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HARPO MARX:                                          

[The famous harp-playing Marx Brother recalled the act performing in vaudeville] ‘If an audience didn’t like us we had no trouble finding it out. We were pelted with sticks, bricks, spit-balls, cigar butts, peach pits and chewed-out stalks of sugar cane. We took all this without flinching – until Minnie [their mother and manager] gave us the high-sign that we’d collected our share of the receipts. Then we started throwing stuff back at the audience and run like hell for the railway station the second the curtain came down.’

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DAVID MORSE:                                         

[Recalling the tragedy that befell his stand-in on the film Proof of Life (2000), directed by Taylor Hackford] ‘My stand-in wound up being killed during the movie, doing a scene I was supposed to do. My step-father was dying in Massachusetts, and I only had three days off in the whole film. I had flown up to Massachusetts to see him because he only had two weeks to live. As soon as I got off the plane, Taylor called and said, ‘You’re going to have to come back here to shoot a scene, and then you can go back and see your step-father’, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if he’ll be alive when I get back here. I’ll get back on as soon as I can, but I’m not going to go back tomorrow.’ And he was furious at me, and the next day, they shot the scene with my stand-in, and the truck he was in went off a cliff with five other people in it, and he was killed. And he was a very sweet man, thrilled about being a part of this movie. He and his wife were down there. It was a very sad, very tragic event, and very difficult on the crew that was there shooting that day…It was so devastating.’

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LEE MARVIN:                               

[Notorious drinker Marvin was asked which drink was his favourite] ‘Tequila. Straight. There’s a real polite drink. You keep drinking until you finally take one more and it just won’t go down. Then you know you’ve reached your limit.’

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Marvin & Robert Aldrich – The Dirty Dozen (1967)

[On director Robert Aldrich] ‘I loved Aldrich. Very saddened by his passing. Richard Jaeckel was a good friend of his. He went to see him on his last stretch in the hospital. He was in a coma much of the time. And Jaeckel asks him if there is anything he can get him. And Aldrich says, ‘Yeah, a good script.’

[On working with difficult director Sam Peckinpah] ‘Sam was dangerous for me. He had my number and I had his, and that can be bad between an actor and a director ‘cause he was a little guy.’

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Marvin & Johnny Cash

[On singer Johnny Cash] ‘Do you realize he gets three million a year for singing that shit? ‘I walk the line, I keep my eyes wide open all the time.’ I met him in Nashville. He said, ‘You haven’t heard my other stuff?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘I haven’t.’ He sent us his complete 27 fucking albums! Jesus, Johnny, I like your stuff, but for Christ’s sake…’

‘I studied violin when I was very young. You think I’m a dummy, right? I’m only in dummies. The Dirty Dozen (1967) was a dummy money-maker, and baby, if you want a money-maker, get a dummy.’

[Marvin had his own interesting slant on the value of screen violence] ‘If you make it realistic enough, it becomes so revolting that no viewer would want any part of it. But most violence on the screen looks so easy and so harmless that it’s like an invitation to try it. I say make it so brutal that a man thinks twice before he does anything like that…In a typical John Wayne fight in a bar-room, on the other hand, tables and bottles go along with mirrors and bartenders, and you end up with that little trickle of blood down your cheek and you’re both pals and wasn’t it a Hell of a wonderful fight. That’s fooling around with violence. It’s phony. It’s almost a caricature.’

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Marvin as Kid Shelleen in Cat Ballou (1965)

‘I see you’ve read those stories about how I’m drunk on the set all the time. Well, on occasions, I have been. So what? Pope Paul VI can’t take a day off and go out and get smashed at the local gin mill, but that’s one of the prerogatives I can enjoy. Just because it happens once in a while, people think it’s a pattern. My performance as Kid Shelleen in Cat Ballou (1965) didn’t help things, either. I guess I acted so realistically drunk that audiences figured nobody could pretend that well.’

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MAUREEN O’HARA:                                                       

[Her opinions regarding several individuals she met or knew] ‘

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Maureen & John Wayne

John Wayne: ‘It would be nice if all people could be honest and as genuine as he is. This is a real man.’

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John Garfield: ‘He was my shortest leading man, an outspoken Communist and a real sweetheart.’

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara: ‘I spent a great deal of time with [him] while I was in Havana. I feel he was less a mercenary than he was a freedom fighter.’

Jeff Chandler: [He] was a nice man but a bad actor.’

Tyrone Power: ‘My first real kisses came from my leading men. Imagine how nervous I was when I suddenly found myself kissing men like Tyrone Power.’

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Maureen & Walt Disney (3rd from left) in happier times

Walt Disney: [He called her ‘the bitch] ‘He didn’t like me because I wouldn’t let him get out of a contract. Not many people had the guts to stand up to him.’

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Lucille Ball & Maureen in Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

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Desi Arnaz & Lucille Ball during WW2

Desi Arnaz: [To Lucille Ball when they first saw Arnaz] ‘I hear he’s a real lady killer’, said Maureen. ‘And here’s his next victim’, Lucy replied.’

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RACHEL MCADAMS:                                                      

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James Toback

[On director James Toback inviting her to ‘workshop a role one-on-one’ during the casting process for Harvard Man (2001)] ‘I really didn’t want to go…but he was so insistent. So I went over to the hotel, went to the room, and he had all of these books and magazines splayed out on the floor. He invited me to sit on the floor which was a bit awkward. Pretty quickly the conversation turned quite sexual and he said, ‘You know, I just have to tell you. I have masturbated countless times today thinking about you since we met at your audition.’ He started that kind of manipulative talk of, ‘How brave are you? How far are you willing to go as an actress? I want to build some intimacy between us because we have to have a very trusting relationship and this is a very difficult part.’ [Rachel left the hotel room and was not cast later in the film]


    • I really believe the best way to fully understand these people is by reading their own words (assuming, of course, they have not been misquoted). There are a lot of smart people in the movie business, Cat.

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