Prior to making The Hustler (1961), Paul Newman had a pool table installed in his home to practice upon because he had never played the game in his life until then. Jackie Gleason, on the other hand, was a very accomplished pool player and executed most of his own shots in the picture. Undeterred, Newman challenged him to a game for $50 and Gleason accepted the challenge. Paul broke the balls and Jackie promptly sunk all 15 in a single break without giving him another shot in the game. The next day Newman paid the $50 in 5,000 one cent pieces!
Mia Farrow revealed in a recent interview that during the rape scene in Rosemary’s Baby (1968) the actor (Clay Tanner) portraying the Devil was stark naked as he grinded away on top of her for several hours of takes. When the scene was finally completed to director Roman Polanski’s satisfaction, Tanner quietly shook her hand and said most cordially, ‘Miss Farrow, it was a pleasure working with you.’ ‘Thank you’, she replied. ‘He was a very lovely man’, she added.
In the enormously successful 1967 hit The Dirty Dozen, the character Jiminez was played by popular recording artist Trini Lopez. He had racked up 16 hit songs between 1963 and 1968, tunes such as ‘If I Had a Hammer’, ‘Michael’ and ‘Lemon Tree’. His movie career, however, was derailed when he foolishly took Frank Sinatra’s advice and walked off this movie because of all the shooting delays. Trini was signed with Frank’s Reprise recording label and ‘Ole Blue Eyes’ convinced him that his popularity as a singer was likely to wane if he continued to spend time away from the studio. The plot in The Dirty Dozen required Trini’s character to set the fuses that would destroy the Nazi mansion in the picture. Once Lopez left the set, however, Jiminez was ‘killed off’ in a parachuting accident en route to the battle zone and another character was allocated his tasks.
Liz sporting her tracheotomy scar 1963
When Liz Taylor was struck down with a fever and lobar pneumonia during the shooting of indoor scenes in London for Cleopatra (1963), her chances of survival were estimated by her physician to be 50-1 at best. In fact, on four separate occasions she was within moments of death. 20th Century Fox had sunk millions into the picture so, with her death seemingly imminent, they called Joan Collins and told her to stand by to fly to London as her replacement. Aghast at Fox’s cold-blooded attitude she was all set to say no but her boyfriend Warren Beatty urged her to stop being so sentimental and to think of her career. As we now know, a last-minute tracheotomy saved Liz’s life and Joan’s services were not required.
The 1967 movie Poor Cow saw the debut of flamboyant London criminal John Bindon. The man was a violent drunk, drug addict and sexual exhibitionist who, through his liaison with model Vicki Hodge, was introduced to so-called ‘polite society’. He was soon servicing the likes of Angie Barnett (the future wife of David Bowie) and high-priced call-girl Christine Keeler soon to become notorious because of the Profumo Affair. The ever adventurous Princess Margaret, sister to the Queen of England, found her way into his bed as well. In Mustique, he gladly demonstrated his party trick, (at her request), of hanging five half-pint beer mugs on his erect penis! He later told friends the princess was a wild woman in bed, tireless and insatiable.
Fred in The Apartment (1960)
Director Billy Wilder, like everyone else in Hollywood, was aware of Fred MacMurray’s legendary stinginess. There was a scene in The Apartment (1960) in which Fred’s character had to tip a shoeshine boy by flipping him a quarter, but no matter how he tried Fred could not flip the coin effectively. ‘Try using a 50 cent piece’, Wilder suggested. Fred was aghast. ‘I would never give him fifty cents’, he said. ‘I cannot play the scene!’ After the picture’s release he was accosted by women in the street who accused him of making ‘a dirty movie’. One even hit him over the head with her purse. The ‘Swinging Sixties’ were still some ways off in the distance.
Blonde actress Jenny Maxwell played the spoiled brat party girl Ellie Corbett in Blue Hawaii (1961). She makes a play for Elvis in the picture and he ends up spanking her on the beach. In real life she was married to Los Angeles criminal attorney Ervin Roeder. In 1981 the 60 year-old Roeder was in the middle of investigating the mysterious death of actor Nick Adams (TV’s Johnny Yuma, The Rebel) when he and 39 year-old Jenny were gunned down outside their Beverly Hills apartment. Their murders have never been solved.
Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis & Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood did not enjoy making The Great Race in 1965 alongside Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Her primary complaint was, according to her, that she was being sexually harassed by both of her co-stars on a regular basis. Tony was a known skirt-chaser but Jack most certainly was not. Incidentally, Natalie did not do her own vocals for the song, ‘The Sweetheart Tree’. They were provided by Jackie Ward, the same lady who provided the ‘La-la-la’ section of Pat Boone’s monster 1962 hit single ‘Speedy Gonzales’.
The rather dull 1960 musical Can-Can was set in 1896 Montmartre where performances of the high-kicking Can-Can were strictly forbidden. Unfortunately, the 1960 censors would not permit mention of just why the dance was banned, so the whole core of the picture was fatally compromised. History tells us that the reason it was banned was because most of the ladies performing those high kicks did not wear panties!
John Wayne was disgusted when Midnight Cowboy (1969) won the Best Picture Oscar and said so in a Playboy magazine interview. ‘Wouldn’t you say’, he asked his interviewer, ‘that the wonderful love of these two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies as a perverse movie?’ Fortunately for ‘the Duke’, he had long passed on to that great round-up in the sky by the time Brokeback Mountain hit screens in 2005.
Chill Wills in THe Alamo (1960)
Character actor Chill Wills was Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of Beekeeper in John Wayne’s 1960 blockbuster The Alamo. He quickly placed an ad in Variety stating that the cast and crew of the movie were praying harder for him to win the Oscar than the real life defenders of the Alamo prayed on the night before the battle. Wayne (and the rest of the crew) were disgusted by his shameless plea for votes. They also felt it was in very poor taste to drag the hapless Alamo defenders into it. The Duke paid for another ad to counter it.