My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hollywood Marginalia, Edison's Thugs, Disparate Musings

From the very start, cinema had created a byproduct, that of creating famous entities. Ages before Eastern Syndicate writers like Walter Winchell could toy with an actor's fame, the very existence of an audience watching a strip of celluloid through a projector created personas. Buffalo Bill was considered the first movie star from the filming of his Wild West Show which featured Buffalo Bill gruesomely recreating getting his first scalp, etc.  Audiences got to see silent footage in theaters of him on his trick horse in the Show where, before movies existed once included Sitting Bull. 

In those days Thomas Edison hired his "thugs" to chase down those who were trying to start movie companies and were using his patent for the moving picture machine and not paying his company. These people learned that if they ran to California that perhaps Edison’s thugs were too far away to do anything to them.

Speaking of Buffalo Bill's traveling show onscreen and cowboys, Wyatt Earp decided to actually move to Hollywood.  After several money-making ventures in New York City and elsewhere, and even in New Orleans running the lottery (Louisiana was notorious for crooked Lotteries), he lived in Hollywood until he died there in 1929.  His friend, silent star Tom Mix and others were at his funeral.  On another note, untrained actor Harry Houdini was showcased in several films as a leading man.

This blog entry is just a series of various trivia from me, an avowed non-expert, about Hollywood since the Oscars were just on last night.  Mostly, this is just a series of semi-strange trivia.  By the way, the apocryphal story about Charles Manson auditioning for “The Monkees” tv show is untrue – Manson was locked up in jail for various small crimes at the time the auditions took place.

The lure of being in the movies was so great in the beginning that signs had to be put up by companies advising the droves of anxious people to go home and not attempt to audition.  Later, an actress named Peggy Entwistle arrived from back East to audition and after utter failure after failure, jumped to her death off the Hollywood sign, thus inadvertently creating some notoriety.   

It is common knowledge that several writers arrived in Los Angeles for work as well.  The list is lengthy but some interesting stories came out of the eccentricities of some of them.  Raymond Chandler used to wear white gloves in the heat and once while taking a bath drunkenly shot his revolver into the ceiling several times before he got out of the tub.  Aldous Huxley on one of his first experimental acid trips, while walking down a major thoroughfare in Hollywood, stumbled into a drugstore and marveled at various things there, eventually to the magazine rack, touching each magazine.  Again, these are a series of jumbled strange facts.

British writer Evelyn Waugh used his Hollywood experience to write a very slim book “The Loved One” about the Cemetery business in Hollywood, the result of which became a cult film.  James Agee, nearly drinking himself to death, was just a movie reviewer.  He parlayed just writing reviews into writing great scripts like the Charles Laughton-directed “The Night of the Hunter” based on Davis Grubb’s work.

Faulkner was woefully underpaid as a writer for Warner Brothers.  When he left the movie business to get back to writing his own novels, someone at the studio found several empty whiskey bottles in his desk and a writing tablet filled with the line “Boy meets Girl” written 500 times in his tiny handwriting.  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda had to deal with each other when she was still in Hollywood with him.  Once, he and Zelda were arguing while playing tennis together while a movie person watched.  After every point played Zelda took off an item of clothing until none were left. 

Hemingway let others write screenplays of his work.  But he visited Hollywood a few times.  Once, on the MGM lot with no real business dealings to do there at that time, while roaring drunk he burst into Louis B. Mayer’s office for no reason and laughingly called Mayer very offensive slurs, one after another. A very angry Mayer yelled at his security guards to “get this (expletive deleted) off the lot” and they did. 

Wannabe writer Ed Wood and his wife lived in a slum building on Yucca street in North Hollywood (where Aldo Ray and John Agar used to visit to drink with Wood) and when Wood and his wife weren’t drunkenly fighting (he knocked her out twice during their marriage, they fought terribly) she used to give some of his penned adult books to the owner of a local liquor stand to help pay for alcohol.        

Earlier in Hollywood history, Samuel Goldwyn tried to recruit H. G. Wells (he did pen “Things to Come” for William Cameron Menzies but this is apart from Goldwyn), George Bernard Shaw and dozens of others but most declined even though the money was excellent at the time. This was after authors could claim movie rights to his/her written works and Hollywood blindly stole from every famous writer there was, dead or alive.

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