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Stephen Schochet

 

 

 

Bob Hope Wasn't the Only One Who Used Idiot Cards

by Stephen Schochet

 

When Bob Hope moved into television, he lost the opportunity to hold his script in his hand, something he had gotten used to working in radio. He tried to memorize his monologues until it proved to be too cumbersome of a task and ate into his golf game. The solution was cue cards or idiot cards as they are known in the industry. This worked well for the performer, but was hazardous for others. Once a well meaning assistant director held up the cards so his star could read them, and then tossed them back over his shoulder almost decapitating several members of the studio audience.

Using idiot cards can cause performers to lose the respect of their peers. James Caan, Robert Duvall and the rest of the cast of the 1972 classic The Godfather were thrilled to meet Marlon Brando. Actor Lenny Montana, who played the thuggish Luca Brasi was in such awe of Brando he kept fumbling his lines in their shared scenes. Director Francis Ford Coppola turned the actor's nervousness into an advantage by having the character of Luca nervously rehearse what he was going to say prior to meeting the Don. If Montana was willing, if unable to learn his lines, Brando was not. At one point Marlon placed cue cards on his co-stars chests. A fed up Duvall yelled at him," Marlon, why don't you learn your lines you fat #*^%*@!"

Marlon Brando stubbornly refused to change his ways. A year after The Godfather Brando starred when in the controversial and sex charged Last Tango In Paris (1973). This time around he wrote some of his lines on the bottom of his shoe and in a few scenes had to hop around awkwardly to read them.

For some actors, idiot cards are the ultimate security blanket. Shortly before he died, the great John Barrymore performed a movie scene where he only had to deliver one line: "Yes". One of the film techs informed the director that Barrymore's personal assistant, who stood ready to hold up a cue card, was preventing the crew lighting the scene properly. When Barrymore arrived on the set the director said, "Jack, can I talk to you?" "Certainly." "Would it be possible for you do this one scene without your idiot card?" "Absolutely Not". The director sighed," Jack you only have to say yes, that's it. What happens if I order your friend to leave?" Barrymore looked at him coldly. "I might say no." In the end different lighting arrangements were made.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Schochet is the author of the upcoming book

Hollywood Stories: Short Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies. He is also the author of two acclaimed audiobooks

Tales of Hollywood: Hear the Origins of Hollywood!

and

Fascinating Walt Disney: Hear How Walt Disney's Dreams Came True!

These entertaining gift items are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 1-800-431-1579 or wherever books are sold.

View samples at www.hollywoodstories.com

 

 

 

 

 

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