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spacer Teri Garr, Hollywood, 1983
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Teri Garr, Hollywood, 1983

A delightfully wacky person, and the daughter of a Rockette, Teri is standing here in the front yard of what was then her home in the Hollywood Hills, where I had joined some of her friends for lunch. I had met Teri several times before this, usually in the company of Carol Caldwell, a writer for American Lawyer magazine who seemed to know everyone in Hollywood as a result of a long-term relationship with the irrepressible “Saturday Night Live” writer and actor Michael O’Donoghue, now dead. Pauline Kael, the late and legendary film critic for The New Yorker, once called Teri “the funniest neurotic dizzy dame on the screen.” Who can forget her in “Tootsie” as Sandy, the stepped-on girlfriend of Dustin Hoffman, who at the end of a party delivers the immortal line, “ I had a wonderful time. My date left with somebody else. Do you have any Seconal?” In an audition for “Sweet Charity,” the late director Bob Fosse asked Teri how old she was, and she gave him an accurate answer. “I’ll give you one piece of advice in this business,” Fosse told her. “Never tell anyone how old you are.” She did not get the part. Teri would often tell people that she played “the horse’s stepmother” in “The Black Stallion.” She said, “I had done all this work on the film to give the mother more character. I wanted her to be a real strong woman of the Forties, a widow [like her own mother, whose husband died when Teri was eleven], but real tough.” And then Francis Coppola, who produced the film, called her over and said, “Teri, this is a story about a boy and a horse. It’s not about his mother.” Teri knew that I had made portraits of some of her friends, and point blank asked why I had never made one of her. I pointed to the front door, pulled my camera out of a bag, and made this image, which precisely captured her impish demeanor.

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