The Day Tommy Sands Became A Movie Star
Were we there? Well, we may safely say that Photoplay has the one and only exclusive bathtub interview with Tommy Sands. Stuck with an all-week schedule of talk, photography, Tv rehearsals, warmups for an appearance at the Hollywood Bowl, Tommy was trying to relax in the tub when Photoplay’s reporter got him on the phone, the morning of the screen test. “I’m worried,” Tommy admitted. “I’ve never done a screen test before.” It was 10:00 a.m., and that day he would try cut for “The Singin’ Idol” at 20th. “By this time,” Tommy said, “I figure it’s too late to get nervous. That wouldn’t do me much good. It would only hurt me. But I couldn’t sleep all last night. I know it’s going to be my big break, my big chance. If I mess it up . . .” His voice trailed off.
He managed to go on. “I signed my contract with Fox, but if I don’t pass this screen test, my contract will be torn up.” So the big day began, with a battalion of co-workers to share Tommy’s ordeal: fellow players Diane Jergens and Al Hedison; producer Henry Ephron; Ted Wick, Tommy’s manager; Leon Shamroy, veteran cinematographer, Oscar-winner who rarely does so minor a chore as a newcomer’s screen test. And 20th’s top men, Spyros Skouras and Buddy Adler, were to judge the results. The players had spent one day reading the script (adapted from Tommy’s hit Tv play about a Presley-type idol) ; they had spent a second day rehearsing.
Part of the action in the test scene required Tommy to kiss pretty young Diane Jergens. “I get a real funny feeling about that,” Tommy said. “During our rehearsals, Diane and I said, ‘Here’s where the kiss comes’—and we agreed to skip it. We’d say to each other, ‘Let’s pretend we’re kissing.’ ”
This was the day of the test, and producer Ephron insisted that the kids really kiss as the camera focused on them. The next day, Tommy told your reporter, “He made us kiss each other nine or ten times. You know, I got to like it!” (P.S.: So did the top brass at 20th; they gave Tommy the job.)
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 1957