Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Salaries of Journeymen Contract Players


lydecker
 Share

Recommended Posts

Has anyone information on what the journeymen" contract players (think: Nat Pendleton, Porter Hall, etc.) who worked often but never starred in a feature salary was? I assume they had long careers with steady (but never huge) salaries. I'm specifically thinking of contract players in the 1930's and 1940's.

 

Lydecker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

in 1939 for Warner Bros, Frank McHugh was earning $1,600 a week while other female leading female players like Olivia DeHavilland were earning only $1,250, and Ann Sheridan $500. While McHugh was in a lot of films for WB he wasn't a lead actor.

 

One thing interesting that Claude Rains was earning $6,000 a week while Errol Flynn was earning $5,000 and Bette Davis $4,000. Of course Rains wasn't a supporting player but he was often the second leading actor in a WB film. Cagney was making the most at $12,500 a week.

 

I wish I had data on the other supporting (contract), WB actors. If McHugh was receiving over 3 times what Sheridan was making maybe male supporting players were making close to the 1,000 per week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many leading players, those that started.as.beauty queens, etc. as opposed to those with a stage background/reputation, were usually started quite low, maybe $75.00 to $150.00; if kept, it would be raised evdry 6 months as the studio would pick up their options. If at some point, they made sn impression of some.sort, the studio might renegotiate for a (much) higher weekly amount. In the case of Ann Sheridan, this year was when notably flinty WB decided to label her the Oooph Girl, and capitalize.on her sex appeal. By the end of 1940, Sheridan was increasingly unhappy over whaf she saw as the growing gap between her salary and her burgeoning popularity. So eaely in 1941, she walked out for several.months, until the studio met her salary demands,.something more commensurate with her standing with the public.

 

A good thing about these popular featured players, is that while they got decent salariea, there was no pressure on them for the movie to do well. The star would usually be held to blame for underperformers or. downright clunkers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for this info (the Frank McHugh and Claude Rains info is particularly enlightening) and also for forgiving the worst run-on sentence ever in my original post. I can only plead exhaustion after a 8 hour drive in the snow!

 

My original thought was that "minor" (not really, but) players could make a very nice living in the 30's/40's under the studio system. Sounds like that was exactly the case.

 

Lydecker

 

P.S. Ann Sheridan was robbed!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Compared to what an average Joe ( working in a factory, construction, mining, railroad, etc ) made, being a contract actor was a rather nice deal. Good money, steady work, but you could get cut off at any time too, just like a pro football player does today. Naturally, the studio bosses weren't any more generous then they had to be. Almost everyone got a low salary when they first started out. I would guess that Ann Sheridan got what seemed like a nice contract at first, a long term deal but no provision for raises if she became a star player. When she did make it big she had to make a big fuss to get the contract renegotiated. Frank McHugh's pay seems somewhat out of line in comparison to others, maybe his close buddy Cagney helped get him a little extra in his paycheck.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Feb 11, 2014 10:17 PM

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Feb 11, 2014 10:18 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Frank McHugh's salary seems about right; he'd been a featured film.player for a number of years. He was popular, and was cast in film after.film, so he was paid accordingly. The studios loved have many players of this type, to pepper their movies. This is one reason those studio era films hold up so well imo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the early 1950s James Gleason was asking $3K a week. How often he got this price I don't know, but its the reason he didn't end up playing Fred Mertz. William Frawley, virtually blackballed because of his drinking, signed on with Lucy at $300 a week (of course he would later get raises).

 

In 1958 character actor Gerald Mohr made $18K (this came to light in his divorce hearing).

 

I believe Bonanza paid its major guest stars $3K. This was probably the neighborhood for most TV shows of that type (hour long, one camera shooting schedule). The show's cast made peanuts at first, but after it was established as a big hit they would get into the $12K a week range.

 

The Warners TV factory of the late '50s/early '60s attempted to bring their working philosophy to the small screen -- i.e. paying their actors as little as possible. Some of their western contractees held out -- Clint Walker actually did so for an entire year. While Maverick was in the top 10, James Garner was making $500 a week. His partner Jack Kelly got more -- $600.

 

Working for Dick Powell and Four Star was paradise by comparison. By the third and final season of Wanted Dead Or Alive, Steve McQueen was making $100K a year -- compared to Garner's $20K.

 

Robert Conrad once described his stint on WB's Hawaiian Eye along these lines: "I made $250 a week for three years. The fourth year I got a raise to $350 -- and they let me park my car on the lot".

 

In the early years of The Beverly Hillbillies Buddy Ebsen got $2K a week, while Irene Ryan, Max Baer, and Donna Douglas each got about $300 (Raymond Bailey and Nancy Kulp I don't know about). After the show's smash success Baer tried to organize a group holdout, but Ryan caved in and it collapsed. They would eventually get raises, though nothing close to what they were asking. This is why the cast members of this and other shows like The Virginian often made personal appearances at rodeos, county fairs, supermarket openings, etc... These paid more than their acting gigs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> Why was Kelly earning more than Garner on "Maverick"? Garner was clearly first banana, even then

 

I can only guess. It may have been because Garner was totally unknown when he signed his WB contract, while Kelly had already had some fairly noticeable roles at Universal (such as To Hell And Back) when he signed his.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is probably right. Newcomers signed at.low rates; they were happy to get the gig. Once (if) the show took off, they were still bound to the salary originally agreed upon, unless their agent, or some type of threat, led.the usually unmagnanimous studio to give the actor a hefty raise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...