Shirley Temple Stories Written by Stephen Schochet
When Twentieth Century Pictures company had their expensive merger with Fox Film Corporation in 1935, studio head Daryl Zanuck was depending on two contract stars to pull new company through its money troubles. Tragedy struck same year when Will Rogers died in a plane crash in Alaska. Zanuck turned his financial burden on shoulders of six year old Shirley Temple (she was actually seven but wouldn't find that out till she was twelve).
Fox had signed her in 1933, a bad year for Hollywood with record numbers of movie theaters closing throughout country. Her ability to sing and dance was off-putting to some scouts at studio who called her,"a precocious little monster". Later when she became their chief financial asset attitude around lot changed. One time little Shirley walked into commissary and was picked up by a friendly executive," How are you doing sweetheart?" The room went quiet. Everyone was staring. If he dropped her, everyone there could lose their job. Very gently he put her down and backed away.
In real life Shirley actress longed to have a normal existence, so Zanuck made her yearn for same on big screen. Depression era audiences fell in love with her determination and optimism. Because her films required no great special effects, locations or famous co-stars, they made enormous profits making her perhaps most valuable movie star a studio ever had, which occasionally caused resentment. She once had a scene with Lionel Barrymore who flubbed a line then screamed bloody murder when she corrected him. Another time she worked with Adolph Menjou who left set cursing," That little blankety blank is making a monkey out of me." Not everyone felt that way. Her dancing partner in The Little Colonel (1935), Bill "Bojangles" Robinson often held hands with Shirley as they walked together through Fox lot. And John Ford who resented Daryl Zanuck assigning him to direct Shirley in Wee Willie Winkie (1937) came to respect child's work ethic. Zanuck rightly blamed Ford's bad influence when Shirley started to address short mogul as "Uncle Pipsqueak."
She was a highly merchandised fad. She could have retired on sales of Shirley Temple dolls alone. Once Director Alan Dwan was speeding to Twentieth Century Fox when he was pulled over by a policeman. "Ok buddy where's fi-- Say! Is that one of those Shirley Temple police badges on your passenger seat? My daughter would kill for one of those. OK buddy, give me one of those badges and we'll forget whole thing."
Ten Percent Of Jimmy StewartWritten by Stephen Schochet
Jimmy Stewart was seen one night in 1933 in New York performing on stage as a female impersonator by an MGM talent scout. He was signed to a contract to come to California to work for prestigious studio. Studio Head Louis B. Mayer expressed doubt when he first saw him,"He's so skinny! A beanpole." Efforts were made to put weight on him, 133 pound actor was constantly sharing butterfingers candy bars with Ann Miller which seemed to fatten her up more than him.
If Mayer was unimpressed by his new star's physique, his behavior was a refreshing change compared to some of prima donnas at MGM like usually drunk Spencer Tracy, or demanding to be alone all time Greta Garbo. Stewart never complained about his salary or workload. Whatever task be it screen tests or B-movies, he was always on time and knew his lines, although sometimes his trademark stammering lead to extra takes. If they loaned him to a lesser studio like Columbia, he was just happy to be working. Slowly, in late thirties with great performances in Frank Capra movies like You Can't Take It With You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington(1939), Stewart's star rose as did respect for his talent. He became known as a swinging lady's man around town. Mayer was surprised and delighted by his Academy Award for Philadelphia Story (1940) as well as his humble gesture of sending Oscar statue home to Indiana, Pa. for his father to display in Stewart family hardware store.