When I was 11 years old, in the 1940s, my dad was a film editor at Fox Studios. One day he took me to a cast and crew screening of “Blood and Sand”. This was a classic and romantic film of a young matador (Tyron Power) who goes to Sevilla to seek fame and fortune, and at the peak of his success he is seduced by the most beautiful woman I had ever seen as a young boy. I remember saying to my dad, “She has beautiful red hair, just like Mom.” I secretly fell in love with her and thought to myself, “One day I will marry her and become a famous Bullfighter” (even though I knew nothing about bullfighting at the time).
I did not end up marrying Rita, but bullfighting did come back into play in my romantic life. Years later, my dad introduced me to Anthony Quinn (Tony), who was one of the stars of the film and also good friends with my dad. From then on Tony became a friend and came in and out of my life until he passed away. He even introduced me to my first wife, actress Ruth Roman (best known for her role in “Strangers on a Train”) at a bullfight in Tijuana in 1956.
But let’s get back to Rita: In 1947, when I was 17 years old and working as a bus boy at the commissary at 20th Century Fox studios, in walked Rita Hayworth with Daryl F. Zanuck (the head of the studio). I froze and said to myself, “Finally, there’s Rita! I have waited all these years to meet her. What should I do? Do I tell her that I had dreamed about marrying her when I grew up?” Then, the headwaiter threw a wet towel that hit me and he said, “Budd, wake up and go and clean table number 12 right away!” For the moment, my quest to meet Rita was over.
It wasn’t until I became an agent, in the 1960s, that I met Rita socially and told her about my childhood dreams. I later became her agent and one day Ed Feldman, the head of Warner Brothers Studios, called me and said he had a script called “Il Bastardi”. He explained that it would be made in Spain and that Joan Crawford was going to take the role, but that there were creative problems so they needed to replace her. He wanted to know if Rita would be interested in the role.
Rita and I in Toledo, Spain on her birthday (October 17th, 1967). The studio gave her the day off and Rita and I got to spend her 50th birthday together. It is one of my greatest memories.
Within days, Rita read the script and thought she would enjoy playing the villain in the film. So a few weeks later, in October of 1967, we went to Madrid for three weeks to make the film. To make a deal happen so quickly for Rita was a dream come true. It was my most exciting adventure as a young agent.