This is the twenty-second in a series of examinations of legends from movies and the people who make them and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous movie urban legends.
MOVIE LEGEND: Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin had a memorable first meeting outside of a movie theater.
Two of the largest stars in all of film during the days of silent films were Charlie Chaplin…
and Douglas Fairbanks (seen here as Zorro)…
The two men were great friends. They toured the United States together (along with famous film star Mary Pickford, who Fairbanks was dating) raising money for War Bonds during World War I (Chaplin is standing on Fairbanks’ shoulders) …
The two even decided to form their own motion picture studio together, along with Pickford and director D.W. Griffith (Fairbanks is the first one in the photo, from the left).
That studio, United Artists, in one form or another continued to exist to this very day (although the current United Artists is pretty much just connected by the name only)!
In any event, there’s an old story about how the two men met.
Here it is (courtesy of an old Fairbanks biography):
While passing a cinema in Hollywood one day, Charlie Chaplin stopped to examine the posters advertising the new Douglas Fairbanks comedy appearing there. “Have you seen this show?” Chaplin asked a young man standing nearby. “Sure,” he replied. “Any good?” Chaplin asked. “Why, he’s the best in the business,” the man exclaimed. “He’s a scream! Never laughed so much at anyone in all my life.” “Is he as good as Chaplin?” “As good as Chaplin!” the man exclaimed. “Why, this Fairbanks person has got that Chaplin person looking like a loom. They’re not in the same class. Fairbanks is funny. I’m sorry you asked me, I feel so strongly about it.” Hearing this Chaplin coolly revealed his identity: “I’m Chaplin.” “I know you are,” the other man laughed. “I’m Fairbanks!”
Right off the bat, it pretty much sounds bogus, right?
Forget the fact that Fairbanks was in his 30s when Chaplin made his film debut (at the age of 24), it just sounds made up period.
And, luckily enough, we can pretty much say that yeah, that is not where Chaplin and Fairbanks first met. It is pretty well accepted (meaning I’ve found the same story in multiple biographies on both men) that they met each other at a party thrown by the actress Constance Collier (seen below from her days on the British Stage…) in March of 1917.
So no, they did not have a comical introduction like the above story, but it does make for an interesting story, at least!
MOVIE LEGEND: Carole Lombard’s death led to an edit in her last film.
Carole Lombard was a beautiful and popular actress of the 1920s and 1930s (plus the beginning of the 1940s)…
Her most famous role is probably in the film My Man Godfrey, which she did with her ex-husband, William Powell…
In the late 1930s, she became involved with movie star Clark Gable.
The two would eventually marry and as far as anyone can figure, the pair were very happy together…
Well, in 1941, Lombard filmed a movie called To Be or Not to Be, along with Jack Benny. The movie is about a troupe of actors in Occupied Europe who use their acting skills to mess with the Nazis (think Hogan’s Heroes).
In late 1941, after the filming had finished, Lombard flew to her home state of Indiana with her mother and her press agent and raised money for War Bonds. She raised over $2,000,000 dollars!
She returned home to Gable in January of 1942. When the cross country journey stopped in Las Vegas to re-fuel, passengers were asked to get off the plane to allow 15 U.S. Army Air Corps personnel headed to California ride on the plane in their stead. Most every passenger got off, but Lombard convinced them that she was, in effect, working with the war effort, as well, so she should be allowed to stay. They eventually agreed and Lombard and her mother and her agent boarded the small plane along with the 15 Air Corps men.
Sadly, the plane never got to Burbank, California, as it crashed soon after leaving Las Vegas.
The release of her last film was delayed a month, and when it WAS released, one line had been removed.
In the film, Robert Stack plays a Polish pilot who is enamored with Lombard’s character. When he asks her to fly with him, she remarks, as a joke, “What can happen on a plane?”
The line was removed from the film when it was released in 1942…
Similarly, when 1940′s “A Wild Hare,” the first cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny (although not named Bugs in the cartoon itself)…
was re-released in 1944, a scene where Elmer Fudd and Bugs play a guessing game (you know, Bugs covers Fudd’s eyes and says “Guess who?”) was edited from Fudd saying “Carole Lombard?” to Fudd saying “Barbara Stanwyck?”
MOVIE LEGEND: James Cameron used a trickier method than trick camera work to have two Sarah Connors in a scene in Terminator 2.
We’re all well accustomed to the common practice of using split screens to depict the same actor/actress playing multiple characters in the same scene.
This practice was the basis of The Patty Duke Show (where Duke plays “identical cousins”)…
You can see it, too, on the TV series Friends, where Lisa Kudrow plays twin sisters Phoebe and Ursula…
The trick, of course, is that Kudrow is filmed twice – once as each character – and then the two shots are edited together to make it appear as though it is one shot.
And for close-ups, you do the ol’ “back of the other character’s head” shot…
Well, when Terminator 2 came out in 1992….
the bad guy had the ability to take on the appearance of other people.
So when audiences saw the following scene, where the bad guy (the killer robot T-1000) takes on the appearance of Sarah Connor…
clearly, everyone though “Sure, split screen.”
But it’s not.
You see, for this shot (AND another shot in the movie where T-1000 takes on the appearance of a mental hospital security guard), director James Cameron actually used the TWIN of the actor in question for the shot!!
In the security guard scene, it was twins Don and Dan Stanton. Here, it is Linda Hamilton and her twin sister, Leslie!
Pretty darn clever usage of what was available to him by Cameron!
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