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  1. #1

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    A little trivia: Carol Heiss' least favorite actress passes away

    The lovely Patricia Medina, who had the unenviable task of working with Heiss on "Snow White and the Three Stooges." Apparently she and Carol didn't get along, and Carol tried several times to get her fired from the picture.

    A good review of SWTS is below, along with Medina's obituary:

    http://filmic-light.blogspot.com/201...e-stooges.html (Needless to say, Carol was not exactly the shining star of this movie...)

    http://www.latimes.com/news/obituari...,2331751.story
    "Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist

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    Too bad they couldn't remake the movie with Tonya and Nancy, or Evan and Johnny.

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    Hasn't everyone had a coworker that they disliked for some reason? And upstaging a very young, very green Heiss would be reason enough. And if Medina really "stole the picture" (I don't know, I despise the 3 stooges) then 'nuff said.

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    I've met Carol Heiss more than once (even took an on-ice training course with her), and she is absolutely delightful, one of the sweetest people you could meet, I adore her. When she was young, however, especially in her competing days, she had more than a bit of an attitude. I have a beautiful old Sports Illustrated with her on the cover from 1955. There was an article within, to say she was a bit attitudinal is putting it mildly, she came off very cocky.

    I recall reading that she was so upset and acting out about not winning the OGM in 1956 that the US Federation threatened to send her home (don't have a source for this). It must be said, however, that her mother was seriously ill with cancer in 1956 and while she saw Carol win the OSM and then defeat Tenley for the World Championship, that whole time was very bittersweet for Carol as her mother died shortly after the World Championships. Carol wanted to win the OGM while her mother was still alive very badly.
    "Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist

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    One other interesting tidbit: Carol recalled that the Three Stooges were absolutely wonderful to her during filming when the 1961 Figure Skating Team tragedy occurred. They went out of their way to comfort her and insisted she take all the time off she needed for this sad event.
    "Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist

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    Talk about coming from two different worlds. Figure skating which comes off as prim and proper and the Three Stooges.

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    The Stooges consider this their worst film and realized it was a mistake. I had to laugh when I read that the director cut some of Carol's skating scenes because there was "too much skating." They just couldn't figure out what they wanted the movie to be!
    "Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yazmeen View Post
    One other interesting tidbit: Carol recalled that the Three Stooges were absolutely wonderful to her during filming when the 1961 Figure Skating Team tragedy occurred. They went out of their way to comfort her and insisted she take all the time off she needed for this sad event.
    Thank you for sharing. I wasn't aware of this. It's very much appreciated.
    Angie
    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

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    In the end, Patricia Medina had a longer, more successful film career than Carol did, and that's likely because she was a better actress than Carol. That's also probably why Carol wanted her gone from the picture.

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    This will make me sound old, but my father rented "Snow White and the Three Stooges" (along with a projector) from Willoughby's camera shop in NYC for my birthday party when I turned eight years old and everyone laughed so much at the movie that he insisted on renting AGAIN for my ninth birthday. I think he didn't realize that my friends were laughing at it, not with it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by euterpe
    In the end, Patricia Medina had a longer, more successful film career than Carol did, and that's likely because she was a better actress than Carol. That's also probably why Carol wanted her gone from the picture.
    When you consider the title of the movie, Carol was supposed to be the star, regardless of who was the better actress. And it was clearly a one-time vehicle for a skating star. Carol was never going to be a threat in Hollywood. Actors who upstage other actors are not considered by their own as "just doing their job". They are disliked & other actors don't want to work with them. Medina absolutely should have done the best job she could do but that doesn't include stealing scenes & undermining anyone. I don't know who was the diva on that movie but it could very well be that Carol had good reason to dislike her.

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    Times were remarkably different and Carol did not come from a wealthy background, so failure to come out on top was much more threatening and costly. I doubt she thinks about those situations the same now as she did then.

    I'm also inclined to believe Patricia Medina had many of the same insecurities as Carol, as Patricia was probably on contract with the studio and worried about being dropped if the film failed even if she was not the star.

    Carol and Patricia were both in a situation that was very few and far between in those days, where a woman had an opportunity to make more money than the average man and stratisfy on her own merit rather than in a supporting role as a wife ... And I am sure they were both well aware it was new money situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    When you consider the title of the movie, Carol was supposed to be the star, regardless of who was the better actress. And it was clearly a one-time vehicle for a skating star. Carol was never going to be a threat in Hollywood. Actors who upstage other actors are not considered by their own as "just doing their job". They are disliked & other actors don't want to work with them. Medina absolutely should have done the best job she could do but that doesn't include stealing scenes & undermining anyone. I don't know who was the diva on that movie but it could very well be that Carol had good reason to dislike her.
    I doubt very much that Carol knew from the getgo that the Stooges movie was a one-time thing. I'm sure she had the same goals as Tara Lipinski and Sasha Cohen when they got their first acting jobs---to be an actress, and a star. OTOH, I'm pretty sure Medina saw right away that Carol wasn't going anywhere in Hollywood. But she didn't have to do much of anything to upstage Carol. She was just a better actress and it showed.

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    Are you serious, taf?

    If I am hired to play clarinet with a group of musicians, and I realize quickly that they are not as good as I am, am I going to try to match their lack of musicianship so that I don't upstage them? Hell no. I am being paid for this and I am damned well going to play my absolute best every time. Medina was hired to act. She was not hired to make Carol Heiss look good. If an actor has upstaged other actors or has stolen scenes, then the other actors should work harder at their craft. Not the other way around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiruwater View Post
    Medina was hired to act. She was not hired to make Carol Heiss look good. If an actor has upstaged other actors or has stolen scenes, then the other actors should work harder at their craft. Not the other way around.
    I don't know what Medina was told she was hired to do, and I haven't seen this movie so I don't know how it was designed or what the performances were like. But in a vehicle designed around a star (in this case a sports star -- which is not uncommon in commercial ventures such as movies, Broadway, and TV to lure in audiences who might not be interested otherwise), absolutely supporting actors are hired to make the star look good. That's part of the job.

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    ^ I don't know what you two are going on about with Patricia being hired. This was during the studio system and she was probably on 5 year contract.

  17. #17

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    Let me be more specific in my response to michiruwater.

    If you were hired to play clarinet in a band with a singer, you'd be expected to play to make the singer sound good, not to stand out from the rest of the ensemble. Same if you were playing in an orchestra for a concerto, for example.

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    Medina wasn't under contract. She was in her early 40s and despite good skills and a famous husband, was have increasing difficulty getting work in Hollywood. I don't know what she did or didn't do to carol, but repeated efforts to get you fired by the young pretty star show a certain charisma uniqueness nerve and talent on carols part.

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    What I think happened (without actually bothering to read accounts or watch the movie).

    Medina knew perfectly well that part of her job was to make Heiss look good. She may have even tried to do so. But she was a working professional actress (which means the people you're working with are colleagues and you do your best and try to also make your fellow cast members look good) and Heiss was ... a figure skater who came from a background that was all about zero-sum competition (only one gold medal) and those other people on camera are rivals you need to beat. And AFAICT Heiss had had no real prep for filming or acting.

    Heiss quickly sussed out Medina's superior acting abilities and freaked out. She was used to dominating her field and to be reduced back to (metaphoric) novice status sharing her field with the big girls must have been devastating. In addition, she may have hoped for a Henie style career and accepting that wasn't going to happen (while filming) couldn't have been fun.

    Conflict (probably mostly originating from Heiss) was almost inevitable in such a situation. I assume the more mature Heiss regrets some of her early attitude and is probably not proud of her behavior on the film (and mostly tries to not think about it).

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    I remember catching the movie on television years ago. Heiss looked totally different as a brunette, I barely recognised her.

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