The scene in which Arthur (Dudley Moore) and his ‘hooker’ date, Gloria, are dining in the 1981 film Arthur, was filmed at the famous Oak Room inside the Plaza Hotel in New York City. This was the same restaurant where Cary Grant’s character, Roger Thornhill, was abducted in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest (1958).
Paul Robeson was an exceptionally talented man who could speak and write in over twenty languages! He was only the third black person to be admitted to Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, and was Valedictorian of his senior class there in 1919. He was also a graduate of Columbia University School of Law and was captain of the Rutgers debating team. Incidentally, he was also the first black person to play football for the university. Added to these qualities was his superb baritone voice, as evidenced in the 1936 film Show Boat by his rendition of ‘Ol’ Man River’.
Despite his many accomplishments, however, he remained an unabashed champion of (of all people) the Soviet Union’s dictator Joseph Stalin. Consequently, Robeson was vilified in the United States throughout the forties until, in 1950, he was even blacklisted for his political beliefs. He was not permitted to make any films in the United States, or have any of his films shown in that country at that time. After visiting the Soviet Union he denied the existence of the Holodomor and the Great Purge. On the death of Stalin in March 1953, Robeson penned an article praising the man. It was entitled: ‘To You Beloved Comrade’ and caused immense controversy, especially when he praised the Soviet Union as an anti-colonial force when it occupied Eastern Europe and the Baltic States, beginning with its invasion of Poland and Finland in 1939. Robeson also blamed the UK and France for the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Although he regularly condemned the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, he refused to condemn the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, even after De-Stalinization peaked in 1961.
Harry Belafonte & Petula Clark ‘touching’ on US TV
In 1968, Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte were singing a duet on her TV show when she touched his arm. A representative for the show’s sponsor, Chrysler Corporation, saw it and ordered the director have them re-tape the duet and not to have Petula touch his arm, the rationale being that viewers in the American South would be outraged to see a white woman touching a black man. The South, you see, was a big market for Chrysler cars. Clark redid the scene, but when she found out the reason why, she and her husband (the show’s producer) stormed into the control booth, ordered the director to destroy the second take and keep the original one. As expected, when the show was aired a few weeks later many stations in the South would not show it. Chrysler received numerous letters from outraged Southerners saying they would never buy a Chrysler product again because of the company’s sponsorship of the show.
When Perry Como was briefly under contract to make movies for MGM in the 1940s, he essentially sabotaged his own career. At the annual studio celebration of studio mogul Louis B. Mayer’s birthday, Como was forced to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the egomaniacal studio head. To express his resentment at being made to perform against his wishes, Perry changed the lyrics to –‘Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you – you big, fat S.O.B!’ Needless to say, Mayer was offended and used his enormous influence to ensure Como would never become a movie star. This forced Perry into the fledgling television industry, where he became one of the most popular weekly hosts on 1950s TV.
Pat Boone in the fifties
Singer/ actor Pat Boone admits ‘there’s something about me that makes a lot of people want to throw up…In most cases, I think that it’s a reaction to my lifestyle and the things that I stand for.’ And he may well be right. In 2006, he penned an article, in which he argued that Democrats and others who are against the Iraq War cannot, under any circumstances, be considered patriotic. On Fox News he later expressed outrage against critics of President George W. Bush (especially the Dixie Chicks), stating that their criticisms showed they did not ‘respect their elders’! Mel Gibson is a member of an extremely conservative Catholic denomination, who was recorded unleashing a vicious anti-Semitic tirade while he was being arrested for drunk driving, yet Boone wrote another article defending him! Then, in 2007, Boone wrote two articles claiming that the scientific theory of evolution is ‘absurd,’ ‘nonsensical’ and a ‘bankrupt false religion’. Little wonder people doubt his opinions.
A young Kris Kristofferson
It has been speculated that either Kris Kristofferson, Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens or Mick Jagger ‘inspired’ the famous Cary Simon song ‘You’re So Vain’. Kristofferson was asked by an interviewer about it. ‘It couldn’t have been me’, he said, ‘because I have never flown in a Lear jet like that guy in the song’.
The ‘Shouters’ in Cat Ballou (1965)
The multi-talented Stubby Kaye looked nothing like someone who we might expect to be a successful song and dance man. He was portly and balding and a far cry from handsome, yet he gave us several memorable moments in some major musicals, among them Guys and Dolls, and Li’l Abner. Stubby and Nat ‘King’ Cole also shared the ‘shouting’ duties in the hilarious western Cat Ballou (1965), providing a running musical commentary of the story.
The exquisite Daniela Bianchi
The producers of the second James Bond film in the franchise, From Russia with Love, selected Italian actress Daniela Bianchi to play the 007 love interest Tatiana Romanova, after spotting her as the 1st Runner-up in the 1960 Miss Universe competition. Because she spoke almost no English and her Italian accent made it difficult to understand the lines she delivered phonetically, her speaking role in the film was entirely dubbed by an English-speaking Italian actress. As a young girl Daniela studied ballet, but as she grew into womanhood, she became more and more voluptuous until she could no longer continue with her dream of being a ballet dancer.
Jessica Lange & Sam Shepard
Actor Sam Shepard is probably best-remembered for his portrayal of test pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 astronaut film The Right Stuff, or possibly as Julia Roberts’ lover in The Pelican Brief ten years later. After working as a bronc and bull rider on the professional rodeo circuit, he wed actress O-Lan Jones from 1969 until 1984. She played Esmeralda in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands. From 1982 to 2009, Sam was in a long-term relationship with actress Jessica Lange, a relationship that bore two children before it collapsed. Sam passed away in 2017, at the age of seventy-three.
Scott Glenn in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Once an opponent of the death penalty, actor Scott Glenn converted to supporting it after listening to an audio tape of the torture and murder of two teenage girls as he prepared for his role in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). A former member of the United States Marine Corps and the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the early 1960s, Glenn was heavily into fitness and once did two thousand push-ups (at one stint) on the set of the 1980 film Urban Cowboy.