"Beauty is only skin deep," said Anne Bancroft, "and beneath my skin, I'm a slob.
"I burp and I slurp in public. I kick off my shoes and scratch myself at dignified
"I can whistle like a man and sometimes is whistle AT men!
"I know it's not ladylike but then, I'm no lady. I tried it once and it was a lousey
"Some time ago I figured out that I couldn't be a lady and a woman at the same time.
"You either sip your coffee or you slurp it, if you know what I mean. I'm a slurper.
Boy, do I slurp!"
Anne wore no makeup, her jersey suit was rumpled and her hair tousled as we talked in
her London hotel suite.
If she wanted to create an impression, it wasn't supposed to be a good one.
"I used to be a drunk and a liar," she said, almost as though she were purposely
trying to startle me.
"In my early days in Hollywood I drank and drank and drank.
"I was a bottle bore
"My pictures were rotten, but you should have seen the performances I gave on the
"How I missed winding up on skid row I'll never know.
"I came so close to the flophouse circuit that I'm still terrified at the thought I
might start slipping back.
"I don't know which was the bigger problem in those days -- my drinking or my lying.
Liquor and lies, that was me.
"Gee, the wild stories I told. No, I won't go into details. In fact, this is the
first time I've talked like this to a stranger.
"You know something? I still get hangovers from those days.
"It's all in my mind I know, I know. But a mental hangover can be just as real as the
"I get it at odd times, but usually when I awake from a sound sleep at around 3 or 4
in the morning. I just lie there in bed and all the old symptoms come pouring on -- sweating,
dizziness, and an overwhelming fear.
"I remember those days very clearly. When I'd wake up in the morning I felt like a
limp rag. I didn't even know where I'd been the night before, who I'd been with or how I got
"I'd probably still be living on booze if I hadn't got a part in the Broadway play
'Two for the Seesaw'
"When the critics reviewed the play and said I could act it gave me the confidence
I'd always been lacking. I didn't need alcohol for a crutch anymore.
"I was cast as a kookie kind of dame in that play, and as a result of that I'm still
known as the beatnik of Broadway.
"I guess the fact that I wear black stockings and go to a psychiatrist regularly helps
her keep the beatnik image alive."
She kicked off her right shoe and examined a hole in the heel of her black stocking.
"I'll bet I have a hole in the other one, too," she laughed.
She kicked off the left shoe. And sure enough. Her toes were poking through.
"I really am a slob. What other star looks as messy as I do?
"I dress like a scarecrow and eat like a stevedore. I eat hot dogs in bed and haven't
got the manners of an ape.
"An ape? That reminds me -- in one of my early movies, I played the part of a
murderess who disguises herself as a gorilla. So go ahead and call me Queen Kong. I'd rather
be called that than Miss Cutie Pie.
"Besides, from what I've read of gorillas, I'd rather be like them than like people.
"Gorillas love their friends. They're full of enthusiasm for everything. They do a lot
of crying, a lot of laughing, a lot of living. Just like me.
"I think that if you are going to live life fully -- and not many people do -- you've
got to tackle it with both arms open. Give life a gorilla hug, see?"
I drew back swiftly and Anne laughed again. She said:
"Don't worry, I'm not going to thump my chest and tear you apart -- although I guess
I have done that to men before.
"Peter Finch, the British actor, was my last victim. I almost tore him apart in a
scene from my latest picture, 'The Pumpkin Eater.'
"It was one of those husband-and-wife fights, and I guess I got carried away with my
acting. Anyhow, I ripped the shirt from poor Peter's back, blackened one of his eyes and
fractured his nose.
"It may have been acting or it may have been an expression of my basic hostility
toward the male sex. I had an unhappy marriage to a fellow named Martin May, as you probably
"Even though I'm now happily married to comedy writer Mel Brooks, I still think such
hostility is basic to both sexes. It's part of the business of sex appeal.
"We all have hostility in us. I think it's dangerous to repress it. Gorillas never do."
She peeled a banana and bit off a chunk before adding:
"Neither do I."