A small crowd is gathered on the lawn across from the 20th Century-Fox commissary - mostly middle aged men whose sleek dark suits set them off from the jeaned and T-shirted studio workers. The Mayor of LA is telling the group about the benefits of a forthcoming condominium project, and a tall, slim, brown-haired young woman listens from the sidelines. She makes a terrible face, then cups her hands around her mouth to cry Humbug!
The crowd seems not to notice, but a couple of graying studio hands give her big smiles. She is Pamela Sue Martin, the deliciously witchy Fallon of ABCs Dynasty, doing what she likes to do best, which is getting involved in causes, especially hopeless ones. A few days later, in the studio commissary, she explains:
This big rich guy from Denver [Marvin Davis] bought this studio, telling everybody how much he loves movies. now hes going to tear it down, and all those developers and politicians are standing there cheering. Look at this room, she says, gesturing about the ancient, brightly decorated eatery. The whole history of Hollywood is here. The memories. Besides, this is the nicest commissary in town and also the nicest lot. how could anybody tear it down
Martins indignation draws attention from nearby diners, not only because of her vehemence but also because she happens to be wearing a pink nightgown and robe, her costume for the days shooting. Pamela in a pink nightgown could discuss recipes for tuna casseroles and draw an impressive audience.
Actually, a big share of the fox lot was erased years ago to make way for the massive Century City complex, and theres no chance her anger or anyone elses will save the rest. But people as massively involved as she is in defending air, earth, water, seals, whales, stray dogs and old studios get used to setbacks.
Take the Santa Claus Lane parade, a Hollywood ritual in which actors spend a long, cold evening atop rickety floats in the hope of prompting some film, series or cause. This years parade found Martin bumping along on a float with a strange dog in her lap.
I hate parades, she says. I think theyre demeaning. When I was 18 they stuck me and Edy Williams on a float. I was there to play The Poseidon Adventure. No one on the whole line of march knew who I was, and Edy kept shoving me out of the way so she could be in all the pictures. I said Id never do anything so ridiculous again.
But this year a humane group persuaded her to ride beneath a sign urging people to Save a Pet from the Pound. She dutifully climbed aboard, arriving a whiffing mongrel, and waited for some interviewer to ask her about saving dogs. The only question during the entire evening came from TV host Regis Philbin, who shoved a mike in her face and demanded, Why are you so mean on Dynasty The float moved on before she could reply. Or throw anything.
Her most ambitious effort to do good was joining a Greenpeace expedition to Newfoundland to protest the slaughter of baby seals. It was a nightmare. Ive never been able to forget it. The group drew world attention, but the killings continue. her party included Congressman Leo Ryan of California, who was murdered a year later in Guyana.
Sometimes its her littlest gestures that work out the best. One night she emerged from a Hollywood restaurant to find a small, black mutt thrashing about on the sidewalk with a broken leg. Someone was about to take it to the pound to be destroyed, but she adopted it and nursed it to health. Now Gonzales accompanies her to the studio almost every day. Half the crew believes Gonzales is the ugliest dog alive, and the other half thinks he is not a dog at all. One recent morning someone painted a broad white stripe down Gonzaless back, and he spent a happy day frightening casual visitors.
But however weighty her causes, Martin carries them lightly. On the set, she bounces merrily around like someone who never dreamed the party would be this much fun. Costar John Forsythe says, Pam has so much juice, so much joy.
Linda Evans notes, She knows more about the lives of the crew that anybody else. She just bubbles around. She cant sit. They cant even hold her down in the makeup chair.
Most of her lines are supercharged emotionally, and sometimes its a hard transition from Pamela the cheery friend of all living things to Fallon the wrecker.
One day she and Forsythe have a long scene in which they discuss Fallons decision on an abortion. Forsythe, the old pro, sits in a chair explaining his thoughts on the lines, and, as he talks, Martin slowly kneels in front of him, takes his hand and seems physically to change from Pamela to Fallon.
One mornings shooting is given over to a fiery exchange between Martin and John James, who plays her husband Jeff, over the possible abortion. He shouts, she shouts. A crew member mumbles loudly, It isnt realistic. Theyre only talking. He should belt her a couple. As they argue, James packs his bag and, at the scenes conclusion, zips it shut and marches dramatially out of her life. Eventually there is a good take, but as James leaves, Martins throaty laugh follows him. the bag isnt quite zipped, and James does his exit dripping clothes behind him.
James explains that though scenes with Martin can be double trying, because Theres that little glimmer of devilment in the corner of her eye, and the later the hour, the bigger it gets. It makes her day to break me up.
Forsythe observes, You know a show is going well when you hear a lot of laughter. Things must be going well with Dynasty because it has shown markedly improved ratings in its second season.
Later that day Linda Evans and Martin sit side but side, talking numbers. Evans is a high priestess of numerology and Martin her most faithful disciple. Between them they relentlessly chart the futures of cast, crew and even passers-by.
At the moment Pamela is happy because she is moving into a new house and its a 9 and Linda says a 9 will be absolutely perfect. Shes moving from a 7, which has been all right. Its fine for solitude, but a 9 will be heavenly.
Her faith in numerology was born in the first weeks of Dynasty. I went to Linda and asked if she would do my chart. She told me things about my life that no one could possibly have known. I was so moved . . . .I got Linda to teach me. I studied the books, and when I meet somebody new, I like to do their numbers.
To people like Forsythe, who finds it hard to keep a straight face when numerology is discussed, Martin offers a defiant, Im interested in all kinds of esoteric sciences. Ive found theres a lot of validity to many of these things.
Evans, with or without the charts, has also found Martin a mass of contradictions. On one hand, shes a bubbling free spirit talking to everybody, and then suddenly shes very still, very withdrawn.
Martin owns a little cabin on a lonely mountainside in Northern California. Last spring when Dynasty was on vacation, she told friends she was going there for a few days. She stayed three months, with Gonzales her only companion. She also backpacks alone. Im never afraid when Im in the country, she says.
Martin has been on her own since she was 18. I was a model, and then I got into films and TV. At first I was just doing it to save money for college, but some new job always kept coming along. It disturbs her to realize she is now 29 and theres still no college.
Despite her independence, shes always been close to her family: father, mother and older sister. Father Tom Martin is a Dixieland drummer and writes on Dixieland music for jazz publications. Pamela remembers, I was raised with music. It seemed like there was always a jam session in the house.
Her career has ranged from the primeness of Nancy Drew to a Playboy layout. Esther Shapiro, who with husband Richard created Dynasty, recalls, When she came to see us, there wasnt anything in her career to tell us who she really was. But instead of reeling off credits, she began talking about whales. Whales! But as she talked, we saw this was a girl who is used to being around ideas. There was a saltiness to her.
She still turns conversations around to whales or the equivalent and wont even appear on talk shows unless she can speak up for some forlorn creature of land or sea. She brushes off any suggestion that it is wrong to use TV prominence for advocacy. Its a privilege to be in a position to be heard; and if you can be heard, you should say something that matters.
There is a steady procession of young actors who find excuses to drop by Stage 8 to play variations of Do You Remember Me Martin gives each hundreds of watts of charm, and assures each, You were so great when we worked together. you made me laugh like hell. Weve got to do it again. Later she will always confess, I know him. I really do. But I just dont remember his name.
Shes had one brief marriage and has no plans for another. not for lack of admirers. You always hear that men are so scarce, at least the kind that care about women, but I meet lots of wonderful ones.
And sooner or later they may hear about the beginnings of one of her most passionate love affairs. I had this recurring dream, almost like a nightmare. Im scuba diving and suddenly this huge whale comes between me and the surface. Monstrous. He blots out the light. I should be terrified. But then he comes down and it turns out hes a friend. He likes me. The dream has a wonderful, happy ending.
TV Guide February 27-March 5, 1982