Wilson received a break in 1952 when she was cast in the Broadway play "Picnic" by William Inge.
"There was a troubled, sad guy," she says. "I remember [director] Joshua Logan wanted too change the ending of the play because he thought Inge's end was not commercial enough. I remember the day he told Bill of the change he was making and Bill came out of the dressing room, walked across the stage and out of the theater and we never saw him again."
A happier memory from the play was her friendship with Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman who were in the production (Woodward was an understudy). "I can still remember the day he came into my dressing room and we had this big mirror and I looked in the mirror and saw his eyes and went, 'Oh my God, these are the bluest eyes I've ever seen.' "
She and Rita Shaw were the only actors from the Broadway production to also do the film.
Wilson said there was no sense that "The Graduate" would become such a film classic. But she does remember when she arrived for filming being told she wasn't good-looking enough for the role "so they said they were going to fix me up and they pinned my neck back and put that beautiful hairpiece on me. I have to say, I look good in 'The Graduate,' so God bless them."
Being cast in the nature-turns-on-humans film "The Birds" was "a scary experience," she says. On the flight to California for the filming some birds attacked the window of the front of the plane, she says. And when she was walking to the set one day a bird flew down and plunged into her back for no apparent reason. "When I told Mr. Hitchcock, he said, [and here she does a perfect deadpan impersonation of the stoic director], 'I am not at all surprised.' "
On the 1964 TV series "East Side/West Side," which starred George C. Scott and Cicely Tyson, "It was a big success and dear George wanted Cicely to have more of a role, even have some sort of a relationship with [the African-American actress] and CBS said, 'Are you crazy?' And they canceled the series."
Her last film, "Hyde Park on the Hudson" "was a great experience except for Bill Murray, who was a son of a bitch. Before we started filming we had a reading of the script and I was sitting in a chair and he walks in and jumps on my lap and started rocking back and firth, saying 'Mommy, mommy.' Well, honey, I was 90 and I've had plenty of surgery in my hips, stomach and all over and I was screaming. He got up and walked away and never spoke to me again — and he didn't want to have anything to do with the rest of the cast either."
And her advice to young actors?
"It's one thing to be talented but the other thing is connections, with agents, with people, that's what makes a difference and from the beginning I've had wonderful representation."
She also spoke of two great loves in her life and the painful personal choices she had to make in order to have a career.
"That's why I didn't marry," she says. "But [the choice] was right for me. I didn't want to give up my career. That's what kept me alive, kept me going. I couldn't stop — didn't want to stop — being all these different characters."