WATCH: Roddy McDowall's Star-Studded 1965 Home Movies
For lovers of classic Hollywood, nothing compares to the extraordinary home movies made by gay movie star Roddy McDowall in the summer of 1965.
McDowall had an open house at his Malibu beach home every Sunday afternoon, and everyone who was anyone showed up. A-listers like Judy Garland, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Anthony Perkins, and Sal Mineo can all be seen in the movies laughing, chatting, and splashing around in sexy swimsuits — Hollywood royalty simply enjoying each other's company on a sunny beach day.
The popular child star of How Green Was My Valley, Roddy McDowall grew up to be an accomplished adult actor in Cleopatra and the iconic Planet of the Apes films. He was also a fairly openly gay man who was close friends with almost every star, mainly because everyone trusted him and knew that he would never tell tales — and Lord knows he could have! McDowall died from cancer at age 70 in 1998.
With so many huge stars in town making movies, the summer of 1965 is the stuff of Hollywood legend. In addition to filming Inside Daisy Clover with Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, McDowell was also making Lord Love a Duck with Tuesday Weld. While Lauren Bacall and Paul Newman were making Harper, Simone Signoret was in town shooting Ship of Fools with Vivien Leigh. Meanwhile, Julie Andrews had just won an Oscar for Mary Poppins. Because all of these famous people adored McDowall, they flocked to his Sunday open house for hot dogs and beer. Everyone felt safe, protected, and free to be themselves.
These films are fascinating time capsules of Hollywood in the late '60s, and it's almost impossible to pick a favorite moment from shots of Lauren Bacall posing, Rock Hudson sticking out his tongue, and a buff Sal Mineo gyrating for his host. I'm especially fond of the stunning footage of Lee Remick, ravishing star of Anatomy of a Murder and Days of Wine and Roses, who died so young.
If only some enterprising filmmaker would turn all this footage into a feature length documentary! But even without sound, McDowall's home movies might be the most fascinating cinematic find in years.
Do yourself a favor and watch these casual glimpses into Hollywood history below. If you love old movies and movie stars, it doesn't get any better.