Tribute By Monica Sullivan
I don't know what else you would call June Fairchild other than a beautiful bit player. If you watch a lot of movies on video that were made between 1968 & 1978, you may have seen Fairchild a half a dozen times or more. Racking my memory with the help of the Internet Movie Database & watching the rise & fall of this lovely girl from a very different era was a decidedly sobering experience. Fairchild made four films at Columbia Studios, two in 1968 & two in 1971. In Bob Rafelson's "Head," the picture begins with June giving each of the four Monkees a lingering kiss. We don't see her again until she threatens to jump off a building & that's her billing: "The Jumper." In James Neilson's "Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows," Fairchild is billed simply as June. Most of the narrative revolves around the tiresome generation gap between Rosalind Russell's 60-something-year-old Mother Superior & Stella Stevens' 30-something-year-old Sister George. At one point, the convent school girls invade a Boys' School & there is a dance. June dances up a storm in the skimpiest go-go dress on the floor.
Fairchild next turned up as a character named Sylvie in "Drive, He Said," directed by Jack Nicholson & as a "Girl In A Dorm" in "Summertree," directed by Anthony Newley. Her showiest 1971 role was as Sonya "Sonny" Swangle in MGM's "Pretty Maids All In A Row", directed by Roger Vadim. When you rent this one, please note that, in addition to Rock Hudson, June Fairchild is front & center on the display box, clearly meant to be an enticement to buy or rent the film. She is at her prettiest here, looking like the quintessential Southern California school girl, uninhibited & cheerful. She's one of the few stunning maids to survive an affair with the homicidal teacher played by Rock Hudson, who looks decidedly uncomfortable in the role. A still taken around this time ran in the Los Angeles Times on February 21, 2001, contrasted with a more recent shot by staff photographer Wally Skalu. In 1973, Fairchild was in two films which are little seen today: as Barbara in Arthur Marks' "Detroit 9000" & as Sandi in Douglas N. Schwartz's "Your 3 Minutes Are Up." Thanks to a fine cast (Beau Bridges, Ron Leibman, Janet Margolin & Kathleen Freeman) plus a strong screenplay by James Dixon, the Schwartz film would benefit from a video release today.
Michael Cimino's "Thunderbolt & Lightfoot" won Jeff Bridges his 2nd Oscar nomination in three years. As Gloria, Fairchild has a brief erotic sequence with Clint Eastwood who coasts through his romp with her with an unmistakable expression that says it's THE worst time he ever had & he's NOT giving her a ride home. Gloria storms off into the night, clutching the cab fare he crammed in her hand & giving a blast of reality to this vastly overrated (except for Bridges) United Artists release from the year 1974. Two years later, Fairchild played Mitzi in something called "The Student Body" & two years after that she was a blink-&-you'll-miss-her reporter in Mae West's swan song, "Sextette." That same year, 1978, Fairchild made her swan song as "The Ajax Lady" in Paramount's "Up In Smoke" starring Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong. If you watch "Up In Smoke" on a double bill with Vadim's "Pretty Maids," the physical decline is scary to observe. Fairchild wanted to end her career on a high note & sniffing Ajax instead of cocaine is nothing you're ever likely to forget. Noaki Schwartz wrote a couple of moving articles for the Los Angeles Times describing whatever became of June Fairchild, the 2nd running within 48 hours of the first. The chilling thing about an abbreviated career like Fairchild's is the fact that you know that there are so many starlets like her who go from boiling hot to ice cold in a heartbeat.
© 2001 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 3/28/01
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