Did you know that 1950’s All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six Oscars including for best picture?
Or that virtually the movie’s entire female cast — Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter — received Oscar nominations, still a record for a single picture?
How much else did you know about this durable classic? If we’ve whetted your appetite for more, why not check out author Sam Stagg’s All About ‘All About Eve’? It’s all there.
In the meantime, let’s get to the answers to Monday Quiz. (As usual, scroll downtwo blogs to review the questions.)
1) Answer: b) Claudette Colbert was first sought to play the Margo Channing role, but the actress ruptured a disc in her back during the production of director Jean Negulesco’s World War II drama, Three Came Home, and was not available. Enter Bette Davis.
2) Answer: d) Rosa Stradner was the true inspiration for Margo Channing. Stradner, a Viennese stage and movie actress, came to Hollywood in 1936. Three years later she married Joseph L. Mankiewicz. By the time he wrote and directed All About Eve, the marriage had deteriorated, and was marked by fights, insults, slammed doors — a tempestuous setting that fits Margo Channing to a T.
3) Answer: a) True. Davis received a telephone call from 20th Century Fox mogul Darryl Zanuck offering her the Margo Channing role. The actress was convinced that it was a phoney phone call, and she just jollied him along. When it became clear that it really was Zanuck, Davis recovered her composure — and accepted his offer immediately.
4) Answer: Sorry, another of our trick questions. All four actors — Jose Ferrer, Clifton Webb, Claude Rains and Vincent Price — were considered for the part of theater critic Addison DeWitt. Fortunately, George Sanders emerged with the role.
5) Answer: b) No. Bette Davis came by her throatiness in All About Eve naturally. Just before production started, she got into an argument with her then third husband, William Grant Sherry, and damaged her vocal chords. (That five year union ended in 1950.) The resulting effect pleased director Mankiewicz who insisted that Davis preserve the throaty quality. By the way, the end of Davis’ marriage permitted her the wherewithal to woo and eventually marry fellow Eve cast member, Gary Merrill.
6) Answer: c) the All About Eve radio version aired a year after the movie came out, and (d) Applause opened on Broadway two decades after the movie.
7) Answer: According to author Staggs, a) Marilyn Monroe is the only one of the Eve cast (she played George Sanders’ arm candy, Miss Caswell) whose career was to ascend…Marilyn Monroe went up, up and up, but for (the rest of the cast) a long descent began the day ‘All About Eve’ was in the can. If not for this movie, half the cast would be forgotten.
8) Answer: Unbeknownst to them Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were quietly considered by Fox execs as potential All About Eve cast members: Reagan for the role of Bill Sampson played by Gary Merrill, and Davis for the Celeste Holm role of Karen Richards.
9) Answer: c) Walter Hampden.
10) Answer: Anne Baxter played Eve Harrington in the movie, and replaced Lauren Bacall in the role of Margo Channing on Broadway in Applause in 1971.