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Remembering Jack Lemmon

Aired June 28, 2001 - 21:00   ET



JACK LEMMON, ACTOR: Spoon? You dumb ignoramus, that is a ladle!



TONY CURTIS, ACTOR: Just keep telling yourself: you're a girl.

LEMMON: I'm a girl.

CURTIS: You're a girl.

LEMMON: I'm a girl.



LEMMON: There was a vibration!


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, from hilarious comedy to heartbreaking drama, two-time Oscar winner Jack Lemmon could do it all. Joining us to remember this remarkably talented man in Los Angeles, his friend, co-star, fellow Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine. Also in L.A., Oscar winner, friend, Kevin Spacey, who says that Jack was his idol, one of the reasons he got into acting in the first place.

Also, Lemmon's close friend and family spokesperson David Seltzer. And in New York, later on, Walter Matthau's son Charlie. His father costarred with Jack Lemmon in some of the funniest movies ever made. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE!

We start with Shirley MacLaine. How did you hear about this, Shirley?

SHIRLEY MACLAINE, ACTRESS: I was waken up this morning at about -- not by construction, which usually happens, but by this news. I couldn't -- I couldn't process it. I think for one of the first times in my life I was speechless. KING: Did you know he was very ill?

MACLAINE: I knew he had problems, but I really didn't know the seriousness of it. And I...

KING: So, you were shocked?

MACLAINE: Totally.

KING: Kevin?

KEVIN SPACEY, ACTOR: I was coming out back from running this morning and I heard on the radio, that was the first way I heard it. And by then, a lot of people had called already, and...

KING: Do you remember your first reaction? I mean...

SPACEY: I think I'm still in a kind of state of -- I'm not quite sure how I feel. Today has been has been a very emotional day, remembering a lot of things, and then there is these moments where you are even watching television, you know, you guys have been doing a lot of coverage today -- and you see these moments from his work, and then you hear him talk in some interview about how he felt about his craft and his family, and you just -- I have just been catching myself all day sort of on the -- on the brink of...

KING: Losing it.


KING: David Seltzer, personal manager and friend -- personal manager for how long?

DAVID SELTZER, LEMMON'S MANAGER AND FRIEND: For about eight years, Larry, but we have had a relationship for 16 years.

KING: You are rather young. How old you were you when you got involved?

SELTZER: Thirty-six. I was an undergraduate at Harvard. Jack was a graduate of Harvard, and like Kevin he took me under his wing. I was 20 years old and I wrote him a letter -- because I knew he was going to New York to be honored there. He met with me, helped me get my first job in the business, wrote my recommendation for business school later.

We stayed in touch. I became a manager at one of the important management companies in entertainment, and I signed him as a client, and I represented him for the last eight years.

KING: And how did you learn today?

SELTZER: I heard about it last night. Courtney Lemmon called me and left a message on my machine.

KING: And she is? SELTZER: That's Jack's daughter. And I got a message from her on my home machine at 11:00 last night. I was on my way home, and I called her, and she told me what had happened, and she asked me to get in touch with Jack's publicist, Warren Cowan (ph), and we let everybody know what had happened.

KING: Did you know he was very ill?

SELTZER: Yeah. As his manager, I've known every step of the way what's been going on. I've been in touch with the family about this, and it's been an ongoing process, and there have been times over the past year we thought he was getting better, and he beat -- he tried to beat this thing, he really did.

He was such a fighter and he had such a spirit and such a will to live, it was just incredible, and just when we thought maybe it was going to beat him, he just pulled through, and...

KING: It was cancer of what?

SELTZER: You know, the cancer had spread, and initially it hit different parts of his body, quite honestly. I mean, there was a time when it was affecting and he had diverticulitis, and that was in the press, and it was actually true, he did have diverticulitis. Later on, he had his gall bladder removed, but it just kept going.

KING: Shirley, when did you last talk to Jack?

MACLAINE: Oh, sometime in the last year, I can't remember exactly when. We talked about Billy, how Billy Wilder was doing.

KING: Mr. Wilder said today -- we are told by his spokesman -- Mr. Wilder is saddened by the loss of his friend Jack Lemmon, a great actor an a wonderful man. "Nobody's perfect, but he came as close."

MACLAINE: And Billy's birthday, 95th birthday, was just last week. So, I don't know, Larry. We probably don't want to get into these deep discussions, but I think people go when they want to, when they are ready to, and it was almost as though he was waiting for Billy's 95th.

Other thing: I couldn't sleep last night, I couldn't sleep the night before. It was something was bothering me so deeply, and I didn't know what it was. So I was not surprised when I got the call this morning.

KING: I want to ask all of you how you first met him. You told us. Kevin, you were young, right?

SPACEY: I was. I grew up in San Fernando Valley, and one of the things that the thespian troupe I was a member of -- and I was in the ninth grade, so I 14 years old. We used to take trips to the music center.

(CROSSTALK) SPACEY: ... in Los Angeles. And very often, you would find yourself at a seminar that the actors would do, and this particular year, 1974, Jack was doing "Juno and the Peacock" at the Mark Taper with Walter Matthau and Maureen Stapleton. And as a ninth-grader, I went into the seminar with Jack Lemmon and Walter and Maureen, and he -- that day, he signed an 8x10 picture for me. And he was always one of my idols.

KING: Dear Kevin, good luck?

SPACEY: Well, I brought it, because I went to my office today and I found it. I kept it ever since. And 11 years later, I auditioned for "Long Day's Journey Into Night," and at the end of that audition, he walked up to me -- and it was really the first time that I had met him as an actor, and he put his hand on my shoulder and said: "Well, you know what, I never thought I would find the rotten kid, but you're it."

KING: He got that down. How did you first meet him, Shirley?

MACLAINE: Well, on "The Apartment." Billy was writing. I remember Jack called and said: "We have 29 pages of something I think you are going to love." He had already worked with Billy. And he talked about the comedy and drama landscape, he talked about how what a master Billy was, I said: "29 pages? Is this really -- we are going to start with that?" "Yes. Yes, kid, the purple throbber says yes." Remember that?

KING: So, that was before "Irma La Douce?"

MACLAINE: Oh, yeah.

KING: Did you hit it off right away?

MACLAINE: Oh, yeah. Oh, Larry, he was the most -- first of all, he was this great artist of -- of the human landscape. Of course, we all know the comedy, the drama -- and he sort of used himself as the brush for painting what human emotions were, but I never found any neurosis in Jack, I never found any kind of sense of erotic, you know, star thing.

And after work, we would have his jug of martinis and talk about life, and he would discuss magic time, and he was the most decent -- I guess he and Tom Hanks would be in the same place together up there.

SPACEY: Do you know about magic time, what that means?


SPACEY: Magic time is something that Jack said before every take on a film. And he -- he did it under his breath, so a lot of us who worked with him -- I heard...


KING: So, they would say "ready for this scene..." SPACEY: ... they would be, you know, rolling, speed, and just under his breath Jack would usually just be, you know, just about ready to do the scene, you just hear him just say "it's magic time."

MACLAINE: Or, if sometimes he wanted to get into the mood, and it was a bombastic scene, he would scream "Magic Time!" and go.

KING: But of all the superstars, wouldn't you say, David, he was a regular guy?

SELTZER: He was such a regular guy. He was the kind of guy, he'd walk down the street, and anybody would feel like they can go up to Jack and say hello and shake his hand, and he -- and he...

KING: And he would.

SELTZER: And greeted that warmly. I mean, he welcomed them. And he was incredible.

KING: We will be right back with Shirley MacLaine, Kevin Spacey and David Seltzer, Jack's personal manager and friend. Jack Lemmon died last night around what?

SELTZER: Around 10:00.

KING: We will be right back with more LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


WALTER MATTHAU, ACTOR: Felix, this is no time to have a domestic quarrel! We've got two girls coming down here any minute!.

LEMMON: You told them to be here at 8:00?

W. MATTHAU: I don't remember what I said, 7:30, 8:00 -- what the hell difference does it make?

LEMMON: Well, I'll tell you what the hell difference it makes! You told me that they were going to be here at 7:30! You were going to be here at 7:00, help me with the hors d'oeuvres, and at 7:30, they'd get here, and we'd have the drinks, cocktails -- at 8:00, we were going to eat dinner. Well, it's now 8:00, and my dinner is finished! The meat loaf is done! Now, if we don't eat within 15 seconds, the whole damn thing will be dried out!

W. MATTHAU: God help me.




LEMMON: Good night.


LEMMON: Maude, sweet dreams and pleasant thoughts.


LEMMON: Good night, Gloria.


LEMMON: Dolores, dear, you sleep tight, you hear?

Nighty night, Emily.


LEMMON: Oh, how about that toodeloo?

TONY CURTIS, ACTOR: Steady boy! Just keep telling yourself you're a girl.

LEMMON: I'm a girl.

CURTIS: You are a girl.

LEMMON: I'm a girl.

CURTIS: You are a girl.

LEMMON: I'm a girl, I'm a girl. I'm a -- Hi.

Get a load of that rhythm section.

I'm a girl! I'm a girl, I'm a girl. I'm a girl.


KING: He was nominated of course for that movie for Best Actor, also nominated for "The Apartment," for "Days of Wine and Roses," for "The China Syndrome," "Tribute," "missing," and won Best Supporting Actor from "Mr. Roberts" and Best Actor for "Save the Tiger."

Kevin mentioned that autographed picture. I think we can show it to you now.

"To Kevin with my very best wishes." You saved it.

SPACEY: Oh, yeah that has been...

KING: You were 14.

SPACEY: I was 14 years old. That has been with me ever since. I mean, I knew right where it was.

KING: There is almost a feeling here -- I notice in you right now -- that he is not gone. Right?


KING: It is not -- people don't -- legends don't -- they are not supposed to go.

MACLAINE: Well, he also had this quality of reinventing some kind of art in himself, every time he worked. So even though he was in his 70s, he didn't seem more than 30 with his creativity.

SPACEY: Yes, I also think that he as an actor -- he had this instinct about people. He -- we all saw ourselves in him. So it was very easy to feel close to him. To feel an affinity to who he was, even though we didn't really know who he, and he was in fact a private man, certainly with family, and certainly as we have learned in the last you know year. No one really knew that he was even ill. And I think -- I was talking earlier today with Chris.

KING: His son.

SPACEY: His son, and, I said you know, I think probably one of the reasons that he didn't want it out there -- is Jack was a practical man. He loved to work. And he probably thought, if they hear I'm sick I'm going to lose work. And he was thinking always of -- he was going to do a Larry (UNINTELLIGIBLE) film.

He was going to do "Power Failure," which I almost had something to do with. And, he was always looking toward the future.

KING: So he didn't want it know he was sick, afraid a script wouldn't -- that would be typical.

SPACEY: I'm just saying that -- that is the level of his privacy, and yet, he had this ability as an actor to make us feel we all knew him intimately.

MACLAINE: And always feeling like he was young, and had a whole future ahead of him.

KING: I want to talk...

SELTZER: to work, Larry. That's another thing. He -- one of the reasons he wanted to fight to live, I think, was because he loved -- first of all, he loved his family as much as he did. That is first and foremost. But secondly, he just loved working. And even as he was sick, I told Felicia -- you know, I read a great script the other day, mention it to Jack, you know, to get him psyched up, and...

KING: How is she taking it?

SELTZER: I haven't spoken to her today. She has been amazing through this whole ordeal. She has been by his side for...

KING: She was with him when he died?

SELTZER: Yes. Felicia.

KING: Were the kids with him? SELTZER: Yes, the kids were with him. And they basically have been camping out with him for...

KING: How are they had handling it? How is the boy handling it?

SELTZER: I think it is -- you know, I think for Chris, it is probably more profound than it is for a lot of kids who don't have the kind of relationship with their fathers that they had.

KING: Like Charlie had with Walter.

SELTZER: Yes, they were really friends, and, when they talk about each other, when Jack talked about Chris or even when Chris talks about him, and some of the memories he has, you can see that they were pals, in addition to being a father and son, and Jack being a great father.

KING: Do you think, being so close, one year away, the loss of Walter had an effect? Shirley?


KING: It would be a guess but...

MACLAINE: Oh, absolutely. I think he was tending to that illness of Walter's, and when Walter went, one of the great co-stars in his universe went.

KING: His last appearance was on this show on a memorial we did for Walter. About two weeks after Walter died. And then he spoke at that memorial, of course.

MACLAINE: And he died "synchronistically," not too long space a time apart.

KING: Yes, one year.

SPACEY: You know that great story Jack tells about when, I don't remember the picture, but you know he relied on Walter a lot for -- they were great friends, he trusted him and so, Jack had done a movie that he thought was just terrific, he said this is the next Oscar, this is terrific.

KING: You really got his voice.

SPACEY: You work with him a year, you really get him down. So he invited the Matthaus to come to a screening of this picture, I think it was "How to Murder a Wife" or something, I can't remember what it was.

Anyway, the screaming was a disaster. And, Jack said, people kept getting up to go get popcorn, but they weren't coming back. And he said, at the end of the film, the credits were going up, and Felicia and Walter's wife, Carol, got up and went into the lobby and left the two guys alone. And he said, now, the theater was completely empty and Walter was just starring up at the screen. Completely blank expression on his face. And Jack finally -- he said minutes went by -- and he said, I finally looked turned and looked at Walter and I said, OK, what did you really think? And Matthau, without missing a beat, said get out of it!

KING: We will talk about working with Jack Lemmon -- it's hard to mention one without the other -- working with Jack Lemmon, what that was like for Shirley and Kevin.

And also, what he was like, as for David, a boss.

Don't go away.


LEMMON: What does that look like to you, Doc?

WILLIAM POWELL, ACTOR: Just what it is. Cardboard center, roll of toilet paper.

LEMMON: I suppose it doesn't look like a firecracker?

POWELL: No, not a bit like a firecracker.

LEMMON: And I suppose that doesn't look like a fuse?

POWELL: Looks like a piece of spring.

LEMMON: Yes, well, you just wait -- boy, I am going to get me some black powder from that gunner's mate and I'm going to -- no, sir. This is not going to be any peanut of a firecracker. I'm going to pack that thing solid with that stuff they used to blow up bridges. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mercury! And boy, on the night of Doug's birthday, I'm going to throw that under the old man's bunk, and bam, boy, bam! Ooh bam!

Captain, it is me! It is I. Ensign Pulver! I just threw the firecracker under your stinking bunk!




SPACEY: Two leads, $100.


SPACEY: Now, yes.


SPACEY: I wish I could. You -- I don't have it. I -- I don't -- I will bring it in the office in the morning, I will be coming in with the sales.


LEMMON: All right, here is -- $30. And oh, come on, Jesus! Here's the $30, and I'll bring the rest in tomorrow. Now we've got to do this, huh pal? For Christ sakes.

SPACEY: No. I can't do it, Shelley.

LEMMON: I got to tell you something. It wasn't so long ago I'd just pick up the phone and I called Murray, I got your job. You know, hey, Murray, the kid is burning my ass.

Shelley, he is gone.

You are gone before I'm back from lunch.


KING: Brilliant David Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," Spacey and Jack Lemmon. What lines in that, huh. Worked with him. We have got -- we contacted a lot of people today, Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews are deeply saddened by the passing of their dear friend. They've made five movies together and Blake said they enjoyed a tremendous personal relationship and Julie Andrews said she leashed this morning and has a sad, sad heart.

What was it like to work with him, Kevin? Like that scene we just saw.

SPACEY: That scene we just saw in "Glengarry Glen Ross" which was after we had done 3 other things together, so by this point we really knew each other. We had done "Journey" almost a year.

KING: Was he good on stage as he was in this film?

SPACEY: Oh, God, he was great in this role. He was great when he did "Long Day's Journey" It was a big risk for him, he was -- oh, that is a picture, he came and surprised me at a birthday party. That is a shot of him being typical Jack.

MACLAINE: Is that you?

SPACEY: That is me. Isn't that shocking?


SPACEY: And this is backstage at "Long Day's Journey" when we were in London. That's Margaret Thatcher when she came to see the play.

KING: That play wears you out, that play.

SPACEY: Oh, yes. KING: But working with -- you were saying about "Glengarry..."

SPACEY: First of all, you get to know him in such a way that you understand how he breathes and his rhythms and particularly when I was playing "Long Day's Journey" I was playing his so I used to sort of imitate him in the course of the play. It used to drive him mad. But he was right, you know, for the part.

KING: Did he help other actors?

SPACEY: Oh, he was incredibly generous. He was extraordinarily generous. And I think that just carried into his own life, you know. He was a man who never took advantage of the good fortune that came his way. He was courteous to everyone. He treated this fans incredibly well, and he just loved acting. He loved it. And he always tried to get better.

KING: How did you like working with him, Shirley.

MACLAINE: He taught me what professionalism is. He was so decent, as Kevin said. He was always prepared. He was never late. He had wonderful contributions to make, because Billy would listen to him. I used to come in on my days off and watch him work.

KING: Really?

MACLAINE: Yes, with Billy, because the talent was so exuberant and effervescent. I used to watch the progression of the Jack Lemmon version with spontaneity and Billy was so enamored of his talent that they would go to take 16 just to see what he could do. And as a result I saw the difference between the spontaneous Jack and the 16- take Jack. They were all wonderful. But I always loved the first three takes.

KING: That's the hardest thing to do, isn't it, be spontaneous on your 16th...

SPACEY: On your 16th take, yes. And Jack managed to -- especially some those monologues he had in "Glengarry" are just extraordinary pieces of words and verbiage and he just found a way through them. He had a rhythm, he had a poetry to the way he spoke and he always found humor.

KING: Speaking of that, Alec Baldwin said Jack Lemmon was one of the most giving actors I've ever had the privilege to work with. When he did a scene he let it affect him, where most actors today are after invincibility. Jack was one of the most vulnerable people I've ever worked with in my life. It's helped make him great. Alec Baldwin who was with him in "Glengarry Glen Ross" as well.

MACLAINE: An you know, he did that on your close-up when he was off camera. He did it full out, so that you could respond.

KING: So he'd work with you even when the close-up wasn't on him. Some don't work with you...

MACLAINE: They're not that generous.

SPACEY: Some actors aren't there. Some actors don't stay.

SPACEY: Some of them you do it to a wall.

SPACEY: I wouldn't do that to you.

KING: I'll ask David what was it was like to work for him right after this.

Jack Lemmon was an actor new how to nail a laugh. When I talked with him in '88 we discussed the differences between doing comedy on stage and comedy on the screen. On stage an actor has the audience to tell him whether he is being funny. How does he gauge it on a movie set?


LEMMON: Don't wait. Don't wait for it.

KING: Keep going.

LEMMON: That lesson, that a lot of people have to learn. I learned it early and I was also advised early by people that really knew. You cannot wait for the laugh because you never know. I mean you could be given surefire material and also, in the case of "Mr. Roberts," where you have done it in the theater, you know where that laugh is, you know it is huge, don't wait for it beyond the wait that you can legitimately take.

Because in the third showing, at 11:00 at night, when that theater is half empty, people will not laugh loud and long, not when they are separated from people. Only when they are jammed in will they bellow. That is true. I don't know why, but it is an absolute fact. It is true, and there is nothing worse than waiting and timing and you wait, and it looks like a bad cut on the film because the laugh is stopped, and you are waiting.



KING: Jane Fonda, who worked with him in "China Syndrome" and whose father worked with him in "Mr. Roberts," said he was the consummate actor. "I loved him ever since he did "Mr. Roberts" with my dad." Kirk Douglas says, how tragic. A short time ago I'm mourning the loss of Walter Matthau. Now Walter's closest friend is gone. We saw each other often occasionally with our wives. We played poker. It seems hard to realize this happy fellow, always smiling, is no more. My heart goes out to his wife. He always made me smile when his license plate read "I HEART FL."

His movies brought so much happiness to so many people. What was he like to work for, David?

SELTZER: I'll tell you, Larry, the interesting thing is I never felt like I worked for him. I always felt like I worked with him. I always felt like, given that our relationship started out with him as my mentor and me as his protege, it evolved into a friendship. And the amazing thing is that it really was partnership. We -- I felt like he respected my opinion about scripts, and we came to trust each other.

KING: He's twice your age -- more than twice your age.

SELTZER: It's incredible. And in the last couple of years, I would talk about something and he would say look, you handle it the way you see fit. He was incredible. I visited him on sets whenever he was doing a movie and there was one time I visited him on location and he was in his trailer and we were sitting there talking and they kept coming back every hour or so and saying, you know, Jack, we are still going use you, just sit tight. I kept saying, Jack, do you want me to say something?

He said no, no, don't worry, don't worry. I said fine, and we literally sat there for seven hours in his trailer and then the AD came in and he said, you know, Jack, we are really sorry, but we are not going use you today. He didn't complain -- nothing. He just got up and he said that's OK.

MACLAINE: Is that really the truth? He didn't say a word?

SELTZER: Didn't say a word. He got up, and we went back to the hotel and that was it. He never complained. He was the consummate gentleman.

KING: And we was also, on a personal note, one of the great guests. Boy, when you get him on a show, you got, as they say, meat.

We'll be right back with more of our tribute and we will be joined by Walter Matthau's son Charlie as well. He's in New York. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE CHINA SYNDROME")

LEMMON: I love that. That is my whole life.

JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: What is the problem?

LEMMON: A shudder. Damn shudder, the vibration that I felt during the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trip that bothered me. And it sure didn't bother anybody else. And while I'm checking it I find that some idiot -- if only the welding X-rays. I just can not believe a man would deliberately falsify the records of a nuclear reactor -- my God.


FONDA: That means the plant's not safe.

LEMMON: It means that that vibration was a warning and the plant should be shut down. Every one of those wells should be re X-rayed. Of course we're talking about millions of dollars aren't we and we don't want to talk about that. (END VIDEO CLIP)



KING: When did the friendship begin?

LEMMON: I think right away.

KING: From making "Fortune Cookie"?

LEMMON: Yes, we got along right away. I walked...

KING: Your wives are friends...

W. MATTHAU: How could you not be friendly with him? This man is a amenable, delightful...

KING: One of the easiest people to be around.

W. MATTHAU: Yes, generous...

KING: Harpo, what did you see in him?

W. MATTHAU: ... and no ego problem. He has no ego problem. This man is without an ego.

LEMMON: What is that, a Yugoslavian car?



KING: We're paying tribute to -- it's hard to say -- the late Jack Lemmon. With us is Shirley MacLaine, Oscar-winning actress, costarred with Lemmon in "The Apartment" and "Irma la Douce," Kevin Spacey, Oscar-winning actor -- two Oscar winners with us tonight -- costarred with Lemmon in "Glengarry Glen Ross," costarred with him in the play "Long Day's Journey into Night," met him when he was 14 years old. David Seltzer, Jack Lemmon's personal manager and friend.

And joining us now from New York is Walter Matthau -- is Charlie Matthau, Walter Matthau's son. He directed both Matthau and Lemmon in "The Grass Hawk" in 1996.

How did you hear about this, Charlie?

CHARLIE MATTHAU, WALTER MATTHAU'S SON: I didn't check my messages this morning because I'm in New York visiting my mom, and I didn't check my messages. I got in the elevator in the hotel and a friend of mine that works at the hotel says, you hear the news? And he told me what happened, and I'm still in shock.

KING: Boy, looking at you, do you look like Walter. You look more like Walter every day I see you. C. MATTHAU: That is compliment, thank you.

KING: What about that friendship between your father and Jack?

C. MATTHAU: Well, they were great friends. Great life-long friends, and together again.

KING: Your -- you remember Jack Lemmon's speech at your father's memorial?


KING: I think that was one of the great moments that -- Jack was never the same after that, was he?

C. MATTHAU: I don't think so. I don't think so. Yes, I still get chills thinking about that.

KING: How did you like working with him?

C. MATTHAU: I loved working with him. It was -- it was a dream come true, just knowing that I got the chance to direct the two of them in a film together, I'll be proud of that the rest of my life.

KING: Shirley, you were going to tell me something about a little switch, you were saying?


KING: Timing.

MACLAINE: I was talking about how you can't wait for the laugh. And as a kind of a community, because that's what it was, working with Jack, we would say to Billy...

KING: Billy Wilder.

MACLAINE: Billy Wilder -- can we do this scene again and take out 13 seconds? And we would somehow feel it and do it. And then Billy got on to that, and said, OK, now take out 20, and then 21 1/2. But there's an innate -- there was an innate kind of a pulse in him that he knew what 13 seconds meant, in terms of comedy.

KING: Is comedy harder, Kevin?

SPACEY: I think so. I mean, what was incredible about his career, particularly early on, as you know, everyone thought of him as a comedian, and then he began to take on, I think, "Days of Wine and Roses," was really what sort of suddenly made people realize the depth of his ability as a dramatic actor, but comedy is so hard to make work, and make it look effortless. And certainly in his case, the kind of physical comedy that he was able to do. I mean, some of my favorite scenes ever are some of those moments between him and Matthau in "The Odd Couple," because the two of them play off of each other so brilliantly. They're so aware of each other and yet it looks like it just happened. It's a marvelous team. It's... KING: Also forgot, he was in -- his last movie was "Legend of Bagger Vance," right? Small role he took.

SELTZER: A small role, and he did it because he wanted to work with Robert Redford, and it was a golf movie. And golf, as you know, is his great passion.

KING: He didn't take many small roles, did he?

SELTZER: He didn't. No. He sometimes did it as a favor to friend, though. He would sometimes do it. He did a lot of favors for people.

KING: Did your father talk about him a lot, Charlie?

C. MATTHAU: Sure he did. Sure he did.

KING: I mean, when he's come home, working with him, tell stories?

C. MATTHAU: He would tell stories. He just -- he loved Jack, you know. Jack was like a brother to him, a best friend, a brother, partner...

KING: Very different -- very different backgrounds, right?

C. MATTHAU: Very different backgrounds, but that's -- you know, that's part of what made for such marvelous chemistry.

KING: When you work with someone like that, Kevin, with him, like that scene we saw you're sitting in the car, right? This has always amazed me about actors. Are you looking at Jack, or are you looking at the character?

SPACEY: It's -- it's, you know, sometimes the actors goes away. I think the degree with which you are in tune with each, in which you are believably behaving as the character you're playing should be behaving, and your fellow actor is right there with you. It's very easy to get lost in a scene, to allow the scene to take you where it's supposed to go.

Because, I think Jack and I also viewed ourselves, I think, both similarly, and I certainly modeled myself on the idea that you're serving a writer. You know, you're there to get ideas across, and what's the best way that you can do it. And the best way is to serve those ideas, and that's what he always did. He immersed himself in the ideas.

MACLAINE: But the one thing about him, when you acted with him, he became the character, but Jack never went away, and I think that's why he was a star. Because the audience knew that they were going to see Jack. He wasn't going to disappear like Alec Guinness, or something.

KING: Yes, he was both a star and great actor, right? Hard to be both. SPACEY: Yes.

KING: Sometimes your personality either overwhelms it, so the ability has trouble coming through, or vice versa.

SPACEY: Or the public burns out on that particular personality.

KING: Yeah, we're tired of him.

SPACEY: If you look at the depth and length of his career, it's really...

MACLAINE: He was basically an intellectual. He went to Harvard, very well educated person, very well read. I used to love to sit and watch him play the piano and have his little magic time drinks...

KING: As was your father, Charlie, right? Walter was very -- I mean, they would have some very deep, philosophical discussions, the two of them.

C. MATTHAU: They were very much alike in that way, very cerebral and intellectual, although, you know, my father went to high school, never went to college and was -- just read a lot. But they would talk about everything, everything from what was happening in politics, to the football game that weekend.

KING: I don't think Jack bet sports, though, did he?

C. MATTHAU: Not too well. Not too well. In fact, I remember a game -- I think it was Minnesota and Dallas, and Jack decided that he was going to get into gambling...


C. MATTHAU: ... as a way of endearing himself to my father. And it was -- I think the point spread was -- it was 10 points. And Dallas was ahead by -- it was something where Dallas was ahead by -- Minnesota needed two touchdowns, and they got one. And so they needed one more touchdown. Jack went to the bathroom. There was about 30 seconds left in the game, and the other team kicked it off and the game was pretty much over. But they showed the other -- the same touchdown again on instant replay when Jack came out of the bathroom and he saw the TV and he said: "Holy shit, that's another touchdown!"

KING: Great story. We will be right back. By the way, Hank Azaria who worked with him playing Mitch Album in the -- in "Tuesdays With Morrie" said: "Watching Jack Lemmon made me want to get into the business. He could bring grace an dignity to his work even when he was playing ungraceful, undignified people. You didn't have to be with him on the set to feel his warmth. When I finally did get to work with him, the experience confirmed all the good impressions I ever formed about him before I met him. "

We'll be right back.


W. MATTHAU: You'll be better off staying with us, helpless as you are. Watch it! Somebody may walk through that door any minute!

LEMMON: You bet! And it's going to be me.

W. MATTHAU: Harry.

LEMMON: I'm walking out of here on my own two feet, and without this damn corset!

W. MATTHAU: Are you crazy? After all we have gone through? We've got them over a barrel now, they are already trying to settle!

LEMMON: You've seen the way that guy looks at me? I'm letting him off the hook!

W. MATTHAU: Harry, you walk out of here, and they will get you for fraud.

LEMMON: Let'em!

W. MATTHAU: How can you be so selfish? What about all the money I have spent?

LEMMON: Oh, I'm sure you'll think of something!




KING: What was the magic, do you think, between the two of you?

LEMMON: I have no -- I don't think you can verbalize it, Larry, and I haven't heard anybody that can take chemistry, as we say. I -- we are on same wave length when we work, obviously. We seem to think the same in comedy. In other words, what I think may be funny Walter will probably think will be funny.

KING: What was the first thing that you did together?

LEMMON: Was...

W. MATTHAU: "Fortune Cookie."

KING: "Fortune Cookie" for Billy Wilder.

LEMMON: With Billy Wilder, right.

KING: Did you sense that it was working right away?

W. MATTHAU: Yeah, I -- I think the magic is that he is neat and nifty, and I'm slow and sloppy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That about sums it up. Shirley, you were discussing Jack's sexuality or lack of it?

MACLAINE: Well, being his feminine co-star, one of the things I most proud of in my work with him is that he had this platonic quality that was kind of forever-lasting in terms of the relationship the two would end up together. And you knew there was no sexual danger, there was no sexual pressure or deviance or anything that would threaten the longevity of the relationship.

I mean, working with him as a woman was like working with one of your favorite girlfriends who wasn't a girl. It was a kind of...

KING: He was a pal.

MACLAINE: A pal, that's right. So that -- I always wondered what it would be like in these scenes if you elongated them in bed with these two characters, because they were always talking and they were always communicating, but it was never something that you find in pairing a man and a woman together.

KING: He never played a role like that, did he, David?

SELTZER: I think he did a nude scene once, actually.

KING: Really, where?

SELTZER: Not -- obviously not -- I think -- I'm not positive -- now everybody is going to go out and rent this movie...

MACLAINE: He made me do one, David.

SELTZER: I think it was a movie called "Avante," did he?

MACLAINE: He made me do one. I wanted to go to Japan at Christmas, he said: "Billy, let her go," but in the bathtub scene in "Irma La Douce," he made me take off my top. And it's the scene, you know, where he looks through the telescope and sees everything -- there was a "Playboy" guy sitting up in the rafters taking pictures.

KING: I got to take a break here, because we're running ahead on time. And when we come back, we are going to see Kevin Spacey play Jack Lemmon on "Saturday Night Live." Don't go away.


LEMMON: I put this under my desk for a week. Cost me $15. Haven't been able to get (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's what they call the junior executive model. What do you think? I guess I made a boo-boo, huh?

MACLAINE: I like it.

LEMMON: Really? And you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with somebody in a hat like this?

MACLAINE: Of course not.

LEMMON: Maybe I wore it a little more to one side, how is that? Is that better?

MACLAINE: Much better.

LEMMON: Well, since you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen with me, how about the three of us going out tonight, you me and the bowler?




SISSY SPACEK, ACTRESS: No -- God bless our way of life.

LEMMON: And a very good way of life it is, young lady, no matter how much people like you and Charles try to tear it down with your sloppy idealism! I can no longer abide the young people of our country who live off their parents and the fat of the land, and then they find nothing better to do than whine and complain!

SPACE: Is that your image of Charlie and me?


SPACEK: Ed, how can that be? We are not freaked out! We are just two normal, slightly confused people trying to be connected to a whole damn rotten enchilada!


KING: You said the way he played "Apartment" affected the way you did "American Beauty."

SPACEY: Oh, yeah, yeah. We -- when Sam Mendes and I began to talk about the film and the kind of character that Lester was, the character that we really focused on was the one that Jack played in "The Apartment."

KING: Now, how did you get to do him on "Saturday Night Live?"

SPACEY: Well, we were sitting around and we came up with a sketch, which was: what would it be like to see never-before, unseen screen tests from "Star Wars?" So, I did a three in that, and a number of other cast members did other actors, but I did Walter Matthau as Obi Wan Kenobi, Chris Walken as Han Solo and Jack Lemmon as Chewbacca.

KING: All right, let's watch Kevin Spacey as Jack.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack Lemmon, Chewbacca screen test. Take one.

SPACEY (as Jack Lemmon): OK, excuse me, before we put the spaghetti in the machine, can someone tell me what the hell one of these Chewbacca things is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's a wookie, Jack.

SPACEY: A what? And what the hell is a wookie?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a space ape.

SPACEY: Oh, that's terrific. You had me drive all the way from Beverly Hills to play a (BEEP) space ape?

I'm going to take a dump in this (BEEP) is what I'm going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack, please put it on.

LEMMON: Why can't I audition for Obi Wan? You've got Matthau screen testing. I would be a terrific Obi Wan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please put the mask on.

LEMMON: Oh, go (BEEP) yourself.



KING: Tell us what Jack wants on his tombstone? This is great.

SPACEY: This is great and it sort of illustrates the kind of person he was and how he viewed life. He wants it to say "Jack Lemmon In."

KING: Picture that folks. "Jack Lemmon In."

MACLAINE: I would say he is still in there.

KING: When we come back, we'll have our final thoughts of Charlie and Shirley and Kevin and David, about -- it's still hard to say -- the late Jack Lemmon.

One more quote I want to pass along to you, it's from Michael Douglas, who says "Magic time. That's what Jack whispered to himself before every take. How appropriate. He was the best our industry had to offer, both on and off the screen, a truly gentle man, highly intelligent, wildly funny, to be deeply missed by everyone who came in touch with him."

We'll be back after this.


KING: Charlie Matthau in New York, thanks very much for spending some moments with us. How are we going to remember Jack Lemmon? C. MATTHAU: Well, I think the way I'm going to remember him is in 1984, the Lemmons and the Matthaus took a trip to Israel, and my father took us out to a deli in Tel Aviv. And Jack ordered fried shrimp and a chocolate frapp. So, 12 years later, when I got to direct them in the "Grass Harp" Jack had an idea for a scene, and he whispered it to me, and I said, that is great, let's try that.

And my dad looked at me, and he said, what are you listening to him for? He orders fried shrimp and a chocolate frapp in a Jewish deli!

KING: That is a perfect story and you sound like your dad. What are you going to remember most, David?

SELTZER: I think I will remember the amazing opportunity I had to work with one of the greatest actors who ever lived, and a man who is just a great man, a great family man, a great father, husband, and, grandfather, and friend to so many people.

KING: To you, this must be a piece of you missing now.

SELTZER: Absolutely, I can't even imagine not talking to him on a daily basis now. Having done so, for so long.

KING: The funeral will be private, we understand -- family only.

SELTZER: Small family funeral, and then hopefully, there will be a memorial service.

KING: I'm sure someone will put together a memorial.

SELTZER: I should mention his family -- because so many people have been calling and sending their best wishes. And their family wants everybody to know how much they appreciate that. And if anyone wanted to make a donation, that the charity they would like them to do so with, is the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is an environmental organization, one that Jack cared very deeply about.

KING: That stem out of doing that movie, too?

SELTZER: Absolutely, that is something that was a real passion of his, and he was a very concerned citizen.

KING: Was it fun to go to work with him, Shirley.


KING: It must have been a blast to go to work everyday...

MACLAINE: It was one of the few times I was never five minutes late. I just loved being early. That is when he would tell his stories, that's when we would know about his life, about his college years, about his training, about what he read the night before, about his piano.

KING: Did you like -- did he like watching rushes? MACLAINE: Um-hmm. He was very scientific.

KING: About what he was doing?

MACLAINE: Yes, and very objective.

KING: Kevin -- Kevin told us a wonderful little story about Jack and his father. Tell that.

SPACEY: When Jack's father passed away, Jack was there, and his father's last words to Jack were "spread a little sunshine." And Jack said that that is what he set out in his life to do, and I think he did it.

MACLAINE: He would say that on the set after magic time. I'm spreading a little sunshine through the day.

KING: You must feel, Kevin -- I know this is getting to you -- very proud to be in a profession that could have the Jack Lemmons.

SPACEY: Yes, and to be able to be someone who he took under his wing as actors had taken him under their wing, and as I'm trying to do the same, to people coming up.

There is something about what a person of Jack Lemmon's stature can give to a young artist, when they say, you are not so bad, you know, you are not so bad. He gave me such confidence in my work, and he was a person to admire and model yourself after.

If there is really -- there is only a handful of actors on one hand in fact, that I really have tried to emulate in my own career, and, I'm lucky to have known him, lucky to have worked with him, he taught me a lot, and really I would have to say, he became almost a second father to me.

KING: Spread a little sunshine.

We thank Charlie Matthau in New York. And here in L.A. with us: David Seltzer, Kevin Spacey, Shirley MacLaine.

As this know, this show was put together by our staff today and we thank these people. It was not easy for them to get over here, and we really appreciate their coming.

A great man retired today from our business: Tom Johnson, chairman of Cable News Network, used to run "Los Angeles Times", he's been with CNN for the last 11 years, one of the great people I have ever worked for or with. Happy retirement, retiring at a very young 60. Long rest of your life.

And to Jack, with Walter, wherever you two are, spread a little sunshine. And order some shrimp and chocolate frapp.

SPACEY: I can hear Walter saying, "You are driving me crazy".

KING: That's right. "Get out of here!"

MACLAINE: "How did you get in?"

KING: Stay tuned for CNN TONIGHT. I'm Larry King. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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