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Being There (19-Dec-1979)

Director: Hal Ashby

Writer: Jerzy Kosinski

From novel: Being There by Jerzy Kosinski

Keywords: Drama, Comedy, POTUS, Washington DC

Chance is a simple-minded gardener in Washington DC, insulated his entire life from the outside world about which he has knowledge gained only from television. Upon the death of his employer, by necessity Chance ventures out into public and almost immediately struck by a limousine, subsequently becoming a house guest of an ailing but very wealthy lobbyist. In the strange world of political insiders, the utterances of this polite, well-dressed gardener are mistaken for genius. Won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and an additional nomination for Best Actor.

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Richard Basehart
31-Aug-1914 17-Sep-1984 La Strada
David Clennon
10-May-1943   Joshua Nankin on The Agency
Melvyn Douglas
5-Apr-1901 4-Aug-1981 Being There
Richard Dysart
30-Mar-1929 5-Apr-2015 Leland McKenzie on L.A. Law
Shirley MacLaine
24-Apr-1934   Terms of Endearment
James Noble
5-Mar-1922 28-Mar-2016 Gov. Gatling on Benson
Peter Sellers
8-Sep-1925 24-Jul-1980 Inspector Clouseau
Jack Warden
18-Sep-1920 19-Jul-2006 12 Angry Men


Peter Sellers   ...   Chance (gardener)
Shirley MacLaine   ...   Eve Rand (car hits Chance)
Melvyn Douglas   ...   Benjamin Turnbull Rand (Eve's husband)
Jack Warden   ...   President ("Bobby")
Richard Dysart   ...   Dr. Robert Allenby
Richard Basehart   ...   Vladimir Skrapinov
Ruth Attaway   ...   Louise
David Clennon   ...   Thomas Franklin
Fran Brill   ...   Sally Hayes
Denise DuBarry   ...   Johanna Franklin
Oteil Burbridge   ...   Lolo
Ravenell Keller III   ...   Abraz
Brian Corrigan   ...   Policeman
Alfredine Brown   ...   Old Woman
Donald Jacob   ...   David
Ernest M. McClure   ...   Jeffrey
Kenneth Patterson   ...   Perkins
Richard Venture   ...   Wilson
Arthur Grundy   ...   Arthur
W. C. "Mutt" Burton   ...   Lewis
Henry B. Dawkins   ...   Billings
Georgine Hall   ...   Mrs. Aubrey
Nell P. Leaman   ...   Constance
Villa Mae P. Barkley   ...   Teresa
Alice Hirson   ...   First Lady
James Noble   ...   Kaufman
Timothy Shaner   ...   Presidential Aide
William F. Williams   ...   Presidential Aide
William Dance   ...   Presidential Aide
Jim Aar   ...   Presidential Aide
William Lubin   ...   Presidential Aide
Gerald C. McNabb Jr.   ...   Woltz
Hoyt Clark Harris Jr.   ...   Riff
Ned Wilson   ...   Honeycutt
Stanley Grover   ...   Baldwin
John Harkins   ...   Sidney Courtney
Katherine DeHetre   ...   Kinney
William Larsen   ...   Lyman Stuart
Jerome Hellman   ...   Gary Burns
Arthur Rosenberg   ...   Morton Hull
Sam Weisman   ...   Colson
Fredric Lehne   ...   Page
Gwen Humble   ...   Annie Lawson
Laurie Jefferson   ...   Reporter
Allen Williams   ...   Reporter
Janet Meshad   ...   Reporter
Paul Marin   ...   Reporter
Melendy Britt   ...   Sophie
Hanna Hertelendy   ...   Natasha Skrapinov
Elya Baskin   ...   Karpatov
Than Wyenn   ...   Ambassador Gaufridi
Richard McKenzie   ...   Ron Steigler
Sandy Ward   ...   Senator Slipshod
Danna Hansen   ...   Mrs. Slipshod
Mitch Kreindel   ...   Dennis Watson
Richard Seff   ...   Pallbearer
Terrence Currier   ...   Pallbearer
Leon Greenberg   ...   Pallbearer
Austin Hay   ...   Pallbearer
Mark Hammer   ...   Pallbearer
Maurice Copeland   ...   Pallbearer


Review by anonymous (posted on 14-Jan-2007)

BEING THERE was my first and last film. But what a film for a debut! While news anchoring at WLOS-TV in Asheville, N.C., I was cast by Hal Ashby himself to play Riff, head of the Secret Service detail that comes to the Biltmore House (stand-in for the Rand mansion in the movie) to "case it" before the U.S. president (Jack Warden) visits. As the only TV anchor/reporter in the cast, I had a "leg up" in getting stories for my newscasts. When the casting director called to tell me to be at the Biltmore House the next morning at 6--"for wardrobe and make-up"--I didn't dare call my bosses at the TV station for fear they wouldn't let me do the movie. I was going to be in this film if it meant quitting my day job. And now, some 27 years later, how glad I am that I am in it, if only in a small speaking role. All I had hoped for was to be chosen to appear an an extra in the funeral scene (they were casting several dozen locals) and wound up cast as a "day player" with my own dressing room, for God's sake. The high point for me was doing a TV report on makeup legend Charlie Schram, who had been the head of MGM's make-up department during its golden years, making up the likes of a teen-age Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in the "Wizard of OZ", among actors in many now-classic films. Being there is right; i.e. being at the right place at the right time, and, brother, was I ever! As for the movie, it is subtle--and extremely original--in its humor. It doesn't hit you over the head with "Now, it's time to laugh." It has timeless things to say about media and politics--and how quickly the voting population can be led like sheep. When I write my memoirs, I shall have much to say about the making of this film, the stars, the on-set care lavished by director Ashby and his crew on everything, including a bump in an Oriental carpet that would not have been noticed by 99.999 percent of the audience. But Ashby noticed it and, therefore, yelled "Cut!" Why Shirley MacLaine required her scenes to be shot after midnight, where she lived in Asheville and how she ran afoul of the owner of the house the movie company rented for her during the Asheville location shooting.

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