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Gasparilla International Film Festival to honor actor Terry Moore at opening ceremonies

By STEVE PERSALL

One lifetime achievement award isn't enough for the life Terry Moore has lived.

Her 69-year screen career, including an Academy Award nomination, would be enough for the Gasparilla International Film Festival to justify giving her one at tonight's opening ceremonies.

Now consider that Moore lists eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes and Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis among her six husbands, became the third woman ever to fly a jet and posed for Playboy at 55. She keeps in shape at 80 with yoga, boot camp training and running the 26.2-mile Los Angeles marathon.

Somehow one trophy doesn't seem like enough.

Moore still acts — a production of Elizabeth the Queen in L.A. is going dark this weekend so she can attend the Gasparilla festival. And she's the author of How Do You Stay So Young?, answering the question she hears all the time.

Moore can drop names like other people drop their "g's." The St. Petersburg Times caught up with her a day after an emergency trip to the dentist after chipping a tooth on candy. Asking about a famous friend seemed like a good place to start:

You began at Columbia Pictures, where you met an interesting drama classmate.

I was 18 years old and they had me working with a drama teacher from Russia. All I could do was monologues because I was the only student. One day, the head of casting brings this young girl in and says: "We just put this young lady under contract, so now you'll have someone to do scenes with. Terry Moore, this is Norma Jean Baker."

Who later became Marilyn Monroe.

Yes, it was Marilyn. We were both under contract at Columbia until Come Back, Little Sheba. (Studio mogul) Harry Cohn didn't know how good it was — I got an Academy Award nomination — but he dropped my contract, then dropped Marilyn's the same month. Twentieth Century Fox picked us up, and I got to work with Elia Kazan (Man on a Tightrope), who was by far the greatest director I ever worked for.

What do you recall about filming Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1956) in Tarpon Springs?

I remember getting very seasick. Every day we'd go out in a sponge-fishing boat that was anchored, so it would just bob up and down like a cork. First I'd throw up over the side, then (Robert) Wagner would, then Gilbert Roland would, for that entire picture. But I loved the people of Tarpon Springs, the fishermen and those wonderful Greek restaurants. I remember how to say s'agapo (I love you).

What was Howard Hughes really like?

He was a visionary with a great sense of humor, believe it or not. He was a little boy, like Walt Disney, another friend of mine. I would go to Walt's office and he would be sitting on the floor playing with toys, figuring out the rides to build at Disneyland. Howard was the same way; he'd take my toys apart — radios and cameras — to see how they worked. The problem with Howard was that he never got them back together.

Didn't you have a tough time proving you were married to Howard?

(The estate) actually sued me. I was going to go to my grave and never let anybody know. I had two children by then, so there was no need. In going through his things, they found a log of our marriage. They figured I was going to sue them, so they sued me first. I didn't want anything, particularly, but my lawyer got rich off that. I just wanted to be acknowledged as the legal Mrs. Howard Hughes, which I was. Or am. I never wanted all that money. I'd spend my life wondering who my friends are, which he did.

What did you think of Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Howard in The Aviator?

Jane (Russell) and I worked with Leo on his characterization. Leo, in my book, can do no wrong. We're Auntie Jane and Auntie Terry. We love him. Jane's so outspoken. When we met Leo, she looked at him, so young and good looking, only 29 years old then. And she said: "Well, you're no Howard Hughes."

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs. tampabay.com/movies.

The third annual Gasparilla International Film Festival begins tonight, continuing through March 7. That's twice as long as it has ever been, with more than 120 features, shorts and documentaries in the lineup. Here are this weekend's highlights.

Movies to see

. Nothing But the Truth: Tampa Theatre hosts tonight's festival-opening film, the Florida premiere of this Rod Lurie political drama, at 7:30 p.m. After that, the festival is centered at Channelside Cinemas.

Nothing But the Truth stars Kate Beckinsale as a Washington journalist who reveals a CIA agent's identity, mirroring the real-life Valerie Plame scandal. Former St. Petersburg resident Angela Bassett co-stars as the editor backing her reporter against a special investigator (Matt Dillon). Lurie, a former film critic whose resume includes The Contender and Resurrecting the Champ, will conduct a Q&A after the movie. Academy Award nominee Terry Moore will receive the festival's lifetime achievement award.

. What Doesn't Kill You (Friday, 7 p.m.): It stars Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo as South Boston buddies caught up in organized crime. Director Brian Goodman, who based the movie on his experiences, will lead an after-show discussion.

. The Year of Getting to Know Us (Saturday, 5:45 p.m.; Sunday, 5:15): Jimmy Fallon is too busy preparing his late-night gig to visit Tampa but stars in this dramedy, playing a New York writer returning to Florida after his father has a stroke.

. Death Curse of Tartu (Saturday, 8:10 p.m.): I must invite you to see this 1966 schlock-shocker. I'll conduct a Q&A with director William Grefe after the show, and we'll discuss his drive-in movie career, including the greatest killer-rattlesnake movie ever, 1972's Stanley.

. Sugar (Saturday, 8:45 p.m.): Baseball season is right around the hot corner, so the Florida premiere of this film about a Dominican phenom making it in the United States is timely. Star Algenis Perez Soto will attend and answer questions after the movie.

. Misconceptions (Sunday, 9 p.m.): Ron Satlof's movie was filmed last year in Pinellas County, played festivals in Toronto and Berlin and was picked up by Regent Releasing for distribution, likely in August. Misconceptions is a clever satire of surrogate motherhood, gay unions and Christian backlash, showing more heart than snark. Satlof will attend and discuss his film.

If You Go

Tickets for most screenings are $10, at the box office. Event prices range from $25-$45. Go to the Web site www.gasparillafilmfestival.com for information about daily free events.

Party with the stars

Opening night: Tickets are $35 for tonight's preshow reception at Tampa Theatre with Terry Moore and Rod Lurie, or pay just $10 for the movie and their tributes. Then stroll a few blocks to Spain restaurant for a free after-show party with tapas, drink specials and live music.

Friday fun: Schmooze with Clear Lake, WI producer Charlie Poe and writer-actor Morgan Simpson at the Dolce Vita Lounge at Channelside Cinemas at 7:30 p.m. Twenty-five bucks gets you into the party, two drinks, grub and admission to the thriller's 9:15 screening. An after-show shindig on the theater's party deck is open to the public.

Private Benjamin jilted this guy: But don't cry for Armand Assante, whose credits also include The Mambo Kings, Gotti and American Gangster. He'll receive a career achievement award Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in a private Dolce Vita reception, followed by a 7:10 screening of his latest, The Steam Experiment, co-starring Val Kilmer. See the movie and a Q&A with Assante for $10;

rub elbows with him at the reception for $35.



Gasparilla updates, trailers: Get the latest on the stars and the scene at the Gasparilla International Film Festival on Steve Persall's blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.

Plus, you'll find trailers for some of the can't-miss films.

Gasparilla International Film Festival to honor actor Terry Moore at opening ceremonies 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 8:26am]
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