When I heard there was going to be a Grayson Hall Blog-a-Thon, I was so excited. I spent a couple days trying to figure out what I should say about this special lady and this is what I came up with!
I first became a fan of Grayson Hall when I was about thirteen years old. Even now, I’d haft to admit it was probably pretty funny to hear a 13 year old say her favorite actress was Miss Hall. Most adults would reply with, “You mean that lady from Dark Shadows?” At that point, I had never heard of that show, so I’d just shrug my shoulders and say, “No, I mean she was in “Night of the Iguana” and “That Darn Cat. You know that funny Disney movie!?? You should see ‘Iguana’ her performance is amazing - Oscar nominated!” Whoever I was in conversation with, would usually smile and probably just think to themselves, “Ok she’s slightly odd.” That never bothered me. I was always tired of hearing my favorite is Julia Roberts or maybe Audrey Hepburn… (Both great ladies don’t get me wrong…but.)
How I came to know about Grayson is kind of a funny story. Would have been around 1996, when I was 13. It was a long HOT and boring summer day and I decided to go to the video store and rent a couple films down the road. At that point I had never really seen anything pre-1985, except for whatever happened to be on Nick-at-Nite. Mostly ‘I Love Lucy’ (I’m an addict). While at the video store, I noticed Katharine Hepburn (at that point clueless) on the cover of ‘Adam’s Rib’ and Barbara Stanwyck on the cover of ‘Titanic’. I was intrigued by the vintage look. Then I went around the corner to see a copy of ‘Night of the Iguana’ I was really into theater and recognized Tennessee Williams name. Not bad for a youngster, huh. I almost put it back, but am so relieved I didn’t!
I Took all three movies home and after my mom, looking at me strangely, (little did she know this would start my huge classic movie obsession, which I wouldn’t trade for the world) I went to my room and started watching! I enjoyed all three movies but the one performance that I was really blown away with was that of ‘Miss Judith Fellowes’ from ‘Iguana.’ I knew this lady looked extremely familiar to me, but I couldn’t piece it together. It Wasn’t until the Disney channel played, ‘That Darn Cat’ that it finally clicked with me. That did it! She intrigued me and I had to know more about this lady, but unfortunately at that time, I had no access to the internet. So all I could do was watch that movie over and over again and just kind of let it fall to the back of my mind.
When I entered high school, I joined the drama group! One of our first assignments was to write down actors and actresses who inspire us most! It had been a few years, so I put some of the first ladies that came to mind down on my paper. Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck …hmm. Later that night, I literally woke up in the middle of the night and went “GRAYSON!” got up, pulled my assignment out of my bag and wrote her name down! Bingo!
I remember turning that paper in the next day and my drama teacher looking at me and smiling. She came up to me and said, “You mean that lady from Dark Shadows?” (Still didn’t know about that show). I can’t remember what I said to her. That’s been about 14 years ago. Sounds silly but I always had a picture of her in my locker right next to Barbara Stanwyck. Right before a rehearsal or a show, I’d always give it a good look just for inspiration and just like that I was ready!! I always kept it backstage with me, for whatever show we were doing. There were a couple times I had forgotten it and I felt as though I sucked on those nights…but I’m sure everything was just fine and dandy now that I think about it!
I still have that picture of her in my hope chest upstairs. Anyway, after school I put a lot in the back of my mind but still continued my Theatre work.
It wasn’t until quite a few years later (Let’s say recently) when I saw the new Dark Shadows movie that I began to become a big Grayson fan all over again. For as many times as I heard anyone say “you mean that lady from Dark Shadows?” I still never connected the two…of course it has been quite a few years. I’ve forgotten more then I’d like to admit. Ha! I really enjoyed the movie and just out of curiosity decided to look up the original cast list. I don’t recognize anybody’s name except Joan Bennett and then BAM…there it was, in all its glory, GRAYSON HALL as Dr. Julia Hoffman!! I was so excited. I told myself ‘I HAFT TO WATCH THIS SHOW! I LOVE HER! A MUST! I am now a complete addict of the show. Not sure I would have ever watched it without her. I give her all the credit for making me a fan. Although I wish that something would have come out of Julia and Barnabus’s relationship, but then again who didn’t want that?!
I began researching Grayson out of curiosity (Finally got out of the dark ages and got that little thing known as internet access, obviously ;) And have just come to love her more and more as an actress. Especially after I read the book ‘A Hard Act to Follow’
There is something completely intriguing about her voice and her look. She has the most exquisite, striking face. You can’t help but stare in amazement at her big hazel Bette Davis like eyes and her amazing cheek bones. Those cheek bones are to die for. Having only seen ‘Night of the Iguana’ and That Darn Cat I hadn’t ever really noticed how classy her face was. Given the chance to play a more glamorous leading role, I think she would have pulled it off with flying colors. Also if she would have been given the chance to play more quality roles in film, I think she could have eventually been given the title ‘Academy Award Winner Grayson Hall’. I truly believe that. Such a shame she didn’t make more films. Her talent always leaves you wanting more. I know that I have read she had no intention of going to Hollywood and I understand that, but RATS! I also read that she was first choice to play Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Too bad she didn’t get that. No offense Anne Bancroft, but I can completely see her in that role. AND I LIKE IT!
I am looking forward to seeing House and Night of Dark Shadows when they are released on DVD soon. I hope that’s true, because getting to see more of Grayson’s work makes me jump up and down with excitement. I don’t care if the lady is in just one or two scenes in a film or show. I’m going to watch.
She strikes me as the kind of lady I would have loved to have gone to a party with. How much fun would that of been! We can dream right…curse me for being born in the wrong decade. I imagine a most interesting conversation we would have had. (I’ll keep that to myself) Ok, now I’m just being silly. Anyway, let’s just say I am a huge fan and have now nearly seen all of her work that is available over and over again. And I am just as intrigued every time. Now when people ask me how I became a ‘Dark Shadows’ fan, I always say, “Grayson Hall” Then they always reply with “You mean that Lady from Night of the Iguana?” ha-ha just kidding. They know exactly who I’m talking about when I bring that show up. I guess you could say she’s like a childhood hero to me. Someone I’ve always adored and admired. And I always will