Garry Marshall & Julia Roberts
Given his successful directing career, one is left to wonder why American director Garry Marshall, the man who helmed Pretty Woman in 1990, chose to make the sadism & masochism feature Exit to Eden four years after his greatest achievement. He has since written that he was looking to do something different from the romantic comedies he was known for, but his choice of material seems anything but inspired. He was thrilled to sign Dana Delany, star of the TV series China Beach, as the sexy lead, but finding a male Hollywood star who was willing to be spanked by a woman on the big screen proved to be a nigh-on impossible assignment. In the end he had to look outside America and sign the up and coming Australian actor Paul Mercurio, star of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (1992).
Marshall added a couple of new characters for an additional comedic detective storyline, then recruited Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell to portray them. Both would deeply regret doing so. Indeed, Rosie would win a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her performance in this abomination, one of three Razzies she would pick up, all of them in 1994! The others were for The Flintstones and Car 54, Where Are You? I don’t know how many actors or actresses have racked up three Razzies in a single year, but I’ll wager there aren’t many.
Marshall wanted Miss Delany to ride a horse in one scene, having seen her on horseback in the 1993 western Tombstone. ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t ride horses’, she advised him. Marshall found that difficult to believe, having seen Tombstone himself several times. ‘Everyone rode a horse’, he insisted, ‘and you even rode side-saddle.’ Then she explained: ‘The crew made me a fake leg’, she said, because she was not comfortable riding side-saddle. Exit to Eden is an awful movie, neither one thing nor the other, and the critics rightly panned it. Even Dana’s full-frontal nudity failed to make it memorable.
Frank McCown was a high school dropout who landed in reform school after stealing a revolver when he was 13. In time, he escaped from the ‘adjustment centre’ and robbed several jewellery stores before stealing a car and driving it across state lines. This offense saw him end up in the federal penitentiary in Springfield, Missouri for a three year stint, after which he was sent to San Quentin on other charges until his eventual release on his 21st birthday in 1943. That same year he was horseback riding in the Hollywood Hills when he had a chance meeting with actor Alan Ladd and his agent/wife Sue Carol, who landed him a one-line role in a Laurel & Hardy short titled The Bullfighters (1945).
Henry Willson & Rock Hudson
Agent Henry Willson signed him to a contract and initially gave him the name ‘Troy Donahue’ before changing it to Rory Calhoun. Under that name he had considerable success until, in 1955, Willson disclosed his criminal record to Confidential magazine in exchange for the tabloid not printing an expose on the secret homosexual life of another of his stable of actors, Rock Hudson. Surprisingly for the times, the article did not have an adverse effect on Calhoun’s career, but merely enhanced his ‘bad boy’ image. Over his career he would star in 80 films and appear in over 1,000 TV episodes.
Bad luck and tragedy seemed to follow dancer Juliet Prowse wherever she went in her latter years. Born in Bombay to South African parents, she studied dance from the age of four but grew too tall for ballet. At 14 she switched to cabaret dancing in Europe and was spotted by Hollywood choreographer Hermes Pan who signed her to appear in Can-Can (1960). It just so happened that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was invited to rehearsals and he denounced her dancing as immoral. The publicity made her a star overnight. She starred opposite Elvis Presley in G.I. Blues (1960), later became engaged to singer Frank Sinatra (it fell through), but then her career started to slide.
Juliet & Sinatra on the town
In 1981, she was singing ‘Fever’ at the Las Vegas Hilton when a fire broke out. Before it could be contained, eight people had died in the inferno. Then, in September 1987, she was mauled by an 80lb leopard while rehearsing for Circus of the Stars, the injury requiring five stitches. Incredibly, just a few months later she was mauled a second time by the same animal, this time far more seriously, whilst preparing for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. This time it took 30 to 40 stitches to re-attach part of her left ear! In 1994, Juliet was diagnosed with cancer. She went into remission the next year but the cancer returned. It took her life in 1996, just two weeks before her 60th birthday.
Charlton Heston & Pres. George W. Bush
On June 18, 1968, Charlton Heston appeared on The Joey Bishop Show, along with Gregory Peck, James Stewart and Kirk Douglas, and called for gun controls following the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Thirty years later Heston was elected President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and vigorously opposed gun control for the remainder of his life. He even journeyed to British Columbia to promote guns, arguing that it was ‘man’s God given right’ to own them. He personally owned more than 400 antique and modern guns. A former strong supporter of Richard Nixon, he also campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000. ‘Vote freedom first’, he advocated. ‘Vote George W. Bush. Everything else is a distant and forgettable second place.’ In July 2003, Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Richard Harris recalled his confrontation with American actor Bruce Willis. ‘At one of these Hollywood parties a couple of years back I tried to introduce myself to Bruce Willis’, he said. ‘The prick just looked at my hand and turned his back on me! So I said, ‘Excuse me, your face looks very familiar but I just can’t put a name to you. Anyway, whoever you are, you’re standing in my place so fuck off!’ It is difficult to settle on just who Harris detested the most – Willis, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando or Michael Caine – because he loathed them all and was more than willing to say so whenever asked. Probably Caine irked him more than the others, although Harris once said of his time working with another actor (Julie Andrews) that, ‘I think I experienced the greatest hate I ever had for any human being.’ Crikey! So, take your pick. Maybe, if he wasn’t so legless drunk most of the time he may have formed a slightly better opinion of each and every one of them.