THE FUNNIEST PEOPLE IN THEATER: 250 ANECDOTES
By David Bruce
Dedicated to Brian Prince
Copyright 2007 by Bruce D. Bruce
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© Photographer: Aida Ricciardiello
• As a young actress just starting in show business, Eve Arden quickly learned not to be absent minded. She once finished a play’s first act, went to her dressing room, took off her costume and removed her makeup, and then left the theater to take a bus home—only to find the theater manager running after her and yelling, “Second act!” She returned to the stage wearing galoshes and no makeup, where she discovered her fellow actors desperately ad-libbing lines such as “I saw her in the garden, I think” and “She’ll probably be here any minute.”
• Early in her career, actress Diana Rigg was regarded as something of a kook by her neighbors because she used to lose her keys a few times a year and be forced to gain entry to her apartment by throwing a milk bottle through a window.
• British actor Pete Postlethwaite has a rugged face. When he was studying at the Bristol Old Vic, he ran out of money to pay for the completion of his course of study. However, the head of the school knew that the young man had real talent, so he told him, “Listen, I have a hunch you’re going to do all right in this business, so I’m going to put down the outstanding amount as a debt and then, in a few years’ time, I'll write it off as a bad debt.” Of course, this comment made Mr. Postlethwaite happy, although the next comment did not. The head of the school unfortunately added, “Of course, when you’ve got a face like a f**king stone archway, you can’t go wrong.” Mr. Postlethwaite once acted in a play by Restoration playwright William Congreve, and co-star Prunella Scales sent him a telegram praising his performance. According to Mr. Postlethwaite, she wrote that “I was the best Restoration truck driver she’d ever worked with.”