HOLLYWOOD – In another extract from his charming whizz through the glory days of Hollywood – In Like Niven – Sir Edwin Fluffer recalls an interesting episode in the secret history of dream factory:
When I first arrived in Hollywood all those golden years ago the first thing I noticed was that in LA nobody walked anywhere. This was because the sidewalks, or pavements as I still knew them then, had all been hired by Cecil B. DeMille to appear as extras in his latest epic, All Roads Lead To Rome. Those poor downtrodden sidewalks were prepared to do anything for $20 a day with lunch thrown in. I know that many of them believed that at last this was their shot at stardom, but I fear it was to be one of the worst decisions they ever made. There were concerns about the script, the budget was out of control, and DeMille took out all of his frustration on them. Many years later Farley Granger told me he’d seen him actually spit on a sidewalk. Unforgivable behavior and it tells you all you need to know about the man.
The shoot wasn’t a happy one, and visiting dear old Charlie Laughton on set one day, he confided his fears about the once great director. ‘Talk about not being able to see the wood for the trees,’ he chuckled, ‘we can’t see the forest for the flowerpots!’ I don’t understand what he meant either, but it had been a very good lunch. And just in time. The studio pulled the plug the very next day, the crew were sent home, and the sidewalks went back to the day job. Of course some of them weren’t happy about the way they’d been treated, so they were given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in return for their silence. Laughton remained great friends with the sidewalks and would always stop to chat to them. In the end the police got involved. But that’s another story…
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