From the 1940s through the 1960s, photographer Sid Avery took candid photographs of some of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars, including Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and Steve McQueen. He was the founder of the Hollywood Photographer's Archive and, in the 1980s, established the Motion Picture and Television Photo Archive. To showcase his work, Avery’s son Ron—along with Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh—have put together a real page-turner, a handsome 288-page volume containing hundreds of rare images of cinema’s most compelling figures. For a chance to receive Sid Avery: The Art of the Hollywood Snapshot, click here, and be sure to type “Avery” in the subject line. The winner will be determined by a random drawing. Entries must be received by 11:59 EST, Sunday, April 21, 2013.
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Jackie Gleason dies of colon and liver cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1987. He was Tubby in 1941’s Navy Blues, the first of 26 screen roles for the actor, musician and television performer. His most highly acclaimed performance came in The Hustler (1961), playing billiards champ Minnesota Fats opposite Paul Newman’s Fast Eddie Felson. Unlike Newman, who had never before picked up a pool cue, Gleason was no stranger to billiards and even hustled pool as a youngster. Like Newman, however, Gleason performed most of his own pool shots in the movie. (The trickier ones were done by 14-time billiards champion Willie Mosconi.) Gleason went on to receive his only Oscar nomination for The Hustler role, eclipsed by George Chakiris in West Side Story (1961) for the Best Supporting Actor prize.
Paul Newman dies in Westport, Connecticut, 2008. “I had no natural gift to be anything,” the actor once said. “Not an athlete, not an actor, not a writer, not a director, a painter of garden porches—--not anything. So I've worked really hard, because nothing ever came easily to me.” As a young actor, he was often mistaken for certain hot young method actor and reportedly signed hundreds of autographs, “Best wishes, Marlon Brando.”
Knowing what we know now, with Vivien Leigh's portrayal firmly established in our minds, it's rather entertaining to view how other actresses took on Scarlett O'Hara in their screen tests for Gone With the Wind (1939). Leigh, of course, beat out a legion of actresses who—Paulette Goddard excepted—barely came close to the bulls-eye. With that in mind, here are a handful of screen tests sure to elicit one of three responses: "No wonder they got the role," "Too bad they didn't get the role" and "Thank heaven they didn't get the role!"
Edith Head takes us through preperations for Roman Holiday (1953), including Audrey Hepburn's personality and wardrobe tests.
Marlon Brando's 1947 audition for Warner Bros. has him using a partially completed script for Rebel Without a Cause. Brando was not auditioning specifically for the movie, nor did the film, eventually completed in 1955, use any of the scripts written in the 1940s.
Ann-Margret's exquisite rendition of "It Might As Well Be Spring" serves as her first screen test for the remake of State Fair (1962). She landed the movie, but not the role of Margy Frake (who sings the song), which went to Pamela Tiffin. Ann-Margret instead played the more vivacious role of Emily Porter.
Sandy Dennis gave a remarkable screen test in the role of Honey opposite Roddy McDowell's Nick for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). She would go on the win the Oscar for her performance.
James Dean and Paul Newman team up for a personality test for East of Eden (1954)
Sharon Tate acquits herself well in this test for Valley of the Dolls (1967) with Tony Scotti.
Among the young actresses auditioning for the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965) were, according to imdb.com, Liza Minnelli, Patty Duke, Kim Darby, Lesley Ann Warren and Sharon Tate. Here is Mia Farrow’s take on the role.
Marilyn Monroe plays a gangster’s girlfriend in a 1950 screen test for Cold Shoulder, a film that was never made.
Dustin Hoffman's screen and costume test for Tootsie (1982) reveal an early incarnation of the Dorothy Michaels character.
Joan Bennett, Melvyn Douglas, Lana Turner and others try, with varying degrees of success, to embody Margaret Mitchell's characters.