Back in the 20th Century people used to ask actors for autographs instead of cell-phone selfies. Eccentric as it may sound, fans would actually carry around autograph books for this purpose. It’s been suggested that now and then hardcore fans would ask for more than just a signature — they would ask the celebrity to write a quote he/she is famous for uttering in a film. If you ran into Gloria Swanson, let’s say, you would ask her to write “I am big…it’s the pictures that got small.” If you ran into William Holden you’d ask him to write “if they move, kill ’em.” Or so goes the legend.
Today Daily Beast contributor Tom Teodorczuk posted an interview with 45 Years costar Tom Courtenay, and about halfway through Courtenay mentions that he was recently approached by an autograph hunter asking him to sign a piece of paper underneath the words “the personal life is dead” — one of the utterances of Strelnikov, his character in Dr. Zhivago. Courtenay tells Teodorczuk that the quote is “a load of bollocks,” but did he oblige?
Four years ago I recalled a moment in ’81 when I ran into In Cold Blood costar Scott Wilson in a West Hollywood bar, and that I stifled an instinct to ask for an autograph along with the words “hair on the walls” — a Dick Hickock line from Truman Capote‘s nonfiction novel.
If I was an autograph hound who happened to run into Marlon Brando in the ’70s, I would have asked him to write either “whatta ya got?” (a line from The Wild One) or “Don’t be doin’ her like that” (from One-Eyed Jacks). If I’d run into Montgomery Clift I’d ask him to write “nobody ever lies about being lonely” — a Robert E. Lee Prewitt/From Here To Eternity line. Further suggestions along these lines?