'A BEAUTIFUL MIND' (2001)
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
The real John Nash was married several times, fathered a child out of wedlock in his twenties and indulged in both hetero and homosexual affairs.
ON THE SET
Paul Bettany portrays Russell Crowe's imaginary pal in this. He married Jennifer Connelly in real life after the couple met on the set of this picture.
Russell really should have won the Best Actor Oscar for A Beautiful Mind. Perhaps he missed out because the Academy at long last decided to recognise African-American talent. Perhaps it was because voters were reluctant to put him on a par (Oscar-wise) with Spencer Tracy, or perhaps they thought he was getting a bit uppity. Who knows? He is not the first deserving performer to miss out and he won't be the last.
His wife Danielle Spencer is the daughter of Don Spencer, a former host of the Australian TV children's programme Play School. His cousins are the Test cricketers Jeff and Martin Crowe. All three attended Auckland Grammar School in New Zealand where another Test cricketer Mark Greatbatch was in Russell's form. Their form master was Graham Henry who coached the British and Irish Lions rugby teams on their tour of Australia in 2001.
Russell's first acting role was as a five-year old on Australian TV's Spyforce. He sported a South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby jumper and spoke just one line of dialogue. He and Jason Donovan made their feature film debuts in the same movie Blood Oath in 1989. His Hollywood career was kick-started by Sharon Stone. She was impressed by his performance in Romper Stomper and insisted he be cast alongside her in the big budget western The Quick and the Dead.
Much of his bad-tempered reputation is undeserved and either invented by the media or blown up out of all proportion to the incidents reported on. On at least one occasion the press accused him of being involved in a fracas when, in fact, he was in another country at the time. In 2005, however, he did lose his cool and hurl a telephone that struck an employee in the face at the Mercer Hotel in New York. The man was not badly hurt and the matter was settled out of court. The Daily Mail reported Russell coughed up $10.8 million. Even by American standards in such matters, that seems to be a highly questionable figure. Australian tabloids quoted the much more likely sum of $100,000.
'A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT' (1932)
ON THE SET
Katharine Hepburn made her debut in this film alongside screen icon John Barrymore. As he was prone to do with his leading ladies the lecherous Barrymore exposed himself to her at the first opportunity. Hepburn treated the incident with the contempt it deserved and made no secret of her loathing for the legendary star. Clark Gable, aware he had tried the same thing on his wife Carole Lombard some years earlier, also detested him.
JOHN BARRYMORE: LOVERS OR FRIENDS?
Barrymore was in San Francisco and lucky to survive when the great earthquake struck in 1905. In 1920 he invited Mary Astor's mother to have tea on his porch while he seduced the fourteen year-old Mary in his living room. He had few qualms about indulging in under-aged sexual liaisons, possibly because of his own experiences as a youth. His stepmother seduced him when he was fifteen. A monumental egotist, he once proclaimed, 'my only regret in the theatre is that I could never sit out front and watch me'.
Tales of his outrageous conduct are legendary. One day, a hopelessly drunk Barrymore staggered into a ladies toilet and was confronted by a frosty-faced matron who ordered him out. 'This is for women!' she sternly informed him. With considerable flourish the nefarious actor whipped out his penis, waved it at her and roared, 'and so, madam, is this!' On another occasion an obviously needy woman arrived at the stage door and offered him sex if he would agree to help her out. After accomodating the destitute young lady he magnanimously handed her free tickets to his show. When the desperate woman rejected them, explaining she needed bread not theatre tickets he callously told her, 'madam, you want bread – go fuck a baker!'
A hopeless alcoholic, he once went on an extended cruise in an attempt to dry out and wound up drinking anything and everything he could lay his hands on that contained any semblance of alcohol, including mouthwash, perfume, kerosene and Spirit of Camphor. In his final years on the stage he often staggered through his performances oblivious to catcalls from disgruntled patrons. During one production he brought gasps from the audience when he halted in mid-sentence and relieved himself in a flowerpot!
His second wife was actress turned author Blanche Oelrichs who called herself Michael Strange and preferred to dress in men's clothing. The last of his marriages was to a girl who interviewed him for a high school magazine. She was not yet twenty when they eventually tied the knot. By then Barrymore was a ravaged fifty-four year-old who looked much older.
Even in death 'the Great Profile' as he was once known got to perform one last time. His good friend Errol Flynn arrived home one day to find the dead actor propped up in a chair in his living room, cigar in hand and clutching a drink. Flynn took one look and bolted from the house. Director Raoul Walsh and a few of his cronies had stolen Barrymore's corpse from the morgue for one final party, or so the story goes. Walsh had told his butler, 'Alex, Mr. Barrymore didn't die. He's drunk. Help me carry him into the house'. Errol refused to be a part of the unsavoury proceedings so Walsh reluctantly took the corpse back to the morgue. Blake Edwards used the incident for a scene in his 1981 film S.O.B.
Barrymore's son John Drew was a drug addict who sold his father's prize gun collection to support his habit. Later still, in need of somewhere to sleep, he sold his parents' love letters as well. Current star Drew Barrymore is his daughter.
It was while she was making Woman Of The Year in 1942 that Kate met and fell in love with the already married Spencer Tracy. Their romance would last until his death twenty-five years later. Even so, there has always been speculation regarding her sexuality, probably instigated by her penchant for wearing trousers rather than skirts. Close friend Margaret Sullavan referred to her once as, 'that dikey bitch', but there is no real proof she was anything other than heterosexual.
'The most completely honest woman I've ever met', said Cary Grant of her. Others found her much less impressive. At RKO Studios her peers referred to her as 'Katharine of Arrogance'. Lucille Ball commented dryly, 'she wasn't really standoffish. She ignored everybody equally'. Her ability as an actress has also been questioned. Renowned wit Dorothy Parker commented on her performance in The Lake: 'She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B'. Thirty-five years later Kate described the comment as 'extremely accurate and funny'.
'Cold sober, I find myself fascinating', said Kate somewhat revealingly. 'I'm a legend because I've survived over a long period of time and still seem to be master of my fate, whereas Garbo has always been a mysterious sailboat who disappeared over the horizon the moment she felt she couldn't cope'. Hepburn also made an interesting assessment of her profession. 'Acting is the most minor of gifts', she said. 'After all, Shirley Temple (Continues…)
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