David Bruce: Don’t Fear the Reaper — Money, Music


• Sylvester Stallone and his pregnant wife were living in a $100-a-month apartment in Hollywood. He had written the screenplay for Rocky and wanted to star in the movie, but movie studios wanted someone else to star in it. Mr. Stallone was tempted to sell the movie script when he was offered $350,000 for it, although selling it meant that he would not star in the movie. He asked his wife what he should do. She asked him, “Have you ever seen $350,000?” He replied, “No, never.” She then said to him, “Well, you won’t miss it then.” Mr. Stallone turned down the offer, and he received a much bigger financial offer and the opportunity to star in the film, which won a 1976 Best Picture Oscar.

• British ballet was born in the early 1930s. Not surprisingly, it didn’t pay very well. While dancing for Marie Rambert’s company, Alicia Markova was told that she and the other dancers would be paid 6s 6d per performance, but Ms. Markova protested that this would just pay for the ballet shoes she would use in the performance. (Principal ballet dancers wear out one — or two — pairs of shoes per performance.) In addition, she would have to pay 4s for a taxi to get home after the performance. After her protest, Ms. Markova was paid 10s 6d per performance.

• Wilson Mizner was constantly looking for a way to make money off suckers. Once, a rich young man spent the night drinking, then confessed to Mr. Mizner that he couldn’t remember what he had done that night. Mr. Mizner immediately had a friend who was the night manager at an expensive restaurant draw up an itemized bill for almost $2,000, then convinced the rich young man that he had been the host of a very large, very expensive party in a private dining room at the expensive restaurant. Mr. Mizner and the night manager split the take.

• Early in his quest to become a recognized artist instead of a recognized commercial artist, future Pop artist Andy Warhol searched for ideas about what he should paint and he asked many people for advice. Art consultant Muriel Latow told him, “I can give you an idea, but it’s gonna cost you $50.” Andy got a check ready to sign. She then told him, “What do you like most in the world? You like money. You should paint that. And you should paint something that everybody sees every day … like cans of soup.” Andy signed the check.

• After the Russian Revolution, ballet dancer Nicolas Legat opened a dance studio in England. Once he needed money to pay the rent on the studio, and he decided to ask the mother of one of his pupils for a loan. After being coached on how to ask for a loan tactfully, he went to see his pupil’s mother, but his command of the English language deserted him, and so he blurted out, “Geeve me feefty pounds.” (He got the loan.)

• Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine’s Ballet Society was frequently short of money. Once, they needed $1,000 for a silk curtain, but this time Mr. Kirstein, who did the fundraising, couldn’t get the money. Fortunately, Mr. Balanchine appeared, clutching $500 in each hand. People asked where the money had come from, but Mr. Balanchine replied only that it had not come from a bank robbery.

• Scottish poet Robert Burns and a crowd of people once witnessed a sailor save a rich man from drowning. As a reward for saving his life, the rich man gave the sailor only a shilling. The crowd became angry because of the paltry reward, but Mr. Burns said, “Let him alone. The gentleman is, of course, the best judge of what his life is worth.”


• Sometimes, male audience members would yell “Show us your tits!” at the all-female San Francisco band Frightwig. They always yelled back, “Show us your d**ks!” [No, not ducks.] Soon, they began inviting a male audience member to come on stage and strip and dance as they played the song “A Man’s Gotta Do What a Man’s Gotta Do.” Once, four young fans asked if they could dance on stage to the song. They danced in their underwear and then mooned everyone. Frightwig member Deanna Ashley remembers that they had FRIGHTWIG written on their butt cheeks. She says, “It was so cute.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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