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Playing Dead

February 16, 1986

That little piece in Outtakes (Jan. 19) about Katt Shea Ruben's "lifeless acting" in "Psycho III" took me back to the early '50s, when I played the title role in another Hitchcock film, "The Trouble With Harry."

The "trouble," from my point of view, was that Harry was dead. I originally had a short scene in which I attempted to rape Mildred Natwick, who responded by delivering a fatal blow to my head with her high-heeled shoe. Hitchcock decided, however, that it would be more amusing if Harry was never seen alive--so we played the scene off-camera, in the bushes.

After my untimely and unlamented demise I was dragged hither and yon all through the film by John Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine.

I spent some time stashed in a bathtub, and had to lie around a lot in the damp November woods of Vermont. I caught a terrible cold, and had to learn how to suppress coughs and sneezes--as well as how to breathe inconspicuously.

I agree with Miss Ruben that "being dead" in a Hitchcock film is a real challenge--but I really couldn't complain, because I was paid more for playing dead that I ever got for playing live characters on Broadway.

PHILIP TRUEX

Carlsbad

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