Archive for March, 2013

29
Mar
13

Oz Never Did Give Nothing to the Tin Man…

461px-The_Wizard_of_Oz_Lahr_Garland_Bolger_Haley_1939Near the end of The Wizard of Oz (1939), before she is about to click her heels back to Kansas, Dorothy whispers in the Scarecrow’s ear that she thinks she will miss him the most. I guess, like old army buddies, the two had spent the most time together and so had the deepest connection of the foursome (not including Toto, of course). For some reason, I always preferred the Tin Man. I’m not sure if it was the character himself, Jack Haley’s interpretation of him, or both.

Born in Boston in 1898, Jack Haley started out on the vaudeville stage as a singing and dancing comedian. Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow) and Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion) also got their starts in vaudeville before they transitioned to Broadway and Hollywood. In addition to Oz, Haley would appear in more than 30 movies for various studios, including musicals with Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra, and a pre-Oz Judy Garland.

Haley stepped into the Tin Man’s shoes when original portrayer, Buddy Ebsen, was dropped by MGM after suffering an allergic reaction to the aluminum dust makeup’s fumes. He almost died but after the Oz fiasco, would go on to a supporting role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn and various television series, most notably The Beverly Hillbillies. The studio switched to paste for Haley’s makeup. To play the Tin Man, Haley modulated his voice to a softer tone and volume (maybe that’s one of the reasons I liked the Tin Man best?); you can hear his natural voice when he portrays Hickory.

In 1974, Haley’s son, Jack Jr., married Judy Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli; Jack Jr. and Liza divorced in 1979, the same year that Jack Sr. died in Los Angeles. I wonder what those family gatherings would have been like had Judy lived past 1969!

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Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West), Ray Bolger, and Jack Haley in 1970

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20
Mar
13

The Bathroom in the Museum

Roddy McDowall's bathroom at the Hollywood History Museum

Roddy McDowall’s bathroom at the Hollywood History Museum

In the Hollywood History Museum is a bathroom. This “half-bath,” which includes a sink and toilet, sits in the midst of “Old Hollywood” movie costumes and props. The bathroom’s walls and surfaces are plastered in framed photographs, mostly of friends of the bathroom’s owner. Some of these friends happen to be Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Andrews, Johnny Depp, and other famous names. The bathroom’s owner is a talented photographer, although that’s not his “day job,” which is acting. As you stand in this bathroom in the middle of this museum, close your eyes. Now, open them. Now, open the door. When you walk out the door, the museum has turned into a house, and you find yourself in the middle of a party, and at the center of it is the bathroom’s owner: Roddy McDowall.

A child actor from England, Roddy made an amazing comeback as an adult actor in the 60s and 70s, most notably in the Planet of the Apes series (1968-1973) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). He got a front row seat to the adulterous affair between his good friend Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the filming of “Cleopatra.” Roddy was known as a trustworthy confidante to Liz and other female stars looking for a sympathetic yet fun ear. However, Roddy died in 1998 never having shared with the world that he was gay.

 

Roddy photographing Julie Andrews

Roddy photographing Julie Andrews

My Top Five Roddy McDowall Movies

Lord Love a Duck (1966)

Fright Night (1985)

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Cleopatra (1963)

Honorable TV Mention: Twilight Zone episode “People Are Alike All Over” (1960)

Taking a break during shooting of one of the Planet of the Apes films

Taking a break during shooting of one of the Planet of the Apes films