Back in the ‘70s, she did commercials with James Garner. They had such great natural chemistry that she had a shirt made that said, “I am not James Garner’s wife.” And one for her son that said, “I am not James Garner’s son.” And one for her husband that said, “I am not James Garner.” Which led to Lois Fleishman Clarke’s having a shirt made that said, “I am James Garner’s wife.” Hopefully, they all had a sense of humour on the subject, but it’s one of those places where people are weird. Celebrities don’t always have the relationship you expect based on their forward-facing personae.
She hadn’t even really wanted to do commercials; she finds them frankly humiliating. On the other hand, she was broke, and she had this fondness for eating and sleeping indoors. So you make your choices, really. And she did have great chemistry with him. I vaguely remember the commercials, which of course you can still track down if you’re of a mind because YouTube has the weirdest stuff on it, but it’s more worth noting her episode of The Rockford Files wherein she’s playing someone whose job is to determine how much his estate is worth if it’s fully liquidated.
The fact is, she’s one of the many talented performers who just never really hit it as a big success. She’s a minor success, goodness knows, having had a more noteworthy career than quite a lot of other people. She’s solidly in the ranks of the Hey It’s That Guy (to me a gender-neutral term, simply because of the single-syllable nature of “guy” and my loathing of “gal”). It was only as I was researching this that I realized I did know her from other places. She was wooed by Jim Rockford, Hawkeye Pierce, and Spock.
And, yes, she’s politely helpful to Tippi Hedren in Marnie. Her role is minor; she’s the one who provides Marnie with the information that the combination to the safe is written inside a desk drawer. But I’ve seen that movie a lot—it’s the Hitchcock movie my mom owned on VHS when I was growing up—so I’ve seen it an awful lot. Possibly more often than I’ve seen her as Dr. Inga Halvorsen and definitely more often than I’ve seen the two episodes of Columbo she did. Still, I’m hoping Hitchcock was nicer to her than Tippi Hedren.
And she’s still alive! She’s even still working. Not a lot, but she’s 83, so she doesn’t have to work a lot. She’s reached the age where it’s reasonable to be retired. Still, it does mean that there’s at least the faint hope that she will do a movie that makes her another one of the People From Encino Man To Win An Oscar While Paulie Shore’s Career Continues To Stagnate, a movie trend I fully support.