Skip to Main Content
Acting My Face

Acting My Face: A Memoir

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 218
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Acting My Face
    Book Description:

    Actor Anthony James has played killers, psychopaths, and other twisted characters throughout his Hollywood career. In the summer of 1967, James made his motion picture debut as the murderer in the Academy Award-winning Best Picture,In the Heat of the Night. His role in the 1992 Academy Award-winning Best Picture,Unforgiven, culminated a unique, twenty-eight year career. Behind his menacing and memorable face, however, is a thoughtful, gentle man, one who muses deeply on the nature of art and creativity and on the family ties that have sustained him.

    James'sActing My Facerenders Hollywood through the eyes and experience of an established character actor. James appeared on screen with such legendary stars as Clint Eastwood, Bette Davis, Gene Hackman, and Sidney Poitier, and in such classic television shows asGunsmoke, The Big Valley, Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels,andThe A-Team. Yet, it is his mother's heroic story that captures his imagination. In an odyssey which in 1940 took her and her newly wedded husband from Greece to a small southern town in America where she bore her only child, James's mother suffered the early death of her husband when James was only eight years old. In the blink of an eye, she went from grand hostess of her husband's lavish parties to hotel maid. But like the lioness she was, she fought with great ferocity and outrageous will in her relentless devotion to James's future. And so it was, that on an August morning in 1960, eighteen-year-old James and his mother took a train from South Carolina three thousand miles to Hollywood, California, to realize his dream of an acting career. They possessed only two hundred dollars, their courage, and an astonishing degree of naiveté.

    After his retirement in 1994, James and his mother moved to Arlington, Massachusetts, where he concentrated on his painting and poetry. His mother died in 2008 at the age of ninety-four, still a lioness protecting her beloved son.Acting My Faceis an unusual memoir, one that explores the true nature of a working life in Hollywood and how aspirations and personal devotion are forged into a career.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-022-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-2)
  4. PART ONE Marika
    (pp. 3-24)

    My mother, Marika Palla, was born in 1913, in Xanthi, a small city in northern Greece. She was raised in a close-knit upper-middle-class Greek Orthodox family with a brother and a half-sister. Her father was stern but fair and affectionate; her mother, warm and loving; her brother, a beloved protector; and her half-sister, a great friend. When she was fourteen, she declared that she wanted to become a nun and dedicate her life to God. Her parents, though highly appreciative of her religious devotion, refused to allow it, not wanting to lose her cloistered in a convent. I believe it...

  5. PART TWO Lost in the City of Angels
    (pp. 25-54)

    On the morning of August 8, 1960, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, three suitcases, two hundred dollars in travelers’ checks, my widowed mother, her Greek accent, a copy ofModern Screenmagazine, and I, at eighteen years of age, boarded a bus taking us to a train pointing three thousand miles towards Hollywood, California, where I was dedicated and determined to serve the great art of acting with all my heart, soul, and talent.

    But they only wanted my face.

    After four days and three nights in train seats, my mother and I arrived at Los Angeles Union Station. We...

  6. PART THREE Acting My Face
    (pp. 55-158)

    On September 25, 1966, I arrived in Bellville, illinois, to act in my first film,In The Heat of the Night. I was both enraptured and terrified. I was going to act with rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier? I thought, Who am I to stand in front of the same camera with them? Then I answered my own question by thinking, I am going to do everything in my power to earn my place beside them in front of that lens.

    This had been my first plane ride and I felt a bit queasy. I still had not quite accepted...

  7. PART FOUR Retiring My Face
    (pp. 159-170)

    From January 1992 to October 1994, I didn’t work as an actor. I concentrated on my painting, poetry, friends, and the continuing care of my aging mother. After recuperating from an excruciating case of shingles, my mother was left permanently bent over, to her great embarrassment. We still went for long drives down Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Beach or through the Beverly Hills residential areas but she no longer would go into a mall or restaurant, or take a walk in the park, feeling painfully self-conscious about her stoop. She was in her early eighties yet still retained her...

  8. PART FIVE Testament
    (pp. 171-178)

    In July of 1997, the month of my birthday and my first Screen Actors Guild pension check, I walked into the Charlesbank Bookstore to pick up a book I had ordered. The beautiful young woman with the vulnerable eyes and shy smile at the front desk asked me for my name and the title of the book. “Anthony James,The Art of the Novel, by Milan Kundera.” She nodded approvingly, saying he was one of her favorite authors. During the transaction, I noticed she was left-handed and I asked her, “How did being left-handed affect your life in a profound...

  9. PART SIX Requiem for My Mother
    (pp. 179-186)

    By late January of 2000, my mother’s war with the night broke through the battle lines of dawn and into her day. She was down to ninety-three pounds from loss of appetite and lack of sleep. I would spend the night on the couch and devote the day to keeping watch over her, getting her to eat, and trying to distract her from her demons but we both knew it was time for a new strategy and much bigger guns if the battle was to be won. she said she wanted to move into a rest home with a roommate...

  10. CODA
    (pp. 187-188)

    When I was a child, at times I would fall prey to a particularly bad cold or debilitating bout with the flu, my body wracked with aches and high fever. After my mother had administered the prescribed medications and taken my temperature, she would ply me with a plethora of soups, juices, and other varieties of home remedies. As evening darkened into night, my eyes glittering with fever, she would place a fresh cold compress on my burning forehead and seat herself at my bed-side, saying, “Don’t be afraid, I’m here, everything is going to be fine.” And after falling...

    (pp. 189-190)
    (pp. 191-194)
  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)