In the beginning of his legendary career, Kirk Douglas (1916 – ) b. Issur Danielovitch, was almost typecast as a well-meaning but ineffectual husband in two fine films, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1946, and A Letter to Three Wives, 1949. But his career ascended into mega-stardom when he played cynical heroes motivated by rage: Champion, 1949, Ace in the Hole, 1951, The Bad and the Beautiful, 1952, Paths of Glory, 1957, Spartacus, 1960, and his favorite picture, Lonely Are the Brave, 1962,
Douglas was never a conventional leading man. Though handsome as a fairy tale prince, he wielded his masculine beauty like a weapon. There was none of the gruff, working class charm that made Gable the King. Douglas was not an urbane gentleman like William Powell, nor a witty charmer like Cary Grant.
Kirk Douglas excelled at playing, in his own words, “sons of bitches.”
“I woke up one morning to find I was famous. Bought a white Rolls-Royce and drove down Sunset Boulevard wearing dark specs and a white suit, waving like the Queen Mum. Nobody took any f—ing notice, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”
—Peter O’Toole on his sudden fame and fortune after Lawrence of Arabia.
Faye Dunaway once told me that playing the notorious outlaw Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (’67) was the greatest gift, and the greatest curse, of her legendary career. Bonnie’s character, said Faye, most closely resembled who she was. “Playing her was not a great stretch. I just dug deep.” “And of course,” continued Faye, “I was young. I thought that great roles come along all the time. Which, of course, they don’t.”
I pointed out that her role in Network (’76) was great, and her work as the heartless, TV exec, was brilliant. Faye agreed that the role of Diana Christensen was spectacular. But, Faye insisted, no film, no performance, will ever equal the personal and professional tsunami that was Bonnie.
When I heard that Peter O’Toole died, I immediately flashed back to my conversation with Faye. Like Faye, O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia was a brilliant film with an incandescent performance that made the young Irishman an international star. Like Faye, O’Toole’s subsequent career existed under the endless shadow of his Lawrence.
Labor Day affords us the opportunity to reflect on work, our jobs, present and past. Good jobs, bad jobs, we’ve all had our share of both.
Work should set you free. Honest labor puts money in your pocket which allows you to spend that money as you see fit. Ideally, work infuses the individual with a sense of self-worth and dignity.
In Judaism, work is viewed as a vital adjunct to the observance and study of Torah:
Im ayn kemach, ayn Torah.
If there is no bread [work], there is no study of Torah.
—Ethics of the Fathers, (Avos 3:21)
Thus, the Torah invests labor with a deep spiritual value.
But let’s be honest, in any work environment there is gossip. And office gossip can be terribly destructive.
Hollywood has always been a hothouse for nasty personal attacks. But in the past, these vendettas were usually reserved for post-career memoirs and late night interviews—Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, David Frost, etc—that today, appear sweetly disagreeable.
But in postmodern America, where traditional values of respect and restraint are not even a dim memory, Hollywood gossip has become an industry unto itself. Unsavory gossip is now mainstream, brought to you in the form of entertainment and reality shows—which are neither entertaining nor real.
America has even elected a president who regularly slings gossip disguised as social-political wisdom. Obama’s remarks about the “stupid” Boston police, about being Trayvon Martin’s father, even his off-the-cuff remark about a Syrian red line—these are instances of politics as gossip; an indication of the deep moral and intellectual corruption of Obama & Co., and of the liberal political class who are unmoored from the basics of a civil society.
Here are a few of Seraphic Secret’s favorite, and not-so-secret snipes—touchingly tame by today’s appalling standards—brought to you some of Hollywood’s best-loved stars about other best-loved stars.