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I am curious about this. I recall, as a wee lad and twee, seeing Buddy Hackett describe to Johnny Carson the one certain necessity for all actors/actresses to have was a large head. As he explained to a confused Johnny, Hackett did not mean one's ego but rather the circumference and diameter of a cranium that renders others' melons less than film-able. What I gathered is a theorem I have always wondered about.


It goes like this: Who are your faves & would you say they enjoy or are hampered by large heads?


I'll start this debate:



Fox (Michael J.)





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It's not the size of the head that counts. It's the width of the mouth that matters. The majority of film actors whether in the studio era or today, all have wide mouths. It's why when they smile, they tend to light up the screen.


The majority of us have so-so smiles by comparisons. Look at Ingrid or Kate or even Edna Mae Oliver smile and you will see what I mean. Same goes for Spence, Gable, John Garfield or Robert Ryan. Even Ernie Borgnine. Go look at your favorite film star smiling in a scene or a photo and you will see what I mean.


And please, I'd really appreciate it if the discussion didn't fall to the lowest common denominator if you get my drift.


Edited by: lzcutter for prepositions

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It is not only possible, it is entirely probable. He was, after all, a comic. And though I certainly do not slot myself among such greats as he - I was hoping, in a humble manner, thank you -- to contact his 'insouciance,' if you will.


Anyway, I meant this attempt at a discussion in the most light-hearted and friendly manner possible. I am not a "headist" or anything like that. I simply felt a "phrenological" take on some of our favorite or not so favorite on-screen inspirations might prove, well, fun.


No offense meant, and I do appreciate your response.


Many thanks,



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The "smile" thing was something I noticed a few years back. Up until then, it had never registered with me. Now, I see it all the time! Whenever I see a screen star smile I wish I had that same feature. I think the wide smile is one of the things that helps the camera to like an actor.


I've not compared head sizes, so it is possible. :)

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***LZCUTTER***: I couldn't agree more! What is it with these classic smiles?!? I've always hated my own, and am envious of everyone else's (even people with no teeth).


*DON:* Actually, you're not wrong about the Big Head Syndrome. In Marsha Hunt's autobiography (hilarious on all counts, especially the part when she claims that "Garbo always envied her her good looks"), she speaks of the advantage in Hollywood of having a head that was a little larger than average.


For 'small head stars', please see Tod Browning's 'Freaks' (sorry for un-PC joke.)

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> {quote:title=Don_Kessinger wrote:}{quote}

I simply felt a "phrenological" take on some of our favorite or not so favorite on-screen inspirations might prove, well, fun.




OK, from a phrenology standpoint, yes, having a large head is an advantage in photography. It draws the focus to the face and makes the body appear slimmer and neat. A perfect example of this is Joan Crawford, the biggest head in Hollywood.

Clark Gable had a large face, but was quite tall which is why you don't often see his entire body within the frame of the picture.

A wide face also remains full appearing even when the person is underweight, as in the aforementioned Michelle Phieffer or someone like Carole Lombard.


I spent many years in the fashion industry and noticed this "big head" phenomenon working with top fashion models, especially since _I_ have a small head in proportion to my body, which is slender. I appear quite tall from a distance or in photographs and people were always surprised standing next to 5'2" me.


It's all illusion.

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I think it's true. Watch even your local news, and you noticed the most attractive have heads that are at least well-balanced to the shoulders. They have to sit still and you notice it. More interesting than to focus on that than the murder and mayhem they're reporting.


But the symmetry of the face is important too. There was a study (sorry don't recall the source) where they tested people's reactions to a face they deemed attractive or not. The most symmetrical were deemed the winners. I think Audrey Hepburn has the most beautiful face- very well proportioned.


Most of us though were damned on our very first journey; through the birth canal. Did you know that? But at least some of us are cute.. ;-)

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I remember reading once that the make-up men in Hollywood unanimously said the toughest job was making up Edward G. Robinson. In a contemporary context, I would think it would be James Remar (The Cotton Club).

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> Whenever I see a screen star smile I wish I had that same feature.


I bet you'd look great as [Mr(s). Sardonicus|http://idothings.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/sardonicus-300x218.jpg] :-)


(No pun intended on the smiley.)

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Madame Cutter, you constantly astound me with your knowledge and your thoughts. Something I never paid attention to, but probably felt intuitively re: heads and smiles. The two people that come to mind are Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz for their smiles and infectious laughs.


Take good care.


Edited by: CineMaven on Jan 14, 2010 5:14 PM b'cuz I mixed up my tenses. I know better than that.

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