St. John's Confidential File
George Chakiris Alive And Making Gems
By Michael St. John
Sep 2, 2012 - 8:09:47 AM
HOLLYWOOD—HELLO AMERICA! If you’ve wondered about actor-dancer GEORGE CHAKIRIS, who is remembered for his Oscar performance in Westside Story, not to worry. George is still a very busy guy. Aside from attending various film festivals around the world whenever the award winning film is being shown, he has taken on the new challenge of creating and designing jewelry.
Like most in the industry, I was rather surprised. After all, when I first met George in the 1950s, he was an extra dancer in a Marilyn Monroe film “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and I was completing an Otto Preminger’s Oscar winning film “Carmen Jones.” Whenever there was a break we talked about many things concerning the business. At the time, his passion involved dancing and I wanted to be an American Lawrence O’Livier. We were both innocent dreamers and it felt good.
Now George is still experiencing a successful run with his “George Chakiris Jewelry Collections,” which currently is making a fantastic showing in Tokyo’s famed Mitsukoshi Department Store.
When speaking with George about his jewelry, he quickly made it very clear that he has always loved creating and designing pieces. “It doesn’t mean that I love acting or dancing any less, but I have other serious interests as well.” When asked about his years dancing with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, his response was: “Those years were very special, as you know. The idea of working with Monroe was something extraordinary, magical. Having a choreographer like Jack Cole watching every move you made was a gift from heaven. I was very lucky and it made me quite ready to take on ‘West Side’ which, of course, changed my life.”
If you had one wish concerning your career what would it be? George began to laugh, scratched his cheek a bit, and said, “Obviously to be offered another film like West Side along with the beautiful cast that the whole world still remembers. Let's face it, we are all much older but it would be great to be a part of a film with the same kind of dynamics and social significance. Russ Tamblyn and Bobby Banas are still very good friends; we have tons of good memories even though we don’t dance anymore.
SPIKE LEE NOT A SPOKESMAN!
When filmmaker SPIKE LEE recently made an appearance on the AL SHARPTON MSNBC show and asked what he thought about the blocking of voting generally around the country, he had nothing of intelligence to say except, “Well, Rev Al, you know that politics are just a dirty game and you just have to fight fire with fire.” And he took minutes to erupt with this bit of a response. Unfortunately, this is the extent of most of his filming efforts. His stories and characters are thin and basically stereotypical, offering very little, if anything, to inspire. He is definitely not a Woody Allen. There are so many gifted young and promising filmmakers and writers if given the opportunity, will and can change attitudes if simply given the chance. Unfortunately, the doors are closed by the Spike Lees of our industry who couldn’t give a damn about making things easier or better for new talent. It’s sad, but true.
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