An interview with Russ Tamblyn

When you think of actor Russ Tamblyn, the first image that comes to mind is an energetic young man.

Tamblyn stood out in his films, particularly because of his acrobatic style of dancing, whether the role was in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), HIT THE DECK (1955), WEST SIDE STORY (1961) or THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BROTHERS GRIMM (1962).


Russ Tamblyn on the red carpet at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. Photo by Comet Over Hollywood

Tamblyn attended the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), held April 13-16 in Hollywood, and introduced SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, PEYTON PLACE (1957) and participated in a one-on-one interview focusing on his career.

Starting his career as a child, Tamblyn grew up in Los Angeles and watched Hollywood history firsthand as a young actor. Tamblyn’s first film was in 1948, THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR, when he was a young teen.

“I worked for Cecil B. DeMille (in SAMSON AND DELILAH), for god’s sake. I think I’m the last one alive that worked for him,” Tamblyn said in an interview with me at the red carpet opening night event at TCMFF.

Tamblyn continued acting in his teens at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, billed as “Rusty” Tamblyn, appearing in films like FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) as Elizabeth Taylor’s younger brother.

tamblyn young stars

Tamblyn (second from the left) with other young MGM stars, including Claude Jarman, Jr., Dean Stockwell, Tom Irish, Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor.

“Oddly, growing up (in show business) felt natural,” Tamblyn said in an interview with Comet Over Hollywood. “I didn’t appreciate it until later. I mean, hey, I was at school at MGM with Elizabeth Taylor. So, it was pretty incredible, looking back on it now, you know. That was just my life.”

Tamblyn is soon detailing his life in an upcoming memoir called “Dancing on the Edge,” which he has been writing for more than 25 years.

seven brides2

Tamblyn in a publicity photo for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

Tamblyn’s breakout role was playing the youngest brother, Gideon, in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, demonstrating his acrobatic dancing.

“That’s (acrobatic dancing) why I can barely walk now. If someone says look at your legs, then look at my movies,” he said in an interview.

Another standout role for Tamblyn was his role as Norman Page in PEYTON PLACE (1957), which garnered his only Academy Award nomination. When casting for the film based on Grace Metalious’s famous book, director Mark Robson told Tamblyn to pick out a part because the movie was filled with roles for young actors, Tamblyn told TCM host Alicia Malone in an interview before the film.

“There were a lot of great parts in it, but the one part that really fascinated me was Norman Page,” Tamblyn told Malone. “Because, as you could see from the parts I did, I was always an extrovert jumping around. In the part of Norman Page, he was an introverted, shy young man. So I combed my hair forward and tried to get as introverted as I could, and that’s how I got the role.”

Tamblyn appreciated the role because the character changes and grows by the film’s end. Following the film’s release, Lana Turner’s daughter, Cheryl Crane, was involved in a scandal when she killed Johnny Stompanato. Tamblyn shared in his interview with Alicia Malone that the scandal boosted the film’s success.

“It was pretty crazy, and that made people go and see the movie,” he said.

Tamblyn also shared with Malone that Diane Varsi, who plays the lead character in PEYTON PLACE, was great to work with.

peyon place

Russ Tamblyn and Diane Varsi in PEYTON PLACE

“I read with a lot of actresses, even Terry Moore. All of them came in with portfolios, pictures, and resumes, and finally, this girl (Varsi) came in. Mark and I were sitting there, and Mark asked her, ‘What have you done so far?’ She said, ‘Nothing.’ He said, ‘What do you think of the book?’ She said, ‘I haven’t read it.’ He asked, ‘Do you want to do this movie?’ She said, ‘I’m not sure.’ We thought, “Well, this girl is really weird,” but when she left, we said, ‘That’s the girl,” Tamblyn told Malone.

Of his personal favorite film roles, Tamblyn’s favorite is one “that nobody saw,” called Human Highway, that he made with Neil Young, he said in an interview with Comet Over Hollywood.

“That was great, and I’d say to Neil, what’s the plan today? He’d say, “The plan is no plan,” and we shot the movie that way,” Tamblyn said. “It was with friends like Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell, who I was living with for a while. That was the one that I had more fun on. We lived on his bus, and we drove back to New Mexico, and he sang on an Indian reservation. It was just incredible. That was the most fun that I ever had on a movie.”

Watch our red carpet interview here:


After the interview, a dear friend asked Mr. Tamblyn if he would take a photo with me, because she knew how much I appreciated his work.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at


1 thought on “An interview with Russ Tamblyn

  1. Wow! That was very cool… i guess you were thrilled about this and i am so happy for you, Comet. Great interview as well… brava!


Thank you for reading! What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.