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Friday, July 29, 2016

1953 Fans Get a Piece Of The Rock

Cleveland's Hipp Theatre Mere Months Before Rock Arrived
--- and Look At The Mob for U-I's Red Ball Express!

Cleveland Crowds for Rock Hudson and The Lawless Breed (1953)

What price stardom? Rock Hudson may have found out via hands shook numb by Cleveland crush of ardent fans wielding autograph books and "Free Photos" supplied by Hipp management. Hipp was short for Hippodrome, a Cleveland palace known to generations old and new. It seated over 3500, was ongoing from 1907, and routinely drew crowds large as what crossed a parting Red Sea. Imagine Cleveland teens Rock lured for starring western that was The Lawless Breed, best so-far of Universal pics in which he'd play lead. Note policy, doors open at 11:15 AM, shows throughout the day, then Hudson at 8:45 PM "to personally greet each and every one of you," which set up one H of an expectation poor Rock had to satisfy. The old truck driver job must have been precious memory after an ordeal hectic as this. Parallel with latter-day autograph meets abound: the star seated at a draped card table or less, throngs waiting, some polite, others not. Either way, after a first hundred, it's ag-o-nee, as Daffy used to say. Difference between then and now is Rock signing for free ... nowaday celebs want cash, sometimes lots of it. Would Rock Hudson have done hotel ballroom meets had he lived? Many of his generation did, including plenty once on U-I payroll. Few retired rich from that place.

6 Comments:

Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

Brief entry in The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History-

http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=HT1

The final sentence is very sad: "The Hippodrome was demolished in 1981 to make way for a parking lot."

Don't believe I ever went to the Hipp, but I used to go to the nearby Standard, where, I am ashamed to say, I saw "Ilsa, She-wolf of the SS".

3:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey Stinky,
I know you're only 14, but didn't we see Dario Argento's Hatchet Murders (Deep Red) at the Hipp?
While in high school, I used to go there to see horror and kung fu movies. It was enormous, with multiple balconies with god knows what going on in. Like Joe Dante describing Philadelphia grindhouses, one was frightened to even use the men's room.
It must have been something in its heyday. Billy Rose used to produce water shows there.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Stinky Fitzwizzle said...

Unknown, if I sat through "Hatchet Murders", it's no wonder I suppressed the memory.

Not much makes me sadder than thinking about the disappearances of these theaters.

Years ago, Detroit movie host Bill Kennedy said Clifton Webb was Cleveland's favorite actor. How this was determined, I do not know. But it looks like Jeff Chandler gave him a run for his money.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

There's probably a story in stars' other incomes. Right here at Greenbriar there was a piece about George Reeves touring a live variety show as Clark Kent / Superman. Now wondering if he had to cut a deal with DC to plaster the name and logo all over the ads. (And did he use one of the show's super-suits?) One thinks of the later imbroglio when the Lone Ranger's owners went after Clayton Moore.

Recall Roy Rogers and Gene Autry in the TV intro for one of Rogers' movies; they said the real money was in personal appearances and records rather than Republic paychecks. Later, Max Baer Jr. claimed he asked for a raise when "Beverly Hillbillies" was topping the ratings; he was turned down with the reminder he could now make a mint doing state fairs.

Celebrity endorsements were all over the magazines -- remember magazines? Was there serious money in posing with a pack of cigarettes? Was this gravy for contract players, or were endorsements something that fell under their contract duties?

6:51 PM  
Blogger b piper said...

The Three Stooges were Columbia money-spinners for 28 years (four contract renewals) and never got a raise, but their deal guaranteed them a certain number of weeks off to go on tour and that's where they made their real money. They'd make more in those few weeks than they did on the Columbia lot the rest of the year.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Michael J. Hayde said...

Donald, those George Reeves appearances were usually brokered by Jay Emmett, publicity man for National Comics. The one exception appears to have been the "Fair Tour" of 1957, which Reeves put together with his manager Art Weissman (with National's okay and financial participation, of course). National appears to have not handled the publicity for those shows. Reeves turned the job over to Weissman, who was better qualified to be Reeves' drinking buddy than a manager.

The suit Reeves wore was specially made; unique in that he didn't need to be sewn into it, unlike the TV show costume.

11:09 AM  

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