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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NOW, THAT'S FUNNY: Part I

I've got a new category of interest for you all. Sometimes I come across a funny or strange story that I find entertaining, but which I find difficult to tie in with the other topics I present on this site. Thus, I have developed a new article formula for the misnomers, miscellaneous, and mystifying occurrences in celeb culture. Sometimes, these blurbs will reveal humorous moments, other times they will reference complete head-scratchers. In either case, they are movie star quips, flips, and conundrums that will make you go, "What? Really? Hahahaha!" At least, I hope so...

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Let's kick things off with October's vixen, Ava Gardner. Ava is remembered among friends as having a vibrant energy and a wicked sense of humor. Her laughter was quite infectious, and her self-deprecation often left those around her in an uproar. For example, she frequently made herself the butt of the joke (literally) around paramour and husband #3, Frank Sinatra (together above). When Ava and Frank first got together, they went through a rough patch of public hatred. Frank was married to wife Nancy at the time, so he was labeled a philanderer and Ava a home-wrecker. In addition, Frank's career was in a steep decline, which would not pick up until he shot back to fame and appreciation for his performance in From Here to Eternity. For this reason, he was often down in the dumps. Ava's derriere was her most notable asset (pun intended), and she knew how much Frank liked it. So, when he was upset about his lack of movie roles or declining singing career, she would say, "Here, rub my ass for luck!" He always obliged. After their divorce, they would remain lifelong albeit tumultuous friends, and Frank would often tell her how much he missed her lucky rump.

Ava knew the bounty of her booty long before Frank came along, however, which brings me to the real point. When she was filming One Touch of Venus, her likeness was sculpted for the actual statue used in the film (left). Her luscious, nude form was so provocative that the studio had artist Joseph Nicolosi start over from scratch to make a less sexy, more clothed representation. Since the final product is pretty smokin', it makes you wonder what the original looked like! So too did the studio create a promotional scam to gain the audience's attention, making miniature Ava/Venus statues. Publicist Bob Rains brought the initial prototype into Ava's dressing room for her to look at. Ava held the little Venus in her hands and said, "That's not my figure." She then removed a chunk of clay from the chest and placed it on the statue's rear. "That's more like my ass!" she said.

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When Anthony Hopkins was given the opportunity to work opposite Katharine Hepburn in one of his first major film roles, he was both ecstatic and nervous. To come toe-to-toe with a reigning movie queen-- who was indeed playing Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (above) opposite himself as Richard the Lionheart-- was a dream he found almost impossible to believe. However, he found Kate to be completely down to earth, spunky, and generous. She gave him some of the best advice of his career, which was "Don't act, just say the lines." He was also quite taken with her voice, which was so powerful and unique. Her familiar New England drawl had become by that time as infamous as the lady herself. Attracted to the caricatured way she spoke, Anthony kept the memory of her natural yet calculated undulations in his pocket for future use. In his later career, he returned to good ol' Kate and her staccato accent for inspiration, adapting her way of speaking for one of his own characters: Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (below). You may not have noticed the resemblance before, but you definitely will now. Just imagine Kate asking for fava beans and Chianti. Uncanny.



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Speaking of Anthonies, Anthony Quinn (left) had a run in the with Grande Dame Mae West when he was a young, struggling actor. A friend got him a meeting with Mae when he heard that she was backing a play about John Barrymore. Anthony could do a heck of a Barrymore impression, so he thought maybe he could score a role. However, having heard the rumors about her, he assumed that she was a compulsive sex-goddess, who would certainly make a play for him. In his youth, he was known for his exotic masculinity and unconventional good looks, thus the he-man was a bit afraid of her! What if she made a move? Should he, could he, refuse? In his mind, he found the gender roles switched, with him the coy and nervous young thing and Mae the sexual predator with a lustful appetite. 

He was, therefore, surprised, when he entered Mae's abode and found her to be nothing but nice and surprisingly petite, (as seen right). She was sweet, accommodating, and listened appreciatively to his audition. Quinn got a bit uncomfortable when she gave him a tour of her home, which included her bedroom complete with mirrored ceiling. No moves were made, but when she showed him to the door, she asked to feel his bicep. Quinn blushed but obliged. "Very nice," she said. At that, they said goodbye. Years later, Quinn relayed this story to John Barrymore himself, whom he had befriended. John's response: "You mean with a come-on like that, you didn't do anything! That's not a very good impersonation of me." 


 But then, John (above) wasn't exactly a shrinking violet. In a separate bit of information, the notorious lecher once drunkenly entered the Ladies Room at a restaurant by mistake. When a matronly woman entered, she was quite shocked to see him standing in one of the stalls. "Sir, this is for ladies!" she said. John turned around, swung his "appendage" at her and said, "So is this."

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Greta Garbo (above) is notorious for being enigmatic and eccentric. Because she took Lon Chaney's advice to maintain an aura mystery with regard to the public, Garbo has remained as fascinating and alluring all these decades after her heyday. Our curiosity continues to draws us to her. She belongs in that small cluster of celebs that you can't quite figure out, such as Marilyn Monroe or Marlon Brando. What was it that made these odd ducks tick? I can't answer that one for you, so instead I'm going to throw another log on the fire.

Greta had a very small group of friends that she collected over the years. Every once in awhile, her shyness and aloofness would disappear at parties, particularly in her early Hollywood years when she was on the arm of her beloved John Gilbert. But in her later days, she kept a few friends close and everyone else a few thousand leagues away. One of her pals was Sam Green, an art dealer whom she respected and admired. Sam was used to Greta's "come here, go away, come here, go away" mentality-- keeping people at a distance and then calling them back when she was lonely. He would get frustrated with the game, but he had a soft spot for the strange, sad girl underneath the confusing facade. He too would spend a big chunk of his life trying to get to know Greta and coming up empty handed. The woman was... indescribable, as this next tidbit will exemplify:

The Aging Movie Queen

One day Green was visiting with Greta at her New York home, long after her days in the movies. The now elderly Greta left the room to mix some drinks in the kitchen. Sam grabbed a handful of peanuts off the coffee table, and he accidentally dropped a few on the ground. When he bent to pick them up, he saw a strange shock of color underneath the couch. Bending down farther, he saw a cluster of troll dolls, all standing in a row. He couldn't believe his eyes! What in the world would the Queen of Cinema want with all of these ugly little things? He shook his head, sat back up, and didn't say a word when Greta returned to the room. He never mentioned the dolls to her, but on every future visit, he would peek under the couch when he got a chance. Each time, he would see the dozen or so dolls, always in different positions. He never knew what exactly Greta did with them, but he always imagined that the aging madame brought them out when she was lonely and had them enact little plays for her. Who knows... Greta, you're a quandary.



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