Thursday evening was a cold, yet non-rainy in Los Angeles. The City of West Hollywood and its Weho Arts program presented an evening with 60s TV icon and 3-time Emmy Award winning actress, Barbara Bain. The event was held at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069. Corey Roskin was the moderator for the chat and opening remarks were presented by West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson.
Bain is most notable for her Emmy award winning work in TV’s Mission Impossible and sci-fi TV classic, Space 1999. She shared several stories from her youth while growing up in Chicago. She was a shy kid who found her creative outlet in her local Library and at the Art Institute. She said these two places where her saviors in her formative years and that books allowed her to “live any life she wanted to.”
Bain shared that her first love was dance, which she discovered in college. It led her to her next adventure New York where she studied dance under Martha Graham for about a year and half. She also dabbled in modeling, which she said allowed her to continue her dance education.
She was encouraged to take acting classes in those early years, but she always that she was not an actress, she was a dancer.
She decided to test the waters in acting, so she took private acting classes at the Actor’s Studio with Lee Strasberg. Fast forward, and Bain was booked to her very first acting job on week one. “I never had to carry a tray again or any other job, anytime,” she said. “I was an actress from that moment on.”
Bain shared that when she arrived in Los Angeles, she was one of the original founders of the West Coast Actors Studio where she still works to this day. The studio recently celebrated its 75th year.
Bain also reflected on West Hollywood history. She remembered acting in two West Hollywood local theaters on Santa Monica Blvd—one was The Gallery and other was The Players Ring Theater. The Players Ring is now known as The Coast Playhouse and The Gallery was located where the Holloway Cleaners stands today. She remembered being in a production of S.N. Behrman’s “The Old Wind and the Warm”, back in 1959.
The Coast Playhouse is now called The City Playhouse. It is owned by the city of West Hollywood and Bain is currently part of project to redevelop the space into a new theater. “West Hollywood is a very interesting place because there is an understanding,” she said. “It calls itself The Creative City. There is indeed a connection between the government and the arts in this city that works. That is not usual… this city does that in a wonderful way.”
She also talked about the years she filmed the show Mission Impossible. Bain played Cinnamon Carter for three of seven seasons on CBS-TV. “That work came to me from an acting class” Bain said. Creator, Bruce Geller was taking the same class where he met Bain. he created the character of “the Girl” for Bain and he had to sell her to the network since she was an unknown actress back then. She says she went on about eight auditions for the series. Her last interview was with the icon Lucy Ball who owned the show. “She looked at me up and down and said, ‘Looks alright to me,’” and Bain was officially cast in the show.
“But [Geller] told me later that he wanted that certain combination of somebody who could hold herself up with four men and be believed,” she said. “So, in essence, a strong woman…I didn’t know I was a strong woman. But I was. He then told the writers ‘Write her in anything. She can do it.’ Well, what does an actress want in the whole entire world but that kind of place to be in. There is no way to describe that whole situation. It was so wonderful.”
A fun memory she shared about Mission Impossible was when she filmed at Fairfax High School. The production put bars at the school and it became a foreign prison for the show.
Bain added that said she believes her role as Cinnamon inspired so many young women at that time with their career choices
Then there was her work in Space 1999. Bain played Helena Russell the head of medical. The show was filmed in England, which she said was very different from filming in Los Angeles. “It was a fascinating experience in the way they shot at the time. They would start early, break for lunch and drink a lot at lunch, which is not allowed here.”
She remembers they would wrap their day at 5pm and she was always home for dinner with her family, which she enjoyed and was so different compared to the very long hours of filming in Hollywood. “I also had to wear that space suite which was difficult for me because I have a certain amount of claustrophobia,” she added.
Bain is still working today in films and television. She is also a director at The Actors Studio.
The Council Chambers was packed. She spoke for about an hour and half and in the end, she received a standing ovation from the audience.
Bain was also very gracious in person. She took pictures with fans who seemed happy to meet her. They expressed their love of her work.
WEST HOLLYWOOD ARTISTS AND ICONS: A CONVERSATION WITH BARBARA BAIN is just one of many of the wonderful free events that are put on by The City of West Hollywood.
Upcoming events: Chanel Lumiere presents “100 Faces 100 Stories The Collective” on March 24, 2023 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Drag Story Hour on April 15, 2023; WeHo Reads: Lounging with Poets on April 26, 2023.
These are just a few upcoming events please visit https://www.weho.org/community/arts-and-culture/about/calendar-of-events for more info and other wonderful Performing Art events.
She was in the first 3 seasons of Mission. She won an each for each year
Isn’t her name Martha Graham?
It is. Thanks for catching that.
Thank you so much for catching that. Mike