Why did I get my face done? I’ll tell you why. First of all, I didn’t touch it until I was 55. That’s when I saw myself on television, on the old Sonny & Cher show. I was playing a witch, and I threw my head back and it gave me a couple of chins. I had bags under my eyes. I’d always had irregular features. My nose was too long, and I’d broken it, which made it crooked. It was a real witch nose. I also had crooked teeth. Ugly nose, crooked teeth. Which meant I had a lot of things wrong right here in the middle. Wrong! Wrong!
Anyway, I looked terrible. So the next morning I called my skin doctor and said, “Who do I call for a face-lift?” He referred me to Franklin Ashley, the top man at UCLA. So I called him—he was the grandfather of all cosmetic surgery. You know, he did a lot of work on John Wayne.
Men have certain things they have to have done—if they care. One is their upper eye; it sometimes needs opening. And it’s OK to get the bags removed and get the chin done. But a man should never have a face-lift. All wrong! They don’t look like any man you’ve ever known. It kills at least one ball. And on some guys, two balls.
I didn’t have to tell Ashley that my nose was badly broken. He took one look at me and said, “Oh, God, look what I get to do!” I get goose pimples just talking about it. He shortened my nose. It gave me a little room between my nose and my mouth. I also had my teeth all done, straightened with some kind of veneer.
Oh, baby, he did such a great job on my neck. Look! This ain’t bad for 94! I had that original face-lift in 1972. I was in the hospital a whole week. I’m not one to sit at home and cringe in the corner. So everybody saw, for the first time in their lives, what it looked like: strings hanging out of me. My being open about it became a big deal. People love honesty.
There were people who were against my getting my face fixed. My publicist was sure it would be the end of my career. Bob Hope loved my old face—the one he found me in. But the thing is, my new face improved my personal life. Isn’t that amazing? Now that may be because it changed my attitude toward me.
For the first time in my life I began to have affairs. Real affairs! Oh, hot dang! With my old face I never felt that I would be worthy of any kind of an affair. I never expected anyone to be serious about taking me out in a boy-girl way. And it didn’t happen until I changed my attitude. The external affects the internal. It’s all one machine.
Later I had another eye job. I had cheek implants. Isn’t it mahvelous, dahling? Somebody insisted on giving me a forehead lift. Oh, and a peel. An old-fashioned acid peel! It was like taking your kidney out without an anesthetic. But child, it was worth it. It takes off all the freckles. See?
Photograph courtesy Associated Press