Shirley MacLaine

As she joins the cast of Downton Abbey, the actor and sometime mystic speaks of love, laughter ... and when to quit yoga.

Illustration by Jody Hewgill

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Glamour Girl

Shirley MacLaine
From the archive. Images ©1963 SEPS/Curtis Licensing; © 1961 SEPS/Curtis Licensing.

As Shirley MacLaine rose to fame in the 1960s, the Post featured her in several cover stories. Some memorable quotes from our April 22, 1961, article, “I Call on Shirley MacLaine,” by Pete Martin.

On Not Being a Sex Goddess
“I’ve heard that certain studios have put on big campaigns to sell the images of some women stars as ‘sex goddesses.’ Nobody ever thought of doing that for me. It would be a kook notion anyhow, for you can’t make cheese out of chalk.”

On Her First Role
“I remember it vividly. I was four, and I did a number called An Apple for the Teacher at the Mosque Theater in Richmond, Virginia, the city where my parents were living at the time. I tripped on the curtain, the audience laughed and, little ham that I was, I ate it up. After that I tripped on that curtain every time I passed it.”

On Frank Sinatra
“The truth is that Frank Sinatra’s capacity for friendship is all-encompassing. He doesn’t get a good press, but I know a Frank that those who write about him don’t know. Maybe they’ve had run-ins with him. That hasn’t happened to me. Frank’s a bundle of contradictions. At times he’s unreasonable, at times temperamental. He can be compassionate and insensitive, gentle and rough. But he can also be as kind as anyone I’ve ever known. If a person has all those contradictions, and you still find him good to know, you’ve got to call him your friend.”

On The Rat Pack
“I’ve read about a group called The Clan. I know you have too. This group is supposed to consist of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and me, although some writers make the list longer. … If anyone did ask me about it, I’d have to tell him that I don’t believe such a thing exists. I’ve never heard anyone in our group use the term; we don’t hold offices or elect officers. What does exist is this: There are certain people in Hollywood who enjoy being with each other, and I’m lucky enough to be one of them. … It’s true that the chemistry between Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and me is good. It’s also fun, and it’s rare. But there’s nothing evil, or even questionable, about this relationship.”

For the full text of this and other Post stories on MacLaine, visit

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