How much did you know about the Oscar winner?
Not your typical movie star and yet she remains one of the most interesting actresses of the late Forties and Fifties. Her talents were largely shrouded in a “dumb Blond” character, which never really connected to her personality.
Judy Holliday made it work because she was such a talented and winning performer. A native New Yorker who had acted on the stage, her heart was never fully invested in Hollywood — she was through with the place by the early Sixties. She died, early, in 1965.
There she is above with two of her most notable leading men — Dean Martin and William Holden.
How much did you know about Holliday’s all-too-brief career? Let’s get to the answers to this week’s Mini-Quiz. To review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Question: A prominent studio mogul once referred to a young Holliday as “that fat Jewish broad.” Who was he? a) Darryl Zanuck; b) Louis B. Mayer; c) Herbert Yates; or d) Harry Cohn.
1) Answer: That churlish remark belongs to (d) Harry Cohn, the Columbia Pictures mogul who was, to say the least, skeptical about casting Holliday as ex-showgirl Billie Dawn in 1950’s Born Yesterday, based on a play by Garson Kanin. When Holliday and Cohn were introduced in his office, he got up from his desk and walked around the very nervous actress. Finally in a resigned tone, he said: Well, I worked with fat asses before. Holliday got the message, lost some weight, performed beautifully in the picture for which she won a best actress Oscar.
2) Question: Holliday made her movie debut in 1938 by appearing as a teenage extra in a short film made by perhaps Hollywood’s most illustrious director. Who was he? a) Cecil B. DeMille; b) William Wyler; c) Orson Welles; or d) D.W. Griffith
2) Answer: At 17, Holliday found herself working as a telephone operator for the Mercury Theater run by (c) Orson Welles. She appeared as an uncredited extra in an experimental short film Welles made before his full feature debut, Citizen Kane — 1938’s Too Much Johnson.
3) Question: Holliday was renowned for playing dumb blonds on the screen. Offscreen, however, she was highly intelligent, and sharp as a tack. a) True; or b) False?
3) Answer: a) True. Various studio publicists and Holliday herself made it known that she was indeed a smarty offscreen. Boasts of an IQ topping 170 were tossed about. We suspect it wasn’t just a publicity stunt. The truth may have been involved somewhere.
4) Question: Which of the following Holliday movies won for her a best actress Oscar? a) 1960’s Bells Are Ringing; b) 1949’s Adam’s Rib; c) 1952’s The Marrying Kind; or d) 1950’s Born Yesterday.
4) Answer: As mentioned, (d) Born Yesterday. Pictured above is Holliday along with costar William Holden as her love romantic interest in the picture.
5) Question: In the final analysis, Holliday playing nothing but dumb blonds in all her movies. A) True; b) False?
5) Answer: a) True. Holliday performed so convincingly as the ex-showgirl and mistress to vulgarian businessman Broderick Crawford that pretty much in each of her succeeding roles she played variations of Billie Dawn.