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The Story

"From Hooker To Hollywood"
By
Michael Piller

 Sandra  Giles

 Actress, Born Lelia, Bernice Giles, on a July day in Hooker, Oklahoma. She was used to hard living. She’d been on the road since she was twelve when she’d run away from her home in San Antonio. Her father had gone to jail for molesting her.  Her mother waited tables all-night and slept all day. After Bernice and her sister were sent to foster homes, she just took off.  She signed up with an outfit that recruited teen-agers to sell magazines door to door. She told them she was eighteen and she looked it. A few years later, when her mother, now divorced moved to Anaheim, Bernice hitchhiked across the country to be with her.

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                                   An annulled marriage to another man who was only around long enough to teach her to jitterbug. And a desperate need to make some decent money. With a sixth grade education, she didn’t have many qualifications. Her mother considered her assets made her a skin-tight gray silk dress and Sandra went out to find work. She didn’t come to Hollywood to be a star…she came to Hollywood to be with her mother.

                                   Her search had ended satisfactorily at the Canters Deli. She was still working there when press agent Shelly Davis discovered her. Davis was handling p-r for the opening of the Fremont Hotel in Las Vegas and needed a good-looking gal for a stunt. He first offered it to a buxom blonde named Juli Reding who worked as a receptionist in an adjoining office. Juli wasn’t available –she’d just been picked to be one of the Mermaids at Marineland. So she told Davis about Bernice, a new friend she’s met at the Clairol booth at a trade show. They’d both been hired to get their hair colored as part of a sales pitch.

The Dead Zone Star Anthony Hall with Sandra & Sandra

                                 “All you gotta do is get mad,” Davis told Bernice. A huge painting had been commissioned to hang in the lobby of the hotel. Bernice would pose, lounging on a pool chair in a swimsuit. At the grand opening, the painting would be unveiled and it would look exactly as Bernice had posed except there would be no swimsuit. Davis: “And then you say, “I didn’t pose that way. I was in a swimming suit. I don’t want to be Marilyn Monroe. I’m an actress.”  And as people tried to console her, she hauled off and unexpectedly slapped the shocked artist as a dozen cameras flashed.

                                  Making the Herald-Examiner was a given, but the photo made the front page of the Los Angeles Times and then the wire services. As the model ”sued” the hotel, for weeks the press followed the saga of the poor, victimized actress who had been stripped naked and humiliated in public. She finally settled the suit for 25-thousand dollars. It was paid at a news conference in silver dollars.

                                 An agent signed her. Introduced her to the head of Paramount Pictures. And hired her to model furs for a sponsor of a nightly live television shows hosted by Tom Duggan on KCOP, Channel 13. Shelly Davis knew he had something special with this girl… another Jayne, maybe even another Marilyn… but she needed a   new name: ‘Bernice’ wasn’t going to work. They picked  ‘Sandra’, the origin is unclear. Sandra says it came from her sandy hair color. But the story is told in family circles that Bernie had always liked the sound of her daughter’s name. Her little girl was the first Sandra Giles and then her mother took the name herself.

                               In fact her pictures were the definition of ”peek—boo”.  You hold one in your hands and without realizing you start turning it slowly, slanting it, hoping that coming at it from a new angle might reveal what you can’t quite see and then you glance at her eyes in the picture and they’re laughing at you…not in any demeaning way, but with an innocent, ’caught yak’ kind of sparkle.

                            “ Sandra was one of the most beautiful young women in this town and that was at a time when the town was filled with charming, beautiful ladies,” says producer AC Lyle who later cast her in his western “BLACK SPURS”. “She had that wonderful appeal for all the guys but she didn’t intimidate the women. She had the same innocence as Marilyn. She didn’t look like she would go after someone’s husband. And she had this great gift for publicity – hardly with out even trying – it just seemed to come to her.”

 

                             The plan was to steal the premiere of  ”TEACHER’S PET”.  Life magazine had been talking about doing a story on Sandra. A big stunt at the premiere would put it over for sure. It was raining that night and that was the worst possible luck, because if the dammed thing got wet the whole stunt would turn ludicrous.  They kept it under cover until the very last minute. Then, Davis led off the side street into the snarled traffic on Hollywood Boulevard approaching Graumann’s Chinese Theater. He signaled the cops who knew him. They made an avenue for her toward the klieg lights. The first photographer who saw her was the guy from Life magazine who’d been tipped off in advance. And so he started flashing her pictures, the others followed, turning away from Clark Gable and Doris Day to photograph a blonde bombshell driving a pink fur ball coupe. That’s what it looked like –a Pink 1957 Thunderbird coupe, with its roof off, covered with fur. Not just inside, but outside too. The seats, the carpet, the dash, the sides, the chrome, the tires, everything. At the center of this movable pink fur nest  Sat  Sandra Giles, waving and smiling in along pink chinchilla dress with a black muff.

Note: Life Magazine featured a 3 page spread of Sandra Giles titled “The Blond From Hooker / How to become a Movie Star”. She shared three pages with several other stars in a Bubble Bath Shower photo.

 

Additional Bio.

                          (Sandra Giles), Oklahoma born, San Antonio raised, Sandra Giles migrated to Los Angeles at 18 years of age . She spent four years studying her acting craft skills with Richard Brander, Charles Conrad and Jeff Corey learning everything she could from the best dramatic coaches available. Once she felt secure in her craft she started working on daytime television as a girl Friday co-hostess and commercial representative.

                           Following a year of this Sandra started working in dozens of TV shows, including ABC series "Sweepstakes,"  "Quincy," "Colombo," "Get Christie Love," "Adam12," "The Odd couple," ts of "The Rogues," and  "Burke's Law," She appeared on the "Land of The Giants," and has been on the "Steve Allen Show". Her television work includes "Crisis in Mid-Air" and "are You In the House Alone," both CBS Movies of the Week.

In motion pictures Sandra has been seen in "Last of  The Red Hot Lovers," "//the Mad bomber," McClintock," "Black Gun," "Flare-Up," and "It Happened at The World's Fair," among others.

On stage, she co-starred with Don Knotts in "Last of the red Hot Lovers," and played Caesar's Palace with Mickey Rooney and Tony Randall in "The Odd Couple." She co-starred with Bob Crane in "Beginner's Luck" and played in "Death Of A Salesman" at the Call Board Theatre with David Canary and Henry Beckman. For relaxation she enjoys tennis, horseback riding, bicycle riding, motorcycle riding, snow skiing. She is 5'5" tall, 124 lbs.  is a blonde with brown eye, and she loves to dance.