Go Away With … Joan Benedict Steiger

Steiger photo credit Roxanne McCann x 640

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
November 29, 2016

Joan Benedict Steiger lived a glamorous life during Hollywood’s golden era. The resilient actress has survived the deaths of two husbands, including Academy Award-winning actor Rod Steiger. Still, she has fond memories of her life that she reflects upon in her memoir, “Brooklyn Baby: A Hollywood Star’s Amazing Journey through Love, Loss and Laughter” (BearManor Media, $24.95). The Malibu resident will next be seen in “Hidden Valley the Awakening,” which is slated for release in 2017.

Q. Did you travel a lot as a child?

A. I’ve been traveling since I was seven. My mother was ahead of the times. She sent me to Rome then and again when I was 11. I went to visit one of her cousins and wound up staying for a couple of years. I’m Italian back to the 14th century on both sides and learned to speak Italian and can still speak it. And then I lived in Paris, which was also wonderful.

Q. Can you tell me about the first trip you took with Rod?

A. We traveled a lot. But the first was to Manila, because he was doing a film there. He was shooting at the bottom of this church, which had been devastated by an earthquake a few years earlier. So what looked like the first floor was actually the top floor of the church. It was my first time to Manila and we went there right before we were married. We were staying at the Manila Hotel, where (General Douglas) MacArthur stayed. The hotel was lovely and beautiful, but when you walked out, you were surrounded by so much poverty. The people were so lovely.

Q. Where did you and Rod enjoy visiting?

A. I’m a European traveler. I love Paris and London and Rome. Every time we traveled, he would love to try out all the different hotels. I love the Savoy in London. He would always get the finest suites at the finest hotels and would ask me every time, “Does this suit you? Is this to your liking?” He always wanted the best for me. I’d hate to admire anything when we were out, because he would want to buy it for me right away. He was very sweet that way. This is silly, but one day, I mentioned that I never had a teddy bear. Well, of course, he ran out and got me one. I still have a couple of them on the chaise lounge.

Q. What is left on your travel bucket list?

A. St. Petersburg. Everyone says it’s wonderful. I hear it’s just incredible.

Q. Where have you enjoyed the best meals?

A. We ate out all the time. I don’t cook and have never cooked. All of my guys cooked for me or took me out. I was very lucky. I hate to sound boring, but everything was delicious in Rome. Paris also had divine food. I remember I loved the seafood — the display of oysters was so elegant. The meals were mouthwatering. In London, I remember we used to go to lunch every day at a place that was a bit of a celebrity hangout. I remember those meals fondly.

Q. Have you every celebrated a U.S. holiday overseas?

A. Yes. I have to mention that when I was married to my previous husband, (actor) John Myhers, we were in Rome during the Fourth of July. They had a huge party at the U.S. Embassy that we were invited to attend. Oh, my gosh. That was one of the most thrilling parties.

Q. When you are going on a trip, do you travel light or check a few bags?

A. I used to travel with tons of luggage before getting it down. Now I always travel with one suitcase. If you knew me, you’d say, “How is that possible? You’re a clotheshorse!” I’m a big makeup and vitamin person. But I’ve got it down to a science where I’m never without anything and am always dressed great. If you’re going to different places, nobody’s going to see that you’re wearing the same outfit. The main thing is to bring interchangeable small pieces. After a beautiful trip where you’re tired from traveling, the last thing you want to do is wait around for your luggage.

© 2016 JAE-HA KIM


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