Maybe the last thing Charlotte
Austin would want to be remembered as is "Queen of the
Gorillas." That was the working title of the film for
which she may be known best, The Bride and the Beast.
Exploitation filmmaker Adrian Weiss commissioned Hollywood
fringe-dweller Ed Wood to script the low-budget shocker,
in which Charlotte plays a newlywed whose simian genes
beckon her to return to the jungle and abandon her understandably
But there's more to Charlotte
Austin than her brief film career would lead you to
believe. She was named for the North Carolina city in
which she was born, the daughter of Gene Austin, one
of popular music's most unjustly underrated entertainers.
Austin's recordings gave rise to the "crooning" craze
that made stars of Crosby, Sinatra, Dick Haymes and
many others. He also wrote numerous songs that have
become pop music standards, My Blue Heaven and
Lonesome Road among them. (Gene Austin died in
Her father's passion for music
was passed on to Charlotte, who is equally zealous where
politics and civil injustice are concerned. She remembers
becoming infuriated by Richard Nixon while watching
the Kennedy-Nixon debates with her close friend, Marlon
Brando. As a young woman, she circulated a petition
for gun control, at one point finding herself surrounded
by pro-gun truckers who tore her petition to shreds.
She and a fellow petitioner were later arrested.
Her twin passions for music
and the underdog have led her to write Scared White,
an uncompromising musical satire of the O.J. Simpson
What's the status of the musical?
CHARLOTTE AUSTIN: It
sort of came to a grinding halt for a while, but I'm
just now starting to write some additional material
-- sort of from the jury's point of view. I've made
some wonderful friends in the black community that are
just fantastic, and I'm seeing other sides of the story.