HOLLYWOOD: PENURY AMID OPULENCE.
iqui come from. A leading picture producer said to me :—
" It is time somebody told the truth about Hollywood. Visitors 'vote a week or a month to what they call studying the industry. :hat happens 7 If they are distinguished persons they are shown lie bright side. They are entertained by the leading lights of the In world. If they are writers they are shown the great studios, he luxurious homes 'of the stars, the vast expenditure of money in ieture production and they, proceed to tell the world of the opulence the few successful artistes—the twenty or thirty film stars and lie half-dozen directors who are earning from one to ten thousand ■ Alars a week. Incidentally, I notice that by the time these '1111VS reach England, the dollars have become pounds sterling ! venture to say that there are not more than fifty people in the business who earn Over one thousand dollars a week for twelve tritlts in the year and there is more destitution and genteel ..tittry in Hollywood than in any City in the western States of During a ten4lay stay in Hollywood I proceeded to verify hese gloomy statements. To begin with I discovered that in illywood salaries Of over two thousand dollars a week were poker' of with reverence. • The amazing salary of a certain bodes scholar, .Yale graduate and Olympic Pentathlon inner, a man 'of all-round versatility, was quoted with awe. his prodigy,' named Fred Thompson, is said to have signed a intract which calls for ten thousand dollars a week. On aching London I find this salary reported as £10,000 a week. No longer is the cinema business entirely in the hands of mint, uneducated persons destitute of every quality wept the commercial instinct. I am inclined to think that his was true a year or two ago. To-day some of the best rains of Europe have been assembled in Hollywood, for it
a fact that nearly every picture director of merit has been bleated in Europe. I have referred to one Rhodes scholar who, mirabile dicta, tinily hates publicity, although a film star, and whose
ine is almost unknown in Europe. But I met another cluate of a leading American University as well as of )xt"al whose scenario, entitled "Wings," is one of the st film stories I have ever seen. Jack Saunders, the author, t beside me during the " shooting " of what I believe will ruve the most sensational of all War pictures. He and hr.iVelMRII have accomplished- a most remarkable piece of aligtie film work. Welman,•as a director for the Famous Players, had under his command 5,000 troops lent by the United States Government, together with sonic sixty aero.- planes, tanks, artillery and " blimps." This huge body of men had to be co-ordinated and their advance into action so synchronized that the dozens of cameras could " shoot" and catch every phase of action during the scene showing the American attack at St. Mihiel. It was a marvellous piece of work for a young ex-oflicer. There arc numbers of such young men to-day in Hollywood—Englishmen, Germans, Swedes and Frenchmen—and all drawing good salaries. At the other end of the scale, I learnt that there arc hundreds of well-educated people who are " five-dollar-a-day " supers. That is, they earn a pound a day —when lucky. IVecks may pass before they are called upon to perform the humble duties of a unit in a crowd.
I was entertained by a very successful English pieture producer. He gave what he called a " real Hollywood party." At least forty of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen were among the guests and it seemed incredible that so much loveliness could be assembled in any one place at a, given time. I questioned these young aspirants - most of them flappers—as to what sort of salaries they earned. Some talked in thousands when they should have been talking of tens, but, sorting out fact from fiction, I found that these gorgeously beautiful young persons thought themselves fortunate. when they were offered a six-months' contract at the rate of 110 a week--equal in purchasing power to about £4 in England.
On the day following this Hollywood party my host asked a number of the " derelicts " to tea to consume the fragments that remained. I hate to call them derelicts, but literally it is a correct description. From every part of the world have conic to Hollywood old and young, the talented and the dull drawn by stories of the fabulous rewards. A pathetic little colony of English is to be found there. I met a pukha English colonel with wife and child, straight from India. A small pension and an occasional five-dollar job keep them in what is penury when the cost of living is considered.
While I was there, five hundred very beautiful and entirely destitute girls were shipped out of the town and returned to their homes at the expense of the authorities. For beauty is not the only qualification for screen success I In the eyes of the camera it is certainly no more than skin deep. " Character counts and personality pays," is a Hollywood " slogan."---I am, Sir, &c.,
A TRAVELLER Is CALIFORNIA.