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Liz 'dogs it' in 'Second Sight'


Read this vintage article from 1984

Actress Elilabeth Montgomery usually doesn't fall for her co-stars. You almost never read about her in the gossip columns. Nevertheless, love bloomed during the making of "Second Sight: A Love Story" (Tuesday, March 13, 9-11 p.m., CBS). As a result, Miss Montgomery and co-star are now living together. Actually, Miss Montgomery's companion is currently in the doghouse. This is because the actress's co-star was a Seeing Eye dog named Emma.

"Second Sight" tells the story of a stoic, reclusive blind woman, played by Miss Montgomery, who discovers life's wonderful possibilities with the help of man's best friend. The turnabout occurs after she's assaulted by a burglar. Realizing she can't rely solely on herself anymore, the blind woman reluctantly teams up with Emma, a Seeing Eye dog. For the first time since becoming blinded as a teen, she comes to trust another being -- an animal; And in time, she accepts the love of a good man, portrayed by Barry Newman.

Miss Montgomery became quite attached to this pooch during filming. Sensing that the two belonged together, trainer Lee Mitchell -- on his own initiative -- gave Emma, a Labrador retriever, to the actress at the end of the production. For Miss Montgomery, it was a happy ending to a project she has wrestled with for two years as producer and star. "We went through three writers before getting it right. What concerned me most was that the character should be human. The tendency in movies is to make blind people so saintly and adorable that you could hardly stand it," Miss Montgomery told TV Week. "I didn't like how the character was written in the first drafts. But now she has a real edge and is quite imperfect." In the film, this blind woman continually spurns people who want to help or care for her.

The actress, a veteran of 15 TV movies and the hit series "Bewitched," admits she had trouble mastering the role of a blind woman. "I couldn't work out the 'non-focusing' since I have a tendency to look at people a lot. Even when I was a child, my mom scolded me for staring at other people."

The actress prepared for the role by blindfolding herself at home and conferring with sightless people and their teachers. "When I was in the dark, I became frustrated and disoriented even when I was sure of my territory. I realized that even though I'm an efficient person, I'd be rendered helpless if suddenly blinded. To tell the truth, I had this enormous desire to peek out from the blindfolds."

Emily Wickham, a teacher of the blind, instructed Miss Montgomery on using a cane. "You just don't tap anywhere and get by. You always have to have a border. A person just can't go freewheeling down the street like in a swashbuckling movie."

Many blind people don't want help from pedestrians or good samaritans, the actress concluded while researching the part. "Many blind people are self-sufficient and able to cope. They have everything laid out at home and labeled. They know where their clothing is, the colors are even categorized. They know what is in the fridge and the closets and the location of the furniture. In their minds, they believe they've conquered their handicaps. But the minute somebody says 'let me help you cross the street,' the whole foundation crumbles. To a blind person, this is the most annoying thing possible. The last thing they want to feel is helpless."

Miss Montgomery also found that the blind can't tolerate any interruption of routine. This is why many refuse to have a Seeing Eye dog, she said. "Many have their lives programmed and don't want another responsibility. For instance, when I worked with the cane all day I was fine. Or if I worked with Emma all day it was OK. But if I had to suddenly switch from Emma to the cane, I was really thrown."

Once production started, Miss Montgomery actually kept her eyes shut. "The director feared I'd be hit by a car on location. Actually, I got very comfortable with Emma and my cane."

If you are interested in owning the unedited version of this film, email me for details. VictorMas@aol.com



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