Ann Jillian Remembers 'Gypsy'


By Jeremy Kinser

The actress shares memories of playing June in the 1962 film musical alongside Natalie Wood and Rosalind Russell.

Any special memories of her?
I remember standing watching her — remember this is an almost totally black soundstage — and she’s putting her makeup on. I was standing watching her and I felt the presence of someone next to me leaning against a ladder, a man who was watching her too. I said, “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” He said, “Oh yes, she is.” It was Warren Beatty. [Laughs]

Of course it was! What is it about Gypsy that makes it such an enduring classic?
Great music. Great characters. There’s a universal understanding of familial relationships. And there’s the added layer that you’re peeking into unfamiliar worlds. There’s the world of vaudeville and the world of burlesque. Those always have a curiosity. It’s sexy. The enduring element of course is not just the anchor of Mama Rose but the character of Gypsy Rose Lee. The scene where she looks in the mirror and says, “Mama, I’m a pretty girl,” Natalie Wood did absolutely unbelievably. There is nobody in this entire world who could watch that scene and not agree with her 100 percent.

I posted a note on Facebook that I was interviewing you and got a lot of messages from people saying they miss you and want to see you on TV again. Do you have plans to return to acting?
I’m thinking about it again. The reason I pulled away was I made a priority choice to be with my family. I had a son late in life. I was 42 when I gave birth to him and I wanted to be a hands-on mom. I wanted to be able to drop him off at school and not be a thousand miles away on location. Also my parents needed help so we moved them into our home and took care of them. Raising a child to me is a very serious job. I know that a lot of women think you can have it all. I say this: Yes, you can, but perhaps not all at the same time. If you do, then, in my opinion, something is going to suffer and I didn’t want my son to suffer. That’s why I pulled away. It wasn’t because I lost interest in my craft. I think at some point now that my son is in college I will be stepping out on my own again.

Watch the original trailer for the film below.

Tags: Movies