Teri Garr was a luminous presence during the 70s and 80s acting in movies like Young Frankenstein (1974) by Mel Brooks with Gene Wilder, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) by Steven Spielberg with Richard Dreyfuss, One from the Heart (1982) by Francis Ford Coppola with Frederick Forrest, and many others.
In spring of 1982 she graciously granted me an interview and photo session at her lovely home in Laurel Canyon, then she came to my Hollywood studio for another session.
Having started as a dancer in chorus lines on Broadway, Teri loved to get to dance on screen in One from the Heart, with Gene Kelly doing the choreography: “He is great. It had always been my dream to work with him. I used to see his movies when I was a kid, and that’s what made me go to dancing school.”
Of Francis Coppola she said: “He is a genius, he is brilliant. He is very strong, and he was going to get his idea done at whatever cost. Everybody said he was crazy, and wanted to take the money away from him. He made this movie with all this electronic equipment, he had to put together the technology himself, and it cost millions of dollars. But in the end he came up with a great product, you’ve never seen a movie like this. He loves beautiful things and he is very clever. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are guys that Coppola found and gave them their first chance.”
These were her goals in 1982: “I’d like to solve world hunger, make world peace, stop nuclear power, get great gun control laws, better prison reforms. I would like Equal Rights for women. When I was a kid my father died and my mother had to support us. She worked very hard at a low paying job and she was paid half what a man would get for the same job. That has affected me. I’m a member of E.R.A. and N.O.W.”
In 2002 Teri disclosed that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, in 2005 she published an autobiography, Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood.
I selected one of the images from the home session for the invitation to my photo exhibit at the Lhasa Club in January 1983. (Designed by Ave Pildas)
Garr was born on December 11, 1944. Happy Birthday, Teri!
Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli