Thursday, February 11, 2010

George Cukor

A revealing anecdote - mainly for what it reveals about Cukor's wishful storytelling, for it certainly came from Cukor and is just as certainly apocryphal. No one should imagine such a conversation actually taking place.

More to the point may be the tale of a birthday party for Irene Selznick at the Mayer residence, at which Cukor and other noteworthy MGM people gathered. Mayer was host. At one point in the festivities, the head of the studio stood up to make a toast and began by mentioning everybody at the table, offering effusive flattery to each of the important directors by name - except when he came to Cukor. Despite the fact that Cukor was the highest-paid MGM contract director, Mayer felt himself at a loss for words. He hemmed and hawed, and finally said, "And George Cukor, who is a fine director . . . "

Cukor spoke up sharply, "I beg your pardon! I am a lot more than a 'fine director.' I am an extemely good director, and I am as good as anybody at this table!" Irene said nothing, while everyone else in the room expected some kind of reaction from Mayer. Yet the imperious studio head appeared to be somewhat chastened, and without comment he passed over Cukor's remark.

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