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CLINT EASTWOOD:                                                        

[On surviving a plane crash in the early fifties] ‘They had one plane, a Douglas AD, sort of a torpedo bomber of World War Two vintage, and I thought I’d hitch on that. Everything went wrong. Radios went out. Oxygen ran out. And finally we ran out of fuel up around Point Reyes, California, and went into the ocean. So we went swimming. It was late October, November. Very cold water. I found out many years later that it was a white shark breeding ground, but I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time or I’d have just died.’

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NELSON EDDY:                                                                

[His last words onstage, uttered as he was having a stroke that would prove fatal] ‘Will you bear with me a minute? I can’t seem to get the words out. My face is getting numb. Is there a doctor here?’

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TYRONE POWER:                                                            

‘Someday, I will show all the motherfuckers who say I was a success just because of my pretty face. Sometimes, I wish I had a really bad car accident so my face would get smashed up and I’d look like Eddie Constantine. It’s so tiring being everybody’s darling boy at my age…Jesus Christ, I don’t want to become an ageless matinee idol, having to keep up my looks, lift my chin like Marlene [Dietrich], and never dare smile in case my face cracks.’


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RAY MILLAND:                                                                

[He was happy to voice his opinions of Hollywood’s top gossip columnists – Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper] ‘Louella never forgot a thing and, by the same token, never forgave anyone who crossed her. But she was never vicious. [Hedda] was venomous, vicious, a pathological liar, and quite stupid.’

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Hedda Hopper (L) & Louella Parsons

[On how he came to attend the 1946 Oscars] ‘On the day it dawned, I knew I couldn’t face it and made up my mind not to attend. At breakfast, I hesitantly told Mal [his wife] of my decision. She slowly put down her fork and examined me. I didn’t know where to look. Then she said, ‘I know that you’re erratic, volatile, and the possessor of a foul temper. But I never thought you were a coward!’ Then, with a look as cold as a Canadian nun, she said, ‘You’ll go to that ceremony tonight if we have to put you in a straitjacket.’

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GRACE KELLY:                                                               

[Prior to meeting Prince Rainier of Monaco] ‘Of course, I think about marriage, but my career is still the most important thing for me. If I interrupt it now to get married, because I don’t believe in a part-time family life, I would risk passing the rest of my existence wondering whether or not I would have been able to become a great actress.’

‘Hollywood amuses me. Holier-than-thou for the public and unholier-than-the-devil in reality. At times, I think I hate Hollywood. I have many acquaintances there, but few friends. It’s a town without pity. I know of no other place in the world where so many people suffer from nervous breakdowns, where there are so many alcoholics, neurotics, and so much unhappiness.’

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GENE KELLY:                                                                     

‘The contract system at Hollywood studios like MGM was a very efficient system in that, because we were at the studio all the time, we could rehearse a lot. But it also really repressed people. There were no union regulations yet, and we were all indentured servants – you can call us slaves if you want- like ballplayers before free agency. We had seven-year contracts, but every six months the studio could decide to fire you if your picture wasn’t a hit. And if you turned down a role, they cut off your salary and simply added the time to your contract.’

[On Louis B Mayer] ‘I didn’t like him. He didn’t like me. It was mutual.’

‘The fact is that [Fred Astaire] and myself were in no way similar, nor even the best male dancers around. There were ballet dancers vastly superior to both of us, but they of course never reached our mass audiences, so Fred and I got the cream of the publicity and naturally we were compared.’

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DONALD O’CONNOR:                                                     

[On quitting the ‘Francis the Talking Mule’ series of films in 1955] ‘When you’ve made six pictures and the mule still gets more fan mail than you do…’

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Donald’s ‘Make ’em Laugh’ number

[On his remarkable ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ sequence in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) ‘We filmed that whole sequence in one day. We did it on a concrete floor. My body just had to absorb this tremendous shock. I came back on the set three days later. All the grips applauded. Gene [Kelly] applauded, told me what a great number it was. Then Gene said, ‘Do you think you could do that number again?’ I said, ‘Sure, any time.’ He said, ‘Well, we’re going to have to do it again tomorrow.’ No-one had checked the aperture of the camera and they fogged out all the film. So the next day I did it again! By the end my feet and ankles were a mass of bruises.’

[His family said that among his last words was the following quip]: ‘I’d like to thank the Academy for my Lifetime Achievement Award that I will eventually get.’

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SAL MINEO:                                                                       

[Explaining why he believed he lost an important role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) which was shot in Jordan] ‘After completing work on Exodus (1960) I lost because I had appeared in a pro-Jewish picture, played a sympathetic Jewish boy, and shot four Arabs.’

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Dean & Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

[On his relationship with James Dean] ‘We never became lovers, but we could have – like that. If I’d understood back then that a guy could be in love with another one, it would have happened. But I didn’t come to that realization for a few more years and then it was too late for Jimmy and me.’

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RHONDA FLEMING:                                                       

[On filming The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951)] ‘They wanted to get a close-up of me rearing a horse without using a stunt girl. So in the scene, I was riding uphill and I reared the horse up and it fell back on top of me. By the Grace of God I was not squashed like a bug. I was knocked unconscious. How I got up and walked away and finished that film was a miracle.’

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