“What Bloody Man Is That?”


Actors traditionally refer to Macbeth as “the Scottish play” rather than by name. Supposedly the witches cast real spells, cursing the play with fatal accidents — beginning with the original production, when an actor was stabbed with a real dagger mistaken for a prop.

According to tradition, anyone who speaks the actual name of the play in a theater must leave, spit or turn around three times, and be invited back in.

Strange Bedfellows

At a 1987 party, Oxford philosopher A.J. Ayer confronted Mike Tyson and demanded he stop harassing Naomi Campbell.

Tyson said, “Do you know who the fuck I am? I’m the heavyweight champion of the world.”

Ayer replied, “And I am the former Wykeham professor of logic! We are both pre-eminent in our field; I suggest that we talk about this like rational men.”

No word on whom Campbell left with.

“The Atuk Curse”

Hollywood has stopped developing The Incomparable Atuk, a comedy about an Eskimo hunter adapting to life in the big city. The project is said to be cursed — four successive actors died after being offered the lead role:

  • John Belushi
  • Sam Kinison
  • John Candy
  • Chris Farley

Farley also showed the script to Phil Hartman in 1998, encouraging him to take a co-starring role. Hartman was murdered later that year.

Frankly, My Dear …

To find the actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, MGM shot 149,000 feet of black-and-white test film and another 13,000 feet of color with 60 actresses, none of whom got the part.

Vivien Leigh eventually got it, but MGM also considered Katharine Hepburn, Norma Shearer, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Susan Hayward, Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, Irene Dunne, Merle Oberon, Ida Lupino, Joan Fontaine, Loretta Young, Miriam Hopkins, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Bennett, Frances Dee, and Lucille Ball.

The Evils of Broadway

“With drunkenness, gambling, and dancing, theater-going dates from the beginning of history, and with these it is not only questionable in morals, but it is positively bad. Every one who knows any thing about the institution of the theater, as such, knows that it always has been corrupting in its influence. Not only those who attend the theater pronounce it bad, as a whole, but it is frowned upon by play-writers, and by actors and actresses themselves.”

— J.M. Judy, Questionable Amusements and Worthy Substitutes, 1904