1 Where and when were you born?
I was born in a New York City charity hospital at the height of the depression-November 22, 1932. My mother was an actress; my father, Walter Vaughn, was a successful radio actor.
2 How were you raised?
I was raised by my mother's parents in Minneapolis. They were in their late sixties and I was brought to them when I was nine months old. Years later my mother told me that she was on the road so much I wouldn't have had a normal growing up.
3 How did your father feel about this?
My father had no contact with me after I was born. He did not want the responsibility of me either. I assume no one did.
4 Were you a good student?
In grade school, I would say just an average student. I was expelled many times. I'd say maybe a half-dozen times between the ages of five and ten. I suppose I took out the hostility I felt at being separated from my parents by being belligerent in school.
5 Was there any romance in your life during your school days?
Yes, in my High School days. The big crush was a girl named Betty who had the finest figure I had ever seen, a vague charm, a good sense of humor, and I was involved with her for almost three years.
6 How did you meet her?
She was in my biology class in high school, but because she was taller than I, I didn't ask for a date. But a year later I was tallen than she. I made a comment at a weenie roast and we went and kissed under a bridge and that was it.
7 What happened to the relationship?
Well, I was very involved in athletics and very ambitious in other areas. All she wanted-which was perfectly normal-was to be married. I told her I couldn't think of getting married until I became a star.
8 Did she believe you were going to be a movie star?
No-she thought I was nuts. Everyone did.
9 How would you characterize your relationship with girls in general when you were a teenager?
I was always very shy with girls. I still am I'm not aggressive. I would subtly show a woman that I found her attractive, but I'd never instigate any advances. Not unless the approached me first. I didn't want to be rejected on any level.
10 You said you were rejected by your father. What about your stepfather. What do you remember about that?
I remember my mother sent for me one Christmas-I was about ten years old-and I went to Chicago to meet him. My stepfather was a young man-around 30, and if I had drawn a diagram of the man I would want for a father I couldn't have found anyone more complete or acceptable. He was everything-handsome, virile, athletic, articulate. He was the ideal father. But he was an alcoholic. He died at 39 of alcoholism. It was a sad thing to see. He always looked young for his age, but in his last year he looked 60.
11 Did you ever take a drink as a child? If so do you recall what happened?
Well, I'd often serve as bartender at my folks' parties. I saw how happy everyone was and I thought I'd try it. One night I was carrying a tray of drinks and fell right on my face. My mother put me to bed. She told people I was sick. I was.
12 Did you stop then for good?
I'm afraid not. In fact I almost didn't graduate from high school because I was caught drinking in class. But my mother, who had attended the same school, argued that I was a good scholar and a good athlete. And they said OK, but my mother wasn't to tell me until half an hour before the ceremony. It was a sad thing because I coudn't participate in the frivolity of being a graduate.
13 What did you do after high school?
I went to the University of Minnesota for a year and a half. I started as a journalism major. For a while I thought I wanted to be a sports writer.
14 Was there a particular turning point in your life at that time?
There were two. My father died and left me $10,000. I bought a car and about fifty suits and had an open bar tab. I shot the money in no time at all. Then one day I found a message in my mailbox from the head of the drama department inviting me to play Laertes in Hamlet. After that, I did not deal in sportswriting.
15 But what made you so interested in acting?
I found my greatest satisfaction in the work. Not in winning track meets. Not in sinking baskets, but in performing. I never feel completely, purely happy except when I'm acting.
16 And so you decided to come West?
Yes. I enrolled in L.A. City College. Then I went to L.A. State College for my Masters degree and U.S.C. for my Doctorate which I am still aiming for.
17 How did you support yourself in L.A.?
I worked in a grocery stor and as a messenger for the Arrow Service.
18 When did you actually get involved with Hollywood?
1952. After I finished my college prep courses, I joined the Stage Society. I left there in 1954 because I couldn't pay my dues.
19 Then when did your career start going?
After I got my B.A., I got the lead in a play called End As A Man. As a result of that I got two movie contracts. My first picture was Hell at the Crossroads for Republic. Then came No Time To Be Young.
20 How do you feel about that Oscar nomination you got for The Young Philadelphians?
I did that picture in 1958, it was released in 1959 and the Academy Award Nomination was in 1960. I didn't enjoy that role at all. It was a personality that I don't care to play-a very weak, ineffectual guy who was an alcoholic. That's something very unattractive to me but everyone from Jack Warner on said, "Hands down you've got to get an Oscar for this picture." So I went after it with publicity and so on. But I did not win. No sour grapes though. Perhaps I'll grab an Oscar someday.
21 When you were free-lancing you worked constantly. What made you tie yourself down with a series?
First The Lieutenant came up. I was asked to do a role in the pilot. I thought the show would never sell. Then I heard they sold it to NBC on the basis of the fact that I was the co-star. I got a fine deal for very little work and it gave me the security I never had.
22 When The Lieutenant was dropped after one year and you had the money, why did you atay at MGM for U.N.C.L.E.?
I had the money but I didn't have the name or the recognition that was important to do ther thengs. The part of Solo was just what I wanted. It put me in the leading man category which is where I wanted to be, it enabled me to buy a $75,000 home and the best material things. But above all it gave me a chance to be seen doing other things-like the stage version of Hamlet which I am planning to do in England next season. I will be the first American actory to play the melancholy Dane in Shakespeare country since Barrymore.
23 Don't you think you're sticking your neck out a bit doing that?
I think I'm sticking my neck out a great deal. So does everyone else. In fact David McCallum said, "Robert, I do think you should be committed." But I do think it is a challenge and the worst that can happen is a panning by the critics. I heard they stopped cutting off heads a long time ago.
24 Since you were speaking of David McCallum, what do you really think of him?
Oh-here we go again. Truthfullly. I think David is a consummate artist and a gentleman, and of all my acting peers, there's no one I'd rather do a series with.
25 Now we'd like to know a bit about your personal habits. Do you have a set routine?
It is essential to when working. (sic) I'm usually home in bed asleep by 10:30-11 PM every night. When I am working I see no one outside my work and usually have an early dinner. On the weekends I make up for it-sleep late, etc.
26 Do you like to travel or do you prefer to spend your time at home?
I rarely spend any time at home. When I have free timeI think nothing of hoppping a plane to New York or San Francisco or anywhere. Last Christmas, I flew to New York for two days just to see the play-Marat-Sade. My trip to the Soviet Union last year was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and I would like to return there for a leisurely visit, even though I have been accused by some people of being pro-Communist because I gave an interview in chich I said I enjoyed my visit.
27 What is your political affilitation?
28 And your religious affiliation?
29 Are you deeply religious?
I would like to think I am.
30 What is your favorite manner of dress?
Suit, white shirt and tie for day-time, tuxedo for dressy occasions. Good casual clothes for casual occasions. A successful actor should look like one, and not appear in public looking like a beatnik.
31 Do you tell little white lies or whopper or both?
I now try to avoid the whoppers, though in the past there were more than a few times when I wasn't the soul of veracity.
32 What was the most embarrassing experience of your adult life?
To embarrassing to relate in detail. But it occurred last October at the Thalian Ball when a lady star didn't act like a lady at all and there were photographers present to record her actions. Fortunately the gentlemen of the press acted like gentlement and didn't report the incident nor release the pictures if they got any. The press has always been good to me and in this particular case, they were great. I was embarrassed for myself, but much more so for her.
33 Do you have any food preferences?
I suppose you would say I am a health food nut; blended begetables, wheat germ, vitamins and all that. At least twice a week I eat dinner at the Aware Inn. It's not ridiculous food. It's normal food but prepared organically.
34 Is the Aware Inn your favorite place to eat?
I like any good restaurant-The Nine Muses, Chasens, La Scala.
35 Are you extravagant or penny pinching?
You can't pinch pennies at the above places. My tax man would call me quite extravagant. Of course I have a personal manager who puts me on a $25 a week cash allowance. Ah, but there's the rub. That doesn't include what I sign for on credit cards. I found myself in quite a hole last year.
36 Have you ever had any unpleasant experiences with fans?
Let's just call them unusual. Like the time I made the mistake of strolling by the lingerie department of an L.A. department store, and in a second I was running for my life, pursued by a posse of middle-aged matrons waving their newly bought underthings for me to autograph.
37 Does anything else bother you?
Well, yes, when the younger ones try to come to the house and climb over the gate. I'm afraid they might get hurt.
38 Has your house been put on the tourist maps?
No, but as a result of the Joan O'Brien incident last year, my address was published in all the Los Angeles papers and apparently every kid in town copied it. I'm getting hordes of fan mail at the house, plus the kids arriving.
39 What do they do when they make it over the gate and get to the doorway?
They keep ringing the bell.
40 And what do you do?
I hide until they go away.
41 Do you have any servants?
Just a once-a-week-maid.
42 How would you characterize (sic) your relationships with people you know very well. Intellectual, emotional, both?
My relationships with most human beings are rather cerebral and intellectual. I am not an emotionally oriented person. It's ironic, and perhaps it sounds contradictory but, because I feel so deeply, I have learned to restrain my emotions perfecctly. Long ago I decided to save my tears for the cameras. Therefore, I have been accused of being aloof, devoid of feelings.
43 Is it true you never answer your phone?
I rarely answer my phone. I hate talking over the phone. I do have an exchange. They tell me who called ancd I usually return the call. This is nothing recent. I always hated to talk over the phone.
44 What else do you hate?
Aggressive actresses. Most actresses I've worked with were nervous, sulking, self-pitying, emotionally disturbed little girls. They might look nice in a wedding scene, but they make lousy wives.
45 What kind of women do you like?
Well, I've always been attraced to the Marilyn Monroe type girl, blonde, blue-eyed, voluptuous.
46 That sounds like Joyce Jameson. But she's an actress too. Can you sum up, in a few worcds, your feelings toward Joyce?
In a few words, no.
47 In many then?
I'll say what I said before. Joyce is the one woman I have ever really loved. I cannot say what the future will bring. I am not considering marriage at this time-or if I am considering it, I am not rushing into it: At this moment we are not seeing each other, but since we've had endless periods of not seeing each other in the past I cannot say if the relationship has ended permanently.
48 Are you interested in analysis?
Yes, for other people, not for myself. I think I know myself well enough to understand what made me what I am today, as a person.
49 Has acting made it difficult for you to be just a "person" rather than a personality?
Yes, it is difficult-especially with children. I love children but since the show I can't relate to them at all. They look at me as though I were Batman or someone. My private years, if there were any, are gone. But I don't mind this. I like public life very much.
50 What do you think of today's teenagers?
As a group I think teen-agers (sic) have been much maligned. Most teenagers I meet are extremely intelligent. I think teens see the humor (sic) in things ranging from Beatlemania to the way out capers on U.N.C.L.E. However if I were asked to give one bit of advice to teens, I would say: "Be yourself. Don't allow yourselves to be so easily incorporated in group style of dressing, of wearing your hair, or thinking. Develop more individuality and don't be afraid of being an oddball. After all, it's the strong willed individual who creates the trends others follow. Take more pride in yourself and others will respect you more. And, of course, I am a great advocate of college which gives one a broad base and an expanded outlook on life.