Monday, August 31, 2009

Time For Tiffin

Small wonder that no one guessed that our last Mystery Guest was lovely 1960's starlet, Pamela Tiffin: she was a complete chameleon who seemed to change appearance with every film. In one of the oddest career trajectories in Hollywood history, Tiffin made her debut in two prestigious 1961 films, garnering critical praise and two separate Golden Globe nominations for the Billy Wilder comedy One, Two, Three and the Tennessee Williams melodrama Summer and Smoke. No easy critic, Wilder himself hailed Tiffin as the freshest face to hit Hollywood since Audrey Hepburn; so why didn't the gorgeous, talented Tiffin become at least as big a star as, say, Ann-Margret?

Tiffin co-starred with A-M in two films, the bland 1962 remake of State Fair, and the bouffantastic trifle The Pleasure Seekers (1964); in both, Ann-Margret is unmistakably Ann-Margret: a fixed, fabulous, familiar image. Pamela Tiffin might as well be two different actresses, so wildly different is her look, her persona, her approach in both films. Such confusing contrast made a case for Tiffin's versatility, but sealed her fate as a star.



The quality of Tiffin's films also veered wildly between glossy pap for MGM (Come Fly with Me, 1963), teen-oriented drive-in fare for AIP (The Lively Set, 1964), and prestige pictures like Warners' Harper (1966), with the occasional Eurotrash exploitation flick thrown in for good measure. One wonders if producers simply had no idea how to best present this starlet; or if she just didn't really care, and was in the movie game for a lark.

Tiffin closed out the 1960's nearly unrecognizable as a blonde, and appearing more frequently in obscure Continental productions; she retired in 1974. The photo we used for our Guess Who? post was taken from Tiffin's turn in the 1966 Broadway revival of Dinner at Eight. The rather remarkable cast also included Blanche Yurka, Walter Pidgeon, Darren McGavin, and one of our Patron Saints, Miss Arlene Francis. Watch this fun clip from What's My Line?, as the cast, including Tiffin, attempts to stump Miss Arlene and the panel. And, of course, Pamela Tiffin looks completely different, yet again.


  1. This entry is great fun. I'm a big PT fan. Did you get a load of the casting in that "Dinner At Eight" revival? Screwy! My favorite part of the video is when the unbearable Jayne Meadows disqualifies herself. But I do love to watch how crazy everyone is about Arlene. I, too!

  2. You and normadesmond, ganging up on poor Jayne! Bitch gon' drop a wig on both of you.