Van Nuys Valley News: November 27, 1977
by Kirk Honeycutt

 

When Anne Lockhart decided at the age of 4 to become an actress, it wasn't exactly an earth-shatterer for her family. Ms. Lockhart, who is now a fine actress, is a fourth generation entertainer. Her great grandfather, John Coates Lockhart, was an actor and singer who performed with the Kilties Band of Canada. Her grandfather, Gene Lockhart, was a splendid character actor in Hollywood, a cherubic face often disguising his evil intentions toward the hero. And Anne's mother, June Lockhart, certainly needs no introduction to millions of Lassie followers.

"I got my first taste of acting when I was 4," recalled Ms. Lockhart. "! said to myself, 'Hey, this is neat and I get paid for it as well'"

The acting job for which she earned the princely sum of one dollar at the age of 4 was playing a little girl in "T is for Tumbleweed," a short subject made by Lou Stouman and photographed by none other than Haskell Wexler. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and, seeing it again recently, the actress feels it still is one of the works she is most proud of.

Not that the way to success and stardom has been strewn with rosy experiences for June Lockhart's daughter. From that smiling, happy 4-year-old making her film debut we jump to 1972 when the actress, now 18, is making Jory, her first "grown-up" movie. The cast and crew are on location in Durango, Mexico, not exactly the garden spot of the Western world. But that's not the worst of it.

"I was traumatized by an evil director," shuddered the actress. "He wanted me for other things than acting in his movie. I was so naive: I had no idea those kinds of things still went on. The movie was a disaster. When it came out I think it lasted for a hot four days."

In between guest shots on TV shows such as Cannon, Happy Days, Barnaby Jones and Emergency and touring with her mother in plays like Butterflies Are Free and 40 Carats, Anne Lockhart continued to appear in movies until she finally landed a major role in a picture called Joyride. The film, shot a year ago by a young director named Joe Ruben and released this summer by American International, confirms that she made the right career decision at age 4. While Ruben and his writer Peter Rainer fulfilled all the necessary requirements of the exploitation movie genre in Joyride-i.e., tots of action and some nudity- they also created a vivid portrait of youthful disillusionment and despair. The story told of four young people - all played, as it turned out, by the progeny of famous actors, Desi Arnaz, Jr., Robert Carradine, Melanie Griffith (Tippi Hedren's daughter) and of course Ms. Lockhart - who get stranded in Alaska. The cold storage state proves not to be the last frontier of adventure they had expected but rather a place of greed and corruption so thick that they too get sucked up into it.

Even reviewers who didn't care for the movie found much to admire in Ms. Lockhart's performance as a pretty blonde with a gentle face who makes the odd buck here and there by selling her body in a pipeline shantytown. She gave the character a terrified innocence underneath the hard-bitten, how's-about-a-goodtime- baby exterior.

Over lunch the other day in Westwood Village, Annie Lockhart spoke enthusiastically of the opportunity the role gave to her to break away from her usual casting.

"In that movie I played a hooker who didn't look like the obvious choice for a hooker. She looked All-American and sweet; it wasn't obvious casting but playing against it. In television I've always been the pretty girl next door. Even in commercials I'm constantly cast as the young married housewife. I seemed never to be considered for something else. In Joyride I finally got to show my stuff."

Which is not all she showed as the script called for a love scene with Desi Arnaz, Jr. and skinny-dipping in an indoor Jacuzzi.

"I've been offered lots of parts with nudity before," she said, "but I didn't think they were worth it. Joyride was different - the film had a bite to it-and also I had reached an age at which it was OK with myself to do that. Two years before it wouldn't have worked; I wouldn't have had the control and discipline.

"On the day we shot the scenes I had a temperature of 104 and the Jacuzzi was unheated. My head must have weighed 400 pounds. I just wanted to get it over with and go home to bed. So I had no time to be self-conscious about sitting there without clothes or playing a love scene with Desi."

Risking double pneumonia or worse for a brief R-rated skin shot is not the most perilous thing she has done for the sake of her art. One television show put her atop an 80-foot granite cliff to be rescued by a mountain climber. Another show had her in a bathing suit stepping onto the pontoon of a seaplane in 20 degree weather.

In Joyride she was constantly being flung into the back of cars, nearly broke her hand when Arnaz accidentally landed on it.

"I'm a daredevil and an adventurer," she proclaimed proudly. "I love doing all this stuff. If I can do it and make it look real, I'll do it. That's what movies are all about, isn't it - making it look real?"

The one thing she didn't suffer on "Joyride," seeing as how she was in the company of second generation actors, was the usual question about what's it like to be a star's child. Still, she doesn't mind answering it.

"As long as people are interested in asking me, I'll tell them. I'm proud of it. Although I did tell mom that my days as June Lockhart's daughter are numbered and her days as Anne Lockhart's mother are just beginning." She quickly added, "I said that with a lot of love and respect."

While both Anne Lockhart and her sister Junie, a USC drama student and part-time bartender, appear headed for careers in show business, their mother always rejected efforts to involve them in the business when they were young. June Lockhart was offered a number of TV series which would have starred her and her two daughters but turned them down, firmly believing that a normal childhood was much more important for her daughters.

Annie Lockhart said she didn't attend her first real Hollywood party until she was 20 and then she felt like a tourist from Idaho as she stared at all the movie stars. Similarly, her mother turned down acting assignments which would have taken her away from her family or had them living out of a suitcase.

"I never grew up as a Hollywood kid," said the grateful daughter. "Some kids who did now have no sense of what's real or whom they are. They've had everything they ever wanted so they've developed no sense of priorities. They don't know what it's like to work for a living. A lot of them are very unhappy, I know."

Annie Lockhart, whose real name is Anne Kathleen Maloney (her father, Dr. John Maloney, is a physician in New York City), uses her mother's Scottish name for tradition's sake and it is a far more illustrious name than a lot of people realize.

She explained: "There was a famous Scottish warrior in the English army at the time Richard the Lion-Hearted was killed during the Crusades. The English wanted to get his body out but they didn't want the enemy to know old Dick had popped off, so to speak. So they took just his heart and commissioned the warrior to take it back to England locked up in a box. Ever since the family name has been Lockhart."

This family of assorted adventures and actors brings Anne Lockhart's perilous moviemaking career into clearer focus: What's a lass to do but follow the call of her blood?