LOS ANGELES (AP)—The first time she left home, Beverly D’Angelo wanted to become an animator for a Hollywood studio. She landed on a pig farm in Canada instead.
“I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and went to high school in Florence, Italy,” says Miss D’Angelo, who stars in the detective thriller Slow Burn being telecast on cable TV’s Showtime. “I can’t add but I can repair a fresco.
“When I got here I went to Hanna-Barbera and got a job as a painter. I wanted to be an animator. I only worked there for one season, doing The Flintstones and Wacky Races.”
She never became an animator. In fact, soon afterward, she moved to New York and then to Canada, where she settled on a farm commune in British Columbia.
“We ran a pig farm,” she says. “Everyone cooperated. We picked apples and planted vegetables and looked after the pigs. I also had a square dance band.”
The band led to a singing engagement in Toronto, then into acting and a nomination for the Canadian equivalent of the Oscar for a role as Marilyn Monroe in Hey Marilyn. Next came a musical, Rockabye Hamlet, based on Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane.
“I played Ophelia and I strangled myself onstage with a microphone cord as smoke bombs went off behind me,” she says.
Gower Champion took the musical to Broadway, but apparently New Yorkers prefer their Shakespeare sans singing.
“It’s a big tradition to go to Sardi’s opening night,” Miss D’Angelo says. “I went and no one was there. It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with a play closing.”
After that she answered a casting call for a Woody Allen movie and got a small role in Annie Hall.
When she returned to Hollywood it was for a role in First Love. After that came Hair, the TV miniseries Captains and Kings, and starring roles in Every Which Way But Loose and Paternity.
Miss D’Angelo, whose paternal grandfather was a glassblower from Abruzzi, Italy, moved to Italy five years ago and lived there until last October. She came to this country occasionally to work in films.
“I was married to a man from an old noble family,” she says. “He’s a duke. We had a villa in Tuscany and an apartment in Rome and a house outside of Rome.”
She is now separated.
Miss D’Angelo starred in several films, including Nation Lampoon’s Vacation and the sequel National Lampoon’s European Vacation, but the one that captured the public’s imagination was her portrayal of Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter. She played Stella in the TV remake of A Streetcar Named Desire and most recently starred with Richard Crenna in Doubletake.
In Slow Burn, which Showtime began telecasting last Sunday, Miss D’Angelo plays Lainie Fleisher, the wife of a wealthy Palm Springs businessman whose teen-age son is kidnapped. It’s based on Arthur Lyons’ novel Castles Burning, one of a series of popular mysteries featuring former investigative reporter Jacob Asch.
Eric Roberts stars as Asch, and the romantic sparks fly when Asch and Lainie get together. Asch also turns up many secrets long hidden, including a past Lainie would rather forget.
Miss D’Angelo says her role as Lainie presented her with a problem of finding the sympathy and motivation in her character. “I decided there was a numb spot in her soul,” she says. “She didn’t feel anything. I felt she really didn’t know she was a victim. If she were put on trial she could plead that the things she did were not premeditated.”
Dan Hadaya plays her husband. Matthew Chapman wrote the screenplay and directed.
“I’d met Matthew when I was doing Streetcar and I was looking to work on an independent film,” Miss D’Angelo says. “I’d done 17 studio films and half of them never got seen. One of the reasons I moved back to Los Angeles after living in Italy was to be in contact with the people who make movies for the love of film and not to make money.
“There is something about low budgets that brings in people who are there because they want to be there and it adds a certain realism. You rely on the talents of the people involved rather than throwing money at a problem.”
Miss D’Angelo also will be seen in the ABC movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, which stars Lewis Smith, Annie Potts and Bruce McGill.