Vintage Variety

Stories have been edited for brevity and clarity, but some archaic spellings, phrases and punctuation (or lack thereof) are retained for period authenticity.

75 Years Ago

(May 5, 1916)


It won’t be long now before Billie Burke will withdraw from the public eye to seclusion of her home, awaiting with joy the advent of an addition to the household.

50 Years Ago

(May 7, 1941)


New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are being used as test areas for Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” and RKO will seek no other engagements until editorial and legal reaction of William Randolph Hearst interests is determined. Hearst papers apparently now figure they can do Welles and the picture more harm by a campaign of silence. They neither mentioned nor printed reviews of the New York opening and apparently have allowed their campaign against Welles as a “Communist” to lag.

25 Years Ago

(May 4, 1966)


The sellout “Marat-Sade” was forced to fold on Broadway because of a combination of contractual commitment and cast exhaustion. During its final weeks the Peter Weiss drama became the hottest ticket in town. For the final days the management employed a special policeman to maintain order among the waiting crowds in the lobby. Because of the weird characterizations as insane people plus the sustained intensity of the performance, the all-British cast found the run unusually exhausting. The engagement might have been again extended if the company had not been under contract to return to London to shoot the film version. In any event, “Marat-Sade” was one of the few shows in Broadway history to close at the peak of a standee-limit run.


Despite Walter Reade-Sterlings retreat from the so-called “art film” everyone’s faith in the unpredictability of pic distribution was bolstered by the boxoffice performance of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Italian-made “The Gospel According To St. Matthew.” An austere and uncompromising study of the life of Christ by an avowed Communist and atheist, the film, according to Walter Reade Jr., the company’s president, is stacking up as another “David and Lisa.” Irony is that two years ago it was turned down by more than a score of U.S. distributors.

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