JUST A WILD AND CRAZY LIE: Possibly the most famous scene in movie musical history is Gene Kelly’s umbrella dance through the downpour in Stanley Donen’s Singin’ in the Rain. At the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award presentation to Kelly, Steve Martin broke up the audience when he modestly reminisced, “I guess out of everyone here, I go back the farthest with Gene. I remember one day I stopped by to see him and my good friend Stanley Donen and they said, ‘This damned weather!’ And I said, ‘Well, shoot it anyway.’ And Donen said, ‘But what about this damned lamppost?’ And I said, ‘Leave it in.’ But Gene said, ‘Well, what do I do with it?’ And I told him: ‘Well, when you get to the lamppost, just swing around it a couple of times.’ Well, ladies and gentlemen, the rest is history.”
THIS DRINK’S ON LARRY: Dallas’ Deborah Shelton received thousands of fan letters after she rejected J.R.’s advances by flinging a glass of champagne in his face. After reading the scene, Shelton went to the producers insisting the glass be filled with water, not booze, so as not to irritate Larry Hagman’s face. “The producers insisted that we use real champagne,” Shelton says. “So, when it came time to do the scene, I was so nervous that in the first take I threw the glass of champagne into Larry’s face so hard that it ricocheted off his head and flew right back into my face. We burst out laughing, our makeup was running down our faces. It was just a mess. The next take, we used water.”
NOT WILD ABOUT HARRY: ABC’s 20/20 recently ran a segment titled Is It a Sport?, dealing with the fakery involved in pro wrestling. The idea came from a letter sent to the show by former pro wrestler Eddy Mansfield. Reporter John Stossel got into the ring with Mansfield, who punched at him while demonstrating fake moves. When Mansfield was later asked why he wrote to 20/20 instead of to the higher-rated 60 Minutes, he replied, “To tell you the truth, I couldn’t imagine body slamming with Harry Reasoner.”
ATTENTION SHOPPERS: Five minutes before closing time on a Saturday night, a slim young man approached a nervous teenage cashier at the CVS drugstore in Closter, N.J. and whispered, “Don’t say a word. I know you know who I am. Please don’t draw any attention to me.” The customer, Eddie Murphy, discreetly purchased a nail clipper and was heading for the door when a Frank Sinatra tune came on the Muzak speakers. That did it. The comic couldn’t resist belting out the song’s lyrics at the top of his lungs. As the other customers did double takes, Murphy ran outside, jumped into his sports car and sped away. No longer a stranger in the night.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES: Sally Kellerman, hiding behind dark glasses, showed up at a driver’s education class in L.A., so sentenced for making an unlawful U-turn in an intersection. At one point, during a general discussion of driving safety, the instructor talked about the dangers of alcohol. Picking Kellerman at random, he asked, “What’s your age and weight?” Visibly miffed, she told the class, “I’m 43 and I weigh 147 pounds.” The instructor looked at her incredulously, then exclaimed, “Really, Miss, the least you could have done was lie!” (Well, she did fib a bit about her age. But we won’t tell.)
SINCE I FELL FOR YOU: On his way to Broadway in The King and I, Yul Brynner got a royal surprise. In L.A., during the famous Shall We Dance? scene, co-star Mary Beth Peil, who plays Anna, was polka-ing across the stage when her heel caught the back of her hoop-skirt. She staggered, then fell on her derriere, causing the audience to roar with laughter. The stalwart king proved a gentleman, not subjecting his subject to ridicule. He helped her up, then said under his breath, “If you can get this kind of reaction, we’ll keep it in.”