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 Lady in the Dark

originally appeared in TV Guide, August 16, 1969

The lady is Joan Crawford. She's groping around in the dark because (a) she's portraying a blind woman and (b) at this moment she is virtually sightless because the scene is being played in a "limbo set." Everything -- backdrop, floor, steps -- is draped in black, and the actress has to work in the center of a bright shaft of light, without being able to see the camera or the director or any other point of reference.

The scene was set up for one of NBC's upcoming World Premiere movies, in which La Crawford co-stars with Barry Sullivan. It's a three-episode drama, "Night Gallery," written by Rod Serling. In her episode Miss Crawford plays a rich woman who consents to undergo a painful operation which will enable her to see for just a few hours.

"There are tricks to playing a blind person," she says. "That is, you have to trick yourself into believing you are blind. Whenever Barry spoke, I made myself find him with my ears first. Barry tricked me a couple of times. He would tiptoe or walk on the carpet so I couldn't tell where he was, then talk to me. Naturally, my body would have to turn to find him.

"I got very dizzy because there is no difference point in a limbo set, and you are staring into the lights, which blind you absolutely. It was really exciting doing the role. But one thing that bothered me was that I couldn't see the camera. And, honey, if after 22 years of acting I can't find the camera, I really had to like that role to do it!"

Will she be doing other TV roles?

"I wish to hell someone would ask me! I was dying to do a Daktari or an I Spy. I was desperate to act with Judy [the chimp in Daktari] or with Gentle Ben. I'm dying to do an FBI or a Mission: Impossible. I just wish someone would ask me."

Won't somebody give the kid a break?

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