Mad Hollywood Contracts
Created | Updated Jan 28, 2002
|So Long And Thanks For Laughing|
Former olympic swimmer Johhnny Weissmuller became so porky in his later life that he was dropped from the Tarzan series. When he signed up to star in the Jungle Jim movies, he had to promise that he would nevber weigh more than
190lbs. For each pound over that weight he would be fined $5,000. Throughout the seven years of the series, Weissuller weighed precisely 189lbs.
At the other end of the scale, actress/talk show host Ricki Lake had to agree not to lose weight when she was hired to play podgy dance wannabe Tracy Turnblad in John Waters' "Hairspray" (1988). To make sure Lake kept her part of
the bargain, directer Waters took to following her around set with a tub of ice cream.
Plucky Midget Mickey Rooney's contract with MGM included a list of foods the tubby teen was forbidden to eat. Beside the usual cookies and cakes, Rooney was also obliged to steer clear of those popular childhood snacks "liver, venison,
lard and preserved fish".
And since we're on the subject of lardy types, the appropriately monikererd Tom Sizemore had to agree that if he was killed while shooting the stunt sequences in Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995) his family wouldn't sue the producers, or the
studio, or the stunt co-ordinators, or the caterers.
Back in the 1920s, Doughlas Fairbanks Sr.'s producers were more concerned with the welfare of their star. So much so that his contract forbade him from travelling by air.
Spanish film genius Luis Brunel hated having tro wait around for a chauffeur to drive him to the studio. So he arranged with his producers to have a car sat directly outside hi shouse all day with the engine running. But what else would
you expect from a man who once nailed dead mules to pianos in the name of art?
Character actor Stanley Meadows got so shirty when Donald Cammel and Nic Roeg asked him to strip for gangster classic "Performance" (1970), he had it written into his contract that he wouln't have to show his todger on camera. The rest of the cast were far less reticent, with bruising ex-con John Bindon coming up with all sorts of imaginative disrobing ideas following a liquid lunch with Cammell.
As the 1930s were the golden ages of cinema, so they were also the halcyon days for the rediculous contracrt clause. While Joan Crawford's 1930 deal with MGM specified the hour by which she had to be in bed, actress and boxing fan
Vivienne Segal was ordered by Warner Bros not to shout at prize fights in case the hollering damaged her voice. Both seem sensible when compared with comedian Roscoe Ates' contract with RKO: it forbade him from getting rid of the stutter he'd had since childhood.
Midway through World War II, a clause was added to Veronica Lake's contract demanding that she trim her famous "peekaboo" hairdo since similar hairstyles were maiming women in factories and mills across the country.
Emotionally stunted loner Peter Sellers' list of special stipulations was a veritable catalogue of the strange. Besides insisting that his hotel beds be positioned facing east to west, he refused to use dressing rooms decorated in
purple since director Vittorio De Sica had told him that purple was the colour of death.
Brief Encounter star Trevor Howard struck a deal with his Hollywood employers that allowed him to take time off whenever England were playing test cricket. Clearly, the idea of Howard being indisposed for 12 days a year didn't bother the execs much.
No nudity clauses are now commonplace (Neve Campbell, Denzel Washingotn and Warren Beatty have all signed them). Which makes the stipulation that allowed Steve McQueen to take off his togs on-screen whenever he wanted seem even more unusual. Aware that his physique was a major part of his appeal to women, the king of cool's clout enabl;ed him to insert gratuitous top-off scenes. To please his male friends, meanwhile, he was allowed to add fight sequences to his pictures, hence the completely pointless peice of fisticuffs at the beginning of 1965's "The Cincinnati Kid".
McQueen also ordered that he be allowed to keep any of the costumes he wore on the screen (he took the entire "Thomas Crown" wardrobe with him). Arnold Schwarzenegger has a similar "costume allowance" clause. You can imagine the evenings he spends lounging round his Malibu home in his Mr Freeze get-up...
Grand old man of American cinema Cecil B. De Mille forced the entire cast of "King of Kings" (1927) to sign contracts which ensured that for the next decade, they couldn't accept a film role without his consent.
Hellraiser John Barrymore struck a superb drinker's deal with his producers that meant he diddn't have to show up on set until 10:30am.
When Broadway star Margaret Sullavan was summoned to Hollywood to appear in "Only Yesterday" (1933) she insisted that provision be made for her to quit within the first week of shooting in case she discovered she didn't enjoy screeen acting.
The purity of 1930s starlet Evelyn Venables was protected by a clasue that prohibited her from being kissed on screen, at the behest of her protective father.
Scottish knight Sean Connery asked that his fee for "The Hunt For Red October" (1990) be enhanced to compensate for the dollar's weakness against the pound. With super agent Michael Orvitz in Connery's corner, the studio swiftly
When he had to leave his beloved Manhattan to shoot Disney's "Scenes From A Mall" (1990), Woody Allen had it written into his contrac that then partner Mia Farrow and her Neopolitan selection of children be brought to Disneyland an given a guided tour by studio head Jeffrey Katzenburg: characteristic eccentricity from a man who films bed scenes wearing shoes "in case there's a fire".
Mad dog Sam Peckinpah's well documented problems with producers date back to his first film "The Deadly Companions". Grudgingly hired by Charles B. Fitzsimons at the insistence of star Brian Keith, Peckinpah signed a contract that forbade him from rewriting the undernourished script and let the producer set up shots and stage scenes. The deal also prevented Peckinpah from giving direction to leading lady Maureen O'Hara, alias Fitzsomon's sister.
Director Gary Marshall ("Pretty Woman", "Frankie & Johnny") likes to play basketball in his lunch hour. And, it's rumoured, if a producer won't provide him with a full-sized court, shower facilities and opponents, he'll walk off
They couldn't be more different in terms of physique and acting style, but Robert Redford and Sylvester Stallone are united by the fact that they've each signed deals that specify the side of the face from which they prefer to be
Ragged rug rogue John Wayne's star power allowed him to make his desire not to start work until having a bowel movement lagal and binding.
Careerist yo-yo Eddie Murphy's ludicrous "Coming To America" (1988) contract demands have been listed before, but his more bizarre stipulations are worth repeating. On top of $1,500 a week for his personal trainer, Murphy secured
$4,920 for a round-the-clock chauffeur, $650 for his valet and $1,000 per week for his brother Cahrles to act as his stand-in. What's more, all of the above recieved per dium payments and travelling expenses. Murphy's unique deal also
allowed him to pop back to New Jersey whenever he felt homesick.
MGM were worried that leading man Clark Gable was too effiminate to appeal to male audiences, so they insisted he actively pursue masculine activities, such as hunting and fishing. Gable, a decorated serviceman who was owned outright by MGM luckily relished the whole gun-totin' exercise.
The financial lunacy that characterised the making of "The Bonfire Of The Vanities" (1990) kicked off wuth director Brian De Palma convincing Warners to add a clause to his contract that would pay him $250,000 provided he didn't
direct another movie while the script was being finalised.
Actors are nowadays drug tested as frequently as Olympic athletes. Back in the 1950s, however, Peter Lorre signed a contract with Warner Bros that prohibited the studio doctors from examining him. This was due presummable to cover up Lorre's liberal usage of his own "special medicine", cocaine.
If there were a queen of the stupid stipulation, it would be Clara Bow. The original "It" girl, Bow was such a big sex symbol during the 1920s that Paramount, frightened she might become less attractive if she married, made her
staying single a fundamental element of her contract. Her deal with the studio also meant that any member of the production staff could be sacked if they used "industrial language" in front of her. Bow was also offered $500,00 if she
could steer clear of sleaze while working for Paramount. Since she was sleeping with several contract players and the entire University of Southern California football team (appropriately nicknamed "The Trojans" and including amongst
their number Marion Morrison, aka John Wayne), Bow never collected her bonus.
Remember Benji, the cute little mongrel that stormed the box office charts in the 1970s? Producer John Camp does, since the prize mutt's special contract cost him a fortune in first class air travel.
Insurance:If you thought those were weird, check out just 10 of the strange things stars
have been insured against.
- 1. Eyebrow loss
Oliver Redd popped into Swintons when Ken Russell insisted on shaving his eyebrows off for "colourful" religious drama "The Devils". Anthony Quin sought similar cover when he agreed to go bald for John Fowles' "The Magus"
- 2. Becoming a Paraplegic
Called to play crippled 'Nam vet Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone's "Born On The Fourth Of July", Tom Cruise, keen to understand the paraplegic's plight, agreed to undergo medical treatment that would leave him unable to walk for 48 hours. Sadly, spoilsport underwriters scuppered The Cruiser's method madness.
- 3. Face Scarring
LA underwriter Arthur W. Stebbins created the original "scarred face" insurance policy. Early takers included Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Paul Muni.
- 4. Toe and Leg Damage
Charlie Chaplin had his pigeon toes insured for $150,000, small beer when compared with Betty Grable (aka "The Girl With The Million Dollar Legs") and her $1,125,000 cover, and the $5 million for which Cyd Charisse had her pins
- 5. Dog Injury
Rinty IV, grandpup of famous film dog Rin Tin Tin, was insured for the sum of $250,000.
- 6. Weight Loss
Asked to gain two stone to play Al Capone in Brian De Palma's "The Untouchables", Robert De Niro asked for insurance cover just in case he had trouble taking the excess weight off. Since "Bob" had managed to shed four stone in a year following "Raging Bull", the studio declined.
- 7. Premature Ageing
The original big-screen Frankenstein Boris Karloff took out cover in case the make-up used in James Whale's masterpiece prematurely aged him.
- 8. Fish Starvation.
Overworked animal lover Henry Fonda had his producers insure his prize fish in case he forgot to feed them while shooting "Young Mr. Lincoln"
- 9. Stunt Mishaps
"I don't believe in insurance" said Burt Reynolds in "Deliverance", but the bewigged one's collasal cover demands threatened to dereail stunt man movie "Hopper". How the world's film lovers breathed a collective sigh of relief when
Burt and the underwriters came to an agreement.
- 10. Nose Disfigurement
Legendary entertainer Jimmy Durante stuck his nose out and insured his schnozze for $100,000.
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