If you have seen the movie Up then you know 78 year-old Carl Fredricksen who sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. The character, of course, is the voice and – surprisingly – the likeness of 81 year-old Ed Asner.
Mr. Asner was at the Paramount for his one-man theatrical performance as FDR. It and he were amazing. 95 minutes with no intermission is quite a feat for any age – 78, 81 or 12. But to do so while captivating an audience ranging from age 12 to 81 is something that could only be done well by a 7-time Emmy and 5-time Golden Globe winner.
After the show Mr. Asner stayed to greet a few major donors to the theater and when he spotted me in the crowd he said, “Hey kid. You’re the speech guy. You were cute. I was wondering how I was going to follow that act.”
So I am not quite sure if he thought I was cute (he flirted with all the ladies) or if he was referring to my speech…
Speaking of my speech. I promised I would elaborate on the Katharine Hepburn story.
In the fall of 1938 Katharine Hepburn’s friend, Phillip Barr, told her about a new play he was writing with her in mind. She agreed to forgo a salary in favor of a percentage of the box office and put up a quarter of the production budget herself. In 1938 that was something only a woman like Katharine Hepburn would attempt. The play, Philadelphia Story, opened in New Haven and eventually made it to Broadway in 1939 for a year-long run.
Shrewdly, Hepburn acquired the film rights to the play and sold them to MGM for $250,000 stipulating, of course, that she play the lead. The film was shot on a very tight 8 week schedule because Hepburn had also agreed to tour with the play. On January 7, 1941 the stage version of The Philadelphia Story starring Katharine Hepburn, Van Heflin and Joseph Cotton played The Paramount Theatre before a packed house. About the same time, she starred in the movie which played next door at the State Theater. Now that is a feat…