by Jack Haley
Fox Publicity Department
Do I hear a dissenting voice, my friends?
Do you folks mean to tell me that you don’t believe a gent (pardon the expression, but the old Haley dander is up) can really go about his ways and lead a sweet, normal average man’s existence in glamorous Hollywood, city of make-believe, the cardboard cut-up of the country, the state of the cine-coma which you have been misled to believe is the place where people make up even to go to sleep?
Well, kiddies, you’re badly mistaken. So stop rattling your toys while Pop Haley tells you a bedtime story about the true Hollywood and once and or all banish those nightmares.
Say we tear an actor apart–just like a hearring–and find out what makes him tick!
Of course, you say, we already know. He gets up in the morning via a musical clock, is served breakfast in bed. He might even be carried down to his gaudy limousine on a throne carried by six servants to the accompaniment of staccato clicks of photographers who are recording the great event for posterity.
Once deposited in his car, two chauffeurs speed him pellmell to the studio through intersections, against signals, while the common mass in second hand cars pull over to the curb and let him go by. At the studio twenty-two yes men take the strategic positions about the actor informing him of his super-colossal performance in his most recent picture, and confirm of the cutting room boys that the rushes of our hero’s new film passes the greatest thing he’s ever done.
On the set the entire company greet the actor’s arrival in reverent salaam, and the least noise draws a temperamental rage from the star during the morning. He is complete master o the situation and every idiotic remark he makes is a literary gem to his yes men.
When his day’s work is completed he has a million affairs to attend in his honor No matter where he goes a cordon of police is thrown around to protect him. He signs six million autographs an evening, has five thousand pictures taken. But through it all he emerges unscathed, looks as fresh when he arrives at the little place called home despite its 125 rooms and 3,000 acres as he did that very morning. And even though he gets to bed at six a.m. he’s fresh as a daisy on waking at seven to leave for the studio.
Well! No wonder you poor little things have nightmares! All these are merely the grotesque pink elephants of your dreams.
As a matter of fact the exact opposite is true in Hollywood, because if you don’t lead an average normal life you’re going to wind up on the shady side of the eight ball. An actor couldn’t possibly give a good performance on the screen if he was credited with doing all the things that wild rumor says he does.
Take me for instance. Jack Haley has been around Hollywood for a long time, prides himself on being an average person. “So what!” Sez you. “Just this,” sez me.
It stands to reason that during the years I’ve been around Hollywood I’ve made quite a few observations about the people. Added to that the best characters I have portrayed have been average men. Right now I’m playing the most average man role of my life as Henry Smith in “Thanks for Everything” for 20th Century Fox, a guy whose tastes and preferences coincide with that of any average American citizen.
I wasn’t even tested for the part, so certain Director William Seiter an producer Darryl Zanuck that Jack “Average Man” haley typified the solid citizen. Actually that recommendation doesn’t make me a better actor, but the fact remains that if I’m the average fellow, my observations must be average. And this is what I’ve learned about my reputedly mad community.
The average actor now punches a time clock. True it first came into practise [sic] as recently as November 1st. But ever since the “silents” earliest days, thorough the talkies, an actor’s regular day is from nine to six o’clock. He has it a little tougher than the average man outside the business because he or she has got to be in earlier to don tricky costumes or apply makeup.
The average actor thereore has to get to bed before the wee hours, otherwise he’ll look like h–l the next day before the cameras. The scenes will show it, his performance will suffer, the public will lose interest. He loses his job, more jobs, then no jobs at all and goodbye career. Two and two make four, says Pop Haley, sermonizing, so if an actor wants to get ahead he had better lead an average normal life.
The average actor is awakened each more by the avareage alarm clock, or the missus, as the case may be.
He eats an average breakfast. Just look into the kitchen of the average actor and your eyes will drink in the popular brands of food products that you or I buy at the corner grocery market. He gets his bread from the same fellow who drives his tinkling little truch in your neighborhood.
After reading the same morning newspaper which the average man buys, he leaves for the studio in an average priced car.
Glamorous as it may seem to you his cinematic efforts have lost their initial splendor. He loves his work, concentrates on it, but he knows the movies, knows how sets are built, he can see technicians from his angle through you in the audience cannot. So where is the glamour for him?
The so called Hollywood parties are few and far between. They lack the personal touch. The average actor who isn’t invited to Hollywood parties is really a lucky man. He preferes to have a few close friends over at his house. Or he may go to theirs.
For an evening’s entertainment he does the average thing. Probably he atteneds more movies than the average man elsewhere does. He plays bridge in the average way, or he might have a few cronies over to listen to a popular radio program as does the average man in any home.
On Sunday the average Hollywood actor goes to his average golf club, or to the public links, he takes an average drive to the country, attends the average church in the community and mingles with average people.
The average actor has the usual toothache, goes to the average dentist, complains about the average pain. Said dentist removes the tooth with the average anesthetic and average yanks. But here there’s a slight difference. He gets an above average bill because he’s a celebrity.
And the average actor’s hair grows like the hair of an average man, and in the average length of time he needs a haircut. But here is where he has to be careful. If he goes to the average barber he gets an average haircut…and that many not photograph well.
The average actor doesn’t step out at night as is commonly believed. Proof of this is the fact that there isn’t one genuinely sensational night spot in Los Angeles which according to its size should have several.
The average actor attends the local football games on Saturdays, mingles with the average folk in the same popular priced seats. There are no special areas roped off to protect him. And if there were he still wouldn’t be there.
Too, the average bachelor actor doesn’t get the opportunity very often to take out his favorite girl friend who also works in pictures. Odds say that she’s due on the set early in the morning, so she can’t stay out late the night before. He grabs a book instead, and spends the evening reading.
Lets run down the cast of “Thanks for Everything” and note a couple of habits and hobbies.
Adolphe Menjou likes golf. Nothing new there, ah! And just the other day he cut out smoking. Sure he’ll be back puffing away, maybe in a week, month or year. But that little bit of will power and self-applied means more to him than excellent press notices. And that’s saying a great deal. Most every average man has a little trait of his own.
Jack Oakie has been glued to his movie work for twelve years now, and at the end of each picture vows he’s goin to take a vacation. But just like the average man he wouldn’t be happy without his work. He’d probably go mad inside of a week.
You can’t talk to Binnie Barnes unless the subject is tennis or a new pattern for tatted lace. Where’s that glamour?
Arleen Whelen who has been built as a glamour girl uses only a touch of lipstick as her only makeup. She spends her evenings practising [sic] piano, and her Sundays riding horseback for sun and fun and exercize.
In a nutshell if you have intentions toward a sreen career don’t try changing your personality. By the time you get through you won’t have any. Be average, be yourself, for those who have already “arrived” did so that very way.
There is one exception I must mention before I run back to the set. It’s the Ritz Brothers. No rules apply there. And above all don’t take any advice from them. The are the nuttiest trio of all the case histories through the centuries. No holds barred as far as they’re concerned. So wathc your step.
Well, bye, bye, bye, now. I’ve got to be going….and fast…It’s the Ritz boys!