Actors’ Foibles

A feature by Paul Steiner from a 1970 playbill for Company (with Larry Kert as Bobby):

Edmund Kean, the famous British thespian, believed that diet was important in preparing a role. Consequently, when he was to play a tyrant he ate pork. If he was to be a murderer, he leaned heavily on raw beef and when he was rehearsing as a lover, he always ordered boiled mutton… Claudette Colbert had a theory that what one wore next to the skin was significant. As a result she chose black lace for her glamorous part and homespun when she was a down-country heroine.

Arthur Godfrey broke into vaudeville by trying to sell a cemetery plot to an old trooper, who didn’t buy the plot but signed up the salesman… Don Ameche made his stage debut in a grade school Christmas tableau in which he played the part of the Virgin Mary… Danny Kaye’s very first public performance was in a PS 149 production in which he played a watermelon seed… Gregory Peck worked as a barker at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.

Act I, Strike 3
Ethel Barrymore, a rabid baseball fan all her life, used to have an extra come onstage on matinee days when a game was in progress and whisper the Giants’ score in her ear.

Close to the Heart
W.C. Fields listed contributions to churches in the Solomon Islands and depreciation on his lawn mower on his income tax forms… Although unable to cook, Joanne Dru has always been an inveterate collector of cook books… The late Gypsy Rose Lee once smuggled her Chinese hairless puppy onto an airline in her bra in order to avoid having her beloved pet ride in the baggage compartment.