Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love
Robert Shaw was a good four inches shorter than Sean Connery, so it was decided to have him employ lifts to bolster the impression that, as Red Grant in From Russia with Love (1963), he would appear to be a match for 007 played by Connery. One of the characters in The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) liked to walk off nervous energy. Shaw played the head villain in the film and tragically recalled this when, four years later, Robert experienced a heart attack and died whilst attempting to ‘walk it off’.
Alfred Molina in Raiders of the Lost Ark
Alfred Molina landed his debut film role as Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), where he was paid the princely sum of $2,500 a week. The movie became one of the biggest blockbusters of all time and was directed by Steven Spielberg. Alfred and his girlfriend (later his wife) were expecting their first child when he was hired. The couple were able to use his salary to purchase all of the necessities for a nursery and clothing ahead of time.
Macaulay Culkin & Mila Kunis
It is old news, but for those fans of Mila Kunis, (she played Jackie Burkhart in the That 70s Show,) it may or may not be news to you to learn that she was in an eight-year relationship with former child superstar Macaulay Culkin (2002-2010), and they were expected to wed before eventually splitting. The couple were close friends of Michael Jackson and attended his funeral. Later, Mila entered into a relationship with That 70s Show co-star Ashton Kutcher in April 2012. The couple became engaged in February 2014, produced a daughter in September of that year, and married in 2015, about two years after Ashton’s divorce from Demi Moore. In 2016, Mila gave Ashton a son.
Margaret Hamilton as the wicked witch
Frank Morgan in The Wizard of Oz
Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz (1939), said that whenever she saw the scene where Frank Morgan, as the Wizard, is shown giving Dorothy’s friends gifts from his ‘black bag’ (a diploma for the Scarecrow, a ticking heart for the Tin Man, and a medal for the Cowardly Lion), sho got teary-eyed, because ‘Frank Morgan was just like that in real life – very generous.’ In truth, W.C.Fields had been the original choice to portray the Wizard, but his endless haggling over salary saw the role ultimately given to Morgan. Frank was cast as Buffalo Bill Cody in the MGM film Annie Get Your Gun (1950), but died in his sleep from a heart attack after shooting only the opening scene. MGM contract player Louis Calhern replaced him.
When Pinky (played by Rod Steiger) comes across the remains of a cow in the 1966 Glenn Ford western Jubal, he remarks that it was definitely the result of a mountain lion attack. Moreover, he states, ‘Probably more than one. It looks like they’re hunting in a pack now.’ That is manifestly incorrect. Mountain lions are solitary hunters and do not hunt in packs, wolves do, but not mountain lions. The only big cats that hunt in packs are African lions.
Rex Harrison was notorious for his acid comments about his co-stars and directors, yet he had nothing but admiration for Irene Dunne, his co-star in Anna and the King of Siam (1946). He thought her ‘an excellent actress’ and was pleased that she had the confidence to follow her own instincts. He recalled, ‘She went her own way and tactfully used the director [James Cromwell], as I later learned to do myself, to her own advantage. She listened to what he had to give, and discarded it or used it, as she wished.’
Young Goldie Hawn
The then unknown Goldie Hawn was employed as a dancer at the New York World’s Fair at the tender age of nineteen. A pimp spotted her and arranged for her to meet the utterly reprehensible fifty-five year old cartoonist Al Capp in his Manhattan apartment for what she thought was an audition for a forthcoming TV series. Dressed in loungewear, Capp promptly exposed himself during the meeting and tried to come on to her. After his advances were rejected, he told Goldie she would never get anywhere in show business and that she should return home and marry a Jewish dentist. Goldie, incidentally, describes herself as a ‘Jew-Bu’ (half Jewish, half Buddhist).
Judy Carne in Laugh-In
Laugh-In cast-mate Judy Carne reportedly was so jealous of Goldie Hawn’s popularity on the show it caused her to start using heroin. She became addicted. Producer George Schlatter initially blamed Judy for trying to break up the Laugh-In family by leaving the show after only two seasons.
Althea Gibson in The Horse Soldiers
John Ford cast tennis champion Althea Gibson as ‘Lukey’ in his 1959 Civil War film The Horse Soldiers, partly to attract African-American viewers. Althea was a racial-barrier-breaking athlete, the female Jackie Robinson of tennis, who had won both the Wimbledon and US Open tennis championships in 1957 and 1958. Her dialogue for the movie was originally written in a stereotypical ‘Negro’ dialect which Althea found offensive, refusing to deliver her lines as written. Ford, to the surprise of those who knew his short temper, agreed to modify the script. Even so, because of racial segregation laws in Louisiana, all her scenes were shot in Hollywood, thus avoiding Althea being forced to stay in separate housing during the shoot. This picture was the first and only acting role for the six-foot tall actress.
John & Pilar Wayne
John Wayne was having personal problems at home during the shooting of The Horse Soldiers. His wife, Pilar, had become addicted to barbiturates but he refused to admit her to a private nursing home, convinced he could conquer her addiction if he brought her along on location to Louisiana. At one point, however, she began hallucinating and slashed her wrists with a razor. Wayne realized the seriousness of the situation and had her admitted to a hospital back in Encino, California. The incident was kept out of the newspapers and the public never suspected a thing.
In the 1985 musical A Chorus Line the song titled ‘Dance 10, Looks 3’ was originally called ‘Tits and Ass’, but it was changed so that cinema audiences would not see that title listed in their programs. The logic was that if it came as a surprise during the show, it would receive a better audience reaction. By the way, for a dancer to dance with his or her head deliberately kept down is extremely difficult to do, yet Timothy Scott, (‘the boy with the headband’), performed the sequence superbly here. Sadly, he died from AIDS related complications in 1988, three years after the picture’s release.