Joseph Cotten was 76 when he took part in DESERT ISLAND DISCS in 1981.
His music choices included a brass band playing “Dixie”; Walter Huston’s “September Song”; and Ethel Merman’s “Anything Goes”. He commented: Some of the cleverest American lyrics must have come from Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes.’”
Joseph said, “I’m married to a beautiful English girl, Patricia Medina who has lots of family in England.”
Again, in such a short program (30 mins.) there wasn’t enough time to talk about his career.
- on Orson Welles; “I met him first on radio – I was a charter member of the Mercury Theatre.”
Welles , who had a three picture contract with RKO, invited him to Hollywood with other Mercury players – for CITIZEN KANE.”
Joseph signed a seven year contract with David Selznick:
”My first job was being loaned out to Universal to work with Hitchcock on “Shadow of a Doubt”.
(Unfortunately there was absolutely no follow up questions about that experience, possibly Cotten’s best role.)
Joseph’s luxury item was a gardening manual and he requested a boat building book.
Gregory Peck was cast away in 1980. His eight discs were mainly classical but he also chose Frank Sinatra’s ‘ New York, New York’ and Duke Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’.
Peck said he loved music and had taken singing lessons for four months so that he could be considered for MAN OF LA MANCHA. ( The part that went to Peter O’Toole.)
He said that at the start of his career he had absolutely no interest in pictures. But while on Broadway, he had done a film test – “L.B.Mayer wanted me to join his ‘family of stars’ – I didn’t want to be exclusively signed to anyone – I was fortunate enough to witness L.B.’s great crying act which he put on for my behalf.”
Gregory was Oscar -nominated for his second film, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM. He was critical of his acting – ”I played that story with such utter overwhelming sincerity, and with very little skill I must say – I had not much film technique but I did believe in the character.”
“I began to drop my prejudice against film and became less interested in theatre.”
“Leland Hayward (famous Hollywood agent) signed me up for fourteen films with four different studios, then left town!”
“THE YEARLING ran over time and DUEL IN THE SUN was ready to begin….for weeks I found myself bicycling from one studio to another.”
“I got along very well with Hitchcock – people say he browbeats actors …..he was always considerate and gentle with his ‘cattle’. I never heard him humiliate an actor – ever.”
On turning down HIGH NOON, ….”a mistake in judgement on my part. I had made “The Gunfighter” and Stanley Kramer sent me the script of “High Noon” and I recognised it was a fine script.
But I thought I didn’t want to repeat – it had to do with the traditional loner who faces the whole town alone – I thought they were too much alike and I would like to be versatile.
It was a great mistake – I doubt I would have been nearly as good as Gary Cooper..”
Once established in Hollywood, Gregory returned to his hometown, La Jolla in California and started a summer repertory theatre company with Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer.
“For six years we produced all the plays ourselves and appeared in at least one each summer.”
The opening bill in 1947 was NIGHT MUST FALL, with Dame May Whitty.
Many Hollywood stars appeared at the La Jolla Playhouse. Imagine seeing Robert Ryan in BORN YESTERDAY!
Lauren Bacall joined Roy Plomley in 1979. Her music choices included Ella Fitzgerald singing “Isn’t It a Pity” ( by the Gershwins), Nat King Cole, Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence in a scene from Coward’s “Red Peppers.”
Lauren’s luxury was also sun tan lotion – a large bottle.
Lauren talked about her early goals:
”I first wanted to be a dancer – a ballerina…..the first play I ever saw was John Gielgud in “Hamlet” – I was so moved by it.
I realised that at a very young age I really didn’t have the feet for ballet – I was in constant pain on point – no Margot Fontaine ,I ! “
Lauren started modelling – “Ten bucks an hour – that is not ,what they say in America, hay!”
Slim Hawks, wife of Howard Hawks, saw Lauren’s photos in “Harper’s Bazaar” magazine and told her husband.
“I was seventeen when I went to Hollywood.” (Signed to a personal contract by Hawks.)
“I loved “How To Marry a Millionaire “ and enjoyed “A Woman’s World” very much. I adored “Designing Woman” – that is probably my favourite film”.
Lauren starred in CACTUS FLOWER on Broadway – “I did “Cactus Flower” two years non-stop, with one week’s holiday.”
(As much as I love Ingrid Bergman in the film version of “Cactus Flower”, I wonder why Lauren missed out on the role she created.)
“Bette Davis was my great heroine -to be playing a musical version of the part she created was very curious – “Applause” took up five years of my life – I played the part too long.”
Lauren talked about a funny Hollywood legend – “Who pushed Owen Taylor off the pier.?”
The story goes , according to Lauren, that during the filming of “The Big Sleep”, Humphrey Bogart asked that question.
(’Owen Taylor’ was the Sternwood chauffeur ( played by Dan Wallace).
Howard Hawks apparently quizzed the writer of “The Big Sleep”, Raymond Chandler whose reply became Hollywood legend – “Damned if I know.”