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Tales of Hollywood and Politics
By Stephen Schochet
COPYRIGHT: ?2004 by Hollywood Stories.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in the California Recall Race brought to mind
the many times Hollywood figures have been involved in politics. Here are some
When actors first came to Hollywood there were signs put up in front of hotels
and apartments that said no dogs or actors allowed, with the performers ruefully
complaining about not getting top billing. The insecurity of the profession has
come through in political campaigns. When Ronald Reagan successfully ran for
Governor of California in 1966 one of the fruitless tactics used by his
opposition was a television commercial featuring Gene Kelley stating," In films
I played a gambler, a baseball player and I could play a Governor but you
wouldn't really want an actor to really be a Governor would you?"
Ronald Reagan at one time was such a Liberal Democrat he drove friends to
distraction with his views. One day in the thirties he was driving a friend home
from work, yammering on about President Roosevelt's New Deal policies. Reagan
who was near sighted and an erratic driver at best, seemed oblivious to road
conditions. "Ronnie, watch out for that truck!" the friend yelled. Missing an
accident by a hair, Reagan continued," Truck drivers, that's who the New Deal
Like former President Reagan, Walt Disney claimed to be a Roosevelt New Dealer
until a nasty worker's strike at his studio made him take a right turn. Although
he campaigned heavily for Republican candidates the cartoon maker kept friendly
relations with the other side. Walt loved giving personal tours of Disneyland,
and enjoyed having former president Harry Truman as his guest, even when his
fellow Missourian turned down a ride on Dumbo: Too much Republican symbolism.
Another mogul, Louis B. Mayer the founder of MGM was a staunch Republican his
entire life. Mayer never quite got over Franklin Roosevelt beating his good
friend Herbert Hoover but accepted an invitation to meet the Democratic
President at the White House in 1933. Immediately upon arriving in the Oval
Office Mayer surprised Roosevelt by pulling a clock from underneath his coat and
placing it on the President's desk. "What's that for, Mr. Mayer?" "Pardon me Mr.
President. I heard you have the ability to have a man in your hip pocket after
18 minutes." Brandishing his long cigarette holder Roosevelt threw his head back
and laughed, then began chatting with the film executive . He was startled when
after seventeen minutes the mogul got up, grabbed the clock and left the room.
Another difficult encounter for the Roosevelt administration was with Shirley
Temple. Hoping to get people's mind off the Great Depression the President was
nonstop in praise of the moppet's movies saying that Americans should forget
about their problems by paying fifteen cents to see "the smile of a little
girl". Both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were so enamored they invited little
Shirley and her parents to visit them at their private estate in Hyde Park, New
York. In the limo Shirley received mixed messages from her Conservative parents.
On the one hand they were thrilled to meet the President and his wife, but they
also hated their Big Government policies. Upon their arrival Mrs. Roosevelt
graciously asked Shirley if she would like something fixed on the barbecue. "Oh
that would be wonderful," replied the child star. As Eleanor walked out back,
the mischievous Shirley took out a slingshot, checked to make sure nobody was
looking at what she was doing, and nailed the First Lady in the rear. The Secret
Service came running at the sound of her shout, looked around the property for
possible intruders but never thought about searching the angelic little movie
star, who had skillfully hidden her weapon. Dinner passed pleasantly and the
Temples returned to their hotel. Only then did Gertrude Temple tell her daughter
that she had seen her naughtiness, and Shirley got walloped.
Many Hollywood figures prefer to have others speak for them. When Marlon Brando
won the Academy Award for The Godfather (1972) he shocked the nation by sending
a Native American named Sacheen Littlefeather in his place, She used the
international platform of winning the Oscar to blast the USA's treatment of her
people( it turned out she was an imposter, she was actually a professional
actress named Maria Cruz). There were many calls from the media for Brando to
come out and state his views himself, but the reclusive star refused. One rumor
had Brando sitting alone in his hilltop house watching John Wayne movies
backwards so the Indians would win.
Want to hear more stories? Stephen Schochet is the author and narrator of the
audiobooks Fascinating Walt Disney and Tales Of Hollywood. The Saint Louis Post
Dispatch says," these two elaborate productions are exceptionally entertaining."
Hear real audio samples of these great, unique gifts at http://www.hollywoodstories.com.