Joan Hodges Interview
(Sinatra's Corner )
In May of 1998, one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century Frank Sinatra passed away.
In tribute to Frank Sinatra we thought it would be fitting to offer up remembrance of the singer by some of the people who either knew or worked with him.
Joan Hodges is one such person. She was working in the London Playboy Club when Frank Sinatra walked in.
He asked her to appear in his 1966 film “The Naked Runner”.
Q – Joan, were you a fan of Frank Sinatra before you met him?
A – No. In fact, if I’m going to be completely honest I was more of a fan of his acting than his singing. I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roller at heart. I love Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Larry Williams. They’re what I love. They’re my passion. I think it probably did me a favor because there were a lot of girls swooning – ‘Frank Sinatra’s in’. I thought it’s just another singer really. (Laughs). I wasn’t that over-excited. But, when I did meet him, I thought he was just such a nice man. He really was. He was polite to everyone. I remember when he came in there was some cleaners on the side. They’d been cleaning the club. They just stood back. He went over and said hello to them. He was just a really nice, regular bloke. I liked him.
Q – And that was what year?
A – ’66. He was filming ‘The Naked Runner’ there. It came out in ’67.
Q – When he approached you to be in the film, you had never done any acting before had you?
A – I’d done one T.V. commercial which had been done through a friend. We had a really popular washing powder years and years ago. This director friend who knew my dad needed someone. He said, ‘Would Joan like to do this’? But, no acting, nothing.
Q – Did he ask you if you had ever acted before?
A – No. We were all standing around. The director, if I remember correctly, a chap called Sidney J. Fury said, ‘We need some girls’. I think it was decoration more than anything. It was Frank who chose. I was the brunette. And he said, ‘I’ll have the brunette and the blonde’ and a couple of other girls. It was 4 of us I think.
Q – Did you have a role in the movie?
A – We were literally, serving drinks. We were in the club that he’d come in. Not quite know the story line, but, I think he was an ex C.I.A. and he had retired and I don’t think he wanted to come back, but, I think they’d kidnapped his son or something like that. So, he came over to England to come back into doing something he didn’t want to do. So, this scene was in the Playboy Club.
Q – So, that was one scene you had with him in the movie?
A – Yeah.
Q – How long did it take to shoot that scene?
A – Well, I think it took most of the afternoon. I think it was around lunch time he came in and it took the afternoon by the time they’d done different shots. He was a nice guy to work with. I just couldn’t believe how ordinary he was, which was nice.
Q – He was a guy who didn’t like to do many takes.
A – No. He didn’t. I’d heard that from someone else. He’d just do it and that was it. That was what you were gonna get from him. If anything the time was taken by setting up the scene. He wasn’t actually shooting it with you.
Q – After the shooting, did he offer to buy you a drink, or offer to take you to dinner?
A – No. None of that. He went out with Mia (Farrow) and Trini Lopez and Dolly (another Playboy Bunny). They all went out. Short and sweet. (Laughs).
Q – What do you remember most about Frank Sinatra?
A – The one memory I’ve got of him and it really is a strong memory: there was a certain, how can you say it, some people walk into a room and they’ve got a magnetism.
Q – An aura we call it.
A – Yes.
Q – Have you any idea how many people I’ve talked to who’ve said that same thing about Frank Sinatra?
A – Really. I thought he was a very nice man. You speak as you find. He was very polite and nice to me, therefore, that was fine with me. That’s my memory.
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