"HEDDA, I think it's time you just shut the f--k up!"
That was Elizabeth Taylor at the premiere of "The Sandpiper," back in 1965. Hedda was sitting a few seats behind Elizabeth and Richard Burton. Hopper, a rabid "red-baiter" and supporter of Sen. Joe McCarthy, was complaining loudly that formerly blacklisted Dalton Trumbo was the screenwriter of the latest Liz 'n' Dick epic.
Miss Taylor, who had by then survived two major scandals and was no longer bound to a studio, spoke to the columnist in typical salty language. Miss Hopper shut up.
A year later, Hopper -- still vital and witchy and beautiful -- suddenly died. La Liz did not wear black.
SPEAKING OF gossip columnists, I love the news that the great and unorthodox Tilda Swinton will portray Hedda Hopper in a 1950s-era film titled, "Hail, Caesar."
It's about a studio honcho (George Clooney) who "fixes" and covers for misbehaving stars. (Based on real-life smarties like Eddie Mannix and Howard Strickling.)
Channing Tatum is also set to play a Gene Kelly-type of character. One assumes this character's personal life needs "fixing." (Those of us old enough to recall, heard plenty about various aspects of the wonderfully talented Gene's life that needed "fixing." Yeah, but we hear this about almost everyone in the business!)
These days, such people are referred to as "crisis managers." Now, with almost all celebrities posting carelessly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there's a crisis every few minutes to deal with and/or apologize for.
BRAD PITT famously and funnily killed Nazis in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." You'd think that would have been enough. But now he is attached to another film about World War II, which also stars Shia LaBeouf. It's titled "Fury" and Pitt is a soldier in a tank on a mission behind enemy lines.
I wish he and Dame Angelina would just hurry up with the "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" sequel. (I know we're not supposed to call her "Dame." But I want to!)
THE "King-maker" is a Queen!
It was Diane Sawyer's idea to groom the charming and energetic David Muir to replace her at ABC World News. These three -- David Muir, George Stephanopoulos and Diane -- add up to a powerful threesome at ABC News.
Time cannot diminish Diane's sex appeal and intellect, plus there is the "hard work" factor she has put into her life and career. Long may she wave.
I'VE HAD many inquiries about our friend Elaine Stritch since she "retired" to her hometown of Birmingham, Michigan. Her longtime pal, Julie Keyes, is out there with the great actress now.
Since an operation for stomach cancer, doctors say she has every chance for recovery, but I haven't been able to get Elaine to come to the phone.
Word now is that she has recovered from the operation, but has problems with diabetes and not wanting to eat.
Elaine, please. Eat! Eat! Eat! Your fans might want to send a card to 280 Harmon Street, no. 172, Birmingham, Mich. 48009. We send our love to this unique and great star.
And thanks to Julie, her number one fan, for going out there to be with Elaine and her Michigan relatives.
WE TOLD you a while back about the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful" and how it has grown on us. This weekend the spooky goings on end for the season. But it has been renewed for a second season -- with two more episodes added. Unfortunately, it won't be eligible for Emmy contention (I don't know why, exactly.)
This is a pity, because Eva Green, the tormented, possessed Vanessa, is giving an epic performance. But everybody in the cast is terrific, including Timothy Dalton, Reeve Carney, Josh Hartnett (a revelation!) and Harry Treadaway, who plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein. He is an adorable, sexy monster-maker. Harry is not to be confused with his twin brother, Luke Treadaway, who is also an actor and model.
WE GET Mail! "Dear Liz, when I read about your wonderful photo of Garland and Monroe embracing, the first thing that popped into my head was the famously overmedicated Oscar Levant's quote about being hugged by Judy for the first time. It was, he said:
'The greatest moment in pharmaceutical history.'
"Go to YouTube and see Judy on the 'Tonight' show not long before her death, singing a song called 'It's All For You,' written by her friend Johnny Meyer. She could still amaze with her voice, personality, delivery and the way she gave herself to an audience.
"The same is true of the very last movie scene Marilyn ever filmed with Dean Martin and Wally Cox in "Something's Got to Give." Marilyn plays with such assurance, skill and charm, you fall in love with her all over again.
"We can kid ourselves, but we shall not see their like again. Best! Constant Reader David Cuthbert."
P.S. I have indeed seen Judy's final "Tonight" show appearance -- she actually performed two songs, the other being "After the Holidays." Both kept Garland well within her by-then limited range, but her voice was still warm, resonant and instantly recognizable. And that night, at least, she was in total control.
As for "Something's Got to Give," I pride myself on nudging Barry Diller, then the head of 20th Century Fox, to look for all the hours of footage of Monroe's unfinished movie. (I had been told repeatedly she filmed much more than was rumored.) When I finally saw the scenes, it was like discovering the Holy Grail. I wrote of it, and in a short time, the legends of Marilyn being "un-filmable" and performing poorly were forever vanquished.
Unfortunately, it didn't do much for director George Cukor's reputation. His demands for retake after retake, when Monroe had been perfect, looked more like sabotage than directing. (Every time he said, "One more!" she did it slightly different, trying to give him what he wanted. And she never lost her temper.)
But my friend George Cukor taught me a valuable lesson. He said: "When writing about me, Liz, don't call me 'venerable' -- that's just another way to say I'm old!"
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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