• Honor Blackman starred on The Avengers for a couple of years, then left the TV series in order to star as the character Pussy Galore in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. While she was on a promotional tour for the movie, she appeared on KGO-TV, where an interviewer told her, “I’ve covered topless bathing suits, bottomless bathing suits, and now I’ve got Pussy Galore!”
• Julia Child is my kind of cook — very good, but slightly frazzled. One day, while she was cooking on TV, some of the ingredients fell to the floor. She told her TV audience, “If this happens, just scoop it back. Remember, you are alone in the kitchen, and nobody can see you.”
• Jack Paar and Ed Sullivan used to compete for the same guests. Mr. Sullivan paid anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500 for an appearance, while Mr. Paar’s Tonight Show could afford to pay only $320. In an attempt to keep performers from appearing with Mr. Paar, Mr. Sullivan announced that anyone who appeared on The Tonight Show would be paid only $320 for appearing on his show. Of course, many entertainers canceled their appearances on Mr. Paar’s show. However, one entertainer who remained loyal to Mr. Paar was comedian Joey Bishop, who joked on The Tonight Show, “I have one gripe. You told me Sullivan paid only $80. I thought this was the big money.”
• In November of 2007 Hollywood writers went on strike. Why? Ken Levine gave an answer in a column that he wrote for the Toronto Star. He pointed out that he had recently received a check from American Airlines, which had been showing episodes that he had written for Becker, Cheers, and M*A*S*H and that he had directed for Dharma & Greg, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Frasier. He estimates, based on number of years and on number of flights, that American Airlines has shown these episodes 10,000 times. So how much was Mr. Levine’s check for? Nineteen cents.
• In the early days of radio, singers often did not know how much to charge. Because they charged usually by the size of the audience at concerts — a smaller fee at smaller concert halls, and a larger fee at larger concert halls — they thought that they should charge a lot because of the vast size of the radio audience. Opera singer Harold Williams was once asked by Stanton Jefferies what he would charge for a radio broadcast. He said 100 guineas. Mr. Jefferies replied, “We had in mind seven guineas.” (Of course, the radio audience did not pay admission the way the audience at a concert hall would.)
• When Wah Ming Chang and Gene Warren decided to close their firm Project Unlimited, which had created special effects for such television series as Star Trek and such movies as The Time Machine, they advertised an auction of the models and costumes they had created. Bidding was fierce as sci-fi fans acquired memorabilia of their favorite shows, so Mr. Chang and Mr. Warren went to the back and dug through the trash bins to find worn-out puppets and other items that they had been about to throw out, but which collectors eagerly purchased.
• When she was a young woman, Oprah Winfrey entered a beauty contest that she did not expect to win. However, the judges found her answers to their questions original and interesting. For example, the final question asked of the three finalists was, “What would you do if you had one million dollars?” The first two finalists gave unoriginal, uninteresting answers — one would use the money to help her family, and the other would use it to help the poor. Ms. Winfrey’s answer was, “If I had a million dollars, I’d be a spending fool!” She won.
• Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden created and played the roles of Amos ’n’ Andy. Early in their career, they were asked to come to a meeting to discuss a radio program that they might star in. Mr. Correll and Mr. Gosden discussed how much to ask for their salary ahead of time, and they decided that they would be lucky to get $10 a week apiece. Therefore, when they were asked what salary they wanted — and then quickly were offered $125 a week — they sputtered, “Ten — ten — tentatively, yes.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Buy