Friday, February 6, 2009

Burt and Kirk: Crazy Cut-Ups

These photos were taken during rehearsals for the 30th Academy Awards, held on March 26, 1958. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas performed a silly musical comedy number written by Frank Sinatra’s favored songwriters, Sammy Kahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, “It’s Great Not to Be Nominated.” The bit was performed just before the Best Actor award was presented. The song’s cringe worthy lyrics poked fun at the five nominees:

“There’s Marlon Brando, Hi ya’ll/That corny southern drawl.”

“Anthony Franciosa, you’ve got our vote/If he wins I’ll cut my throat.”

“Charles Laughton, he’s great/Yeah, if you’re voting for weight.”

“Anthony Quinn, isn’t he uncanny/Your *father* would look great in a scene with Magnani.”

“Alec flew all the way from Britain/Bully, Burt that’s why my teeth are grittin’”

The three nominees present reacted in different ways; Marlon Brando smiled and waved to the pair, Anthony Franciosa nervously chomped gum, though wife Shelley Winters roared with laughter at his expense, Anthony Quinn was also amused--no nerves from a two-time Oscar winner.

The number ended with Douglas doing a handstand over Lancaster, who proceeded to carry the dimple-chinned tough guy off the stage. The two reprised the number on film the following year, which kicked off the 31st Academy Awards, with Burt and Kirk doing somersaults. I wonder if George Clooney and Matt Damon will do a number like that at this year’s show…

At the Peak of Their Powers: Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas howling at rehearsals, March 1958.


  1. There should be a video available of it somewhere! XD

    Incidentally, what was Laughton's reaction? (if he was present). And there was more than weight issue in the nomination, LOL, he's just terrific in "Witness for he Prosecution"

    I've read that, during an academy awards ceremony (mabe this one, or the year before) that Laughton and Wife Elsa Lanchester performed "baby, it's cold outside" in the Oscars broadcast. I have a record with the sound, but wouldn't it be great if there was a video around as wel...

  2. Oh that's superb. Thank you for enlightening us on this. I would have loved to see this!

  3. I never knew that. Wow! That is so awesome. I bet it was hilarious to actually see.

  4. That is funny!!
    Psst...I love Matt Damon


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