This is the second in a series of examinations of movie legends and whether they are true or false.Here is an archive of all the movie legends featured so far.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: Tony Curtis said that kissing Marilyn Monroe was “like kissing Hitler.”
STATUS: Apparently True
Stories in Hollywood often seem to go on a real interesting journey on the way to “fact,” and they usually go through many pitstops on the way there, including stops in “denial” and “elaboration” until we finally get an approximation of the truth.
Such is the case with what Tony Curtis said about Marilyn Monroe when they filmed the classic Billy Wilder film Some Like It Hot together in the summer of 1958.
Curtis and Monroe had actually had a bit of a tryst in the very early 1950s (likely 1950 exactly, but maybe 1949), when neither were particularly famous.
But by the time they co-starred together in Some Like It Hot, Curtis was an established box office star and Monroe, well, Monroe was a bit of an icon.
An icon that did not appreciate the fact that she was playing yet another dumb blonde in her first film in two years. She had come out of semi-retirement to appear in Some Like It Hot, but it is clear that she was not thrilled to do so, but rather was making a concession to the fact that it was likely to be a hit film.
While filming Some Like It Hot, Monroe was habitually late, ruined scenes and was overall an extremely difficult person to be around. Director Billy Wilder did not even invite her to the wrap party for the movie.
In the film, Curtis is Monroe’s love interest. When asked what kissing Monroe was like, Curtis reportedly said it was “like kissing Hitler.”
The story became an instant Hollywood legend, the sort of thing that would be repeated no matter if it is true or not.
As to the truth of the quote, Curtis muddied that up when he denied saying it a number of times. In an interview about ten years ago, Curtis said of Monroe:
She would play Jack Lemmon off against me or me against him, and Billy Wilder against both of us. But I never said kissing her was like kissing Hitler! I don’t know where that came from.
Where it came from was a screening room during Some Like It Hot where most of the crew were watching the dailies of the film. Someone commented that Curtis’ kissing scene with Monroe looked like he was really enjoying himself, so they asked what it was like. Curtis blithely responded that it was like kissing Hitler. It got a big laugh, although it greatly upset Paula Strasberg, who in the room (Strasberg was Monroe’s acting coach, and her confidante – she was on the film as a sort of entourage for Monroe). Monroe was not in the room at the time, but she of course was filled in soon enough. The room was filled with plenty of witnesses to the quote, though.
More recently, Curtis finally admitted to the story, only he has offered up that it was not serious, he was just trying to get a laugh and to also make fun of the absurdity of the question.
Thanks to David Fantle’s Reel to Real: 25 Years of Celebrity Interviews for the first quote from Curtis, and I certainly owe thanks and a great debt to Curtis’ recent book, American Prince: A Memoir for Curtis’ admission regarding the quote.
MOVIE LEGEND: Kirk Cameron will not kiss any woman other than his wife, not even for an acting role.
Continuing in the “kissing” theme, Kirk Cameron is a curiosity in the film world, as the former Growing Pains star pursues a career still as an actor (mostly in films) but at the same time, he also has his own Christian evangelical ministry – The Way of the Master.
Cameron’s identity as a Christian evangelist naturally impacts the roles he takes as an actor, as he chooses to concentrate on films having to do with his faith.
These include the Left Behind film series (about the people on Earth who are, well, left behind, after the good Christians go to heaven during the Rapture) and the recent surprise independent film hit, Fireproof.
In the film, Fireproof, Cameron plays a fireman whose marriage is falling apart, at least partially due to his temper and his addiction to internet pornography. Through a renewed faith in God, though, he repairs his life and his marriage.
In the film, Cameron acts opposite actress Erin Bethea, who plays his wife in the film.
However, Kirk Cameron is married to Chelsea Noble, an actress who played his girlfriend in the later seasons of Growing Pains.
Cameron believes strongly in the sanctity of marriage, to the point where he will not kiss anyone but his wife!
So how does that work when the guy is in the acting domain, you might ask?
Well, in Fireproof, a dramatic kiss takes place to mark the reconciliation between Cameron’s character and his wife. When it came time to shoot the scene, though, Chelsea Noble played the wife instead of Erin Bethea! Noble wore a wig and the director had the scene lit so that the kiss would appear in silhouette, so that when they kiss, the audience cannot tell that it is not Erin Bethea in the scene.
Now that’s some real dedication to a principle right there! Talk about taking out insurance for your beliefs!
MOVIE LEGEND: The actor who played Alfalfa in the Little Rascals films is buried with a drawing of his dog from the films.
Carl Switzer is best known for his role as Alfalfa in the various Little Rascals films.
In the movies, Switzer has a pet dog named Petey.
Switzer died young, at the age of 31, and on his grave, there is a drawing of a dog…
This had led many fans over the years to naturally presume that the dog is a tribute to Petey, but that’s not the case.
Switzer had a difficult life after the Little Rascals films ended. He was 13 when the last film came out in 1940, and besides some Bowery Boy knock-off films in the late 40s, he did not have much more success as an actor, a fact certainly not helped by his rumored poor disposition.
Later on, Switzer would move to Kansas where he married, had a kid and got divorced. While there, he hunted a lot and bred dogs for a living. He bred dogs for Roy Rogers and Jimmy Stewart.
It is for THIS reason that the dog appears on Switzer’s grave, because he was a dog breeder.
In 1959, the 31-year-old Switzer was killed by an acquaintance over a debt from an unpaid loan. At the time, it was ruled that the homicide was justifiable, as Switzer allegedly came at the man with a knife. In the time since, though, that story seems to be a bit suspicious (especially seeing as how Switzer knife that he had on him was a penknife and it was not even open), but I suppose we’ll never know for sure what happened that day.
Switzer suffered one last indignity – he died the same day as Cecil B. DeMille, so Switzer’s passing was barely noticed by the media.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org