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A celebrity's money trouble can spill over to others that they work with. Judy Garland was a popular guest on television talk shows in 1960s. The problem with booking her was in cities where she appeared hotels were reluctant to put her up. She was famous for abusing help and skipping out on her bills. One time New York based Host Merv Griffin called up Waldorf to see if she could stay there. Absolutely not, he was told. She owes far too much money. What if Merv paid her outstanding bills? He was told he could pay double what she owed and she still wouldn't get a room there.
Comedian Stan Laurel found money so tight he ended up in a sixty dollar a month apartment in Santa Monica in early 1960s. He was listed in phone book and people would call him up. Are you Stan Laurel? Can we come over and meet you? Charlie Chaplin's former vaudeville understudy would warmly welcome fans who visited his residence. But what happened to all his money? Laurel would joke about his three wives getting it all, then explain that Producer Hal Roach owned all Laurel and Hardy films. He and Oliver Hardy, (or Babe, as his friends called him) had been scared to death when silent films had ended in 1928. When Director Leo McCarey came up with idea of teaming skinny English comic with rotund Georgia born actor, two were happy just to keep getting a weekly check. Who knew that two reelers that they were only paid once for would be shown to new generations on television? Stan often told story about how he and Babe had gone touring in Europe. While browsing in an airport gift shop in London they saw some miniature Laurel and Hardy figurines. To take them back as gifts they had been forced to pay full price.
Comebacks abound in movie business. Frank Sinatra, who had not served in World War II due to a punctured eardrum, was very unpopular with American fighting men who were jealous of him being back home crooning to their girlfriends. As our military forces began returning his popularity began to wane. By 1949 both his film and singing career had bottomed out to point he was telling his manager to pay people to attend his concerts. His voice was in bad shape, his marriage was ending, his weight had gone down to 118 pounds and there were reports of suicide attempts. Four years later he was back on top, winning an Academy Award for his performance in film From Here To Eternity (1953). He decided to enjoy his accomplishment by taking a solitary moonlight walk through quiet streets of Beverly Hills, just him and his Oscar. After ten minutes Chairman Of The Board was stopped by two police officers who rained on his parade by not recognizing him, and asking hard questions about where he had gotten that statue.
Being broke in Hollywood is often a matter of perspective. One time at a party Martin Scorsese was lamenting to his fellow director Frances Ford Coppola," Frances I'm broke. They've torn up my credit cards. I have nothing, do you understand me, nothing!" "Marty, will you shut up? I owe fifty million dollars."
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