Classic Hollywood #35 – Claudia Cardinale & The NYPD

A New York City Cop Takes Exception To Claudia Cardinale’s Dress – 1971

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYC 2Disturbing the Peace

New York, NY – A New York policeman is not deterred in his duty as Italian actress Claudia Cardinale turns on her charm in front of Grand Central Station. After telling Cardinale to “move along,” the policeman rubs shoulders with her as he goes his way and she goes hers. Front view of the departing actress shows why he asked her to move. The dress she wore to plug a new movie caused a mid-town traffic jam. (UPI) 8-3-71

Here is how Claudia was causing the traffic jam —

Claudia Cardinale 1971 Streets of NYCI love the men’s faces in the background, while the cop scowls and bumps into Cardinale. For 1971 this mode of dress on the city streets was considered very risque. Today it would barely attract attention, let alone have the police intervening.

A member of the Turner Classic Movie Fan Forum, FrankT65, posted a behind the scenes account of what occurred here.

Frank was responsible for running a publicity junket for Paramount’s The Red Tent starring Claudia Cardinale, Sean Connery and Peter Finch. Here is how Frank describes the event:

We had lots out of town press coming in for a junket and if anything we would have plenty of publicity coverage for the film.

Our VP in charge of marketing was Charles Glenn….a man who believed in the publicity stunt, which had been considered by many to be outdated. I myself loved publicity stunts…it got you out of the office and in with the public where a public relations person belonged. Problem was there were too few stunts you could connect with THE RED TENT. Finally someone came up with an idea: we would have 1000’s of paper fans made up with the slogan “Keep Cool with THE RED TENT” and distribute them throughout city. We would do this by purchasing 7 red tents and select 7 high traffic areas where we would give out the fans. My area was just outsde of Grand Central Station. The morning of the event we were all called into the lobby to be taught how to put these tents together  & I might add we were pretty bad. It took us ages to learn, but finally most of us conquered it.

It was getting close to 5pm and time to go if we wanted to catch the commuter crowd. I grabbed my boxes of fans, my tent and was off to Grand Central Station. When I got to GCS I quickly set up the tent and started to hand out my fan supply to the crowd. All was going well…the people seemed to enjoy the free fans and I’m enjoying being part of it all. Then it happens….

A limo pulls up at the spot where I’m standing. The back door opens and out comes Claudia Cardinale in the tightest red hot suit I have ever seen. A great entrance. She approached with that gorgeous Claudia Cardinale smile, took a handful of fans, caressed my cheek and started to hand out the fans to her fans. She was working the crowd for maybe 10 seconds when I felt a big beefy hand clap down on my shoulder.

“You get your broad. You get your tent. And you get off the street!” he ordered me. Okay officer….I sauntered over and slowly began to dismantle the tent.

“Hey buddy” I hear, “Don’t ya hear too good? I said: you get your broad, you get your tent and you get off the street.”

Suddenly old memories and desires flooded me.  I was about to get arrested for a publicity stunt! I was about to earn my stripes! Thank you God! Thank you Claudia Cardinale! Thank you beefy policeman! I had these visions of me and Claudia being packed into a paddy wagon, taken downtown and booked. I was happy as a clam. Then something else happened. Claudia turned to the policeman smiled her Claudia smile and handed him a fan. He took the fan and thanked her….it was a very tender moment. “Graci” she said to him, got back into the limo and drove away. There was a slight pause. Finally he turned to me and said: “Take your time buddy….stay as long as you have fans left.”

Well I never did get arrested. But the incident did make the front page of the New York Post the following day. THE RED TENT still flopped, but as the cop told me I stayed as long as I had some fans left.

Claudia Cardinale is still acting at age 76. Her latest film All Roads Lead to Rome with Sarah Jessica Parker is slated for a 2015 release.

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