The Passing of Edward Herrmann

EdwardHerrmannI just found out that a dear friend passed away today from brain cancer. He was 71.

Ed Herrmann and I worked together in a movie called Portrait of a Stripper, which starred another dear friend, Lesley Ann Warren.

Ed was a dear, sweet man. A wonderful actor. I adored him.

In this blog entry I reminisced with my publicist Bill Murphy about Ed and my experience with him and other actors on the set of Portrait of Stripper:

UP: …Edward Herrmann was fabulous. What an actor. And so was Lesley. She was just fabulous. I watched the movie several times since we’ve been talking about this. And one of the things that shocked me was when we were getting ready we would go into the strip clubs. I’d never been to a strip club. We went into a strip club up on Sunset Boulevard for research. We wanted to know what this world was like for strippers. It was really interesting.

We talked to a couple of the strippers at the club on Sunset Strip. I remember that it was [gasp], you know, kinda scary, actually. That’s one of the things I love about acting. You can throw yourself into things where you know you’re gonna come out alright because it’s only a job, so now you can throw yourself into that world, and you can live it full out as though you’re there, but you absolutely know you’re gonna be OK when you go home that night. You know, you’re not going to be kidnapped or killed or raped or anything like that.

UdanaPortrait3The place where we shot the film was a little club over on Ventura Boulevard. They had body makeup artists. Up until then, It had not occurred to me that when an actress is doing something that shows her body, she gets full body make up. I even found out later that there are major stars who would have body make up artists come over to their house and do their body before they went out on a red carpet. Anyway…I was actually floored. The body makeup artists were true artists. They had many shades of pancake make up so that they could literally shade and sculpt and make the body look ideal. When they got done with me and I finally looked in the mirror, I didn’t even recognize myself. I thought, “Oh my god, that’s not even my body. It’s beautiful.” It was such a relief! I had thought up until then that I had to be perfect all on my own.

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 9.22.43 PM 2BM: [laughs] When you did your research in the strip club, what did you take away from that to put into your role? What did you learn from them where you said, “Ah-ha, now I can play the role this way”?

UP: It was fun being that sexy and that erotic. But I was glad I wasn’t living in that world, because it was, at the heart, a tough world.

BM: You had a scene with Sheree North. What do you remember about her? She always played that type of role, like the brothel owner in an Old West movie. Or a night-club singer. What was she really like?

UP: She was fabulous. A real actress. She had a low voice. I guess she was cast because she was the type. She was going along with being typecast. But she was terrific. I thought that the scenes actually went really well. I didn’t sit down and chat with her, get to know her, but we just played the scenes and I just wanted to hit my marks and respond. We were strippers in the club, that’s all. We were all living someone else’s life.

UdanaCreditBM: Since you were working with your friend Lesley, did you guys hang out together during the shooting, or in your off hours?

UP: A little bit. We didn’t spend a lot of time offstage, because she was working all the time. I had a good part, but she carried the film. We were focused. I did spend time with Ed Herrmann. I adored Ed.

BM: I always liked him. He’s a great character actor, I always liked his voice, everything about him. I liked seeing him show up in movies and TV shows.

UP: Yeah, he was wonderful. Kind of magical. He was from New York, and we had more time than Leslie did, so we would hang out. He was also a spiritual seeker at the time.

BM: Really?

UP: Yes. He really wanted to know. He gave me some books. I gave him some. I lent him some first editions of Bhagwan [Shree Rajneesh], and he gave them back and he said, “Udana, these are valuable, they’re first editions, and I wanna make sure you have them back.” That was a really significant friendship. He was really a great guy.


I will miss Ed very much.

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