As one gets older it’s perhaps inevitable to lament that things ‘weren’t like that when I was young’. I know that times change, even if Nicole Kidman’s facial expression doesn’t, but what I miss most about the good old days is the lack of really hairy actors.
Burt Reynolds was good in his day, Robin Williams tries his best, but it’s a dying art.
I remember when the studios used to hold a competition each year to decide which actor was the hairiest, and even if Claudette Colbert hadn’t been disqualified for cheating it was almost inevitable that dear Yul Brynner would win the prize. The tragedy was that although Yul was really quite unbelievably hairy, he was always typecast as a bald man. Some would accuse him of ploughing a narrow furrow, but he did find some variety in the parts he was offered.
There was bald cowboy in The Magnificent Seven, bald king in The King and I, bald robot in Westworld. It was just a shame that audiences never got to enjoy the full splendor of his flowing locks. He could spend hours washing his hair and even longer combing it. If you didn’t know what to get him for Christmas, a hair brush was always gratefully received as he could wear out three or four in a single week.
I still remember sitting next to him in make up as he prepared for his role in The Sound and the Fury. His assistant had just finished carefully fitting his bald skull cap when the director told him that the part he was playing would require him to have a full head of hair! He didn’t have time to take the skull cap off and comb his own hair, so he just grabbed the nearest toupee, stuck it on his head, and ran onto the set!
John Wayne was furious as he was going to use it in Rio Bravoand had to wear a hat instead. Johnny had no right to get quite so angry as what we didn’t know at the time was that he was wearing one of Ann Miller’s bras under his shirt. But that’s another story…
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