Carmen has lead quite a life. She was a highly sought after
pin-up model in the 1950's. Then she had a second career as a trick-shot
golfer. And after that, a B-movie beauty. All along the way, she had crazy
adventures with all sort of men (Eddie Cochran, Frank
Sinatra, and Elvis just to name a few.) She was also
a friend and confidant to Marilyn Monroe.
has been the subject of a E! True Hollywood Story and can
still be found at all the west coast happenings. She was a special guest
at the first JBP Cocktails and
Cheesecake Party in Vegas during the Viva Las Vegas
weekend in 2006. During that weekend, JBP had a chance to
sit down with Carmen and her son Brandon James.
She talked about her upcoming book, movie, and how she got started as a
model and trick-shot golfer.
(Interview from April, 15 2006)
(transcribed from recorded audio and edited for clarity)
Java's Bachelor Pad: Tell me what you up to nowadays? Any projects?
Jeanne Carmen: At the moment I'm doing commercials now and
then. My son (Brandon James) is finishing my book, which should
be finished very, very soon. What are you calling it, Brandon?
Brandon James: Well, there are two different projects. There's
a movie that we have based on Jeanne's life--all set in the 50's--just
the two years during her golfing period, the pin-up period, and the Vegas
period. That, I think, would make best movie because it's wild. It's action-filled.
It's fun. It's a period piece so we're going to have the vintage cars.
And that's a movie called Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie which is based
on the Eddie Cochran song "Jeannie,
Jeannie, Jeannie” who (Jeanne) met and made a movie with him
(titled) Untamed Youth. (Editor's note: Jeanne cringes
when people call her “Jean” assuming her name Jeanne is the French spelling
for Jean. So for the movie, the title is going to be spelled “Jeannie”
so there is no confusion.)
JC: Eddie and I just sort of hit it off. Why? I don't
know. There were a lot of beautiful girls (on the set), but Eddie
and I hit it off. We actually wound up dating. And I guess he recorded
that song for me (“Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie”), which is really great.
He pursued me for quite a while. Then I finally dropped it because he wasn't
exactly my type but I did like him.
BJ: So, that's what we want the film to be called and we want
to use that song and maybe have a new band to do a more rocked-out version
of it. And that's the movie. Then there's a book that covers the whole
life story—growing up in Arkansas in the South. That covers Marilyn
(Monroe) and the Kennedy's (John and Bobby) and all the
stuff. But the movie doesn't really cover Marilyn and the Kennedy's
and all that…
But (the movie) does have a lot of gangsters. It has love. It has fights.
It has chaos. It has romance. It's got just about anything that you would
want in a movie. It's really cool.
JBP: I'm looking forward to it already.
JC: And it's got Frank Sinatra in there!
BJ: The book is called Jeanne Carmen My Wild Wild Life;
As a New York Pin Up Queen, Trick Shot Golfer & Hollywood Actress
That's the book of Jeanne's life story. And the movie is just like
you took a couple of chapters out of the book and turned it into a movie.
JBP: This book...you've actually been working on it for a while.
JC: Yes. Yes we have. Brandon's getting a little lazy about
BJ: Because of the stuff with the Kennedy's and all
that stuff, there's a lot of pressure not to get it out.
JC: The Kennedy's get pretty tough on you when you
start writing stuff about them even if it's true. They're pretty powerful,
but they're all going by the wayside so we're going to get this book out.
The time is near.
BJ: In regards to that subject, there's a show coming up that's
going to be a CBS
48-Hours Mystery. (Editor's note: The show has since aired.) Hopefully,
they're going to break a lot of new ground and they should and the American
people deserve to know what happened. They've tried to tell this story
a lot of times. Something weird happens and it gets canceled. Hopefully,
that won't happen this time.
JC: The best show that was made about this in the very beginning
was canceled. It never saw the light of day. It was unfortunate because
they had so much information that's never come out. (Editor's note:
ABC News 20/20 did an explosive investigative story on Marilyn and
the Kennedy's back in the 1980’s based on the book Goddess:
The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe. The show was canceled before
it aired causing Geraldo Rivera and a slew of staffers to resign
JBP: Let's get back to your life as a pin-up. I'm trying to remember
the range of years you were a pin-up. It wasn't very long, was it?
No it wasn't. It was in the very early 50’s. I was 17 when I started the
pin-up. Actually, I was 17 when I went into a Broadway show (Editor's note:
It was a show called Burlesque). That was the first thing I ever
I was one of these lucky people that a
door opened and I was on Broadway. A door opened and I was a pin-up. All
this stuff happened. Everything that happened to me just happened to me.
I met a guy in St. Louis while I was a waitress. He asked me if
I ever come to New York call him. He was in a show there. He said, “I'm
going to rehearsal. I'm doing a Broadway show with Burt Lahr.” (Editor's
note: Burt Lahr played the Cowardly Lion from the film The
Wizard of Oz).
So, a couple of weeks later I decided to hitchhike to New York.
(I met up with him again and) he took me to the theater. Burt took one
look at me from the stage; walked down the aisle, and said, “Are you with
the show?” I said, “No.” He said, “Do you want to be?” And I was going
to say no and this guy says, “She would love to be!” Burt said, “Do you
dance?” I was going to say no and this guy says, “She's great!” Well the
guy who had to teach me to dance probably committed suicide. I mean I had
two left feet...or more than that.
But I got through that show. I got through
another show with Burt called Two On The Aisle. All these
people I met on the show said they were models. And they said I needed
to be a model. I told them I didn't want to be a model and they said you
gotta be a model. They introduced me to an agent and I started working
right away and I became a top pin-up right off the bat. I mean I just worked
every day of my life. I was just go, go, go. It was just made for me.
JBP: There's a lot of stuff out there in those vintage magazines
of you. In vintage magazines a lot of gals who have their photos recycled.
It would be the same set of photos in ten different magazines. That's also
true in your case, but you have 50 different photos sets that appeared
in a hundred different magazines.
JC: You're right. I had so many photographs because I was
doing different things all the time. Then I came to L.A. and I started
getting new photographers. They started doing different stuff. I started
getting in different magazines.
JBP: Tell us about getting into trick shot golfing?
While I was in New York, I was sitting (at the modeling agency) on a rainy
day waiting for the rain to stop to get on the subway and go back to my
apartment in Forest Hills. The phone rang and (the modeling agent) said
I've got one girl. I'll send her up. She said, “Carmen, get your
umbrella. You're going down the street. You're going to model for golf
I got my umbrella. Walked down three blocks
and went up some stairs. This guy was standing at the top of stairs. He
said, “Whatever you do, you're hired. Whatever you want, you can have.”
He asked me if I played golf and I said what? He said, “Just take
this club. I'm going to tee up this ball and I want you to hit it.” I looked
at the club. I was left-handed so I turned it upside down and hit my first
trick shot. I hit it so hard it knocked down the drapes. This guy says,
“What? You haven't done this before?” I go, “No.”
Then he wanted me to try it right handed.
And I did the same thing--I knocked down the drapes. So, he asked me if
I would come and practice for a while and I said well, if I have time I'd
come in. And I went in. I started to like it. I went in every day. Jimmy
Demerit came in. (Editor's note: Jimmy Demerit was the first
pro golfer to win the Masters Tournament 3 times.) A lot of other really
big pros came and said, “This girl is phenomenal!”
The next thing I know I was a professional
trick shot golf artist--who hit a golf ball off someone's mouth 210 yards;
on a flagpole that went 350 yards out. There wasn't anything I couldn't
do with a ball. And I had another career. That ended most of the modeling.
Now I'm off on the golfing. Although I got tired of that after a while,
but not before I came to Vegas with Johnny Rosselli the gangster
and stayed a year fleecing all the old dudes that thought a girl didn't
know what to do with a golf club. I made enough money to go back to L.A.
at age 23. I bought a 12-unit apartment house, a home, and a Rolls Royce
and said, “Thank you, old dudes.”
Then I got into the movies and that was
the worst thing I could have done. I didn't like the movies. I'm not the
greatest actress that ever lived--although I can hold my own when to down
to it. But I didn't like acting, so I went back to golf. Went back and
forth. Now, I'm just doing commercials when I feel like it and having a
great old time.
JBP: What part of your career were you the happiest at? You said
the movies, you were not happy. Was the trick shot golf? Was it the modeling?
JC: I was tremendously happy at everything I did, other than
the movies. I was tremendously happy with the modeling because I was just
born to model. That's just it. I was born to model. I love the golf. I
didn't like playing the golf course, but I loved the golf because I could
do something no one else could do. And that was kind of exciting. I loved
everything I ever did other than the movies. Movies are a big drag.
Read Part Two
of the interview here!