Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tom Ewell (1909-1994)

The sardonic everyman.

“Marilyn didnt think she was any good. She suffered from a tremendous inferiority complex. It was very difficult for her to show up on a set. More difficult for her than for anyone Ive ever worked with. She wanted so desperately to be good that she found it hard to do even the smallest scene. She used to vomit before she went before the camera.” (1979 interview with Charles Higham)

The lecherous everyman in The Seven Year Itch (1955).

“Jayne Mansfield was quite different. She was devoted entirely to her own publicity. We appeared together in The Girl Cant Help It for the director Frank Tashlin, who had a marvelous cartoonists eye. The studio was trying to create another Marilyn.” (1979 interview with Charles Higham)

Working his mojo on Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Cant Help It (1956).

“Ill never forget the first day Jayne and I met, which was also the first day of shooting. Jayne was wearing a dress which was too tight to walk in. Mickey Hargitay, who was married to her, had to carry her on to the set over his head like a suitcase. She was stiff as a board! He deposited her on the sound stage, and she stood up like a shop dummy. Ill never forget it. Shed be looking over my shoulder in the middle of a scene. I assumed she was looking at Mickey. There was love in her eyes. Well, I snuck a glance around, and she was gazing into a full-length mirror! I couldnt believe it.” (1979 interview with Charles Higham)

Enjoying The Great American Pastime (1956) with Anne Francis.

[On his character in The Seven Year Itch] “Well, Im going to be completely honest with you. Billy [Wilder] and I didnt see eye to eye on the film. I had worked in the [Broadway] show for about three years, and so I felt I knew what George [Axelrod] wanted ... for the play. He [Wilder] wanted the part broader than it was in New York. And I felt what George had done was capture something very real.... Elliot [Nugent] was a co-producer of the play, and his son-in-law was the director of the play. And he agreed with me that this man was very innocent.... Maybe he had a twitch or two, but he had never strayed from the fold, and had never really had the itch to such an extent.... So the whole thing had a certain real quality to it. And I just felt that, knowing George, and how he was, that any kind of coarsening of the part, any kind of actual leer ... and Billy wanted the leer in the film. And I fought him.” (undated interview)

With Jean Hagen, as an adulterous husband in Adams Rib (1949).

[When asked by Dorothy Kilgallen if he was tall, dark and handsome during a 1955 taping of Whats My Line] “Alas, no.

Giving hope to lovable schnooks everywhere.

[Responding to Kilgallens facetious claim that 20th Century Fox was giving him Tyrone Powers dressing room] “Im glad to hear that, Miss Dorothy. As a matter of fact I always read your column, so Ill be expecting to see that tomorrow.

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