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Call 'em. They're homely!


KidChaplin
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I was just watching "The Andy Griffith Show" episode, "A Date for Gomer" where Gomer gets fixed up for a dance with Thelma Lou's cousin played by Mary Grace Canfield. If you know the episode, Barney refers to her as a dog and goes on about how homely she is. I wondered about a part like that, and many others, where an actor or actress gets the call to play the ugly or homely part without using makeup effects. 

They get these parts because of their actual looks. 

Can anyone here shed light on this? Does a studio (writers, producers, etc.) think "Hey, I know who'd be perfect for this part!" because of a person's actual looks? I know these are professionals and know they can get these type of calls. But I can't help but wonder.

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If you look at Jody Gilbert's credits on the IMDb, you'll see she played many parts that were not glamorous.

I wonder if it was discouraging for her to be sent by an agent to casting calls, where producers were looking for hefty actresses. What was it like to play parts that often did not have names but were just referred to by size? Any woman dealing with such unflattering descriptions, and succeeding in spite of it, seems like a special person.

Screen Shot 2021-03-25 at 6.14.18 AM

For example:

BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940) Stout woman who can't swim
SERGEANT YORK (1941) Fat woman
MAISIE WAS A LADY (1941) Curly the bearded lady
ICELAND (1942) Fat girl
WINGS OVER THE PACIFIC (1943) Native woman with black eye
MINESWEEPER (1943) Fat girl in bar
MUSIC FOR MILLIONS (1944) Burly woman cab driver
TOGETHER AGAIN (1944) Fat woman fleeing nightclub raid
LIFE WITH BLONDIE (1945) Buxom woman
TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE (1946) Big woman
MILLION DOLLAR WEEKEND (1948) Big woman at airline counter
BRIMSTONE (1949) Fat lady on stage
MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST (1950) Fat woman
SLAUGHTER TRAIL (1951) Fat woman at dance
HOUDINI (1953) Fat girl
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) Large woman

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And, 

1 hour ago, KidChaplin said:

...They get these parts because of their actual looks. 

Can anyone here shed light on this? Does a studio (writers, producers, etc.) think "Hey, I know who'd be perfect for this part!" because of a person's actual looks? I know these are professionals and know they can get these type of calls. But I can't help but wonder.

I've always assumed that this sort of thing was pretty much the norm for all the "central casting" departments in all of the old movie studios.

(...ain't got the looks and you'll never be the lead in a picture, oh Hollywood Hopeful...but hey, don't go away...there IS this ONE part you might be perfect for)

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In my news feed I get articles about classic TV, and one that popped up was about Tom Lester, the actor who played Eb Dawson on "Green Acres," which also featured Mary Grace Canfield as one of the Monroe Brothers.

Tom said that he saw Don Knotts' success in television and decided he would give it a try himself. He said his friends told him, "You can't be an actor. You're skinny and goofy and sound like a hick." Tom of course knew all that before going to Hollywood for acting work, and figured there must be parts written for skinny, goofy hicks. He was right. 

I can't imagine that anyone who deluded themselves about their appeal would get much further than the first audition for a sexy lead role before they see the competition is pretty tough, and if they want work, they'll have to recognize their limitations, to turn their liability in one area into an asset in another.

It's probably harder for those who got started because of their good looks to come to terms with losing them.

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23 minutes ago, Allhallowsday said:

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Yes, BUT just look at what a little makeup can do to help make a woman a little more attractive...

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And which is something that can't be done with us men.

(...nope, if a guy's ugly, he's ugly...period)

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7 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

It's probably harder for those who got started because of their good looks to come to terms with losing them.

Great sentiment.

In my household, the word "homely" means "plain" & possibly somewhat "ethnic" looking, referencing the gals back home. Homely doesn't necessarily mean ugly which is derogatory & mean.

I've always felt Ann Revere and Sarah Allgood typified the homely appearance- they have very sweet, kind faces, but fairly plain:

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Sara_allgood_in_fabulous_dorseys.jpg

....whereas Maureen O'Hara and Deborah Kerr would be exceptional beauties.

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1 hour ago, txfilmfan said:

The script for Marty also used "dog" pejoratively, which makes me squirm a bit, as does the episode of TAGS the OP referenced above...

 

Yep, and a comment made in the movie about the character played by actress Betsy Blair...

betsy+blair%252C+marty.PNG

BUT once again, look at what can be done for a woman's appearance with the application of some makeup...

betsyfirma2.jpg&ehk=1kxICId0nH9XotdNvw9D

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4 hours ago, Vidor said:

"I'd be lying to you if I told you that losing my looks is no big deal. It hurts, god damn it, it hurts like a son-of-a-b!tch."

--Ava Gardner

I've seen pictures of Ava when she was in her 60s. She was still a very good looking woman. 

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1 hour ago, txfilmfan said:

The script for Marty also used "dog" pejoratively, which makes me squirm a bit, as does the episode of TAGS the OP referenced above...

 

Cripes.  Grow up!

The canine reference is an old one.  And still in use in some quarters.  And in the context of movies and TV shows, only used as one person's preferred expression, and not intended to offend anyone except a certain character in the movie or television episode, who are OK with it  due to either a high level of professionalism, or a secure and healthy sense of self esteem.

Sepiatone (a mirror cracker for sure.  ;) )

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3 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Cripes.  Grow up!

The canine reference is an old one.  And still in use in some quarters.  And in the context of movies and TV shows, only used as one person's preferred expression, and not intended to offend anyone except a certain character in the movie or television episode, who are OK with it  due to either a high level of professionalism, or a secure and healthy sense of self esteem.

Sepiatone (a mirror cracker for sure.  ;) )

Sorry.  I've known people who were called that in elementary school and junior high, and it hurt them terribly.   It's a juvenile jab, not worthy coming out of the mouth of an adult, either IRL or in a script.

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While on vacation in California in 1950, Suzanne Holman (centre) meets stepfather Laurence Olivier and mother Vivien Leigh preparing to film A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).

Then there is the tragedy of totally missing the genetic lottery when your mom is Vivien Leigh. That is Leigh's daughter in the middle. 

I am not trying to be mean here. I am a very homely woman with a beautiful mom and two beautiful sisters, so I feel her pain. 

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3 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

Sorry.  I've known people who were called that in elementary school and junior high, and it hurt them terribly.   It's a juvenile jab, not worthy coming out of the mouth of an adult, either IRL or in a script.

I have no idea when that was, but in elementary school and Jr. High I and some others were called much worse.  And by people who had no real room to talk!.  And, you know what?

By the time we were all out of high school we were just fine.    And too, did the epiphany experienced by MARTY in the movie escape you?

At the end of the movie, he too,  refers to himself as a "dog"; "We dogs gotta stick together!"   realizing there's a beauty in people that exists deeper than the skin and can bring more joy to life than mere physical attraction.   Remember noticing that?  Or were you too busy squirming?  ;) 

Sepiatone

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Yes, I remember.  It is one of my favorite films.

You know, it's not worth arguing about.  I didn't call for a ban on any film or TV show, or say that the word should be banned forevermore.   In these cases, it perhaps illuminates the character using the word. 

I am, however, allowed to feel a slight twinge or "squirm" when I hear it being used, true?  I didn't state anyone else had to share that feeling.   I did say it's a juvenile jab, and I stand by that.

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8 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

In my household, the word "homely" means "plain" & possibly somewhat "ethnic" looking, referencing the gals back home. Homely doesn't necessarily mean ugly which is derogatory & mean.

I haven't read about its etymology yet, but I suspect you're right. By context, it seemed to be a way of saying not particularly attractive, then maybe over time came to be used as a sort of spin term for ugly. 

I remember Dick Cavett interviewed Helen Gurley Brown one night and she was talking about how to set up friends who had trouble meeting men and she advised, when describing an overweight girl to a potential match, "If she's fat, don't say she's fat, say she's voluptuous." Dick, who was in an unusually smart-a$$ mood that night, shot back, "What if they don't like voluptuous women? Do you says she's fat?"

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