Mrs. DisneyWritten by Stephen Schochet
Warren Beatty once observed," That if you get married in Hollywood, you should always do it before noon. That way if it doesn't work out, you don't kill your evening." But in 1925 Walt Disney, still getting his feet wet in Tinseltown was not interested in pampered starlets. His eye was on a employee of his named Lillian Bounds, originally from Lewiston, Idaho who worked for him as ink paint girl making fifteen dollars a week. She reminded him of hard working girls he knew growing up in Missouri. For her part she found him charming, way he grew a mustache to look older in business meetings, and how he refused to call on her until he could afford a new suit. Since he was more gentile around women than men, she was spared from temperamental swearing that he did around his animators. Walt later joked," I didn't have enough money to pay her, so I married her instead."
Early in their marriage Lillian loved going to movies with him and would listen attentively as he criticized his competitor's cartoons and shared his own exciting ideas. But as time went by she became more challenging. Perhaps she understood he needed a sounding board, he was surrounded by yes men who were frightened of him. I don't like name Mortimer, she told him in 1927. Why don't you call your mouse Mickey? She agreed with his business partner and brother Roy in 1934 that making first feature length cartoon, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs would ruin them. When it turned out to be a smash hit, Walt took great pleasure in hearing Lillian admit she was wrong. But then he scared her again. "Why would you want to build an amusement park?" She asked him. "Amusement parks are dirty. They don't make any money." His reply didn't make her feel better. "That's whole point. I want a clean one that will." But she was at Disneyland night before it opened with a broom, sweeping up dust off Mark Twain Steamer.
Walt was a good provider for Lillian and their two daughters even if he had to be in debt to do it. It pained her when he had to sell his Mercedes during depression to meet studio payroll, or when old friends would call on him for a loan and he was so tapped out he had turn them down. They were both content to spend evenings at home avoiding publicity glare of Hollywood parties. When times were better she put up with Walt called his "one sin" owning six polo ponies, which he paid for dearly by taking a nasty spill. He became a life long scotch drinker to dull reoccurring pain in his neck. His next hobby annoyed her more, a miniature railroad in backyard that ran through her flowerbed. She gave in only because it seemed to give him a release from studio pressures. Sometimes she thought maybe he was using rides to hide out and avoid facing overwhelming problems. Later, Disneyland would provide him with a bigger train giving Lillian more peace at home.
Tales Of The Broke And FamousWritten by Stephen Schochet
"Beverly Hills is a place where you spend a lot of money you don't have to impress a lot of people you don't like!"- - Anonymous Hollywood Producer
If rumors are true that Michael Jackson's lavish life style has left him broke, he would not be first famous celebrity in financial straights. John Wayne found himself in hock after 150 movies. Three wives, seven children, investing his own money in box office troubled The Alamo (1960) combined with an exceedingly generous nature left Duke completely wiped out. He would often walk into bars and shout,"Drinks for everybody on me!" He would get fan letters full of wild pleas for money, from people who had tax problems to mothers who asked for help to pay for their daughter's braces. Wayne would agonize over them but send financial aid if he thought requester was really needy. One time his second wife Chata, with whom he was about to divorce hired a private detective to get goods on him. Down in Mexico near where Wayne was filming western Hondo (1953) investigator forgot his identification one day and got locked up in a Chihuahua jail. Not knowing anyone in a foreign land desperate P.I. called Wayne himself. The Cowboy Star arrived with his buddy and frequent co-star, a disbelieving Ward Bond. "Duke, this guy is trying to ruin you! Let him rot!" Wayne reached into his pocket and pulled out necessary coin to pay bail. "Ah come on Ward, poor man was only doing his job."
Stars can find themselves in money trouble before they know it. While performing in Las Vegas with Dean Martin at Flamingo hotel in 1953, twenty-seven-year old Jerry Lewis ran up $137,000 dollars in gambling debts. The mobsters who ran casino confronted him to ask how he planned to pay it off. The nervy Lewis told them it was their fault for letting a kid run up such a large tab. How irresponsible! The gangsters, a bit bewildered, agreed, then repeated their question. Realizing that these nice gentlemen could whack him, Jerry asked them what they suggested. After a hasty conference they told him he would work it off. The gambling addicted Lewis asked if he could win it back at card table instead, he was told a firm no. The debt took a year and half for comedian eliminate. He would have retired it quicker but card games continued during train rides with former Blackjack Dealer Martin, who kept putting volatile clown further in red.
Another star who suffered through money trouble in fifties was Marilyn Monroe. Tired of playing dumb blondes, she bolted from her studio Twentieth Century Fox to start Marilyn Monroe Productions. Actors are often advised not to use their own name in their personal ventures, it makes other ego-driven stars less willing to work with them. Marilyn's film output slowed down and by 1959 her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, was telling her she should accept dumb blonde role in Some Like It Hot, they needed money. "I can't see through Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag? Oh my God, I've been dumb before but never that dumb." She went to her well renowned acting teacher, revered Lee Strasberg to ask how she could make audience believe her character. Strasberg suggested that Marilyn, always a man's woman, play part as someone so desperate for female friendship, she simply didn't pay attention to her co-star's masculine features. She took his advice and result was a comedy classic.