Sunday, March 8, 2009

Entertainment, 50 Years Ago

March 8, 1959 was a Sunday just like today, so I've putzed around the Los Angeles Times for that date, wondering what might be in the Calendar. Of course, there was no Calendar section in the 1959 Times; the section was called Entertainment.

And here's a depressing tidbit: the Sunday paper had 504 pages.

Anyway, the lead movie story in Entertainment was an interview with Jack Lemmon. Some Like it Hot was coming out by the end of March, and Lemmon was already a big star with an Oscar for Mister Roberts. Here's what writer Cecil Smith had to say about the advance buzz for Some Like it Hot:

"I have heard that Billy Wilder's new movie, "Some like it Hot," is the funniest piece of work in hears. In other circles, I've heard ... the picture [is] dull, overlong (2 hours) and "one joke stretched all out of proportion."

Another story, about the upcoming Academy Awards, noted that Burl Ives and Gig Young had been demoted to supporting actors so that they'd have a better shot at an Oscar. Ives eventually won, so I guess the strategy worked.

If you wanted to see a movie that Sunday, your choices included Some Came Running (Sinatra, Dino, & Shirley MacLaine), Auntie Mame at the Chinese Theatre (12th week! 6 nominations!), Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and The Shaggy Dog with Fred MacMurray.

The Times' regular book reviewer was off in New York for the National Book Awards, which had just been announced. The awardees were:

  • For Fiction: The Magical Barrel, by Bernard Malamud

  • For Non-Fiction: Mistress to an Age, a Life of Madame de Stael, by J. Christopher Herold

  • For Poetry: Words for the Wind, by Theodore Roethke

What a fleeting thing is fame! I've never heard of any of these, although Malamud wrote The Natural, made into the best baseball movie ever. But Roethke's collection won all sorts of awards, and he already had a Pulitzer, so the fact that I haven't heard of Words for the Wind reflects more about me than him.

Marian Anderson performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on March 15, 1959. Wonder what tickets cost back then? $4.50 for the best seats, $1.50 for 'way, 'way back.

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