rican and he is
going down to collect his money and he's being serenaded by all of his
neighbors. They've got guitars and they're going down with him,
everyone's going down to collect this BIG sum of money that he's hit in
New York, and he's gonna give a block party... oh, his dream has come
true. And I had played him extremely purely, a very simple, kind of
naive man, a man from a small town on Puerto Rico, which is a little
island to being with, you know, a man who had really... almost
apologetic in his approach to life, a very simple, pure, loving, naive
kind of person. And in this scene, as they're walking down the street
and he's got one of these little kind of weasals, a little... a Mosca,
you know, going alongside him to his Volpone, saying things like, "Whatchu
gonna do with the money? Take the money, you do this with it,"
BUZZING around him, and I played him with a kind of self-righteous
attempt at big business importance. He was carrying a cigar and I played
him as though weighing it as though he were a business titan. Now what
started me with that was remembering my own dear, dead father, who had
such purity and was so beautiful, he had such simplicity about him...
ZICREE: "He was a tinsmith, wasn't he?"
MARTIN: "He was a tinsmith, and roofer, and he had worked as a
tinsmith since he was a ten year old boy, he was apprenticed at that
age, and he died at 59, you're looking at 49 years of effort in the one
area. But toward the latter part of his life, when he was 52, he went
into business with somebody else, and it was the first time he had ever
done it. He was gonna be his OWN BOSS. And after the thing was finished
and he came home he had a cigar, he had a ten cent cigar - he never
smoked cigars - he had bought a ten cent cigar and that whole air of
having done something of gigantic, titanic, mogul importance, real big
business, was about him, and I tried to catch that in this scene. It
would have been not only touching and human but terribly funny and have
a kind of humor and pathos both at the same time, because the moment he
gets to the candy store, to go in and collect, all of this facade
CRUMBLES, and he puts his hand on the door, to go in, and it crumbles.
He turns around and the Mosca says to him, 'Well, go in, go in!' and he
says, 'I can't, it's too much money. It's too much money.' Now that's
terribly funny if a guy has been quasi-pompous and suddenly it all falls
away from him. John, the moment I started to play the self-righteous air
while walking down the street, SCREAMS from behind the camera, 'NO!,' he
yelled, [Martin assumes a German accent for Brahm's part of this
exchange] 'What are you doing? That's terrible! That's terrible!' He ran
up to me. 'Yesterday,' he said, 'you were so simple, so pure!' He's
shouting in my nose. 'That's terrible! What are you doing?' I said, 'Mr.
Brahm, it's not terrible at all. You may not want it and if you don't
I'll do something else, if you're that opposed to it, but,' I said,
'there's something very touching in his effort to be important if it
collapses as it does when he goes to open the door at the end of this
scene, at the end of the beat.' And I said, 'And then, once he does
compel himself to go in, the tragedy that's behind the door, which is
that the man is no longer there, there's nobody there, it's gone and the
whole dream is shattered,' I said, 'there's so much more to come down
FROM if you see this simple man trying to create a giant world for
himself.' He says, 'No, that's terrible, that's just... that's
terrible!' I said, 'Okay, okay. I'll do something else.' I said,
'Terrible it's not, we have different opinions in regard to this.' But
it really was a lesson for me in learning, you know, that in film, it
really doesn't pay ever to fight or quarrel with somebody. I did years
later in other things where I felt it was far more important. I could
continue to play the beat in that simple, quiet style, it would've
had... it just has a moment where there's less color in it, I think. He
couldn't see it at all, he didn't... I don't think he knew where I felt
I was coming from or where I was taking it to. And I really had seen it
happen with a very simple and pure man, with my father. And in much the
same way, it was terribly touching and very dear. So that was one thing,
but he's very good - technically he's EXTREMELY good. And he's very
gentle with actors, usually, he's just brusque in manner, that's all,
but he'll say, 'We can do a little better with this, don't you think?'
and I'd say, 'Yes,' and he'd say, 'Well, let's try it, we'll try it
again, we've got that in case we need it, but let's try it again.'"
ZICREE: "In "The Four of Us Are Dying" there's one shot
where Harry Townes is shaving in a mirror, and he lights a cigarette,
the camera follows his hand down to the ashtray... oh, no, it pans over
to the mirror, and you see either you or Phillip Pine, and then the hand
takes the cigarette down to an ashtray, the camera follows it down to
the ashtray, comes back up and it's someone else in the mirror. How was
MARTIN: "Well, remember that the hand of the actor that's followed
by the camera is followed down to the ashtray and that's close enough so
that all you see is the hand and the ashtray. They have racked focus, in
other words, from the mirror image, which has to be the distance of the
actor to the image - to the mirror - plus the distance of the mirror to
the lens. So you rack focus, which means, you know, you take the focus
down so it can be as close as the ashtray and cigarette, which might be
three feet; the other distance is eight feet. As the actor brings his
hand down to the ashtray, as, say, I, or Harry, whoever it was, brings
the hand down to the ashtray, you flip it and step out of the box - out
of the extra marks which have been made for you to step into - and then
bring it back and place it into the mouth of the man who has stepped
into that box, and that was Phil Pine. So that it looks like he's, you
know, one, he's put it down, here he brings it back and there's another
face there, it's a different man."
ZICREE: "Was it a real mirror or was there, was it a, you know, a
double, you know, just a glass with... "
MARTIN: "Was the cigarette brought back?"
ZICREE: "No, was there a real mirror or was there... "
MARTIN: "I'm asking whether the cigarette was brought back and put
in the mouth."
ZICREE: "Oh, it was brought back to the mouth, yes."
MARTIN: "Then it was an image. Yes. There's no other way to do
ZICREE: "It was a very smooth transition, it was very nicely
MARTIN: "Yes, yes. Well, that's carefully thought through. You
know, you've got to create those effects and one must sit and actually
figure what the effects are going to be in order to make them
ZICREE: "Mm hmm. Did you do - my wife was telling me about all
these wonderful roles she's seen you in, and she and her boss were
trying to remember the name of 'Experiment in Terror,' for one, which I
haven't seen but they've been raving and raving about."
MARTIN: "Well, thank you. I was nominated for best supporting actor
in that. Indeed, I've seen that several times, it was just unfortunate,
the time it was released - there were some internal changes going on at
Columbia Pictures which, you know, resulted in some difficulties with
the manner in which it was released, so that it didn't get the kind of
play that it was promised. But I got great reviews for it, I must say,
and I just... I couldn't believe them. I didn't believe that I had
gotten to that point in my career and I made no effort to mount a
campaign to get myself, you know, either the Oscar or anything else, it
was just... I handled it rather poorly, I think, I'm willing to
ZICREE: "Really? Why?"
MARTIN: "Well, that's a career matter, it really doesn't have to do
with acting at all, because it was... all of the reviews... all of the
REVIEWERS, at the end of the year, when they said, 'When the time comes
to consider,' you know, 'in the best support division, you're limited in
the number of people that you can possibly choose this year, because
there weren't that many that were really outstanding. Certainly you
would have to consider Ross Martin in 'Experiment in Terror,' Ed Begley
for the Tennessee Williams thing he did, Victor Buono for the picture he
had done with Bette Davis,' but my name was always either first or
second in that list. And I was with an agency at the time who, I guess,
were pretty sure that they'd get it, but what they didn't count on was
that Columbia Pictures had a lot of eggs in 'Lawrence of Arabia,' and
had another actor under option whom they wanted to build quite big, he'd
been a star in Egypt - it was Omar Sharif - and my name was left off of
the list submitted to the Academy, which was startling. I don't say it's
deliberate at all, it was because I had end billing and the result was
that it just didn't appear. It does not appear. If you see the list of
pictures eligible for that year and turn to 'Experiment in Terror,' you
will not find my name on it."
ZICREE: "Oh, dear."
MARTIN: "That's some of the breaks. I laugh about it, but it's very
disappointing. I was nominated for a Globe award, by the Foreign Press
Association, for my performance in that thing, but I was in Spain again
at the time and even there, there was no picture of me receiving it
until after the awards were over. I came back from Spain... I'd made a
picture there with Laurence Harvey called 'The Ceremony.' Laurence
Harvey and Sarah Miles, who was then a young and very gifted actress,
and Robert Walker Jr."
ZICREE: "Now, "Death Ship" was done in '62. Right?"
ZICREE: "How were you cast for that one, do you recall?"
MARTIN: "No, I do not. You don't know who was listed as casting
director then - was it still Millie?"
ZICREE: "No, it was John Conwell."
MARTIN: "Oh. Yes, I do recall how I was cast in that. The director
ZICREE: "Don Medford?"
MARTIN: "Don Medford. Don knew me from New York and knew my work
and had worked with me in New York and wanted to work with me again, and
I was... I think he's excellent, I just think he's a SUPER director, I
wanted to work with him. If Don has any fault, he's such a fan of my
work that even when I'm bad he thinks it's good. But that's just
personal fondness, you know. I don't mean to make that sound like he has
no discriminatory taste - he has SUPER discriminatory taste. But he's
just such a fan that he almost can't see me objectively anymore. And I
adore his work, I just think he's one of the most exciting directors
I've ever worked with. And he likes STRONG actors, actors who make
statements, he liked Jack Klugman for that reason. I think he pretty
much asked for the people that were involved, certainly in the three
ZICREE: "So... how did you prepare for that role? I mean, you did a
terrific job in it, if you recall."
MARTIN: "I don't, I honestly don't recall what preparation I had
for it. I felt very close to it. It dealt with a man's relationship to
his family, his wife and his daughter. I was separated at that time from
my own daughter, who was living with my wife in New York - my first wife
- and so there were elements of my own longing that went into the
relationship with the young girl, with that little child that I worked
with. Moreover... I don't recall her name, it was a name like MacNamara
or something like that."
ZICREE: "Maggie McNamara?"
MARTIN: "Ye- no, no, that's a young model at that time. No, this
was a little... she was then ten years old or thereabouts, but I had
worked with her two years earlier or three years earlier in 'Mr. Lucky.'
She'd played a role kind of like 'Little Miss Marker.' And we'd fallen
in love with one another, she was, at that time, eight or seven and a
half, and I ADORED her, she was SO cute, she was so... I don't know,
I've heard stories about, you know, 'Spare me child actors' and things
of that kind. I get along with them famously, I just adore them, they're
great to work with, and we had all of that going for us, all of the
affection and the fondness from the first appearance on the 'Mr. Lucky'
thing, going for us now, it was a pleasure to see her so grown up, and
so... so it was very easy, I had a lot of my own emotion that I could
transfer into the role, and all I had to do was think of the distance
between my own daughter and myself - the 3,000 miles, she was in New
York on the east coast and I was out here on the west coast - and think
of how badly I wanted to see her and the scenes became effortless to
ZICREE: "How did you prepare immediately for the take? Did you go
off by yourself or how did you... ?"
MARTIN: "Which - is there any particular scene?"
ZICREE: "Well, there's the scene where you wake up on the bank of
the little lake and then your daughter runs out and says, 'I found you,
I found you,' and then, you know... "
MARTIN: "I have found that certain things, certain personal things,
with regard to my own daughter, motivate me or drive me or move me.
Years ago in a class with Marty Ritt, who is now a brilliant, huge
director, I studied with Marty Ritt, and one of the exercises we had was
to move a distance of something like... it had to be eighteen feet or
something. In three steps. And sit in a chair. I mean, just... MOVE
three steps and you're sitting in a chair. And I said, 'It just... it
can't be done,' and he said, 'You give yourself something that'll make
you do that. Think something that'll make you do that. Picture something
that'll make you do that.' Marty is FANTASTIC at his ability to
physicalize materials. He was a fine actor, by the way. I don't know
whether you ever saw "The Paper Box Kid," but it was a giant
performance he did on television, back in those golden days - you
weren't even born then, why am I asking you? - but it was the golden
days of live TV and it was on one of the half-hour shows, he did a film
called... it was a LIVE performance called "The Paper Box
Kid," which was one of the most beautifully physicalized
performances I had ever seen in my life, and Marty was heavy then, just
as he is now. But I had, in the exercise, in connection with that
exercise, I had thought... pictured my daughter under certain
circumstances. Now, it's a horrible thing to mention, but the truth is
that actors always use tools like this: I pictured a burning building.
And I pictured her at the window inside the burning building, and
calling to me in near-panic, 'Daddy, daddy!' And I took those... I
almost bowled the chair over at the end of the three steps. It was
EFFORTLESS. To stride the length of a man's BODY... you're shot almost
as if out of a cannon, but that's because that is meaningful to me and
would move me, and I used similar circumstances involving my own
daughter, in my mind, in preparation for the scene, so that when I
turned and saw her my heart just broke, I just... the joy. The JOY... at
ZICREE: "It was terrific."
MARTIN: "Well, I... I don't remember. You know, you say it stirs
you, that's very kind of you, but I don't recall... After you've done so
many HUNDREDS upon hundreds of television shows, the details of
individual ones tend to get a little fuzzy, particularly with regard to
specific elements of the performance, and perhaps I should have gone
with you to see the thing, in order to remember, you know..."
ZICREE: "If you ever want to see it... "
MARTIN: "Well, as a matter of seeing the old thing, it would've
been great fun, but I was under real pressure this week. I've just
returned from New York and I have five weeks in a play, in 'I Do, I Do,'
so that material has accumulated on my desk out there, it's just
mountains of it, I've got to get out from under that, I didn't have time
to go see it before our meeting, but some of these... my memory might be
refreshed, but I do remember the kind of modern nature of their costumes
- this is projected into the future - and the kind of idyllic atmosphere
in which they were living."
ZICREE: "Well, it was - "
MARTIN: "Heaven. Yeah."
ZICREE: "Yes. Was that shot on the MGM back lot?"
MARTIN: "Yes, it was."
ZICREE: "Yes, I thought so. And then the way that scene works is,
the child comes out and then you tell her to stay there, and you run
through the brush until you find... "
MARTIN: "Yes. The wife."
ZICREE: "Right, by the picnic bench. And it's a really wonderful
scene, you're going through all the brush and it's a long scene, you
know, trying to get to her, and it builds and builds, and then you find
her. And then, of course, Jack Klugman comes out of the brush and...
MARTIN: "And tries to pull me back."
MARTIN: "What it is is the... he's infusing me with the will to
live, in actual fact, because it turns out they were dead."
ZICREE: "Mm hmm. Yes."
MARTIN: "Now, there are a great many theories with regard to that,
which I didn't know at that time, with regard to - you're being helped
over the bar, so to speak, between life and death, by those who have
gone on before, whose souls have known yours. I don't know how much of
that occurs in our own minds and how much of that... no one has ever
returned to be able to give us any actual data. My inclination is to
believe that it's our own minds that take us back as death draws close.
Certainly it makes for a very interesting dramatic moment and a dramatic
concept, that it was his love for them that was enough to make him
willing to give up his life in order to be with them in the afterlife.
And he's drawn back by Klugman, and you feel, god, he's been pulled back
to life, but you realize that like a broken record that just keeps
slipping the groove and going back to replay the same brief thing again
and again and again, these three are DOOMED to go through all eternity
like the Flying Dutchman, just lost, lost and coming through space and
reliving these same moments, fresh, without realization, until, at the
MOMENT they realize it, the needle slips on the phonograph record and
you're back in the beginning groove again. Frightening, isn't it?"
ZICREE: "Yes, yes, it was wonderful."
MARTIN: "Now think of how creative that is for Rod Serling to have
ZICREE: "No, it was Richard Matheson. That one was written by
MARTIN: "That one was his?"
MARTIN: "Whoever the author was. It just... what an idea. WHAT an
idea. It's just lovely."
ZICREE: "I saw that when I was eight years old and I remembered it
until I saw it just this past year again. I remembered all the details
of the plot and I remembered the picnic grounds and all of that."
MARTIN: "Well, how nice that is to hear. You know, there's a
continuum in our craft and in our business and in our lives. When I was
seven years of age, I saw a film called 'Potemkin,' made by Sergei
Eisenstein, and I saw it again when I was 32 years of age. And I cannot
describe how many scenes I had total recall of, because the film had
etched itself so deeply into my consciousness. And when you hear that
you saw it at eight - well, you're well under 32 still, but to have
carried it for that period of time, it's twelve years or thereabouts,
ZICREE: "Yes. More than that."
MARTIN: "More than twelve. Well, it's nice to know that some things
that we do without really... we do them because we love the craft and we
do them because we hope to entertain for the moment and on occasion even
to edify, but mostly to entertain, and we don't realize that we've left
impressions on... I must say it, because that's the nature of
television, MILLIONS of people, several hundred thousand of whom are
going to recall or at least have, you know, fond remembrance of specific
moments in it. That's nice, that's nice to know. That's nice to
ZICREE: "Now when Jack Klugman pulls you back, you wander around
the interior of the spaceship calling out the name Ruth in growing
amounts of... well, not hysteria, but, you know, loss."
MARTIN: "Anguish, yes."
ZICREE: "Now how did you work up to that?"
MARTIN: "I... I believed the circumstance."
ZICREE: "Because it's really... everyone in it is good, but your
performance really stands out."
MARTIN: "Well that's very dear of you to say and it's nice to know
I have a fan. I hope someday you produce and feel the same way. I don't
know, I find that if I can believe the circumstance, it becomes an
easier matter. I've certainly had people who have died in my family. My
grandmother died when I was 21. I remembered my sense of loss, which was
so strong that at first I blocked it off. I don't mean that I didn't
accept the fact that she was dead, but because I hadn't seen her die and
I hadn't seen her AFTER she had died, I arrived after the funeral, I had
a long distance to travel, and... in another state, I wasn't even AWARE
of it, for pete's sake, until it was too late, and in the Jewish faith
you have to be buried within 24 hours, so that, you know, there was no
getting back in time. But when it finally did dawn on me, I remember the
sense of LOSS. And I had an exercise that I had once done, also in
Martin Ritt's class, where you had to sing - are you all right for
ZICREE: "Yes, I'm just making certain because I certainly want this
all on tape."
MARTIN: "You had to sing a song that was counterpoint to what's
going on inside the scene. In other words, if you're feeling joyous, it
can't be a joyous song. And I chose a song that was very meaningful to
my wife and myself and I played a scene in which I'd come back from the
hospital and she'd been hit in an automobile accident, in my mind, and
had been hurt, and I had to play the scene singing this meaningful,
light, kind of breezy number, while letting the death sink into my
consciousness. And I brought into the class some of her actual dresses
so that they could be used to trigger me off. I had none of that HERE,
in doing the episode, on "Death Ship," nor could I even go
back and use the other as a memory, but because I had explored that area
at one time, I knew what kind of effect it would have on me, and all I
had to do was think what the loss of someone I loved that much, that I
had come so far to find, had clawed my way through underbrush to get to,
and had been pulled back and forced NOT to go with, and then the growing
awareness that she's dead and that I will NEVER see her again, is, if
you believe the circumstances, certainly the rest becomes fairly easy. I
tend not to intellectualize what I do too much. I can give you good
reasons afterwards, but I let my viscera take over, and I think that
that comes if you have empathy for human beings and what they go
through, empathy for their fun, empathy for their tragedy, empathy for
their love and their feelings and hopes and shattered dreams and
everything else, if you can put yourself in someone else's shoes and
UNDERSTAND what they're going through, then you can WRITE what they're
going through, or, if you don't trust your capacity to sit down and do
it with such careful, slow, procedural, intellectual activity, you can
ACT what they're going through, and for me I find that acting what they
go through is fairly easy. I had an association, I was two and a half
years old and I saw a beggar on the street, and I broke into tears, and
my mother started trying to find out what it was that was bothering me,
and she hunted around for safety pins, for what it could be, you know,
that would just make me CRY so, and I was ashamed to tell her because I
thought it was wrong. And when she finally said, 'What is it?' and I
said, 'That man, that poor man, he's so cold and he has no money and...'
She repeated the story to me years later which is the only reason I
remember it, I don't remember the incident, but obviously something, and
I don't know where that comes from, an echoing cord was struck in me and
I could feel that man's plight, I knew what he was going through, even
as a kid, and I was disturbed by it. You have really done some research
and found... oh, lord."
ZICREE: "Have you never seen that?"
MARTIN: "No, I never have. As a matter of fact, I have never seen
ANY of the photographs you have. I have never seen ANY of the ones you
have. On "The Four of Us Are Dying," the only one I saw was
the single of me going down from that door. These are excellent."
ZICREE: "Yes, I took that off a Moviola screen from Carol Serling's."
MARTIN: "Oh, you did it YOURSELF. Fabulous."
ZICREE: "That's, of course, you looking at yourself, dead."
ZICREE: "Now that had to be done... "
MARTIN: "The filming of one thing first. This is relatively easy
because, you know, when you're dead, you're immobile, so all they need
basically is for you to stay there. The problem is in filming the other
half, after this is blacked off inside - you can almost see where it
occurs - the problem is in relating from this side, when you have to
move, and pinpointing where the head is and what you would relate to,
what you would find hard to believe in terms of your own, on-going life.
But it's startling to see, it's like seeing an identical twin or a clone
or something. Oh, yes. That you sent me. I remember this. Thank you.
That was that picture of the Interplanetary Space Administration card.
ZICREE: "And then, I don't know if you can see this, but these are
the proofs of the shots I took. There you are, looking - this the line
where you say, 'May God have mercy on our souls.'"
MARTIN: "Oh, yes. Knowing that they're going on forever."
ZICREE: "I played a tape of that last night, in preparation for
this, and my wife said, in the hands of a lesser actor that line would
have been terrible, but, because you're so good, you're able to carry
off lines like that which can come across very melodramatically if
MARTIN: "Oh, well, you've got to mean them from your roots, you've
got to mean them from the ROOTS on up."
ZICREE: "And here, this is you looking over the scanner, the
MARTIN: "Yes, at the beginning of the thing again, it starts all
ZICREE: "And this is the one with you and Jack Klugman."
MARTIN: "Oh yes, stretched on these, they used to... well, they
still use those reclining chairs. Most of this was... the technical
advice on this was usually very sound. I had done a picture when I first
came out to Hollywood called... "
ZICREE: "'Conquest of Space'?"
MARTIN: "'The Conquest of Space.' And Wernher... "
ZICREE: "von Braun?"
MARTIN: "von Braun! Was the technical advisor on that and all of it
was really authentically... authenticated, it was all extremely sound
scientifically. This is interesting, I had FORGOTTEN this, I had... it's
like seeing it again for the first time. You know, I think I might enjoy
seeing this. I'd love... yes, I'd love to take my bride and come see
ZICREE: "Let's do that. Whenever's convenient for you."
MARTIN: "I'll give you a call, Bill... uh, Marc, Marc Zicree, not
Bill Zicree, because I know a Bill Zicree."
ZICREE: "That would be wonderful."
MARTIN: "Give me your number again."