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Makin' Whoopee

[whitespace] Angie Dickinson More at home on a barstool than in a booth, Angie would still choose the classier joints over the dives, but they'd have to have that lived-in look--nothing ostentatious or affected, no gimmicks and no games. You should be able to order a first-rate martini or a decent glass of wine, hear a torch singer or the low trill of a piano in the background and find a secluded nook in which to have a quiet chat.




Moon River wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style someday
Oh dream maker, you heartbreaker
Wherever you're going
I'm going your way
"Moon River" (Mancini)

By Tai Moses

SHE'S BEEN CALLED the thinking man's trophy blonde, a designation that evokes a storm of contradictions. It's that knowing, half-mocking smile, just slightly crooked, the effect both alluring and amused. Angie Dickinson projects a sublime mixture of cool and heat, a playful inscrutability that, in her Rat Pack days, merged seamlessly with the Pack's sybaritic sensibilities.

She was the quintessential good girl from North Dakota who fell in with the bad boys, dyed her hair blonde and never looked back.

Angie had class, but she also loved a good time. She was a bon vivant with brains and beauty. "I dress for women and I undress for men," Angie said famously. There aren't many women who can make the simple act of wrapping their fingers around a cocktail glass as suggestive of the heart's conflicting shards of desire and reluctance as Angie Dickinson.

John Kennedy was smitten--it's no secret that he had a thing for Angie. She was his behind-the-scenes date as early as the inauguration. Rumor has it that JFK gave her a photo of himself autographed, "Angie: To the only woman I've ever loved."

Sinatra was sweet on her for a while, too. He didn't care for miniskirts, chain smokers or too much perfume--Angie was glamorous, refined and a barn burner to boot.

Sinatra's famous charm probably helped smooth her path into show business--at least where her parents were concerned. "My mother didn't want me to get into acting ... that is, until I introduced her to Frank Sinatra," Angie once said.

She got her big break in Hollywood when Howard Hawks cast her opposite John Wayne in 1958's Rio Bravo as the irresistible young widow, Feathers, a lady who likes to play poker with the boys and won't apologize for it.

"Hey, sheriff, you forgot your pants," she purred, nonplussing the usually unflappable Wayne. Angie, still a brunette in those days, modulated the film with her teasing, sultry presence. She also gets her man--her way. She coaxes the sheriff into a declaration of love by dressing up as a dance hall girl and displaying her spectacular gams (insured by Lloyd's of London): "I'm hard to get, John T," she says. "You're going to have to say you want me."

In the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11, Angie gave the part of Beatrice Ocean a bittersweet austerity. Her Beatrice is a woman who has suffered too many disappointments with the vicissitudes of her husband's gambling career. "I want a life that doesn't depend on the color of a card or the length of a horse's nose," she declares.

"What happened to your marriage, Bea?" asks pal Dean Martin.

"It drowned in champagne," she tells him.

Cast as the femme fatale in the 1964 neo-noir The Killers (featuring Ronald Reagan in his only unelected role as a villain), Angie turned up the heat several notches. Her character was introduced by another as "Sheila Farr--the wrecker."

"I like you--do I have to write a book?" she says coolly, incinerating race car driver Johnny North's heart with her level gaze. "Nothing scares me."

The same qualities she projected on the big screen--playful and strong, but not immune to the occasional pang of self-doubt--went into Angie's portrayal of Sgt. Pepper Anderson, one of the first macho women on TV. During her four seasons on the '70s drama Police Woman, Angie was every girl's dream of what a woman should be: sensuous and cerebral, tough-as-nails and funny. Along with Lindsey Wagner's bionic woman, Pepper Anderson was a trailblazer for the female action heroes of today.

Sometimes, though, you suspected that Pepper was prone to bouts of loneliness in which she went to the neighborhood tavern--where she was on a first-name basis with the barkeep--ordered up a storm of comfort, and perhaps found a handsome stranger to keep her company for the evening.

Angie Dickinson has always specialized in confounding expectations, toying with the shifting personas that define her career. She's played a police detective and a gun-toting, bootlegging outlaw, a prostitute and a faithful wife, an army lieutenant and an Italian midwife, and, in a Charlie Chan picture, a Dragon Queen. Clearly here is an actress who is difficult to typecast.

More at home on a barstool than in a booth, Angie would still choose the classier joints over the dives, but they'd have to have that lived-in look--nothing ostentatious or affected, no gimmicks and no games. You should be able to order a first-rate martini or a decent glass of wine, hear a torch singer or the low trill of a piano in the background and find a secluded nook in which to have a quiet chat (having dated both Johnny Carson and Larry King, Angie obviously enjoys a man who can hold his own in a conversation).

With a private back room, high-backed booths and a hard-earned reputation for discretion, a saloon is a spot where a gal like Angie could get cozy with even a president.

An Angie Dickinson Kind of Place

Adobe
20128 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino (408/873-8243)

Black Angus Fun Bar
380 S. Kiely Blvd., San Jose (408/261-6900); and 1011 Blossom Hill Road, San Jose (408/266-6602)

City Bar and Grill
Hilton and Towers, 300 Almaden Blvd., San Jose (408/947-4444)

Carry Nation's
8 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/354-1771)

Coleman Still
1240 Coleman Ave., Santa Clara (408/727-4670)

Coyote Inn
102 Monterey Road, Coyote (408/463-0970)

Daily's
5035 Mowry Ave., Fremont (510/791-0545)

El Torito
10330 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino (408/255-5747)

Fairmont Lobby Lounge
170 S. Market St., San Jose (408/998-3960)

Fresco
3398 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (650/493-3470)

Gasthaus Adler Bar and Restaurant
1380 S. Main St., Milpitas (408/946-6141)

Hardy's Bavaria
111 W. Evelyn St., Sunnyvale (408/720-1531)

Hugo's Sports Bar
4219 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (650/843-2521)

Island Food and Grog
4141 El Camino Real, Palo Alto (650/493-9020)

La Copa Inn
2444-B Alvin Ave., San Jose (408/274-3700)

Late for the Train
150 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park (650/321-6124)

Lou's Village
1465 W. San Carlos St., San Jose (408/293-4570)

Mac's American Grill
325 Main St., Los Altos (650/941-0234)

Mountain Charley's
15 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos (408/395-8880)

The Peppermill
10690 N. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino (408/996-7750)

Quail Canyon Inn
18780 Oak Glen Ave., Morgan Hill (408/779-7509)

The Quarter Note
1214 Apollo Way #403, Sunnyvale (408/732-2110)

Roadhouse Blues and Rock Café
1102 W. Evelyn Ave, Sunnyvale (408/739-7939)

Rodeo Club
640 Coleman Ave., San Jose (408/293-1010)

The Rose & Crown
547 Emerson St., Palo Alto (650/327-ROSE)

Star Lounge
2531 Newhall, Santa Clara (408/244-0293)

Waves Smokehouse and Saloon
65 Post St., San Jose (408/885-9283)

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From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of Metro.

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