Wednesday, March 11, 2009
TEMPERAMENT EXPLODED AS ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD MYTH
By Jessie Henderson, Special Correspondent
Hollywood, March, 19
Pretty soon Hollywood will be known as the village of disillusionment. Already the stars don’t have gold bathtubs and now they don’t have temperament. Of course it’s hard to be temperamental without a gold bathtub, but it’s even harder for the average citizen to visualize a collection of stars without a single tantrum.
Where are the good old days when the celluloid leading ladies gnawed chunks from the drapes or the director? Where is the celluloid leading man who used to tear his collar into a million pieces, kick over a camera, and exit roaring?
Roland Young, who has played opposite most of the beauties of the current screen, says he never saw a star throw a dirty glance at anyone; much less a vase or a piano. And Richard Wallace, who has directed plenty of stars, both men and women, says he never heard one of ‘em utter a screech unless the scenario called for it.
TEMPERAMENT IS OUT
“Temperament is the most misused word in Hollywood,” Wallace explained today. “It supposedly abounds in film actors and actresses. I don’t know how or where the rumor started, but it goes the rounds right here in town as well as in places far distant.”
“Tearing the hair and rushing with loud cries to the dressing room is something seen about as often in Hollywood as a buffalo on the boulevard. And tearing the hair isn’t temperament anyway. According to Webster, temperament is the physical and mental character of an individual.”
“But just for the sake of argument, let’s say that temperament means tantrums. Still the word is misused here. Players are hard working, serious people. If they argue now and again it is because they are striving for the best possible result in their pictures. Their contentions on these points are usually reasonable and often result in making the picture better.”
“Anyhow, as a rule, we don’t have these discussions after the picture begins. Most differences of opinion have been settled in story conference.”
NOTHING BUT RUMOR
“Every now and then the whisper goes around Hollywood that so-and-so is terribly temperamental and that the director’s going to have a dickens of a time with him or her before the picture’s finished. More than once I’ve been enough interested in these rumors to follow them to their beginnings. And I’ve found no screeching or hair-tearing connected with them at all.”
“There are two people, an actress and an actor, about whom the rumor of temperament has been circulating lately. It just so happened that both this actress and actor were assigned to a picture that I’ve been directing. The actress was said to be high hat, invariably late for appointments and inclined to scrap if anyone asked for an autograph.
“I found the lady to be a quiet little girl whose high hat consisted only in her refusal to capitalize on the social prominence of her family. She had broken an appointment because her maid sprained an ankle and the actress delayed in order to take care of her. Instead of getting mad when some fan asked for an autograph, she merely avoided premiers and other public events because she is nervous and uncomfortable in a crowd.
REGISTERS NO KICK
The man to whom I refer is supposed to bite directors’ heads off, but mine is without a single toothmark. The rumor about temperament started because he’s a free-lance actor and always declines to play any role to which he isn’t suited. Once he has signed for a picture, he registers no kick, whatever happens.
“The actress is Tallulah Bankhead, an exotic type who often does the unexpected because her spirit is adventuress.
The man is Charles Bickford, whose business interests bring him in enough money so that he can afford to pick and choose his roles. I can see how it was easy to start this temperament myth about each of them.
Aw, listen, Mr. Wallace, I pleaded, doesn’t any one of these movie people ever get the teeny weeniest bit mad and throw a chair at somebody? Wallace said, no.
“Throwing things would not be temperament in the popular sense of the word,” Wallace replied, “and if there’s that kind of temperament in Hollywood I haven’t seen it. Temperament is a waste of time and in this place nowadays, every minute counts.”