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My Sondra Locke Story

Here’s another one of my stories of crossing paths with a celebrity—but don’t get your hopes up!

Some time in 2009 I got a voicemail from Sondra Locke. She was very interested in the soundtrack to The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).

I mean, she was very interested. She sounded a lot like one of the fans who have called me over the years: this is my favorite soundtrack and I can’t find it anywhere and can you please help me?

Of course, I always try to help, so I called her back—and she started into her interest with great detail and passion, and I had to interrupt: “Excuse me, is this Sondra Locke, the actress...or Sondra Locke, the bus driver...?”

She laughed enthusiastically and said something like, “Well, you never know!”—referring to the economic climate of the time.

It was indeed Sondra Locke the wonderful actress from so many films—we released the CD of her debut performance in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. The Greatest Show on Earth was her favorite film from her childhood and she truly wanted to hear the soundtrack just from admiration and enjoyment of what it meant to her.

She had already contacted Paramount and the Cecil B. DeMille estate, but unfortunately I don’t think I was able to tell her anything she had not already discovered in her research—all that was available was the ancient LP, and as far as I could tell, the studio didn’t even have music assets that could be used to do an expanded soundtrack release.

In checking my email archives, I see she did follow up with me some time later by email, and I was impressed, then and now, by her dedication and passion. I was sorry I could not help.

She died in 2018 and I was very saddened to hear it. She seemed like a very sincere movie and movie soundtrack aficionado—one of us!

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John Walsh
John Walsh
Oct 31, 2023

Your anecdotes about your encounters with Hollywood folks are genuinely interesting.

(I still recall hearing a phone message from you saying you were at the L.A. Confidential sessions and when His Holiest heard you were there he said "Get him out of here!" tho ((if I'm recalling this at all correctly)) you said he shook hands with you--maybe he recalled Bernard Herrmann's reaction to JG using an orchestrator?)

It's nice to hear this about Locke, if only to have evidence that the folks who makes movies remain actual MOVIE fans.

(I'll have to tell you what a trailer editor who'd worked with Oliver Stone said about him sometime.)

Hoping you and yours are well, take care. JSW

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