Kennel Ration For Movie Stars
Those merry pranksters at Universal-International really cooked up a good one to promote their alleged 1964 comedy, Wild and Wonderful. Why not finagle all the big stars presently working on the lot to drop by and be photographed with this particularly hideous dog that U-I has tapped to share marquee honors with should-have-known-better-than-to-star-in-this Tony Curtis? "Monsieur Cognac" was the animal’s name, and according to our imdb crib sheet, this was his only screen credit. As for Tony Curtis, he’d just completed Forty Pounds Of Trouble for Universal, and so presumably could not be humiliated any further with this. A few years later, he’d be Boston strangling to erase the memories of things like this, but the damage was done, and Tony’s career descended faster than we kids in the sixties could go on a backyard "Slip ‘n Slide". In the meantime, however, Universal brought in some major star power to jump start Monsieur Cognac’s screen career, and incidentally, to give us a glimpse of what even big-name players in those days were willing to do in order to promote, or maintain, a studio berth. Who’d imagine that Cary Grant would submit to something like this, well into his elder statesman in the industry status, and only two years away from retirement? Based on what we’ve read about Grant, he was a surprisingly good sport when it came to gags like this, and a review of the trade magazines, even into the sixties, reveals that he was very much a team player when it came to promotion and publicity (especially when he owned a big piece of his starring features). I’ve seen any number of stills with exhibitors and exchange men smiling broadly as they pose in local theater lobbies with accommodating, man-of-the-people Cary Grant. No doubt about it, showmen in the field considered Cary one of the good guys. We have to assume from this pic that he’s getting story input for Father Goose from Monsieur Cognac. Watching that hard-sit movie today, we can still detect Cognac’s paw prints all over the script.
Now we have Kirk Douglas letting his hair down with what appears to be a stuffed Monsieur Cognac (his taxidermied double, perhaps?). We suspect Kirk had just finished For Love Or Money at this point, and might have been hanging around the lot trying to shore up another deal with Lew Wasserman. We also figure old Kirk for more than a little impatience with stupidity like this, but business is business, and I bet that if we showed him this picture today, he’d have absolutely no memory of it (loved your Ragman’s Son, Kirk!). Suppose one of you high-powered industry insiders e-mail this to him, and let’s see if he remembers it. Maybe Kirk has some cool anecdotes he’d share with us about what it was like to work with Monsieur Cognac.
Here’s poor Greg in his Captain Newman, M.D. uniform, it’s painfully obvious that Cognac has just put his nose in the man’s crotch, and Greg is determined that it will not happen again (just think, if this had been a year sooner, Peck would be wearing one of his Atticus Finch suits --- wouldn’t that be great?). If I were a psychiatrist, or psychologist, or just the good old family doctor (to quote Scottie Ferguson), I’d comment on Greg’s body language here, and conclude that this man needs some therapy, or maybe he just needs to get away from this smelly dog! Would it be indelicate to speculate as to the possibility of Monsieur Cognac having attempted to hunch Mr. Peck’s leg just before this still session began? It would explain a lot.