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FEUDS : Star Wars

January 04, 1987

"Man cannot be too careful in his choice of enemies."

--George Sanders, paraphrasing Oscar Wilde in "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

Steve McQueen and Jack Harris. Before he became a big name, Steve McQueen worked for producer Jack Harris in a B movie called "The Blob," about a chunk of man-eating strawberry Jello from outer space. When McQueen became a hot commodity, Harris exploited his monster property for all it was worth, embarrassing the rising star. McQueen reportedly took revenge by revving his engine and making as much noise as possible whenever he passed the producer's Malibu home on his motorcycle. Harris denies the story, claiming their relationship remained "cordial and friendly."

Edward G. Robinson and George Raft. Cast as rivals for the affections of Marlene Dietrich in the Warner Brothers film "Manpower," Hollywood's reigning gangsters were smitten with genuine jealousy. In a scene calling for Raft to drag Robinson out of a bar, Raft continued to manhandle Robinson after director Walsh yelled "cut," and fists started swinging. The actors didn't speak to each other for 15 years.

Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. "They were an unlikely couple," remembered David Niven, "but they had one thing in common--they loathed each other." The reigning gossip queens of Hollywood's heyday couldn't stand to be in the same restaurant together, though historians have speculated that they only pretended to feud in order to draw attention to themselves.

Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer. Despite the intertwining of their names in the corporate logo Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Goldwyn and Mayer were fierce competitors who fought frequently over Mayer's production chief, Irving Thalberg, whose talents Goldwyn coveted. Eventually, the former glove maker and the ex-junk dealer had it out in the Hillcrest Country Club locker room, where Mayer tossed Goldwyn into a hamper. Mayer apparently shared Goldwyn's philosophy of life: "A producer shouldn't get ulcers, he should give them."

Harry Cohn and the World. Hedda Hopper put it this way: "You had to stand in line to hate him." The Columbia Studios titan, also known as "White Fang," had contract disputes with Glenn Ford, Rita Hayworth, William Holden and his own brother Jack. But one of his bigger fights was with director Charles Vidor. Vidor sued Cohn, charging verbal abuse (among other things, the studio head allegedly told Vidor's wife that the director had slept with every actress at Columbia). Vidor lost.

Sid Sheinberg and Frank Price. MCA-Universal President Sheinberg and Price, then chairman of Universal's motion picture group, had disagreed before, but in August, 1986, the cocktail circuit sizzled with reports of a "fistfight" that allegedly erupted over unrescindable commercial air time ordered by Price for Universal's $35-million turkey, "Howard the Duck." Though Sheinberg and Price both denied the story, the latter resigned shortly thereafter, his departure heralded by Daily Variety with the banner headline: "Duck Cooks Price's Goose."

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