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John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice have become the latest to win the entertainment industry’s biggest four awards—an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.  They join Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Rodgers, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin. Mel Brooks, Liza Minnelli, James Earl Jones, Barbra Streisand, Alan Menken, Harry Belafonte. and Quincy Jones.

Guess who this woman is, described by acclaimed author John McPhee in Time Magazine: Her feet are too big, her nose is too long, her teeth are uneven, she has big, half-bushel hips, her hands are huge, her forehead is low, her mouth is too large. McPhee was describing Sophia Loren!

Charlie Chaplin once came in third in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

Lon Chaney's parents were both deaf and mute. He learned to express himself through pantomime at an early age, moved to Hollywood in 1912 and became one of the biggest stars of the time, appearing in more than 150 silent films. Known as “the man of a thousand faces,” he masterfully used makeup to play tortured, grotesque characters in horror films such as The Phantom of the Opera.

Mary Pickford, one of the first film stars, was also a shrewd businesswoman. After cofounding United Artists, she came to exert a profound influence on the film industry as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. In 1927, she became one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“The 1920s had a serious case of the cutes,” notes Max Alvarez, a New York-based film historian. “There is a prevalence of childlike women in the popular culture, girlish figures, girlish fashion, girlish behavior.” Along with these girlish figures came a girlish voice—high-pitched, a bit breathy, and a little bit unsure, evident in Clara Bow’s pouty purr, and even Betty Boop’s singsong.

That evolved into a library of voices women have pulled from over the years to play silly, sappy, or simpering women. A lot of these are monotonous, with elongated ending syllables. The modern “sexy baby voice” is  breathy, a little bit nasal, and with fewer harsh consonant sounds.

Cole Porter's first two musicals flopped on Broadway.

Kander & Ebb wrote songs for Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, and it was set to premiere in London, but the rights were pulled by Wilder's nephew.  Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the writers of The Fantasticks, wrote a musical of Wilder's Our Town and it took them thirteen years to write, only to have the rights pulled as well by the nephew.

Andrew Lloyd Weber has had at least one musical running in London for 40 years, and at one point, he had five different shows playing at the same time.

The Lion King has now raked in more box office dollars than any work in any media in entertainment history. It has grossed $6.2 billion worldwide.

Peter Falk, who died in 2011 at the age of 84, made 65 episodes of Columbo over a period of 32 years. The show and subsequent movies are still broadcast all over the world, translated into many languages. Bobbi's article about buying Peter Falk a jockstrap for a play she stage-managed in New York in 1955 has been sold to many magazines and newspapers over the years, and now appears in Prose to Go.  Falk, an Oscar and Emmy winner, wrote an autobiography, Just One More Thing, in 2006, in which he recounts many episodes in his life as an actor, but not the jockstrap incident!

How different The Music Man might have been with someone other than Robert Preston in the role. A new book (I'm the Greatest Star, by Robert Viagas) reveals that Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, and Art Carney all turned down the role.

The Wizard of Oz was nominated for six Oscars, but lost Best Picture to Gone with the Wind.  Toto was played by a female dog named Terry.  She earned $125 per week of filming, although each Munchkin actor earned just $50. The cowardly lion’s costume weighed 100 pounds and was made of real lion skin. The Tin Man’s oil was actually chocolate syrup. The horses in the Emerald City were colored with Jell-O, which they kept trying to lick off. The fire that blazes out from Dorothy’s shoes when the Witch tries to touch them was actually apple juice spraying out of them, sped up on film. MGM's studio head Louis B. Mayer thought "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was too sad, while other executives felt it slowed down the pace of "The Wizard of Oz." However, producer Mervyn LeRoy and assistant producer Arthur Freed fought passionately for the song's inclusion, with LeRoy going as far as saying he'd quit the film if the song was cut.

The longest Hollywood kiss was from the 1941 film, You're in the Army Now. It lasted for three minutes and three seconds, between Regis Toomey and Jane Wyman (first wife of former President Ronald Reagan). Stars of the film were Jimmy Durante and Phil Silvers. 

Walt Disney got his idea for Mickey Mouse while he worked in a garage. He was watching the mice play one night and got the inspiration for Mortimer Mouse. He didn’t change the name until shortly before he finished the first Mickey Mouse cartoon – the 1928  Steamboat Willie, Disney’s first attempt to use sound and the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. He named Mickey Mouse after Mickey Rooney, whose mother he dated for some time. Mickey was created in 1928, making his debut in the silent film Plane Crazy.

But well before that, Walt Disney created a character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unfortunately, Universal Studios claimed the rights, as he was their employee. That caused Disney to protect Mickey Mouse and all his subsequent characters so vigorously.

On December 21st, 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered. It was the first full-length animated feature film in history. It was animated entirely by hand and took Walt Disney and his studio three years to complete. It was exponentially more expensive than the animated shorts the studio had produced until that time and met with considerable opposition. Disney eventually had to mortgage his house to help finance the project, which was derisively nicknamed Disney’s Folly by those in the film industry.

Mickey Mouse only has four fingers on each of his hands because it was less expensive to animate.

Peter Pan is the only Disney cartoon movie that features both parent characters alive and present throughout the entire film.  Disney's mother died from a furnace leak in the house Disney bought for her. Producer Don Hahn believes that the reason so many characters in the franchise are motherless is because Disney used his work to process his guilt and his grief.

Walt Disney was fired by the Kansas City Star because his stories “lacked imagination”, while Steven Spielberg was rejected twice from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Following his film acting debut as a bellhop in 1966’s Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, a studio executive took a young Harrison Ford aside and said, “You’ll never make it in this business.”

To Have and Have Not (1945) is the only instance when a Nobel prize-winning author (Ernest Hemingway) was adapted for the screen by another Nobel-winning author (William Faulkner).

There are some "rules" about film and television:
     Sight triumphs hearing (if someone's hair is a mess, you don't hear what they're saying)
     Music enhances speech (an appropriate background score can make what's being said more memorable)
     Film editors often "cut on the blink" - cutting the scene when the actor blinks

On May 26, 1913, Actors’ Equity Association was organized in New York City.

The Playbill for I Can Get It For You Wholesale, the 1962 hit that made Barbra Streisand a star, states that the 19-year-old was born in Madagascar and raised in Rangoon. Actually Streisand was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of a school secretary and a high school teacher. Her paternal grandparents immigrated from Galicia (Poland–Ukraine) and her maternal grandparents from Russia.

Sidney Poitier, called Hollywood's first black leading man, was born in the Bahamas, moved to Miami when he was 15, and was living in New York, working as a dishwasher, when he first auditioned for the American Negro Theatre. Semi-literate, he taught himself to read and comprehend by studying newspapers, and learned to speak properly by listening to the radio.   

Darren Aronofsky, director of Noah, The Wrestler, and The Black Swan, says, The best invention of the 20th century was the closeup. That you could put a camera right in front of Paul Newman's eyes and look into his soul changed storytelling.

There are currently 40 theatres that make up the area generally considered as "Broadway." Broadway brings 14 times more revenue to NY than all sports teams combined.

The Oscar was designed by MGM art director, Cedric Gibbons, in 1928. He asked a young Mexican actor, Emilio Fernadez, to model for the figurine.

When an orange is shown in any of the Godfather movies, this means that someone is about to die or a close call is to occur.

Alfred Hitchcock filmed the shower scene in Psycho in black and white, using 78 pieces of film perfectly edited into a 45-second sequence featuring the piercing shriek of Bernard Herrmann’s violin. The attacker was actually an extra, as Anthony Perkins was in New York that week, appearing in a play!

The Dutch angle, also known as Dutch tilt, canted angle, or oblique angle, is a type of camera shot where the camera is set at an angle on its roll axis so that the shot is composed with vertical lines at an angle to the side of the frame, or so that the horizon line of the shot is not parallel with the bottom of the camera frame. This produces a viewpoint akin to tilting one's head to the side. It's one of many cinematic techniques often used to portray psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed. Dutch refers to a bastardisation of the word "Deutsch", the German word for "German". It originated in the First World War, as Navy blockades made the import (and export) of movies impossible. The German movie scene was part of the expressionist movement, which used the Dutch angle extensively.

1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. The most extensive screen tests in the history of motion pictures had MGM shooting 149,000 feet of black-and-white test film and another 13,000 feet of color film with the 60 finalists.

Luc Godard said film is the truth 24 times a second.

Who are the stars who have won the most awards?
      Barbra Streisand - Total 17 = 4 Emmys, 10 Grammys, 2 Oscars, 1 Tony 
      Mike Nichols -  Total 13 = 4 Emmys, 1 Grammy, 1 Oscar, 7 Tonys 
      Marvin Hamlisch  - Total 12 = 4 Emmys, 4 Grammys, 3 Oscars, 1 Tony 
      Mel Brooks - Total 11 = 4 Emmys, 3 Grammys, 1 Oscar, 3 Tonys
      Liza Minnelli  - Total 6 = 1 Emmy, 1 Grammy, 1 Oscar, 3 Tonys
      Whoopi Goldberg - Total 5 = 2 Emmys, 1 Grammy, 1 Oscar, 1 Tony 
      Rita Moreno - Total 5 = 2 Emmys, 1 Grammy, 1 Oscar, 1 Tony 

Neil Simon once had four shows appearing at once on Broadway. He's the living person to have had a Broadway theatre named after him. Of his more than 30 plays, 13 were made into movies. He received 16 Tony nominations and won best play three times. He also earned four Oscar nominations, a Pulitzer Prize and the Mark Twain Prize.

In 2018, Meryl Streep earned her 21st nomination as an actor for her work on The Post -- the most of any performer. John Williams, who nabbed his 46th scoring nomination for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, holds five Oscars and is the most-nominated living person, second only to Walt Disney, who had 59 nominations.

After the French revolution, the Paris Opera was literally a brothel. The bourgeoisie lacked the sense of noblesse oblige that led royalty to protect the dancers, and wealthy industrialists who patronized the Paris Opera recruited poverty-stricken children to train as dancer-whores. For a fee, rich men were free to roam backstage and prey on desperate teenagers whose wages didn't cover the cost of their practise clothes, let alone the cost of living. Admission to the ranks of les petits rats -- as dance students at the Paris Opera are still known -- was attractive particularly because it gave girls who would inevitably end up as prostitutes access to richer men.

An analysis of the most popular TV dramas has shown that there is a formula for success: 65% drama, 12% shocks and surprises, 9% comedy, 8% action, 6% romance.

Charles Douglass, inventor of the canned laughter we hear on sitcoms, recorded the guffaws for his original "Laff Box" during broadcasts of The Red Skelton Show. The "laugh track" then became a part of most sit-coms.

The first ever television broadcast occurred at Alexandra Palace, London in 1936.

Mick Jagger copied Marilyn Monroe when choreographing his trademark moves. Jagger also sang backup for Carly Simon's hit You're So Vain, the song supposedly written about Warren Beatty.

The popular song, We've Only Just Begun, which was a best-seller by The Carpenters, was written by Paul Williams, contracted by an ad agency to write a song for an ad campaign for a bank in Los Angeles.

Charlie Chaplin once came in third in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

Lon Chaney's parents were both deaf and mute. He learned to express himself through pantomime at an early age, moved to Hollywood in 1912 and became one of the biggest stars of the time, appearing in more than 150 silent films. Known as “the man of a thousand faces,” he masterfully used makeup to play tortured, grotesque characters in horror films such as The Phantom of the Opera.

Mary Pickford, one of the first film stars, was also a shrewd businesswoman. After cofounding United Artists, she came to exert a profound influence on the film industry as one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. In 1927, she became one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“The 1920s had a serious case of the cutes,” notes Max Alvarez, a New York-based film historian. “There is a prevalence of childlike women in the popular culture, girlish figures, girlish fashion, girlish behavior.” Along with these girlish figures came a girlish voice—high-pitched, a bit breathy, and a little bit unsure, evident in Clara Bow’s pouty purr, and even Betty Boop’s singsong.

That evolved into a library of voices women have pulled from over the years to play silly, sappy, or simpering women. A lot of these are monotonous, with elongated ending syllables. The modern “sexy baby voice” is  breathy, a little bit nasal, and with fewer harsh consonant sounds.

Days after the release of the iPad, one of the world's biggest porn companies claimed it had created a way to stream its videos onto the device, skipping the Apple store and its restrictions on salacious content.

Due to the “naughty” dancing of the can-can girls and the scantily clad models on 1800s French postcards, the British equated anything risqué with France. In fact, that's how the phrase pardon my French entered the vernacular.

Tell a performer to "break a leg" came about in Shakespeare's day, when actors would bend or "break" one the leg to bow if the audience applauded. So the saying is a wish that the performance merit sufficient applause so the actors can bow/break a leg.

The Hollywood star who played the most leading roles in feature films was John Wayne (1907-1979), who appeared in 153 movies. The star with the most screen credits is John Carradine (1906-1988), who has been in over 230 movies.

Perched atop a forestry hill in Bavaria, Germany, is a real-life fantasy castle. Commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1869, Neuschwanstein Castle has become a major part of our cultural history, even serving as inspiration for Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby met when they were booked together for a couple of weeks at the same theatre. They started to ad-lib, which was popular with audiences. Five years later, in 1939, Bob was signed by Paramount and moved to California. He was invited to one of Bing's parties and they got up and reprised their old act to entertain the guests. A couple of Paramount execs decided to hire them for the first of seven “Road” movies.

Before Bob Hope died, he left the Library of Congress 85,000 pages of jokes, none written by him but by his writers (and other comics he frequently stole from).

Freddie Bartholomew was abandoned by his parents as a baby and raised by a British aunt whose last name he took. A successful child actor in Hollywood during the 1930s, he appeared in such films as David Copperfield, which propelled him to fame at the age of 10; Little Lord Fauntleroy; and Captains Courageous. After he became successful, his biological parents launched a protracted and expensive court battle to regain custody of the child star.

In 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening took place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.

The popular term, "suspension of disbelief" has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

Georges Feydeau offered a theory on writing funny plays: Decide which characters should, under no circumstances, meet, and then get them together as soon as possible.

The Muppets originally came from a British show that was rejected by almost every U.S. network before PBS began to carry it. Almost all the Muppets are left-handed, since most puppeteers work their characters' mouths with their right hands. The original Kermit was from a coat that one belonged to Jim Henson's mother. His eyes were made from ping-pong balls.

In Jim Henson: The Biography, Brian Jay Jones explains how Henson created Kermit the Frog.
         In 1955, television was still in its infancy when a small, Washington, D.C. station added a short puppet show called Sam and Friends created by nineteen-year-old Jim Henson with a cast of characters he had come to call the Muppets. Unlike most puppets that had preceded them, Henson's creations had flexible rather than wooden faces -- and thus could make expressions easily picked up by the new, more intimate medium of television. A minor character in the ensemble was Kermit, who was light blue and not yet a frog.
        There most abstract Muppet in Sam's cast was given mostly small parts, but had a special place in Jim's heart. Jim had built Kermit while passing several long sad days tending to his grandfather as he died slowly of heart failure. Foraging for any suitable materials, Jim settled on his mother's old felt coat, and as he leaned over the table in the Hensons' living room he sewed a simple puppet body, with a slightly pointed face, out of the faded turquoise mate­rial. For eyes, he simply glued two halves of a Ping-Pong ball -- with slashed circles carefully inked in black on each -- to the top of the head.
        Kermit was very flexible, which gave him a range of expression. "I didn't call him a frog," Jim said. All the characters in those days were abstract, which was a way of challenging his audience -- of making them an active part of the performance.
        During the open shot of the first Muppet Movie (1979) Kermit is sitting on a log in the middle of a lake, playing the banjo. To achieve that, Henson squeezed into a steel tank under the water,  with his arm sticking out into the puppet to control him.

Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer in the limelight was the centre of attention.

Rin Tin Tin was smuggled into the U.S. from France, and starred initially in silent films written by his owner. He turned out to be one of Warner Brothers' most profitable commodities.

Marcel Marceau was a French actor and mime who gained renown in 1947 with the creation of Bip, a sad, white-faced clown with a tall, battered hat­reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp. Noted for his eloquent, deceptively simple portrayals, he earned worldwide acclaim in the 1950s with his production of the “mimodrama” of Nikolai Gogol’s Overcoat. During that time, he visited New York, and was a guest in the drama workshop at Barnard where Bobbi met him as a student.

The average child sees 30,000 television commercials every year.

28% of all primetime TV shows are now "reality" shows.  Do viewers realize that most of these are scripted and even rehearsed? that most of the contestants are using this exposure as a short-cut to a career in film or broadcasting. What the audience thinks is sincerity is all artifice, all acting. Just like the make-up on these supposedly scrubbed faces.

An analysis of the most popular TV dramas has shown that there is a formula for success: 65% drama, 12% shocks and surprises, 9% comedy, 8% action, 6% romance.

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim in 2005. The next year, it was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion. Within a few years, more than 25 quadrillion bytes of videos were being streamed from the site each month from myriad sources, amateur and professional alike.

In 1922, the first radio commercial was broadcast on WEAF in New York. It cost $100 for 10 minutes.

In 1926, the two-man comedy series Sam ‘n’ Henry debuted on Chicago’s WGN radio station. Two years later, after changing its name to Amos ‘n’ Andy, the show became one of the most popular radio programs in American history.

TV belongs to the writers. Film belongs to the directors. Theatre belongs to the actors.

Acclaimed actor Sir Ian McKellen says the difference between stage and film is that in film, the camera tends to focus on the face, whereas in the theatre, the audience sees your entire body. He thinks the best actresses of all time are Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Laura Linney.

Luc Godard said Film is the truth 24 times a second.

Lou Costello of Abbott & Costello signed an unknown Dean Martin to a personal contract, discovering him in a second-rate night club. The wiley Costello who introduced The Andrews Sisters hit Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy to the world in the first A&C film Buck Privates, quickly signed Martin to a personal contract. Unlike the idiot child he played onscreen, Costello was a shrewd businessman and he saw that with a nose job, Dino would have the looks of a matinee idol and paid for his novice’s rhinoplasty. Unfortunately, Martin dumped Costello for Jerry Lewis.

The first feature film created solely with Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) was Toy Story (1995). Over 800,000 hours of mathematical equations went into the film, which works out to more than a week of computer time for every second on the screen.

Variety was founded in 1905, initially a weekly newspaper for the entertainment industry in New York. It later became a daily with a Hollywood edition. It is credited with creating many new words, including payola, boffo, biz, nix, sit-com, punchline, strip-tease and legit.

In 1923, Mark Sennett, Harry Chandler, and the Los Angeles Times put up the “Hollywoodland” (later shortened to “Hollywood”) sign to publicize a real estate development. The sign cost $21,000.

In 1895, the world’s first commercial movie screening took place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. The Lumiere brothers unveiled their invention to the public in March 1895 with a brief film showing workers leaving the Lumiere factory. On December 28, the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time.

Charles Douglass, inventor of the canned laughter we hear on sitcoms, recorded the guffaws for his original "Laff Box" during broadcasts of The Red Skelton Show. The "laugh track" then became a part of most sit-coms.

The first ever television broadcast occurred at Alexandra Palace, London in 1936.

Days after the release of the iPad, one of the world's biggest porn companies claimed it had created a way to stream its videos onto the device, skipping the Apple store and its restrictions on salacious content.

One of America’s greatest playwrights, Eugene O’Neill spent his youth as a heavy-drinking, itinerant seaman, then began writing plays while recovering from tuberculosis in 1912. Within a decade, he had won his first of four Pulitzer Prizes.

The Hollywood star who played the most leading roles in feature films was John Wayne (1907-1979), who appeared in 153 movies. The star with the most screen credits is John Carradine (1906-1988), who has been in over 230 movies.

Perched atop a forestry hill in Bavaria, Germany, is a real-life fantasy castle. Commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1869, Neuschwanstein Castle has become a major part of our cultural history, even serving as inspiration for Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby met when they were booked together for a couple of weeks at the same theatre. They started to ad-lib, which was popular with audiences. Five years later, in 1939, Bob was signed by Paramount and moved to California. He was invited to one of Bing's parties and they got up and reprised their old act to entertain the guests. A couple of Paramount execs decided to hire them for the first of seven “Road” movies.

The popular term, "suspension of disbelief" has been defined as a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

Georges Feydeau offered a theory on writing funny plays: Decide which characters should, under no circumstances, meet, and then get them together as soon as possible.

An analysis of the most popular TV dramas has shown that there is a formula for success: 65% drama, 12% shocks and surprises, 9% comedy, 8% action, 6% romance.

Charles Douglass, inventor of the canned laughter we hear on sitcoms, recorded the guffaws for his original "Laff Box" during broadcasts of The Red Skelton Show. The "laugh track" then became a part of most sit-coms.

The first ever television broadcast occurred at Alexandra Palace, London in 1936.

Language & Literature

General Cultural Subjects

Music & Art