Aware of Elvis Presley’s infatuation with actress Debra Paget on the set of the 1956 film Love Me Tender, fourteen year old Priscilla Beaulieu, the future Priscilla Presley, copied Debra’s hairstyle in the hope of meeting Presley when he came to West Germany with the US Army in 1959.


Elvis & Debra Paget in Love Me Tender

While filming in Spain on the 1969 Chicago Mafia story Viva America!, actor Jeffrey Hunter was injured in an on-set explosion, suffering facial lacerations from broken glass, plus powder burns. Later, an old friend, a former British commando, accidentally hit him on the chin with a karate chop when Hunter (who knew judo), failed to defend himself in time, consequently banging the back of his head against a door. These incidents would have tragic consequences. While on the plane returning to the United States, Hunter’s right arm suddenly became semi-paralyzed and he lost the power of speech, two clear signs of a stroke. Upon landing, he was taken directly to a Los Angeles hospital. He recovered and was released after two weeks. However, Hunter suffered another cerebral hemorrhage when he fell down a short flight of stairs in his living-room and, again, injured his head. It is not known how long he had been unconscious before being finally found. The actor tragically died without regaining consciousness the following day, after surgery to repair his fractured skull. He was only forty-two years old.

For reasons known only to the producers and, possibly, bible ‘experts’, Jeffrey Hunter was compelled to shave his armpits for the crucifixion scene!’

Jeffrey Hunter - Wikipedia

Jeffrey Hunter

Donald Sutherland was first to admit that he was cast as one of the ‘also rans’ of The Dirty Dozen (1967). In short, that meant he was not going to get many lines of dialogue. All that was about to change, thanks to fellow actor Clint Walker. When preparing for the scene where Major Reisman (Lee Marvin) had to convince Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan) that a general was amongst them, the ‘general’ was to be played by Posey (Clint Walker’s character), but Walker refused to do it. Director Robert Aldrich then selected Sutherland to pose as the general. The scene proved to be one of the highlights of the picture and Donald’s part was expanded considerably, thus launching his career.

Sutherland was chosen to replace Richard Harris as the IRA terrorist Liam Devlin in the 1976 film The Eagle Has Landed, after it was discovered that Harris had attended a fund-raiser for the Provisional IRA in the United States.

Dirty Dozen (1967) - General Inspection on Make a GIF

Sutherland in The Dirty Dozen

Jack Elam made a career out of his eerie, immobile eye, usually as a ‘heavy’ in westerns. His eye was injured when Jack was twelve years old in a fight with another boy of the same age. It was during a Boy Scout meeting when the other boy threw a pencil at him. As luck would have it the pencil jabbed his eyeball. After World War Two, Jack worked as a book-keeper for Samuel Goldwyn Studios and then as a controller for William Boyd’s ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ production company. The bookwork, however, strained Jack’s good eye. If he continued his lucrative accounting business he risked losing his sight altogether. A movie director friend needed financing for three western scripts, and Jack told him he could arrange it in exchange for roles as a ‘heavy’ in all three films. He was on his way as an actor.

Henry Fonda - IMDb

Henry Fonda

During a Barbara Walters interview, Jane Fonda claimed that her father, Henry, was deeply in love with Lucille Ball and that the two were ‘very close’ during the filming of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).

Contrary to popular belief, Henry Fonda approved of his daughter Jane’s anti-war activism during America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. At the ‘AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Henry Fonda’ (1978), he told her critics to ‘shut up’, because ‘she’s perfect’.

Henry was one of the most active, and most vocal, liberal Democrats in Hollywood, along with Gregory Peck and Robert Ryan. He once said that President Ronald Reagan made him ‘physically ill’, and that he ‘couldn’t stomach any of the Republicans, most of all Richard Nixon.’

Why did Julia Roberts' brother Eric Roberts not succeed as staggeringly as her star sister?-Entertainment News , Firstpost

Eric Roberts & Sandy Dennis

According to a 2018 profile in Vanity Fair of her former fiancée Eric Roberts (the brother of actress Julia Roberts), the engagement of actress Sandy Dennis and Eric ended over Miss Dennis’s refusal to start an animal shelter for some one hundred stray cats that were living in the couple’s shared home. He moved out after she gave him back the ring. Sandy was the actress who won a Supporting Oscar for her performance in the 1966 film: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

George Hamilton reflects on Hollywood career and new film 'The Congressman' - Washington Times

George Hamilton

George Hamilton was one of only three people who attended the funeral of Elvis Presley. The other two were actress Ann-Margret and black soul singer James Brown. Incidentally, George was known to have a close friendship with Imelda Marcos, the erstwhile shoe-worshipping First Lady of the Philippines.

Basil Rathbone Young 8x10 RARE COLOR Photo 601 | eBay

Basil Rathbone

British actor Basil Rathbone was a firm believer in ESP. When he was four his parents booked passage on a ship taking them from South Africa to Britain. His mother had a dream that the ship would sink in the Bay of Biscay and convinced her husband that they take a later boat. The ship on which they were originally to have sailed sank with the loss of all aboard.

At one time Rathbone was the fencing champion of the British Army and was generally considered to be the greatest swordsman in Hollywood history. However, because he was so frequently cast as the villain, he won only two on-screen duels in his entire career. His last on-screen duel (he was sixty-three years old), was with Danny Kaye in the 1955 film The Court Jester, and is considered by some as the best sword fight ever filmed. Rathbone, incidentally, practiced fencing four days a week!

Basil was a lieutenant in the Liverpool Scottish Regiment, along with Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall and Ronald Colman. Rathbone won the Military Cross for bravery in combat. He was in the trenches during World War One.



1 Comment

  1. Excellent commentary as always Alan. One slight correction. Rathbone and the others you listed were in the London Scottish Regiment.

    In the scene in The Dawn Patrol with Errol Flynn where Rathbone is wearing the Military Cross the Cross was not a prop – it was the Military Cross that he had been awarded for gallantry during the First World War.

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