The most lasting impression Ann Sheridan left on Hollywood was her congenial sense of humor. An unaffected girl-next-door with chutzpah, she enjoyed a laugh or clever quip, and she was always a good sport when she was teased or pranked. This turned out to be a good thing, for she was certainly the butt of the joke on more than one occasion. The most notorious example occurred very much in the public eye. Ann's career was beginning to gain real momentum by 1940. She had made some noteworthy appearances in major motion pictures, she had been dubbed the "Oomph Girl," and she was a bona fide movie star enjoying her moment in the sun. Proof of her public power was displayed when she attended the preview of her latest film, It All Came True, in April. Enduring the usual press junket and ballyhoo, Ann was suddenly surprised by the appearance of a 19-year-old UCLA student-- Dick Brunnenkamp-- at her side. Before she could blink, the kid had handcuffed himself to her! Not only that, but he had swallowed the key!!! Chaos and flashing cameras ensued. Dick's excuse was that he was fulfilling a bet he had made with his fraternity. Though the cuff on her wrist was probably a bit uncomfortable, Ann was pretty laid-back about the whole thing, aside from being confused and very inconvenienced by the scam. While the boy was probably really just looking to gain attention for himself and enjoy his own fifteen minutes of fame-- literally fifteen minutes, as that was how long it took to get a locksmith-- it was Ann who walked away the true winner, with even more frantic publicity and fan devotion.
For example: Ann bought Bogie a very special gift: a genuine Gene Autry toy gun, which mocked his pistol-toting, tough guy roles. He got his revenge by telling Ann about a plum upcoming part that would really give her a chance to show her acting chops. So eager was Ann to prove her talents beyond her physical attributes that she was soon ignorantly campaigning all over Warner Brothers for the important period role of Fanny Hill-- the heroine of England's earliest pornographic novel. Whoops! Ann was back for round three when she, with John Huston's help, staged a cameo as a prostitute in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Expecting an unknown, featured actress to turn the corner in the brief street scene, Bogie spun to offer his character's scripted dismissal of the harlot only to find his gal pal lifting her skirt to reveal a tattoo that said, "Annie!" It is doubtful that Ann made it into the final cut of the film-- it's definitely not her in the close-up, but she may be the black-wigged woman seen in a long shot. At the very least, Bogie got a good laugh out of it. As Ann herself said, "He was a dirty rat, but I loved that man" (see right).
Despite his stern and overly dramatic demeanor, William S. Hart (right) was a Boy at Heart. While he wasn't usually the instigator of dramatic gags-- he wasn't enough of a conniving scoundrel-- he certainly enjoyed partaking when a prank seemed worthy. One of the fellas that could recruit Bill in a joke was the one and only theatre impresario Sid Grauman. Hence the following situation: Paramount big-wigs Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky were aboard a train en route to San Francisco, assumedly to enjoy the usual mix of travel and business associated with running such a huge studio. Yet, the peaceful ride from Pasadena Station turned out to be more than the suits had bargained for. After about an hour on the tracks, the train suddenly came to a screeching halt. The confused passengers started craning their necks out the windows to figure just what had happened, then word starting spreading like wildfire that they were being held up!
Now a bit nervous, Zukor and Lasky peeked outside to see a very imposing line of men in western garb surrounding their car with guns at the ready. Before their wide eyes had even adjusted to this imagery, two train robbers hopped aboard and stood before them: one was short with a large sombrero and mask, and the other was very tall, wearing a cowboy hat (culprit left) with a kerchief covering his lower face. While the held-up studio reps mentally started counting the golden doubloons in their pockets, the reality of the situation began to register. Zukor took a closer look. After squinting his eyes, he realized that the renegades looked familiar... When he knew that he had been fooled, Hart and Grauman revealed themselves. It took a bit of explaining to calm the rest of the passengers down, but eventually, the plot-- which the train's crew had helped conspire-- was revealed and the initial, fearful shivering turned into guffaws of laughter. It would take a showman (and money man) like Sid to orchestrate such a fiasco, but naturally, the acting talents of Hart helped.
"All man" but not what one would consider a "man's man," Cary opted for elegance and conversation over rough-housing and high-school hijinks, which made him contrast sharply with his other Charade co-star, Walter Matthau. Matthau (right) was the physical opposite of Cary, being a bit oafish and not exactly conventionally attractive. His uniquely unrefined voice has become as equally identifiable as the cockney Cary's, yet for very different reasons. Cary was aristocratic; Walter was a crotchety wisecracker from Nowhereville. Cary would get a very surprising introduction to Walter's "sufferin' succotash" repartee and unexpected, off-the-cuff sense of humor very early during production. James Coburn would bear witness to this while meeting Cary for the first time himself. Chatting with the eternal, cinematic leading man in his dressing room, the duo would be interrupted when Walter poked his infamous nose in: "Hey Jim, how are you?" he asked. "Did you ever see anybody do a better impression of Cary Grant than this guy?" With that, Walter shuffled away, leaving 'this guy' with an indescribable look on his face. It is perhaps the only time in history that anyone flustered Cary Grant.