By Eric Roberts
Why the OOPS? Because these stories are about embarrassing moments that happen on the stage or in the production of a movie.
A song writer was famous for his hit songs “Tiny Bubbles” and “Pearly Shells.” Ironically, Leon Pober had never been to Hawaii though he wrote these very popular Hawaiian songs recorded by Don Ho.
However, this incident is about Leon’s father, Sid, who played violin with the orchestra in a famous New York theatre. On this night he had to play a solo during the intermission. The Headliner in the show was the spectacular Veloz and Yolanda dance team. They were very popular in the late 30’s. In 1939 they were on the cover of LIFE magazine.
Leon’s mother Rae remembers the night well. She helped her husband Sid put on a tuxedo, tied his tie and wished him good luck with a knee in his behind. He could tell something was not quite right. He had a terrible reputation with the musicians of being a practical joker. The musicians decided to get even with Sid. When Sid started his solo, the electrician turned the spot on his top half and violin, his buddies were working on the bottom half, taking off his pants! To make matters worse he had to play the introduction to the opening number of the second act. As Yolanda was about to enter the stage she looked down in the pit and saw a violin player with no pants on. She broke up, but smothering her laugh, she entered on cue. “The Show Must Go On.”
A young Italian tenor in his first performance at the Met had to sing a song in English. He had been practicing for weeks on his English, but when the music started he froze! The conductor started the music again and the tenor froze again. Before the conductor started the Music again he whispered from the pit “Sing, damn it… sing.” When the music started again, the tenor opened his arms and mouth with: SING, DAMN IT, SING!
In 1913, two Hollywood legends, Cecil B. De Mille, and Samuel Goldfish later (Goldwyn) and friends formed a movie production company. In 1914 they produced the first full length motion picture in Hollywood. The Squaw Man directed by De Mille. De Mille had started his 60-year career as a stage actor in 1900, and directed 70 films during his life. He won the academy award for the best picture of the year, The Greatest Show on Earth. Cecil B De Mille was a tyrant on the set and noted for his epic films like Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments.
He was having trouble one day shooting a scene with a thousand extras. After many takes, it was well past lunch and the troops were getting restless. When he asked for another take, the assistant director stepped up to the mike and shouted: “Quiet on the Set.” DeMille heard a comment and stomped over to the mike and demanded: “If the person who thinks that comment was important enough to interrupt the shot, please come up and … let us all know!” A woman from the crew stepped up on to the platform and calmly and firmly said, “I said, ‘When is the old bastard going to let us off for lunch?’” Did De Mille fire her? No, the script girl always had a job.
Anyone who had guts enough to tell off Cecil B. DeMille was obviously worth keeping around.