Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Monday, November 8, 2021
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Auteur! Auteur! - Herbert Biberman
Monday, September 20, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
That Guy/Gal: Skelton Knaggs
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Hollywood Superstars: Marilyn For Equality
Marilyn Monroe is often depicted as a bubble headed bimbo whose untimely death cemented her legend. She was actually much smarter than that, though she cultivated her dizzy image to attract and retain her male fans. The real Norma Jean (her given name) was smarter than she seemed and had a heart of gold to boot.
One of Marilyn's favorite places to dine and dance was Hollywood's famed Mocambo Club. It was the perfect place to enjoy a night on the town- except for one huge thing- African Americans were not allowed to attend or perform there. This angered Marilyn, so she decided to do something about it.
$5.50 for Filet Mignon?!? Is it made out of gold?
While show business was always considered more progressive than the real world, performers would encounter a hard reality when they went on the road. Many top night clubs wouldn't book African-American performers and even if they did, they often had to use separate restrooms, entrances and facilities. Even Marilyn's favorite singer, the legendary Ella Fitzgerald, was not welcome at these clubs. Marilyn would change that.
Out of the blue, Marilyn called up the owner of the Mocambo Club to ask him to integrate and book Ella Fitzgerald. He refused, so Marilyn promised that she would attend every show that week, sitting in the front row. Since she was one of the biggest stars in the world, this would bring every paparazzo to Mocambo and a tidal wave of attention. He quickly agreed. The week was a smashing success and Ella soon found herself booked into the biggest clubs in the country. Ella was forever grateful to the woman who used her star power to help change the world.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Monday, September 13, 2021
Hollywood’s Golden Age: The Studio System
While the studio system is often derided as giving too much control and wealth to Hollywood’s moguls instead of the actual creative types, the system actually provided a stable source of income for below the fold types.
B-List types and character actors often have to hustle these days for work. “That Guy” and “That Girl” actors often frequently pop up on television and in movies these days because they have to work to put food on the table. During Hollywood’s golden age, however, most everyone in the studio lot was a full time employee of the studio. Everyone from A-List movie stars to utility actors received a weekly paycheck and benefits. A contract player at MGM would sign a seven year contract which guaranteed him or her a steady paycheck regardless of whether they worked that week or not.
Today, most talent is hired on a contingency basis. If an actor wants to get paid, he or she must hustle for work. Back then, they were salaried employees for the studio. The studio didn’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts; during Hollywood’s golden age, the major studios could sell pretty much anything they could produce. As a result, the production of motion pictures had been turned into an assembly line process. Having a ready to go stable of actors who could be called upon at a moment’s notice to act in a picture was a cost effective way to keep movie production going.
While this provided a stable income for many, some of the biggest stars chafed under this system. In order to stay on the good side of the powers that were, they had to do as they were told. If they didn’t want to make a particular picture, it was too bad; if they wanted to keep working they had to do it. Studio titans could punish big names by denying them the opportunity to make another picture. As long as the studio kept issuing the paychecks and were following the terms of the contract, the actor had no recourse. The collapse of the studio system put power into the hands of the big name talent.