I Stumbled Upon the Cindy Williams Auto-Biography…..
….by chance this week at the library in Arvada, Colorado. My first impulse was to just let it be – but then I thought, what the heck!
The book (2015) is an under-170 page account of the unlikely star’s life in southern California. Cindy grew up in a humble and rather ordinary household, as most of us did. Her high school years were rather uneventful and her grades were average at-best. College didn’t seem to be in the cards, but her interest in stage production propelled her to sign up for a theatrical arts school, which she could barely afford (both XX and XX were in her class). She took routine jobs to support herself, eventually landing a job at the famed “Whiskey A-Go-Go” in Hollywood. Her stay there was short (two months) but she did get to hear some great music and met and was teased by The Doors’ Jim Morrison.
Her early TV and motion picture career landed her parts here and there, including a small role as a ‘hippie’ in a movie called “Beware the Blob” where she was “consumed” by said Blob. The movie cast also included comedian Shelly Berman, Larry Hagman, Godfrey Cambridge, Robert Walker and Dick Van Patten just to name a few.
It was her third motion picture, and two more would follow before her management association with Garry Marshall would result in an audition with an up an coming director, George Lucas – an audition which Cindy was not impressed with. But the phone rang and she landed a part as Laurie Henderson ‘sister’ of ‘brother “Curt Henderson’ (Richard Dreyfuss) and girlfriend of ‘Steve Bolander’ played by an 18 year-old Ron Howard (Cindy was 24 at the time but playing an 18-year old was easy for her.
American Graffiti – ‘B” Movie Goes A-Plus
The stars-of-the-future laden lineup for “Graffiti” were convinced that they were making regular early 1960’s “car movie” – which would probably qualify for a decent “B” movie delegation. Filming started off in the San Francisco area and then moved to nearby San Rafael, where the noise of the street scenes caused the city fathers to ask the Graffiti troupe to please must move on.
They motored to nearby Petaluma where they were warmly welcomed and where they remained. The film had a very meager $750,000 budget and almost all of it was used up to acquire rights to 41 original songs. The soundtrack would prove to be the magic, with George Lucas employing the use on non-stop music with only two very small pauses – one being when the 55 Chevy driven by “Bob Falfa” (Harrison Ford) rolls over during a drag race. The film was also filmed in just 28 days again due to budget restrictions.
About two weeks into the project, Lucas called the young staff together to provide them with a teaser preview of his work to-date. None of them expected anything out of the ordinary but when preview rolled, they all sat in stunned silence. They knew at that point that they were part of something very special.
After the film’s official release, Cindy placed a excited call to Richard Dreyfuss who was out of country on a new project. She breathlessly told him that he wouldn’t believe what was happening in the U.S.A. Movie goers were storming the nation’s theaters, lining up for blocks to watch the American tale of an innocent time.
“Graffiti” earned an Oscar nomination for “Best Picture” losing out to “The Sting”. Lucas did win “Best Director” and Candy Clark (the ditsy blonde) won Best Supporting Actress. It also garnered “Best Film Editing”.
Golden Globe awards included a “Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical” for Richard Dreyfuss. Cindy Williams capture a “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts”.
Lavern and Shirley (Feeney)
Cindy and Ron Howard’s paths would cross often, but none more significantly than through their mutual association with Garry Marshall, landing parts in “Happy Days” and then for Cindy (with Penny Marshall) going on to spin-off “Lavern and Shirley” where they enjoyed a nice eight year run.
Penny and Cindy teamed up to release a long play album comprised of “oldies” in 1976 titled “Lavern and Shirley Sing”. Their sit-com resulted in a number 25 hit single by Cindi Grecco titled “Making Our Dreams Come True”.
Fleetwood and Williams – Dylan and More – Read On
And Mick Fleetwood? That’s just a reference to a humorous incident involving Cindy, serving as an emcee for a recognition event. Get the book! Very refreshing!