What if Steve Reeves went to war?
What if Steve Reeves went to war?
Just a few years after her father’s death, Mary Koenig took a job as a housekeeper to help support her family. Taking advantage of her connection to employer, the wealthy and influential Harry Payne Whitney, Mary pursued Broadway. Taking the stage name “Mae Murray,” she landed a place in the chorus line of the famed Ziegfeld Follies. By 1915, the ambitious Mae was headlining on tours of the United States and Europe, dancing with esteemed partners like Clifton Webb and Rudolph Valentino.
It was an easy tradition into movies for Mae. In 1916, she made her screen debut in To Have and to Hold. In 1919, she sealed her star status when she received rave reviews for her performances in The Delicious Little Devil and Big Little Person, again with Valentino. Although popular with audiences, Mae’s exaggerated acting style and flamboyant costumes didn’t sit well with her directors and producers. She developed an elitist ego and gained a reputation of being difficult and demanding. Nevertheless, she continued her ascent to superstardom, working with the top names in silent era Hollywood. Her alluring looks earned her the nickname “The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips” and she loved to introduce herself as such. Capitalizing on her fame, she wrote a column for William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers and posed for a scandalous nude portrait for noted Hollywood artist Theodore Lukits.
In 1926, Mae married her fourth husband, David Mdivani — a shady, lower-level member of the royal Georgian family. Mdivani made himself Mae’s manager. He suggested that she leave MGM Studios for greener pastures and higher salary. Foolishly taking his advice, Mae walked off the set of a film and broke her contract, infuriating powerful studio head Louis B. Mayer. After a bitter divorce from Mdivani, wherein he drained all of Mae’s bank accounts, Mae swallowed her pride and returned to Mayer, pleading for a second change. However, the spurned and angry Mayer refused and, through his connections, had blacklisted Mae at all of Hollywood’s major studios.
When talking pictures came on the scene, Mae was hesitant and uncomfortable. She remade an earlier picture for perfectionist director Erich Von Stroheim. The film, Peacock Alley, was a failure. The fickle public lost interest in Mae Murray seemingly overnight. She made one final film in 1931.
In the 1940s, struggling for work, Mae performed at impresario Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in the Paramount Hotel in Manhattan. Critics were brutal to Mae, citing her out-of-place, youthful costumes and her heavy make-up, obviously used to conceal her age. On the side, she taught ballroom dancing in New York, but she had difficulty maintaining a steady income and lived at the poverty level.
In early 1964, 79-year-old Mae was found wandering the streets of downtown St, Louis. A representative of the Salvation Army, questioned the disoriented Mae. She explained that she thought she was in New York and had lost her way looking for her hotel, the name of which she had forgotten. With some assistance, Mae was sent back to Los Angeles and admitted to the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, a retirement community for Hollywood professionals. Upon her arrival, she told attending medical staff: “I’m Mae Murray, the young Ziegfeld beauty with the bee-stung lips – and Hollywood is calling me.”
Mae passed away in March 1965.
What if Popeye showed his true Navy roots?
Willard Scott, the avuncular weatherman on NBC’s The Today Show passed away this week at the age of 87. He enjoyed a long and productive career in broadcasting, beginning in the 1950s with a live, improvised radio show originating in Washington, DC. At the same time, he worked with local TV station WRC in children’s programming. He portrayed “Bozo the Clown” and “Commander Retro” to the delight of young viewers. He also served as the station’s weatherman during news broadcasts.
In 1980, he was tapped by NBC to replace departing meteorologist Bob Ryan on The Today Show. He brought his homey sense of humor and off-the-wall antics to the position, becoming an iconic and welcome figure to viewers coast-to-coast. In 1983, under the sponsorship of the J.M Smucker Company, Willard began announcing and acknowledging the 100th birthday of viewers on the air. Willard’s daily segments became very popular… that is until a memo, written by then-cohost Bryant Gumbel, blasted Willard Scott, opining “he holds the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste…This guy is killing us and no one’s even trying to rein him in.” Willard was hurt, but — being the consummate professional — offered his forgiveness in the form of a kiss on Gumbel’s cheek.
In the late 1990s, Willard went into semi-retirement, turning his daily duties over to Al Roker. He continued to announce milestone birthdays (and perform his wacky shtick) on a weekly basis until his full retirement in 2015.
According to Willard, he created the universally recognized advertising icon of “Ronald McDonald” in 1963, as requested by a Washington DC McDonald’s restaurant. Dressed in a similar fashion as his “Bozo” persona, Willard added several paper McDonald cups and trays as enhancements to the costume. He called himself “Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown” and filmed three separate TV commercials that ran as local spots in Washington. However, while they do acknowledge that Willard Scott portrayed an early version of the beloved mascot — one of the first in a long line of actors over the years, they make no mention of Willard Scott being the creator of Ronald McDonald.
What if the Rat Pack acted like…. well…. the Rat Pack?
Charlie Watts, the longtime drummer for the venerable Rolling Stones passed away last week at the age of 80. His death prompted an outpouring on social media of love and condolences in the form of memories, stories and anecdotes from a host of renowned peers, like Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Elton John and many, many more. The notorious story of a nattily-dressed Charlie decking his bandmate Mick Jagger was the most often repeated tale and — to be honest — I was going to relate that story myself, until I heard this one.
Australian rocker Nick Cave was asked by a fan if he felt any sort of kinship to the late drummer and he had these heartfelt words to offer….
About ten years ago I decided that it might be a good idea to get in shape for an upcoming tour and so I booked some training sessions at a local gym in Brighton. I’d never trained or even entered a gym before and I also didn’t have any kit, and so, in preparation, I ordered a tracksuit from Amazon. When it arrived the tracksuit was very small — I think it was actually a child’s size. I had forgotten to order trainers but found an old pair of giant white sneakers that had belonged to one of the kids. As I left the house for my first session at the gym I was aware that I looked ridiculous and so I stuck on a bucket hat that was lying around in an effort to disguise myself.
I spent the most punishing hour of my life in the gym that day, with a trainer who, as far as I’m concerned, basically violated me. Drenched in sweat, I left the gym vowing never to return. On the drive home I suddenly remembered that I had promised Susie that I would pick her up from Heathrow — I also realised that I was late and had no time to go home to change out of my gym clothes but I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll drive straight to the airport, run into the terminal to meet her and then get out of there, no one will see me.’
When I arrived at the airport I needed to have a piss so I stopped at the bathrooms and as I walked back out, in my tiny tracksuit, my giant white trainers and my bucket hat, there, walking toward me, was Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones. He had silver hair and was dressed in an elegant pearl-grey three piece suit, a button down checked shirt and a tie. He literally glowed with a kind of inner serenity, and as we passed each other we locked eyes for a moment and he smiled at me — not an unkind smile, but not a kind one either, rather the impassive look one animal might give to another in the wild, that signaled their complete and total supremacy.
As I watched Charlie Watts disappear into the crowd, I rearranged my bucket hat, and thought, “There goes a truly great drummer,” which is what I thought when I heard the news this week of his passing — “There goes a truly great drummer.”
Sure. the story of Charlie Watts dressing in a suit in the middle of the night to punch Mick Jagger in the face is a great legacy. Nick’s memory is equally as “rock & roll”.
What if things got really dangerous for Harold Lloyd?