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Older/Classic stars and Nicknames...or Billy Powell?


rayallen
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We're a little more casual these days with nicknames and shortened versions of names than I (believe) people were many years ago.

Maybe it's just that I can't imagine certain people going by certain names...I know I've heard other actors refer to Robert DeNiro as "Bobby", for example, but do you think William Powell was called "Bill" ( or "Billy") by those close to him?

Jimmy/James Stewart I've heard, and Jimmy Cagney, but Jimmy Mason? Nah.

Now, I do know Robert Mitchum was often referred to as "Bob", but I haven't heard it used for Robert Stack.

"Joe" Cotten? "Al" Hitchcock? "Greg" Peck? "Larry" Olivier? I don't know...

 

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I've heard Robert Stack called "Bob" on occasion, but I don't recall who said it. I know I've heard Charlton Heston refer to Peck as "Greg" and Olivier as "Larry" (and Heston was called "Chuck"). I've heard Jane Russell refer to Richard Egan as "Dick," and plenty of actors referred to Reagan as "Ronnie."

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It would seem that nicknames were used mostly by those who were close personal friends and on occasion they appear in the magazine columns and articles, if only to suggest that the writer was a "personal friend" too. I often read articles referring to "Bill" Powell but wonder if the man on the street used "Bill" in public conversation as in "Are you going to see the new Bill Powell movie tonight?" One guy who seems to have violated that rule is James "Jimmy" Stewart. The theatre marquis may say James but we all say Jimmy, right? Then there's Bob Hope, when do you ever hear anyone say Robert? But right from the start he was publicized as "Bob" . And I believe everyone called Hitchcock "Hitch", wonder what his wife called him? "Teddy Bear" ? ;)

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Just last night, in his closing remarks following one of the Thin Man movies, Mr. Osborne informed us that William Powell and Myrna Loy addressed each other off-screen as *Minnie and Mr. Poo*. He didn’t say which was which. Perhaps they alternated.

 

According to the opening credits, the star of Fancy Pants is *Mr. Robert Hope (formerly Bob)*.

 

When referred to familiarly by other actors using a single name, Lauren Bacall is nearly always *Betty*, almost never Lauren. Said principle is rarely invoked in the direction of John Wayne.

 

Speaking of which, while promoting his autobiography and telling the tale of delivering the first on-screen bullet to hit Mr. Wayne, Bruce Dern claims to have addressed him, during rehearsal, as *Big Guy*. Presumably, he smiled when he said that.

 

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A related question here. People who were referred to by their real birth name rather than their "stage" name. I always think of Lauren Bacall and most all her friends and associates refer to her as Betty, her real first name. Did anyone keep calling Barbara Stanwyck "Ruby" ? Some people legally changed their names but old friends may have still called them by their birth name. VP 19 may know about this; did personal friends still call Carole Lombard by her real name "Jane"? Mom certainly did but what about husbands Powell or Gable?

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