Friday, October 1, 2010

"Yonder lies the castle of my faddah."

And on Thursday, we awoke to this: 
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, September 30, 2010 -- 6:31 AM ET
Tony Curtis, Hollywood Icon, Dies at 85, The A.P. Reports

Tony Curtis, a classically handsome movie star who earned an
Oscar nomination as an escaped convict in Stanley Kramer's
1958 movie "The Defiant Ones," but whose public preferred him in comic roles in films like "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and
"The Great Race" (1965), died Wednesday of a cardiac arrest
in his Las Vegas area home. He was 85.

As a performer, Mr. Curtis drew first and foremost on his
startlingly good looks. With his dark, curly hair, worn in a
sculptural style later imitated by Elvis Presley, and plucked
eyebrows framing pale blue eyes and wide, full lips, Mr.
Curtis embodied a new kind of feminized male beauty that came into vogue in the early 1950s.

His birth name was Bernard Schwartz.  Today, of course, he would act under the name "Bernie Schwartz" and no one would think he ought to change it.  In the 50s, most of the famous and semi-famous in show biz changed their names, which is why Art Gelien became Tab Hunter.

You really have to wonder.  If the agents and muckety-mucks thought that people wouldn't cotton to the name "Art" for an actor, what the heck kind of a name is "Tab"?  Have you ever met a guy named Tab? Of course not.

"Chad Everett"?  Raymon Lee Cramton.
"Guy Madison"?  Robert Ozell Moseley.
"Rock Hudson"? Roy Fitzgerald.
"Rory Calhoun"? Francis Timothy McCown.  At first his agent changed his name to Troy Donahue, but later settled on calling McCown 'Calhoun'  and saved the Donahue moniker for Merle Johnson, Jr.
"Troy Donahue"?  Merle Johnson, Jr.  (but you knew that.)

In post-World War II America, it seemed that the nation couldn't get enough un-reality.  We turned to movies and television shows that showed a completely artificial view of society, starring people who really couldn't act but had names that sounded actor-ish.  Billy Gray, who played Bud in the sitcom "Father Knows Best," always told people "YOU know best!" and urged them not to take his show as being anything like real life.

We miss the sweet simple 50's, but right now, I have to go to the courthouse to change my name to Ramp Driver.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

"....starring people who really couldn't act but had names that sounded actor-ish." And then you talk about Billy Gray. I beg to differ. That whole Father Knows Best cast made you believe they actually existed as a family. When an actor "becomes" the character s/he is portraying, that's good acting.

Otherwise, I get ya!