Wednesday 24 June 2015

Fred Allen's Hollywood Dictionary

Fred Allen didn’t have a high opinion of an awful lot of things and anyone familiar with him knows that Hollywood wasn’t one of them. It seems every interview he gave while making a movie is filled with a litany of quotable put-downs; probably it was a refreshing change for entertainment reporters used to the same time of PR job they got while talking to the stars about their latest screen endeavour.

Here’s Fred in the Chicago Tribune of October 13, 1940. Nothing about sincerity and a flea’s navel, or oranges, in this one. But he listed some of these same definitions to other reporters in other interviews.

Reactions to Sights, Stars Are Recorded.

Things actually change in radio. Eddie Cantor is back on the air after an absence of a year-broadcasting on NBC in Fred Allen's old period on Wednesday nights. And Fred Allen, who has been making a picture in Hollywood with his perennial "enemy" Jack Benny, is broadcasting at his same old hour—but on CBS.
After weeks and weeks in the movie capital Allen has set down some of his reactions to Hollywood, including its sights, jargon, and exotic inhabitants. This is what he has to say:
For several weeks I sat around the Paramount lot watching Jack Benny make a picture with me. [If it is ever released it will be called Love Thy Neighbor.]
To clarify Hollywood sightseeing, I submit a glossary of terms peculiar to this bizarre borough. If I help but one tourist to fathom Hollywood, its weird people, its grotesque industries and its synthetic sights, my work has not been in vain. To wit:
Hollywood—Bagdad in technicolor. Shangri-La with neon.
Main Street In Slacks.
Drive-In—A jallopy cafeteria. A pedestrian found lurking around a drive-in is either the waiter or the man who owns it.
Hollywood boulevard—Main street in slacks.
Hollywood bowl—Carnegie hall on the half shell.
Brown Derby—A popular eatery where from Iowa mistake each other for movie stars.
Movie Star's Home—The ultimate in stucco. An edifice erected on a beautiful lawn to keep strangers from getting a direct view of the star's swimming pool from the street.
Swimming pool—A demitasse pond that draws files and guests.
Defines a Barbecue.
Barbecue—A Hollywood function at which food is cooked and served in the backyard. A barbecue enables the hostess to get guests and mice out of the house simultaneously.
Director—The man who sits in a sprung canvas chair under the camera while a picture is being made. At intervals of two hours h yells, "This is a take."
Assistant Director—The man who shouts "Quiet!" before the director yells "This is a take."
Movie Star—Any actor who is working.
Double Feature Definition.
Fan—An urchin or fat woman in calico wrapper armed with a pencil and a dirty piece of autograph paper.
Double Feature—Twin mistakes made by the same—or two different—picture companies.
Free Lance—An actor who is always "between pictures," but never actually working in one.
Commissary—A ptomaine grotto on the lot where an actor portraying a millionaire in a picture retires at noon to bolt a hamburger.
Makeup Man—The only person who knows what the glamour girl really looks like. FRED ALLEN.

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