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For one of Hollywood's superstars, Shirley MacLaine seemed to be a refreshing betrayal of the Sunset Boulevard legends. Around her there were no ego builders, pamperers or flunkeys, and she fetched her own beer. She was unashamed to expose herself without makeup, thereby revealing some freckles. "I'm just thankful I'm photogenic," she said, licking her upper lip, which she is fond of doing.
Being a star, Shirley did not have to stay in a motel in Lancaster during the last days of Goldfarb. The studio would gladly have transported her to and from the desert if she had wanted to stay home in Encino, a suburb of L.A. "Being on time and getting a movie over with is part of being a pro," she said. "Besides, I got other things to do, like travel." Shirley therefore chose to stay in Lancaster at The Desert Inn and to do her relaxing in the motel bar—The Rogue Room—before strangers who may have been startled by her language, which was correctly described by The New York Times not long ago as briny.
Now in the shade of the trailer, preparing for makeup and wardrobe and watching the workmen build a track down the middle of the field for a camera truck, Shirley was just as lively as she was in The Rogue Room in the evenings, where her conversation had taken care of just about every ill known to man, including The Desert Inn's habit of serving orange sherbet on the same plate with steak and onion rings.
"Sure I know a lot about football," she said. "I was a damn cheerleader in high school [Washington-Lee in Arlington, Va.] for three years. That was a big deal, too." Licking her lip and considering the crucial scene she was about to do, she smiled. "What a movie. A dumb broad runs through the whole Notre Dame team."
While Shirley disappeared to put on her Fawzian football gear, which consisted of a helmet emblazoned with dancing girls, low-quarter football shoes, shoulder pads (size large) and a long red robe, the Notre Dame and Arab players began rehearsing their parts on the field. They threw side body blocks, leg whips and two-on-ones. They did roll-unders. They practiced diving headlong through the air and stumbling in pursuit of a ballcarrier that they dared not bruise.
Soon Thompson, by now recovered from his hot sauce of the night before, announced that he was ready for the big run. At this point Choreographer Paul Godkin, wearing a flowered sports shirt, bathing suit and white moccasins, called for all of the harem girls, cheerleaders, drum majorettes and tumblers to move across the field and get ready to supply the background noise and action for the scene. Three girls sleepily got up off the grass and carried their beer cans with them toward the grandstand.
Thompson said, "Now I want broad cheering [and some of the broads were certainly worth cheering] for this shot as Shirley makes her...uh...her touchright."
There was a small conference on the field involving Thompson, Director of Photography Shamroy, Dawson and a young man clad only in a bathing suit. He was Loren James, Shirley's stunt double. Quickly, the players took their positions, and James ran through the scene, helping Shamroy and Thompson spot the best angles for cutbacks and missed tackles. Shirley arrived with a pink face, red lips, eyelashes as long as any of the camels' and fingernails like Fawzian scimitars. She followed her double through the run, trotting, while Dawson shouted at the Notre Dame defenders to fall down, stumble and collide. Scott Brady came up and told Shirley, "If you make this touchdown. Baby, you'll be awarded the game ball."
It was never made clear whether the run was being made on a punt, kickoff or direct pass from the center. But that is incidental. Shirley stood on her own goal, somebody gave her a ball, the players scattered everywhere and she started running.
"Yeeeii!" said Shirley, as Glenn Wilder dived past her, crumpling to earth.