"Naked City" and Mark Hellinger (continued)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Sep 2 02:51:51 UTC 1999

     Weegee's NAKED CITY (1945) is still first.
     I read through the Performing Arts Library clipping files for "NAKED
CITY, film 1948" and for "Mark Hellinger."  As I wrote before, the original
film title was different.
     Mark Hellinger (1903-1947) was perhaps "Broadway's first columnist,"
just a hair before Walter Winchell.  Hellinger started on ZIT'S THEATRICAL
WEEKLY (see the archives for some postings from this paper), then went to the
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS in 1923, then to the NEW YORK DAILY MIRROR in 1930.  He
went to Hollywood and produced such films as THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, HIGH
SIERRA, THE KILLERS, and his last film, NAKED CITY.  He provided the famous
narration: "There are eight million stories in the Naked City.  This is one
of them."
    Today, there is a Mark Hellinger Theater on Broadway.  Hellinger was well
known as "the man nobody dislikes," but now he's the man almost completely
forgotten.  His columns were ephemeral.  He wrote many short stories about
New York City types (as did O. Henry and Damon Runyon), but I didn't get much
out of them.

>From THE TEN MILLION (1934):

Pg. 59  "RACKET," as a word betokening a phoney enterprise, goes back many
and many a year.  I never attempt to trace the actual origin of a word for
the simple reason that, no matter where you finally place it, somebody always
pops up to prove that you're a cock-eyed liar.
     I happen to know, for example, that Winchell unquestionably coined the
word "whoopee" in its modern sense.  We sat together in the old Guinan club
the night he hit upon it.  Yet the men with the long whiskers and the short
sights now insist that the credit for "whoopee" goes to Shakespeare.  And it
wouldn't surprise me at all if somebody arose tomorrow with the claim that
Anthony wired it to Cleopatra whenever he wanted to bury Caesar.

Pg. 99  Any little quiff who ever stepped upon a stage anywhere, is always
termed a "_Ziegfeld Follies_ beauty" by the (Pg. 100-ed.) newspapers.  Any
chump who once played the rear end of a prop horse is labeled a "celebrated
actor" when he gets into a mess.

Pg. 101  ...Main Stem gossip writer...

Pg. 329  The Fable of Ambrose Dingleberry.

Pg. 337 (Possible origin of "Break a leg"?--ed.)  A cartoon I will never
forget appeared in LIFE som eight years ago.  It had to do with a picture
studio that wanted a very specific type for a certain part.  This man must
have been in Central Africa, must have been married to native women five
times, must have killed six tigers, and must have had one leg bitten off by a
crocodile forty-one feet long.
     A young actor heard of the part and determined to fill it.  He went to
Central Africa, married the five women, killed seven tigers instead of six,
had a leg nitten off by a crocodile of the prescribed length, returned to
America, and presented himself at the studio.
     The casting director looked at him, and shook his head slowly.
     "Sorry," he said.  "The wrong leg."

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