In 1969, MGM cancelled their proposed Irving Berlin musical biography that was to be titled Say it With Music and set to star Julie Andrews. She successfully sued the studio and collected a whopping (for 1969) $1,250,000, which was her promised salary for the picture.
Julie met husband-to-be Blake Edwards after she had heard that he once described her as being, ‘…so sweet she probably has violets between her legs.’ She was so entertained by the remark she sent him a bunch of violets accompanied by a note. They began dating and later married.
Dorothy Dandridge’s career never reached the full potential expected from her performance as the title character in Carmen Jones (1954). Her tragic end conformed to a far too familiar pattern that haunted the majority of leading ladies discovered or championed by the abominable director Otto Preminger. These also included Maggie McNamara, Jean Seberg and Jill Haworth, all of whom either committed suicide or died young and in obscurity. Miss Haworth was signed by Preminger after he saw her photograph from her acting school. He threw her into his 1960 opus Exodus as Sal Mineo’s girlfriend. She and Sal became an item off-screen as well for several years. It was Jill who originated the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway in 1966, yet she would die in obscurity in 2011.
Maggie McNamara was also discovered by Preminger. She made The Moon is Blue (1953) under his direction, but the picture was later condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency for its ‘indecent’ discussion of sex and its apparent ridicule of the rules of parental protection. By 1978 Maggie, unable to get work as an actress, was working as a typist when she overdosed at forty-nine.
One month prior to her 18th birthday, Jean Seberg was selected by Preminger from 18,000 hopefuls to play Joan of Arc in his Saint Joan production of 1957. This and her subsequent two movies were savaged by the critics and Jean’s career stalled. At forty-one, in 1979, she too would overdose with barbiturates.
Dorothy Dandridge was the lover of Otto Preminger, became pregnant to him and aborted their child in 1957 when he advised her in no uncertain terms that he would never divorce his wife to marry a black woman. Dorothy had just $2.14 in her bank account when she overdosed, aged forty-two, in 1965. African-American contemporaries described this stunning woman as ‘our Marilyn Monroe’.
Natalie Portman was born in Jerusalem, Israel in 1981. When she portrayed Anne Frank in the Broadway adaptation of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ in 1997, she often broke down and cried off-stage, because of her personal connection to the events. Her grandparents lost most of their family members in the Holocaust, including Natalie’s paternal grandparents, who were killed at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
During the royal premiere of Star Wars Episode One – The Phantom Menace (1999), she met King Charles III. He asked her whether she had also been in the original Star Wars film, Star Wars Episode IV – a New Hope (1977). The movie was released four years before Natalie was even born! Nice one, King Chuck!
Natalie bears a striking resemblance to British actress Keira Knightley who played Sabe, the Queen’s decoy, in Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace. When in make-up, not even the mothers of the actresses could tell them apart. Before she was cast in the film, Natalie had never seen a Star Wars film, and did not know the difference between Star Wars and the TV series Star Trek! Furthermore, though she played Padme Amidala, the biological mother of Luke Skywalker in three instalments of the Star Wars movies, she has never actually met Mark Hamill as of 2018.
Actor Don Murray is probably best remembered today for his role in the Marilyn Monroe film Bus Stop, which was released in 1957 and earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. His other claim to fame was being married to actress Hope Lange from 1956 to 1962. His role in Bus Stop was first offered to Elvis Presley, but Colonel Tom Parker, his manager, turned it down on Elvis’s behalf. Parker would refuse numerous non-singing opportunities for Presley down the years.
According to Vincent Price, when he and Peter Lorre went to view Bela Lugosi’s body at Lugosi’s funeral, Lorre, upon seeing Bela dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped, ‘Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?’
When he was still a struggling songwriter at the now famous Brill Building, Bobby Darin met and fell in love with singer/actress Connie Francis. He wanted to marry her but Connie’s over-protective father would not let her date, let alone marry anyone. When Bobby suggested they elope, her gun-toting father chased him from one of her shows. After that, Connie and Bobby only saw each other twice more. One of those times was during the filming of This is Your Life when the announcer congratulated Bobby on his recent marriage to actress Sandra Dee. Connie has since stated several times that not marrying Bobby was one of the biggest mistakes she ever made in her life.
After the first season of The Monkees TV series ended, Davy Jones disappeared from the public eye for several weeks. A series of morbid rumours regarding his health did the rounds, but the truth was that he had received his draft notice, that resulted in him fasting for three weeks in order to fail the physical. And it actually worked! Incidentally, the original intention of the series’ producers was to recruit The Dave Clark Five, after which they thought about hiring The Lovin’ Spoonful. Finally, they opted to go with four relatively ‘unknowns’ instead. With the death of Michael Nesmith on December 10, 2021, Micky Dolenz is, as of December 2023, the last surviving member of The Monkees. It was long- rumored that notorious cult figure and convicted murderer Charles Manson actually auditioned for the group, but this is categorically untrue. At the time the auditions were held Manson was serving a sentence in a federal penitentiary. The miss-spelling of ‘Monkees’, by the way, is an allusion to the similar miss-spelling of ‘The Beatles’.