Back in 1982, as her divorce with James Taylor was being finalized, Carly Simon began dating actor Al Corley. Here are a pair of articles from that time. The first is a brief piece from an issue of People magazine. The article cites a feature in Andy Warhol’s magazine Interview, which is the second article reproduced. Enjoy!
Carly Pitches and Corley Strikes Out
After successfully dodging photographers for months after the beginning of their unlikely romance, Dynasty’s Al Corley, 25, and his new honey, singer Carly Simon, 36, recently snuggled publicly for the first time in an issue of Andy Warhol’s Interview (above). Carly, the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. James Taylor, provided the questions (they were easy). But Corley’s answers were tough. Introduced on the show last season as Blake Carrington’s gay son, Steven, Corley poured out to Carly his problems with the role that paid him five figures weekly. “Steven doesn’t have any fun,” he complained. “He doesn’t laugh; he has no humor.” Carly was sympathetic. “How do the producers of the show react when you offer suggestions?” she queried. Sniffed Corley: “They don’t react.”
They do now. Next season Corley’s character will be back, but Corley won’t. Apparently the only thing on TV more lethal than bad Nielsens is public griping. Corley’s Interview piece was the latest—and last—of many similar grumpings in TV and newspaper interviews this year. “I love the show and I enjoy playing my character,” he told one reporter, but added, “I told [the producers] I wasn’t just another blond-haired actor who lives in California and is happy as hell to be on a hit show…this show is strictly a stepping stone.” His fear, he said, was that his character was being made heterosexual “because all the little girls in the TV audience like Al Corley…. The producers want the John [Dukes of Hazzard] Schneider audience, and they expect to get it with me.”
Dynasty’s co-executive producer Doug Cramer will make no specific comment about Corley’s dismissal except to observe that it does “a great injustice to the audience to eliminate a character because the actor portraying him creates insoluble problems. That is why we took the chance to recast.” Adds Cramer: “I wish him the best of luck—somewhere else.”
Whether that will be in Hollywood for films or in New York for theater, Corley’s life will surely include Carly. They met last May when a photographer—and mutual friend—talked Corley into loaning the use of his arm and the back of his head for the cover photo of Carly’s Torch LP. The age difference is no deterrent. “I happen to like older women,” says the Kansas-born blond who won a basketball scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University and bummed around Europe before venturing into acting. In the future Corley wants “a home, a family” in addition to a directing career. What he doesn’t want is “celebrity.” As far as Dynasty is concerned, he’s got his wish.
And here’s the article from Interview, written by Carly Simon:
Al Corley, in case you haven’t heard, is the 6’ 3” blond midwesterner who plays Steven Carrington on DYNASTY, the son of a rich Denver tycoon (John Forsythe). Last year he was homosexual but at the end of the season his father killed his lover, and the producers, seeking to attract a different audience for Al, arranged a nice young girl, Sammy Jo, for him to take up with. I watch the show every week hoping to see Al take a swing at this girl, who by now is his wife on the show. She has turned into an extravagantly nasty wife at that, nearly rivaling the other Carrington women’s taste for money, clothes, sleuth and large, crazed, wicked expressions in their eyes. (Excuse me Krystal, you know I don’t mean you.) I would like Al to slug Sammy Jo, take back his money, tell her he was only kidding about loving her, smash up her car and cut off all her hair. You se, I like Al a lot and I don’t like to see him get taken to the cleaners by some broad, even on a nighttime soap opera. He’s just as nice in real life as he is as Steven Carrington, but much more interesting. He and I met last May when Lynn Goldsmith, a great friend of mine, asked him to be in a photograph with me for the cover of my album TORCH. She wanted a little scene where I am wailing with tears of unrequited love for this man whose arm I am desperately trying to break off, (anything I can keep as a souvenir). Al was a great sport about his arm and everything and he is indeed on the album cover – way over on the upper right you can see his blond curls. So we got better and better friends over the months which is definitely the euphemism you want to make of it. (We have learned to distrust the term FRIENDS in our society, haven’t we?) We spend as much time as we can together and the following interview was done in my apartment in New York over the interrupted course of a few days in early February, so by the time you read this, it is possible that Steven will have already performed those unmentionables on Sammy Jo. Let’s hope so.
CARLY SIMON: One time I was watching Dynasty on television and I told you that I wanted to take a picture of you on the screen. You said not to because there is a superstition that says if you take a picture of somebody on TV they lose some of their soul. And you wouldn’t let me take the picture. Now is that a superstition or is that a real belief that you have?
AL CORLEY: It was a joke.
CS: So you didn’t care if I took a picture of you on TV or not.
AC: Yes, I did.
CS: Why would that bother you?
AC: Because it’s not fair.
AC: I should have the right to be present whenever my picture is taken. Also, when you take my picture off the television it’s always distorted, which is obvious from this picture you took of me off the television. Very distorted.
CS: I’m going to give you a quote from Oscar Wilde that he wrote in the beginning of A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY: “We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”
AC: I agree with the last part of the line.
CS: That all art is quite useless?
AC: Yes, I’m familiar with that quote. It’s one I live by. I think most people that are in television live by that quote.
CS: That all art is quite useless?
AC: No. no, the other part.
CS: That as long as you’re making a useless thing, then you’d better admire it intensely?
AC: I can stomach almost anyone who has a passion for what they’re doing. But in terms of art the last line makes a lot of sense to me.
CS: “Each man kills the thing he loves.”
How would you like to kiss the thing you love?
AC: I’d only like to kill Henry James, Stephen Crane and Ford Madox Ford.
CS: And how would you like to do that?
AC: With an icicle. Then the icicle would melt and there would be no way to find out who did it. Smart, huh? Icicle right in the heart. Blood dripping everywhere. White sheets. All three of them lined up together. Henry nude. Stephen nude. Ford nude. In the bed, all together sleeping violently. Icicles stuck in their chests.
CS: The icicles because basically you’re an advocate of gun control and you don’t like guns, right?
AC: That’s a nice parallel but it has nothing to do with it.
CS: The first time that I saw you was in my apartment. You came over one night and a girlfriend of mine answered the door and after she did she ran into the bedroom and said that there was somebody out there in the kitchen that she knew that she’d been in love with. She said, “I can’t figure out where I’ve been in love with him, but I know I’ve been in love with him. It’s the oddest sensation, who is he?” So I told her who you were and she said, “My God, that’s right.” She couldn’t figure out where she had seen you but she knew that she’d seen you and her feelings had been romantic and rather strong.
AC: I met you around my birthday in 1981. The first time that I’d thought seriously about having a child with you was a couple of months after that.
CS: When you went to college, what were you first interested in becoming?
AC: I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
CS: What was that?
AC: I wanted to be a professional wrestler until I found out it was all fake. It was all a hoax.
CS: Were there any other sports you were interested in?
CS: Were you always very athletic?
CS: When did you notice it creeping up in you?
AC: When I had my first sexual encounter with a woman.
CS: And then you realized your athletic prowess?
AC: Yes, I learned how quick I was.
CS: Your endurance?
AC: No. Quick.
CS: Do you think you’re going to be hung up in any way because of your looks? Are you going to be stereotyped when you become a screen actor?
AC: I’m not going to be a screen actor until they realize how much money they’d make off me. I remember I was drilling around New York City telling casting directors that, even telling an agent that in the beginning.
CS: Do you want to train anymore before you take on a large role in a film or would that depend upon what kind of a role it was?
AC: I want to train. I’m not really where I want to be. I doubt if I’ll ever be there. But I’m so far away from it now. I’m really green when it comes to becoming an actor.
CS: But you have such a presence on screen that’s very confusing, especially to film people and film directors and to people who watch. Your lack of technique – if that’s what you lack – will not be as apparent, as opposed to somebody who doesn’t have that presence. So in a sense, that can be a deterrent.
AC: When I talk in terms of technique I think as much or more technique as probably 80% of the people in this business. But that doesn’t mean anything because it’s one of the vocations in this world where one can excel and be successful in one form or another without having to go through the pains of really learning your craft. The advent of television made it possible for a person to walk down the street one day and be a huge celebrity, a star who makes $20,000 a week. There’s nowhere else on earth where that can be done except right here. And the arts and actors and creativity suffer from it immensely. If I allow myself to do that then I’ll be a very unhappy individual. I’ll tackle something, and then I’ll break away, and then I’ll study, and I won’t allow myself to fall into the kind of habits I have now from doing this series.
CS: How do you feel when you walk down the street and a lot of people stop you and recognize you and ask you for your autograph? How does that make you feel on the basis of their recognizing you from Dynasty?
AC: I wish…I would have been much happier if they would have recognized me after I had done a couple of new plays here two or three years ago.
CS: Do you feel more proud of the plays that you did here a couple of years ago than you do of DYNASTY?
AC: No. No, I don’t feel more proud of the plays. It’s a learning process. People just don’t even look at things on the long haul. I just mean looking at it in terms of the whole spectrum of your life, of your career.
CS: Can you ever envision yourself as a character actor? That’s one thing I wanted to ask you because you said you thought the best actors in America were character actors. Can you ever see yourself as one?
AC: I have to gain a little bit of weight first.
CS: You can play Orson in the life story of Orson Welles.
AC: I had a dream one time where I was in a supermarket somewhere in the midwest and I was looking around to buy something and I looked up and hoisted above the the check-out counter, on a platform with a bed on it, was Orson Welles. And he was all draped in white sheets and laying down with a nurse standing over him. Then I met his girlfriend and we sat down to have a drink. And that’s the end of the dream. And I’’ve always remembered that dream and it taught me a very important lesson. orson is so big and now he’s nothing and that’s sad. I have CITIZEN KANE on my video recorder but it’s intercut with Cal Worthington Ford commercials. For some reason the bigwigs of this business have decided that they can’t handle what Orson does unless they inject Cal Worthington commercials into his films or his ideas.
CS: Is there anything else outside of the field of acting and directing that you’ve always wanted to do?
AC: I’ve always wanted to manage midget tag team wrestling. Possibly Spanish or Mexican. Maybe Mexican midgets. To hit the tag team circuit. I don’t know, what would you like to do?
CS: I always wanted to manage a hardware store. I always thought if I could manage a hardware store I could do anything. Because I’d be facing my problems of claustrophobia and organization and the smell of a hardware store – I would just be facing a lot and getting past it. I wouldn’t want to manage it for more than a year but if I could do that I think I could do anything.
AC: I used to dream of trying to break the world’s record of living in a closed-in space. I even tried it once.
CS: What kind of setting?
AC: Oh, there were some show girls, a lot of neon lights, heavy kind of hard core atmosphere, a band playing various things by Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath – heavy metal. I found myself to very isolated in that setting. The kind of isolation which doesn’t happen. I think isolation is real important in a person’s growth. I think we should all force ourselves to be completely alone without any outside influence or noise for a period of time, every year.
CS: What do you think you’ll be in your next life? What would you like to be in your next life?
AC A bowling pin.
AC: Because I’d have so many friends who would surround me. And every time I got knocked down I would make it back up. Actually, I’d Like to able Paul Robeson. A white Paul Robeson. I’d like to be an American Indian Paul Robeson.
CS: But Paul Robeson was so essentially black.
AC: I would just be so essentially red. Great actor. Great orator. Played the piano. Spoke many many languages.
CS: he was a humanitarian.
AC: Renaissance man of his time. To think the he was black on top of it.
CS: You’re kind of a Renaissance man, you know?
AC: I am a Renaissance man, I guess. I guess I am the Midwest’s answer to Paul Robeson. No I’m not. I’m so simple.
CS: I know you think most actors are lazy.
AC: Because most actors ARE lazy. They are lazy and they have an easy go of it. Most of them don’t work hard.
CS: Some of them do.
AC: Actors are just to lazy to do anything else. It’s true. And they’ll admire it, too, if you really corner them. They were fuck-ups in school or something. They were just too lazy to work and become something else. I’m not saying all of them. The ones that aren’t are successful and self-satisfied. And are doing most of the things that they want to do. They don’t have to swallow their pride very often. It’s a cop-out a lot of the time. It’s a real scapegoat for life. I’m an actor and I don’t have to do anything else. And they’re so into themselves. And we say, “Oh well, we actors, we watch people. We relate and are philosophical and we get into each other’s heads. We’re such observers.” And about half of that is out and out bullshit. Hogshit.
CS: We haven’t talked about DYNASTY at all. How did you get involved with it?
AC: I just was here in New York working and studying. ABC had a big talent search and they came in and wanted me to audition several times. Four times. Finally they flew me out to LA and auditioned again…
CS: how do you feel about being recognized?
AC: I don’t mind it. Most of the time it’s kind of new to me. People are real nice. They ask about the show, where I’m from. How the people on the show are in real life. Who I’m seeing. A little bit about my personal life. They feel that’s a nice calm unobtrusive way to break the ice from across the room. Something like this, “Hey fag!”
or “Hey, you’re Steven from television’s DYNASTY. Come over here, sign a few autographs for my kids.”
CS: You’re noticed much more than I do, which is terrible for my ego.
AC: It’s those big florescent orange glasses and that silly black hat you wear.
CS: It amazes me how many millions of people have seen you.
AC: Yes, sir. That’s a lot of people. You figure we get somewhere around a 30 share and for every point of that 30 share, 850,000 people tune in to watch us.
CS: Do you like your role in DYNASTY?
AC: At first it was the challenge of the role, of walking the thin line of being a homosexual or a bisexual or being heterosexual or whatever they were going to write for me. But then that subsided for a while because they seemed to have me heading toward a heterosexual existence and that’s okay – but I think that the amount of time I spend doing the same character for that long is just too much for me at this point for my growth as an actor. Steven doesn’t have any fun. He doesn’t laugh; he has no humor.
CS: That’s the one place where they don’t take advantage of you at all. Because you are so funny and you’re so silly and you’re so physically out there.
AC: I brought the idea up to them one time that Steven should become a teacher, which I thought was interesting. Only because it would set up certain frictions and certain circumstances which would be interesting to me. For instance, if the parents found out he had been a homosexual at one time, or was a homosexual, then that would cause friction. They wouldn’t want their children to be taught by a person like this and then I would respond, “Look, I’m human and I’m bright and I want to teach your children and I’m kind.” So you have a conflict there. And also possibly one of the younger boys in the class might have a problem with homosexuality, depending upon what age I was teaching, and I could help him. It certainly would be better than running around driving a race car, for Christsakes.
CS: How do the producers of the show react when you offer suggestions?
AC: They don’t react. They want to take credit for everything. That whole system out there is based on power. And everyone looks out for his own butt.
Many thanks to Bill at the Carly Simon Online forums for transcribing the Interview article. You can see the original post here, which includes scans of the pictures from the original issue. Also thanks to Tony at SoapChat.net for transcribing the People article here.
(Once the current new releases buzz dies down a bit, I’ll try and do more digging into the Archives.)