About Stephen Schochet
A professional tour guide in Hollywood, Stephen Schochet has researched and told thousands of entertaining anecdotes for over twenty years. He is also the author and narrator of two audiobooks Tales of Hollywood and Fascinating Walt Disney. His latest book, Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies!
Tim Sika, host of the radio show Celluloid Dreams on KSJS in San Jose has called Stephen,” The best storyteller about Hollywood we have ever heard.”
For more information visit http://www.hollywoodstories.com
Hollywood Stories Book Synopsis
Just when you thought you’ve heard everything about Hollywood comes a totally original new book — a special blend of biography, history and lore.
Hollywood Stories is packed with wild, wonderful short tales about famous stars, movies, directors and many others who have been a part of the world’s most fascinating, unpredictable industry!
What makes the book unique is that the reader can go to any page and find a completely engaging and illuminating yarn. Sometimes people won’t realize that they are reading about The Three Stooges or Popeye the Sailor until they come to the end of the story. The Midwest Book Review says Hollywood Stories is, “packed from cover to cover with fascinating tales.”
Thursday Thirteen – Thirteen Things about Hollywood Stories
1) Child Star Shirley Temple once risked the wrath of the Secret Service when she decided to punish Eleanor Roosevelt for not following the rules of Shirley’s official police force.
2) Horror star Boris Karloff famously said of the Frankenstein movies,” I was only in three but I get blamed for all nine.” The British born horror star also said of them,” I get the fan mail, but some other bloke gets the check.”
3) Comedian Groucho Marx was incensed when Warner Bros. threatened to sue The Marx Brothers over the title of the 1946 film A Night in Casablanca. The wisecracking comedian pooh-poohed the notion that people would mistake the new comedy for Warners classic Casablanca, made four years earlier. He wrote the potential plaintiffs a letter stating that the Marxes used the word Brothers professionally long before the Warners; maybe they should countersue. Furthermore, Groucho was certain that moviegoers could tell there was a physical difference between his brother Harpo and Casablanca’s beautiful leading lady Ingrid Bergman. Also, did Jack Warner own the rights to the name Jack? After all, he was preceded by Jack the Ripper and Jack and the Bean Stalk. After receiving the funny missive, the Warners dropped the issue. Later it was discovered they never objected at all; Groucho Marx made up the whole feud as a publicity stunt.
4) Cowboy star John Wayne had a great sense of humor and a knack for clever comebacks. When one smart young man asked where he got his phony toupee, Wayne insisted the hair was real. It wasn’t his, but it was real.
5) Thirty-nine-year-old Clint Eastwood learned how not to make a movie when he starred in the 1969 musical Paint Your Wagon. Playing a prospector in 1849, who shares his wife with partner Lee Marvin in a California Gold Rush town, Clint gamely did his own singing. His lack of vocal talents was a minor issue compared to other problems on the Oregon set. Wagon’s mishaps included the drunken forty-five-year-old Marvin often disappearing for weeks at a time; having no choreographer, which led to some awkward movements on camera by some overweight dancing miners; and some incensed hippie extras who passed out poison ivy to their co-stars after they were ordered to shave. Eastwood admitted the picture was a disaster, but it didn’t have to be such an expensive disaster. The Wagon experience inspired him to start his own production company; Clint later became known as one of the most efficient filmmakers around.
6) Marilyn Monroe was thrilled to be immortalized alongside Jane Russell in front of a large crowd at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1953. As a little girl, raised in Los Angeles’ foster homes, Marilyn had visited the famed cinema often and dreamed of becoming a movie star. And now at the Hollywood premiere of Gentleman Prefer Blondes, it was coming true. Like other movie legends, Monroe’s hands and feet would be enshrined in wet cement. Hey, wait a minute — she had a great idea. The proceedings were held up as the blonde conferred with one of the Twentieth Century Fox executives. What if the two women left imprints of the body parts that people associated them with? How about if Jane leaned over the wet cement and Marilyn sat in it? Her suggestion was rejected, much to the disappointment of some photographers in attendance.
7) Immediately after Star Trek was canceled in 1969, broke, divorced and unemployed, the Canadian-born William Shatner ended up living in a mobile home with his Doberman.
8) On the old George Burns and Gracie Allen Comedy Show, Burns maintained the same expression while his zany wife Gracie would prattle on about whatever was on her mind. Leonard Nimoy, without Burns’ trademark cigar, borrowed the comedian’s technique when Spock was forced to listen to the
9) After Star Wars (1977) became the biggest hit in Hollywood history, Coppola suggested that he and Lucas turn “The Force” (the metaphysical power Luke Skywalker attains in the movie) into a new, lucrative religion. George dismissed the idea as ridiculous, but his friend may have been onto something. After thirty-four year-old Ewan McGregor played a young version of Luke’s mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), he was approached by a serious Star Wars fan in costume. “Mr. McGregor, I’m a Jedi Knight in training, could you advise me?”
10) Director James Brooks faced a casting challenge before he could start filming the 1997 comedy As Good as It Gets. Who would star as the rude, obsessive-compulsive, bigoted novelist that redeems himself when he falls in love with a single-mom waitress? Brooks flirted with hiring Jim Carrey, but ultimately chose Jack Nicholson as the only actor in Hollywood who could be totally obnoxious, yet get the audience’s sympathy. The sixty-year-old Nicholson surprised himself by winning his third Oscar; at one point during the shoot, he felt he wasn’t doing a good job and asked Brooks to replace him. After the award ceremonies, Jack was asked if he was similar to his character. The New Jersey-born Nicholson took umbrage to the question; of course he was polite, just like his mother raised him to be. “Naw, rudeness is for amateurs. I prefer going right from polite conversation to extreme violence.”
11) Marlon Brando wanted to work as little as possible when he played Jor-El, the Kryptonian father, in the 1978 movie Superman. For his ten minutes of screen time, the star made an estimated nineteen million dollars while not bothering to learn his lines. In his most dramatic scene, Marlon held his baby above his head, speculated on the child’s future, and then placed him on the space ship to escape the doomed planet. Brando hadn’t bothered to learn his lines; his dialogue was penned on the bottom of the super infant’s diaper.
12) Before The Adventures of Superman TV show (1952-1958), the Man of Steel appeared on the radio (1942-1951). In dual roles, voice artist Bud Collyer (1908-1969) used his training as a singer to differentiate the mild-mannered Clark Kent from the powerful flying hero. With no reruns, the writers invented Kryptonite to give the hard-working Collyer time off. The rock remains from the comic book icon’s native planet would incapacitate him, and allow Batman and Robin, played by two other actors, to step in and save the day.
13) Richard Harris loudly complained about playing Professor Dumbledore in the 2001 fantasy film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The wealthy seventy-year-old actor didn’t want to keep brutal hours and be around Hollywood phonies. There were plenty of dumb jerks to talk to right here in his favorite drinking establishment. But his eleven-year-old granddaughter was a big fan of the Potter books; she threatened to stop speaking to him unless he took the role. One Harris was on the set, he found he loved pretending to be the headmaster of the Hogwarts School for Wizards. Richard got along splendidly with the film’s young cast who enjoyed hearing his tales of past hell-raising. The worldwide success of the movie combined with good reviews from his family left the Irishman feeling rejuvenated. Well, he supposed he’d have to keep working; now that his bar pals knew how he felt about them, Harris was no longer allowed in the pub.