"Show me a good fellow backstage, and I'll show you a lousy actor onstage" famously stated W.C. Fields. The author, former Hollywood press agent David Hanna, proves the comedian's point with numerous anecdotes drawn from both Broadway and Hollywood.
The earliest producers of TV programming recognized that they had one advantage over movies and it was a slim one: convenience. Aside from that, there were multiple disadvantages that TV provided their quickly growing audience - the screens were small, the images were not in color and there weren't any big stars. To win over their audience they decided on a familiar lure that had withstood the test of time. When the big mucky-mucks in Hollywood saw that more and more people were failing to grab their coats and hats and head to the theaters, they responded in kind:
More on this topic can be read here.
Click here to read about Marilyn Monroe and watch a terrific documentary about her life.
Here is a 1937 article that reminds us that there wasn't anything left to chance or improvisation under the old studio system:
"One of the oldest newspaper publicity devices is the 'leg display'. Resorted to chiefly by actresses whose press agents want them to break into print, it consists of nothing more than arriving in New York aboard an ocean liner and letting news photographers do the rest."
The adoration of the Feminine Leg began some twenty yeras earlier with the flappers; click here to read more on this topic...
In this early Sixties article, celebrity epistolarianne Cyndi Adams recalled her first two encounters with the man who would be "Felix Unger":
"'I am definitely neurotic and psychotic,' cheerily announced Tony Randall (1920 - 2004) the first time we met - 'he's an actor-comedian of remarkable skills...he unconsciously reflects, in the way he plays his rolls, so much of the neurotic age we live in...'".
The NEW YORK TIMES would pursue this point to a further degree in their 2004 obituary of the actor:
"That's the force Tony Randall embodied: he represented, in his neurotic grandeur, our national will to unhappiness. Or if not our will, at least our right, which in the 50's we were only beginning to realize we could exercise."
"There was a time, Humphrey Bogart maintains, when he saw all interviewers and tried to answer all questions put to him..."
"But I can't take it anymore, I've had to cut the fan magazines off my list entirely. Just the sheer smell of them drives me crazy. They smell of milk. The interviewers themselves treat you like a two-year-old child with their will-Debbie-marry-Eddie and can-Lance-Fuller-live-without-a-wife kind of idiocy. You know the whole sorry groove of the thing."
You can read about David Niven HERE