I had the opportunity of interviewing actress Marla Heasley via Instagram direct message last week after she took a look at my Instagram page and commented that her father was Audie Murphy’s manager for many years that she met Audie when she was a child! Of course, I had to know more! Below are the details from my interview with Marla.
First, a little about Marla Heasley. Marla hails from from a true Hollywood background that goes back to Hollywood’s very beginnings! Marla is best known from her role as the character Tawnia on the classic 80’s hit TV series The A-Team. You can find Marla’s full filmography on IMDB and find her on Facebook and Instagram. Marla is currently an Integrative Nutritional Health Coach. More information about her health coaching enterprise can be found at VIVE Health.
Marla’s father Jack Heasley ran a management business with his twin brother Robert. Both were born & raised in Los Angeles. In fact, the famous ice skater turned actress Sonja Henie taught them both to ice skate when they both were attending Beverly Hills High School.
MH: They [Jack and Robert Heasley] both went on to work with Sonja Henie in her movies. They were her bookends [known as The Heasley Twins!] Then the war came and they bought two airports and taught flying to Navy pilots. After the war they both became managers.. So both of them were Audie’s managers. One more bit of trivia…my father was married, before my mom, to Lucien Hubbard’s daughter. They had two children together. Lucien Hubbard won the very first Academy Award for producing Wings and he wrote The Maltese Falcon [the 1931 version starring Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels], Gung Ho [starring Randolph Scott], and many more.
QUESTION: Audie Murphy mostly acted in western films, have you ever been in a western type of film? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, is that a type of film you’d be interested in making?
MH: No, I never acted in a Western. I guest starred in a series called The Highwayman and there was a dream sequence that put me into western days, but, that’s as close as I ever got to a western. I enjoy any part that is written well and in most genres, be it a western, comedy, drama, science fiction, action, etc. I just have always loved working as an actor. It’s an amazing job. Nothing like it.
QUESTION: Tell me about the time you met Audie Murphy! What do you remember about him and what was the meeting like?
MH: Honestly, I was just a little girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old. My father had some papers that he wanted Audie to sign, so I went with him to Audie’s house. While they were busy signing papers, I, like a kid, was looking for what I could do to keep myself amused, and I picked up one of Audie’s guns, which I thought was a toy. His walls had lots of guns laying up against them. When Audie saw me holding the gun he said “Jack, tell her to put the gun down, it’s loaded.” So, my dad told me and I put it down. My father told me, years later, that Audie told him that he kept all the guns in his home loaded.
That’s a fascinating story and I would like to thank Marla so much for sharing it! If you’ve read much about Audie Murphy you know about his struggles with PTSD. I ran across this article from the Desert Sun 5 June 1962 edition which mentions Audie Murphy and one of his scrapes with the law:
MH: Between you and me, my father told me that the war made Audie a little crazy.
I think that all of Audie’s fans can recognize the severe stress that Audie endured during WWII that led to his PTSD struggles. I think that the memorial that Bill Mauldin wrote for Life Magazine after Audie’s death best sums up the struggles that Audie went through:
My furies weren’t as burning as his and I was able to work most of them out on paper. Audie took the hard way, cutting a swath through the Wehrmacht and then trying to do the same In Hollywood. There, in 20 years as an actor and producer, he found himself outflanked by people he called “phonies” who wouldn’t fight his way. Long before his plane flew into a mountain he was nibbled to death by ducks.
As he grew older, Murphy wanted the world to stay simple so he could concentrate on tidying up its moral fiber wherever he found himself. But nothing came out right. His country got into wars that heroes couldn’t win. Murphy’s kind of gallantry faced a buyers market. He kept walking on the balls of his feet like a wary little bobcat, lonely and angry.
Every time he got into trouble, which was often because his judgment was on a par with his luck, great numbers of people who knew him rallied to help. This was not because he had won those medals. It was because most of us accept a certain amount of blending as we go along. We adjust, accept, tolerate, temporize, and sometimes compromise. Not Murphy. In him we all recognized the straight, raw stuff, uncut and fiery as the day it left the still. Nobody wanted to be in his shoes. but nobody wanted to be unlike him. either.