This year is a special one for 1960s glamour gal Diane McBain who turns 80 on May 18. It's also 60 years ago this year that her favorite film, "Claudelle Inglish," was released in which she portrayed a "good girl" who turns very bad.
"It was just my third film, so playing the title character gave me a great opportunity to test my acting wings," recalled McBain from her retirement community in Woodland Hills, California, where she has lived for several years. "I had led a very sheltered life growing up in Glendale (California), so playing the bad girl was an interesting challenge."
McBain arrived in Hollywood as the studio system came to an end and appeared in over two dozen movies through 2001. She turned to television in the 60s appearing in dozens of shows, most notably co-starring in "Surfside 6," as well as guest-starring parts in TV classics such as "The Wild, Wild West," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," and "Batman." Her first TV roles were alongside James Garner and Jack Kelly in episodes of "Maverick."
"They were both great Mavericks," she said. "Jack Kelly was really the first actor I worked closely with and was my first screen kiss. I was just a young girl and had never kissed a mature man before. But he was very sweet about it and I just adored him."
A few years later, in 1966, she snagged another on-screen romantic moment, this time with Elvis Presley in "Spinout."
"Women have asked me many times what it was like to kiss Elvis and I tell them it was just as wonderful as you would imagine! He was charming and a lovely person to work with. He didn't come on to me which I appreciated because so many did throughout my career."
Aside from the highs in her professional and personal life, there were also some truly traumatic times that are outlined in her 2014 autobiography, "Famous Enough: A Hollywood Memoir" co-authored with Michael Gregg Michaud (see www.facebook.com/michael.michaud.90).
In fact, it was a bitter experience serving on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild that prompted her to leave Hollywood for good.
"I turned 60 (in 2001) and worked very hard to represent people in the industry and do the best I could," explained McBain. "But it's a very political organization so I found myself at real odds with others and under very stressful and nasty circumstances. The experience really turned me off being an actor."
She soon moved to Pine Mountain Village, about 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
"I got a little cabin, moved in, and lived there for 15 years," she said. "I just loved it and especially the white Christmases in the mountains."
Now at the retirement facility, McBain continues to write, turning her talents to novels. She recently published "The Laughing Bear" with another in the works.
"I have a cottage here and spend my time writing my heart out," she says, "so you can start a new career whenever you want. I still live independently and am enjoying my time here very much."
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 850 magazines and newspapers and is the author of "Raised by the Stars: Interviews with 29 Children of Hollywood Actors." See www.getnickt.org.