Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Idiocyncracies of the Stars

Did you ever hear Milton Berle go “urrrrr”? If you did, there’s a reason.

The answer’s contained in this column by the Associated Press dated October 13, 1951. It’s actually a three-in-one column. Bob Thomas deals with more than one subject in it. The man with the most nervous tics in show biz still had a career waiting for him—Johnny Carson. I can’t remember who it was now but someone (I want to say Rich Little) demonstrated all of them on TV one night.

As for the last item, June Lockhart and Anne Jeffreys may be better known for television than anything else (“Lassie” and “Lost in Space” for the former, “Topper” for the latter). Patricia Morison’s greatest triumphs were on the New York stage. She’s apparently still with us at the age of 99.

TV Comics Require Aid of Psychiatrists

Associated Press Staff Writer
HOLLYWOOD—Are you a coin-jingler? A hair-curler? A lint-duster?
Each of us has some idiosyncracy of personal behavior. Comedians have them, too. A comic, who will have to remain nameless, was discussing the habits of his colleagues this week.
"In pictures, you can cover them up with, cutting or retakes," he observed. "In radio it doesn't matter. You can't see them. But in television you can't miss them. A comedian is right there in full view of millions of people. The slightest movement isn't overlooked.
"Even the most polished and veteran performers have some habits they can't hide.. You'd never think that Milton Berle is ever at a loss for a gag, but he can be. How can you tell? He lets out a growling noise that sounds like ‘urrrrr’, and distorts his mouth in a funny way.
* * *
"Sid Caesar is a cougher. He lets out a big cough every now and then. Jerry Lester combs his hair. Bob Hope draws his little finger over his eyebrow. George Jessel lays his index finger on the side of his nose. Jack Benny sticks his hand in his pocket.
"Me? I scratch. I'll be in the middle of a routine and find that I'm scratching my elbow of my ear."
Who knows — perhaps some smart psychiatrist could make a thriving practice of ridding TV comics of their quirks.
* * *
Hollywood is sounding its A, as far as picture titles are concerned. On a list of movies now in production, we see such titles as: "Somebody Loves me," "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie," "Lovely to Look at," "Singin' in the Rain," "Sailor Beware" and "She's Working Her Way Through College." Nowadays, producers seem to be getting their titles from old hit parade lists.
Some observers are always harping on how movie people go to Broadway to be discovered. Yes, it has happened, as in the case of Betty Grable. But what about some more recent examples?
Lee J. Cobb was a great hit in "Death of a Salesman." Likewise, Paul Kelly in "Command Decision" and Jessica Tandy in "A Streetcar Named Desire." And did these three stage stars return to Hollywood in triumph? Not exactly. They resumed playing largely secondary roles.
* * *
June Lockhart was a comedy hit on Broadway a few seasons back, but she failed to cash in on her stage fame when she returned to films. Critics raved about Patricia Morison in "Kiss Me, Kate," but she hasn't drawn a movie assignment yet. And Anne Jeffries, who once appeared in B westerns, drew applause in "Kate," "Street Scene" and other musicals. Still no films have come her way. So maybe if you're a Broadway star, you should stay on Broadway.

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