Today we are amazed at some of the contract negotiations between film stars and producers. But back in Hollywood’s Golden Age there were some pretty bizarre contract clauses too.
Case in point is a story Joe loves to tell about Greer Garson in her heyday at MGM. That’s her above left with Janet Leigh in 1949’s That Forsyte Woman. Joe interviewed Janet years ago and she told him the tale.
MGM had the rights to British novelist John Galsworthy’s The Forsyte Saga, but decided to film only the first book in the series and came up with a script which would star Errol Flynn, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon and Robert Young. Janet would have a key supporting role.
During costume fittings Leigh was having problems. None of the gowns fit properly. She complained and was told everything was fine. The wardrobe department had her correct measurements. After all she made two or three films a year.
Still things didn’t feel right to her. Finally she was admonished to stop complaining. The wardrobe department knew what it was doing.
However, a kindly seamstress took her aside and whispered, “you’re not going crazy. Those dresses don’t fit you properly. You see Miss Garson has a clause in her contract that no other actress on screen with her can have a smaller waist, so your costumes are padded.”
Joe thought the story funny and suggested Leigh use it in her upcoming autobiography. “Oh, no,”said Janet, “I could never tell anything disparaging about Miss Garson !” Joe was stunned. It was as if Leigh was talking of a saint.
Then Joe realized that in her eyes Greer Garson was a saint — of the MGM family.