Fred de Cordova and why discretion can be the better part of employment
Frederick de Cordova was a silver-age Hollywood director who directed dozens of films (and was a dialogue director on a few more, including the original Joan Crawford Mildred Pierce), countless television specials, and perhaps most famously in perpetuity, was the fourth (and final) executive producer of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, which he artied for 17 years. I've been reading his autobiography, Johnny Came Lately, now out of print but available in used paperback for just a few bucks.
De Cordova saw a lot in his decades of work on Broadway and in Hollywood, rubbing elbows with Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan, and keeping company with actresses as luminous as Greta Garbo and Judy Garland. And everyone who worked with him seemed to hold his work in high esteem (at least according to de Cordova).
Despite his talent, this little passage from de Cordova struck a chord with me, familiar as I am with shooting my mouth off when perhaps I'd be better served by biting my knuckle:
…for starters, don't let anyone tell you that sheer talent is the sole criterion for success in show business. I firmly believe that well-tailored suits, the ability to drink martinis without slurring your words, the proper grip on a nine-iron, or on a leading lady while you're dancing, and the restraint not to challenge the obviously stupid remark made by the head of production at your studio–all these are equally important ways to wind up with a good script and an acceptable cast of competent performers.
Speaking of nice guys, imagine going on these vacations:
[Bob Newhart's] closest friend, Don Rickles (a longtime Tonight Show regular), and he are opposite sides of the coin, on stage and off. Their combined home movies and their experiences while traveling together are hilarious. The Rickleses, the Newharts, and the de Cordovas often vacation together. They make that ten days worth waiting for. All year long.