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JackFavell

FIRST RATE SECOND BANANAS - the supporting players

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The very popular male character actors often made more per week than the major female stars.

 

My understanding is that guys like John Ridgely or Elisha Cook made around $400 a week during the 40s. But it is my understanding that some like Frank McHugh made a lot more when he signed his second contract. (Jack Warner was known to stiff everyone on their initial contract!).

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"Tall in the Saddle" is also one of my favorites.The sexual tension between John Wayne and Ella Raines was something you never saw in "B" westerns in the 1940's and she wasn't you typical woman is a western at the time. The other "Great" supporting players Paul Fix, Raymond Hatton and of course the wonderful "Gabby" Hayes made this a true classic in my book....

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"I just wondered what John Ridgely, Ward Bond or Elisha Cook made? Anyone out there have an answer?"

 

If anyone knows, I'll bet it's our own lzcutter.

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I remember reading that Ben Johnson made 300 a week as a wrangler when he got to Hollywood, which was about 10 times what he made as a wrangler in Oklahoma. I would imagine Wardie and gunsel and Ridgely made more than that, especially when you think of how many movies they were making at the same time.

 

And Allen Jenkins? He must have been loaded! I think he was in every movie ever made.

 

Lzcutter? :D

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Sep 25, 2010 8:45 AM

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Ben Johnson said that after he got to Hollywood, as soon as they told him the amount of his pay they couldn't drive him back to Oklahoma with a club.

 

Yes, some sexual tension there in Tall in the Saddle. :)

 

Photobucket

 

Photobucket

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

> And Allen Jenkins? He must have been loaded! I think he was in every movie ever made.

>

 

You're wrong. He was in every other movie ever made, in his day... :)

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Johnson said that after doubleing for Henry Fonda in "Fort Apache" and saving a runaway wagon, Ford called him into his office and gave him a contract and told him to have his lawyer look it over. Johnson said he read to the 5th or 6th line saw $5 thousand a week and stopped reading, signed it and handed the contract back to Ford....

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Under the studio system being in more movies didn't make you any more money since the contract called for a set rate per week, regardless.

 

Now if you refused to do a part than you were put on supension and your pay was docked until you did a movie. If there wasn't a role for an actor under contact they were still paid for the week (which is why the studios didn't like using actors that were not already under contract). This is true for 'load out' actors also (the actor was still paid by their studio and didn't get extra pay for a load out).

 

Jenkins was a Warner contract player so I assume he didn't earn more because he made more movie. But being popular did allow someone to ask for a higher weekly rate. Frank McHugh was successfull in that and it is well known Cagney and Warner battled all the time. Cagney refusing to not work and legally not getting paid, until Jack figured it was costing him more not to agree to Cagney's terms since Cagney was big at the box office. Bogie was well know to just do the work regardless while under contact which is why we see him in movies like Doctor X!!!

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The studio could put you into anything they wanted to and the stars or co stars had no right to turn them down. Like you said if they did say no, suspension, and no pay check and you couldn't work at any other studio. The big stars,Gable, Davis etc ot the co stars Jenkins,Hale etc were in the same boat almost.Gable, the King, didn't want to do "GWTW", he had no choice, but to appease him MGM dangeled a bonus in front of him, so he could divorce his current wife and marry Carol Lombard.> So the fact that the stars or co-stars made many films, didn't mean they became wealthy, yes many did, but throught investments and smart agents. Moe Howard told me that they didn't make that much at Columbia with their films, but they made their real money in personal appearences. Joan Blondell said, she might be doing 2 or 3 films at the same time and often she would get confused which film she was working on...Also if you were put on suspension the time you were on it was added to your contract. Now they did live life styles way above the majority during the depression, but they worked in a factory, on an assembly line, turning out motion pictures insteat of cars or washing machines...

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 26, 2010 4:30 PM

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Thanks for all the great information! I don't know why I thought the actors got paid per picture - it actually makes way more sense that they got a regular salary no matter what.

 

I think the actors (and others) who made money in Hollywood were the folks who made investments as you say - in land, ranching, business, and commodities connected to Hollywood. Victor Mature, Joel McCrea, Ben Johnson, Zeppo Marx, I think Barbara Stanwyck are some I've read about who made their money investing in ranch land, business deals, selling horses, etc.

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Sep 26, 2010 7:19 PM

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Well thanks to Olivia De Havilland, adding that suspension time to one's contract was declared illegal. This is one area where Olivia had more guts than Bette Davis her friend. Davis went to England feeling she could make movies there but no studio was willing to take the risk since she was 'owned' by Warner, but she did get a lot better roles when she returned but Jack added those days she spent in England to her contract days.

 

No one would make movies with Olivia while she sued Warner. Of course she was rewarded after she one with 2 Oscars and one of the best 3 years runs of any actress.

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pvitari - That pix is worth a thousand words.

 

J.Favell - I seem to have heard that as well about Joel McCrea and others more interested in buying land (Mr. "GWTW" O'Hara would be proud of them).

 

F.Baetz - You've met MOE HOWARD?!!! (You also are quite a fount of information. Wonderful!)

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Let us not forget the great Thomas Mitchell. He seemed to support many on the greats including John Wayne in "Stagcoach" Maureen Ohara and Charles Laughten in the "Hunchback on Noter Dame" and many others. A fine "second Banana" indeed.

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From Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon" to Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life".From "The Sullivans" to "The Keys of the Kingdom", From "The Black Swan" to "High Noon" and many many more really great performances, many considered him the finest character actor of all time. If not, he's in the top two. In 1939 he appeared in "The Huntchback of Notre Dame", "Only Angels Have Wings", "Mr Smith Goes to Washington" "Stagecoach" and a little film called "Gone With The Wind", He won the best supporting Oscar for "Stagecoach". He was also the first triple crown winner, Oscar, Emmy and Tony. He has two stars on Hollywood Blvd, one for Films and the other for TV. He was the original Daniel Webster as in "Devil and...", but a wagon overturned during filming and he was injured and Edward Arnold replaced him....

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 28, 2010 2:38 AM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 28, 2010 2:46 AM

 

Edited by: fredbaetz on Sep 28, 2010 2:49 AM

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I agree with you. To me as far as male 'second bananas" go Mitchel and Brennen are at the top.

 

With regards to Mitchel and bananas, that reminds me of the best line from Only Angels Have Wings, where he say 'yes, we have no bananas' in an exchange with his buddy Cary Grant. I just love that exchange.

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He won an Oscar for Stagecoach. I remember him starring as O. Henry on a 50's TV show where he introduced and ended episodes based on Henry's stories. You knew his voice even when you couldn't recognize him under the make up.

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As much as I like Brennen, I would have to put Alan Hale in the top two with Mitchell. From 1911 to 1950 he appeared in over 235 feature films and shorts. He was Errol Flynns right hand man in 12 or 13 features. He had the most infectious laugh { followed closely by Edward Arnold } in the movies and was one of the biggest scene stealers of all time. He holds the record as Little John, in 1922 with Doug Fairbanks, in 1938 with Flynn and in 1950 in Rogues of Sherwood Forest". He was a great character and was so much fun to watch.....

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No James, that's not exactly what happened to Bette in England. She took Jack Warner to court. There was a trial over her contract. The English Court ruled in the favor of Warner Bros. Bette lost, couldn't work with another producer in England and had to pay court costs. She was broke.

 

Then she capitulated and Warners split it with her.

 

She had the courage to be the 1st Movie Star to try to buck the Hollywood Contract System.

 

Even though she failed, I'd say she had more guts than Olivia because she was the first one to step up and do it!

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Well I'm not going to split hairs between which of these great gals had more guts. One could say that Olivia did for trying after she saw what it did to her friend Bette!

 

Either way, all actors, enterainers and sports stars own a lot to these two ladys.

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As much as I like Alan Hale I don't think he had the type of moving performances that Brennen had in his career. Plus I fault Alan for giving us the Skipper (his son!). But I didn't know Hale was in that many movies. Since Warners is my favorite studio I have seen him in many, many movies and he is always a bright spot. He made the perfect Little John (of course I don't know what the real Little John looked like, ha ha).

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Got to disagree with you on Alan Hale, Jr. His performance in my favorite movie, *Young At Heart*, may be small, always the same style, but it's performances like his that are needed to support the greats. This film had stellar performances by Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Ethel Barrymore and Dorothy Malone. But as great as they are, Hale, Jr. almost steals all his scenes.

 

If you play one thing well, there's no shame in that.

 

Edited by: cujas on Sep 28, 2010 5:50 PM

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A few others from the "Golden Age", If they were mentioned before sorry:

Peter Lorre

Sidney Greenstreet

Roland Young

Jane Darwell

Claude Raines

Elisha Cook jr

Ward Bond

Beulah Bondi

and one of the greatest in any age-Thelma Ritter

 

These are but a drop in the bucket of the wonderful "Second Bananas" that have saved and made more enjoyable many a movie.....

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