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a moment in time:

in bed with
robert evans

PART III

From life in the front row to how to survive seven marriages, the legendary Hollywood producer shares his pearls of wisdom.
Written By Lesley M.M. Blume
If Robert Evans minds the fact that I’ve been climbing into bed with him recently, he has been very polite about it. Then again, I’m certainly not the only one to regale him there: That famous bed has long been known as Evan’s de facto office. Everyone from humorless execs to aspiring starlets has perched on the edge of his duvet, scripts and contracts in hand. Industry luminaries like Sharon Stone and Jack Nicholson (and non-industry ones like Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash) are just a few of the insiders who have made such bedside pilgrimages. His Beverly Hills home was long the site of the some of the most decadent parties in town. “It used to be like Gatsby around here,” he tells me—and he has the pictures to prove it.
Over the past few weeks, Mr. Evans and I have been talking about, well, everything under the sun, and I have recorded those chats in a three-part series for The Violet Files. In the first story, I relayed his reflections on actresses, Oscars, and his favorite red carpet moment. In the second, we discussed beauty, allure, and what makes someone truly glamourous. (It has nothing to do with perfection, in his not-so-humble opinion.)

For this final installment, we had a more serious talk (although what is more serious than genuine glamour?), during which Mr. Evans schooled me in his own brand of terribly important life lessons. As someone who has lived life more fully, recklessly, hungrily, and brilliantly-yet-foolishly than most, he has proved a most instructive mentor. If you take his advice to heart, as I have, you too shall be much wiser—if not a touch naughtier.

in bed with
robert evans

The preeminent producer chats with The Violet Files contributor Lesley M.M. Blume.
  • ROBERT EVANS WITH ALI MACGRAW AND HENRY KISSINGER AT THE GODFATHER PREMIERE
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALPHA BLAIR / THE LIFE IMAGES COLLECTION / GETTY IMAGES
LESLEY M.M. BLUME: You have spent most of your adult life as a major player in the film industry.Over the past few weeks, during our talks you have described yourself almost more as a combat veteran than a movie veteran.
ROBERT EVANS: Well, I’ve lived my life in the front row. It’s a very rough row.
L.B.: You seem to have a lot of pride about that.
R.E.: There’s no point in living any place other than that roughhouse.
L.B.: Well, anyone who has been married seven times, as you have, can definitely be described as a combat veteran. What have you learned from your relentless matrimony?
R.E.: That women are smarter than men. They’re stronger, more secretive, and more intuitive. For instance, if a woman has an affair, the husband never catches on. He thinks, “Oh, she’s with me. She couldn’t possibly wander.” However, if the man wanders, the woman merely has to touch him or look at him to know exactly what’s been going on. You can’t get away with anything. 
L.B.: I don’t know about that. You seem to have gotten away with an awful lot, Mr. Evans.
R.E.: I haven’t gotten away with anything. Men are like children next to women. God made it that way. Don’t try to fight it.
L.B.: You have long been one of the most quotable men in the business, and you’ve famously lived by shrewd mantras. Let’s talk about some of them.
R.E.: The most important one: There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
L.B.: So, does that mean everyone whitewashes—or lies?
R.E.: Everyone lies once in a while. Sometimes they’re white lies, sometimes they’re more vindictive lies. But most of the time, no one is lying. People just remember things differently. 
L.B.: Do you consider yourself an honest person?
R.E.: Yes. Now more than ever. I’ve lost my passion for half-truths and I know my shortcomings. Not that being truthful to myself and others has helped anyone. [Laughs]
There are THREE sides
to every story: yours, mine, and the TRUTH.
– Robert Evans
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L.B.: What is some of the best advice you were ever given?
R.E.: Continued silence is the best insurance policy for continued breathing.
L.B.: An appropriate mantra for the man who helped bring The Godfather to the world.
R.E.: It’s applicable to marriage also. I know when to keep silent. A little bit of quiet goes a long way. That’s how I managed to marry seven times.
L.B.: I want more Evans “words to live by.”
R.E.: The following was told to me by a very famous playwright, Alan Jay Lerner, when he was sixty and I was sixteen. I asked him the secret to his success. He thought for a minute and told me, “Every time I had a success, there was a different reason for that success. But every time I failed, it was for the same reason: I should have said ‘no’ when I said ‘yes.’” Never say “yes” when you don’t want to do something.
L.B.: Have you said yes to things you didn’t want to do?
R.E.: More times than I can count.
L.B.: Like what?
R.E.: Once again, silence is golden. [Laughs]
L.B.: Edith Piaf—who, like you, lived hard—famously proclaimed “Je ne regrette rien,” or “I regret nothing.” Do you feel that way? You strike me as an unrepentant type.
R.E.: Oh, God no. I’ve regretted a lot of things.
L.B.: So you’re more along the lines of “Je regrette tout”?
R.E.: It’s been a long ride filled with as many disappointments as there were highs. The bumps in my road have been made of quicksand: not easy to get out of.  I’ve had a great life. but it’s been a rough life. I was too fucking naïve and a romantic, but I couldn’t help it. I still can’t.
L.B.: What was the highest high for you?
R.E.: Being on the red carpet for The Godfather premiere. I had wanted it to be the biggest night in the history of Hollywood, and it was. Everyone I loved was with me: [then-wife] Ali [MacGraw], my brother Charles; Henry Kissinger, then one of the most powerful men in the world, was at my side. It was the highest moment of my life.
L.B.: And the lowest low?
R.E.: When I found out that Ali wasn’t there with me at all: instead, she was madly in love with Steve McQueen.
L.B.: What are your goals now?
R.E.: I want to be a contributor. And stay in the front row. It’s the roughest place in town—but it’s still the front row.

CONTRIBUTOR
PROFILE

LESLEY M.M. BLUME
CONTRIBUTOR STATS
Name: Lesley M.M. Blume 
Occupation: Journalist, author, editor, and biographer
Years in the industry: 30+ (she was a newsroom brat)
Known for: It Happened Here, the Let’s Bring Back series, and the forthcoming Everyone Behaves Badly
Where to find her: Los Angeles and NYC
Website: Lesleymmblume.com
Beauty essential: Oversize Mason Pearson brush, Chanel red lipstick, and Tom Ford cat-eye sunglasses for days when no amount of undereye concealer is enough
Mentions in The Violet Files: Mary Tyler MooreAnjelica & Jack

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The producer par excellence speaks to Lesley M.M. Blume about Lana Turner, Jack Nicholson, and the essence of glamour.