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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


After one has been working in the industry for awhile, it only makes sense that he or she develop a knack for spotting other hopefuls who may have what it takes to find fame and fortune. Many actors and actresses are noteworthy for the selfless and helpful natures that from time to time compelled them to lend a hand to struggling hopefuls trying to make it in La La Land. I guess if you have that special X-factor, it gives you the ability to see it in others. Here are some examples of Stars finding Stars, or at least Stars predicting bright futures for some unsuspecting diamonds in the rough...

 May's lady, Ms. West, knew a thing or two about quality. She also knew a thing or two about men. There would be many times in her career when she would give a leg-up to a performer if she thought he or she had talent, but she is most notorious for finding the gentlemen gems that she cast in her films. For example, she boosted an already seasoned Randolph Scott's career when she cast him in Go West Young Man. She nicknamed the handsome actor "Randy," because she "could tell he was." (Haha). 

Most memorably, however, Mae made a movie star of Cary Grant. Some rumors remember Mae as discovering Cary when he was kicking up stones outside the Paramount gate, hoping to be chosen as an extra for a current shoot. This isn't completely accurate. Cary had already made several films with substantial-- albeit not breakthrough-- roles in films opposite the likes of Marlene Dietrich (in Blonde Venus). Thus, by the time Mae found him, he wasn't exactly on the extra market anymore. In truth, to Mae's own recollection, she heard Cary before she saw him. The uncanny accent reached her ears as she was sitting in her dressing room. Quite curious about the source of such a booming and almost regal sounding voice, Mae looked down from her window and saw Mr. Grant, finding his looks even more charming than his playful pipes. She decided then and there that she MUST have him in her new picture, and first starring vehicle, She Done Him Wrong. She did him right, because it was this film that shot Cary to super-stardom.

Both of Mae's finds became chums later.

When the saucy Norma Shearer retired from MGM, she lost none of her leading lady luster.Widowed after the death of Irving Thalberg, she took up with a ski instructor, and younger man, Martin Arrouge, solidifying her wildcat reputation long before "Cougars" were the rage. It was actually while staying at a ski lodge that she happened to notice a photograph of a lovely, young girl sitting at the reception desk. Norma recognized the unknown beauty as a star-in-the-making, and suggested that the girl's parents-- both employees of the hotel-- send their daughter to MGM. A kind recommendation to studio heads from Norma scored the young Janet Leigh a screen test and coincidentally a booming career. Had it not been for Norma's eye for talent, Psycho's shower scene would not have been quite so infamous, and Toni Curtis would have been short a wife-- (only one out of 6, but still)! 

Norma also helped out the lads from time to time. Since she clearly had an eye for a good-looking fella, it comes as no surprise that she scored another hit when skimming young men at the pool. Robert Evans happened to be sitting poolside when approached by Norma. At her suggestion, he tried his hand at acting, ironically portraying her first husband, Irving Thalberg, in the Lon Chaney biopic Man of a Thousand Faces, though he would have much better luck as a producer.

It makes more sense for directors to have a good eye for actresses, since they are always scouting out potential leads for future roles, but the way Alfred Hitchcock found Tippi Hedren is quite interesting. Hitch was sitting at home watching "The Today Show" (of all things), and during a commercial break, he caught a glimpse of the delicate and ravishing blonde in a Sego commercial. Hitch was immediately taken with the young model and had Universal call her in to sign a contract. Tippi, who was single and supporting her young daughter (Melanie Griffith), was all too thrilled at the chance to be a steadily working actress. In fact, so shocked was she at the amazing opportunity, that she didn't get around to asking who her mysterious director/benefactor was until after she had signed her new contract! Not only did she find that she was to be working with the famed "Master of Suspense," but for her first major role she would be playing the lead in his next picture, The Birds! One commercial for a diet drink and her life was forever changed. (However, had she known the repercussions of working with the obsessive Hitch, she might have dropped the Sego and run for the hills. For more on that story, as well as Hitch's strange relationships with his woman, read on here).

And finally... One day, a young mother was taking a walk with her baby girl. After covering some ground, she took a rest on a park bench and parked the stroller beside her. (If memory serves, she was at some sort of pier, but I could be way off. It's been awhile since I heard this one). Anywhoodle, an elderly woman happened to be walking by, and she stopped to peer into the baby carriage. She remarked on the child's beauty and predicted that the infant would be a big star some day. Since the baby grew up to be Brooke Shields-- the 6-foot-tall model, memorable for her Calvin Klein Jeans, full eyebrows, Princeton education, and performances in films like The Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby-- it seems that the mysterious lady had a keen eye for star power. However, Teri Shields had no idea of what lay before her daughter at this point and was both proud and baffled when the woman walked away without another word. Even more perplexing than the glamorous prediction itself was the person it had come from, for despite the woman's age, Teri recognized Greta Garbo right away. If there was one woman who knew beauty, it was Greta, and the other beauty, Brooke, would grow up to fulfill all of the famous and enigmatic screen siren's expectations.

1 comment:

  1. hey Meredith . Very good as always. How about Greta discovering Brooke. I never knew that. I’m not surprised about all the people who were given a “leg up”. As you may well know just how difficult a business it is to get a break in. Norma was a cougar? Where the heck was I? Oh probably in diapers. thanks