On a drizzly Oscar night, the Governors Ball was in full swing at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at the Hollywood & Highland Center. Next door, at the former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the courtyard was deserted, the area still cordoned off to traffic and to anyone not on official awards-show business.
And so there were James Mason‘s footprints and handprints, looking cold, damp and either lonely or beautiful.
As the cement block indicates, Mason knelt down at Grauman’s to mark the release of the costume-drama “Prince Valiant.” Six months later, he would be on screens again in Judy Garland‘s “A Star Is Born,” for which he would earn his first Academy Award nomination. The following year, the Oscars were held about a mile east of the Chinese. And so on Oscar night 1955, the Pantages Theatre was abuzz, while up the road sat Mason’s footprints and handprints, looking either lonely or beautiful.
The Calgary Herald plays the part of the scolding parent in its look at childhood fame. Specifically, the paper wags its finger at Justin Bieber and the troubled like and asks, “Why can’t you be more like Ron Howard and Jodie Foster?”
People, in and out of the media, love this question. It’s easy to see why: It’s an easy question to ask, and an even easier compare/contrast scenario to construct. Howard and Foster: successful Oscar-winners; other former child stars with lesser credentials: meh.
On one hand, there’s no argument here: Howard and Foster have indeed navigated Hollywood from childhood to adulthood with their respective sanity apparently intact and with their careers still viable.
But then there’s this: To always hold up the Howard and Foster model is to discount, say, the Jonathan Taylor Thomas model. Is Thomas, the former “Home Improvement” regular, not a role model for having moved from teen-idol status to relative anonymity (either by choice or by lack of opportunity) with his respective sanity apparently intact? Or do we only value the child star who remains a star?
Don’t go seeking out the answer to that last one, Mr. Bieber. It’ll only trouble you more than you’re already troubled.
If you grew up anytime after the bulk of Shirley Temple‘s film career, which more or less ran from the early 1930s to the late 1940s, then Temple seemed less like a person and more like an icon. A Mickey Mouse, if you will.
But she was a person, one who accomplished a great deal in and out of Hollywood. She died Monday.
Here’s a piece I wrote for Yahoo! on the occasion of Temple’s 85th birthday.
“Sylvia Plath Totally Ruins ‘Father Knows Best,’” a poem from my fine Inverted Pyramid e-book of the same name, is excerpted in the February/March 2014 issue of Shelf Unbound, the book-review magazine.
The poem is found on page 29. The e-book, a collection of poems about TV, growing up, TV, growing older and more TV, is on sale at Amazon.
I am not linking to the TheCelebrityCafe.com listicle (repurposed and downsized from “Top 10 Child Stars Gone Bad” by Gotcha Movies). It’s bad enough I took the click bait myself.
I note the headline here only because I felt the need to express my off-the-charts level of astonishment at the heartiness of the child-star-goes-bad meme.
This is how this act of the troubled teen-idol story goes. On the upside, and I’m serious here, nobody was hurt and nobody died. The incident in Miami can be the catalyst for the comeback that can (maybe, possibly) become the next act of the troubled teen-idol story.
I was already scheduled to talk Bieber next week on Canada’s CJOB-AM. I imagine we’ll be talking even more Bieber now. (I’ll have tune-in specifics later for those who actually want to tune in.)