As a very young actress, Eliza Dushku worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie True Lies. She had never really planned to act, and her mother was not even close to being a stage mother, so they were learning what to do little by little, and lots of people were giving them lots of advice, including this: “Your kid has a funny name, Judy—you should think about changing it.” Mr. Schwarzenegger, however, said, “Eliza, Judy, trust me, keep her name, people will learn it, take it from me.”
Script supervisor May Wale Brown was very impressed by the professionalism shown by Henry Fonda in the making of Gideon’s Trumpet, which was a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. In the movie, Mr. Fonda used a pair of wire-rimmed glasses in his portrayal of the character he was playing. His own real glasses had heavy rims because they contained a hearing aid that he needed due to his old age. In a scene with Fay Wray, the camera focused on Ms. Wray, and Mr. Fonda was not, of course, in her close-ups. However, Mr. Fonda said his lines well, and he continued to wear the wire-rimmed glasses. When Ms. Brown told him that he could wear his own glasses (she did not want to mention the hearing aid), Mr. Fonda replied, “I want Fay to see the Gideon character when she looks at me. It’ll make it easier for her.”
In 1981, Karen Allen played the only “girl” whom Indiana Jones ever loved in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and in 2008 her character met the hero again in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Of course, she was a couple of decades older, and filming took a little adjustment, although she “dove right back in, driving these big dusty, clanking old trucks on these remote locations, just like old times!” Still, Ms. Allen says, “In the beginning, I was saying, ‘Oh, I don’t need the knee pads. Nooo, I don’t need elbow pads!’ After a few days, though, you’re like, ‘If I put a double set on the knees, will the camera see them through my pants?’ All that flinging yourself around is the hard part.”
Some superstars enjoy fame. When silent-movie greats Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford got married, they went to Europe for their honeymoon, where they were at first astonished by the mobs of people who recognized them. Therefore, they slipped away to Germany, where they were not nearly so well known. After a while, though, they decided to go back to where they had been mobbed. Ms. Pickford said to her new husband, “Let’s go someplace where we are known. I’ve had enough obscurity for a lifetime.”
Famous pianist Anton Rubinstein’s musical sense was, of course, well developed. Whenever he didn’t want to get out of bed, his wife knew that all she had to do was to go upstairs to the piano and play an unresolved chord. Mr. Rubinstein would jump out of bed, run upstairs to the piano, and play the finishing notes.
Phyllis Diller found it easy to acquire experience as a comedian. She simply called the Red Cross and said, “I’m available for shows. Where do you want me?” There wasn’t any pay, of course, but the experience was valuable.
When Oprah Winfrey was 14 years old, she wandered the streets of Chicago, homeless, and she needed help. Aretha Franklin, on the other hand, was a highly successful singer. One day, a limousine pulled up to a hotel and Ms. Franklin got out. Young Oprah saw her, ran up to her, and began pouring out her story. Before they reached the door of the hotel, Ms. Franklin had placed $100 into Oprah’s hands.
Comedian Will Rogers was attending church one day when the minister spoke about the church debt and urged everyone to contribute generously so the debt could be paid off. As the collection plate was being passed around, the minister joked, “If you can’t give anything, give a pleasant smile.” When the collection plate reached Mr. Rogers, he didn’t give any money, but instead grinned widely. The next morning, however, he sent a check to the minister. The check was big enough to pay off the entire debt owed by the church.
As a very young financial writer—and the only woman financial writer—for the New York Post, Sylvia Porter went to a huge bankers’ convention, where she took many notes. Then she and the male reporters ran for the telephones so they could call in their articles to a rewrite man. However, when Ms. Porter was transferred to the rewrite man, she froze and was completely unable to speak—a common occurrence for young reporters. Fortunately, a male reporter for a rival publication saw what was happening, so he took her phone and called in her story for her. Ms. Porter says, “He was just wonderful. At that moment, I couldn’t have talked if my life depended on it.” Afterward, of course, Ms. Porter became an internationally famous financial writer.
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