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10 Proven Ways to Become a Movie Star

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All the struggling actors around Hollywood working as waiters and auditioning for any roles they can find might be annoyed to learn that 12-year-old Carole Lombard was simply playing baseball in her backyard, applying no diligence or even showing any interest in being a movie star, when she was spotted by a director from 20th Century-Fox. He signed her up for a movie because she looked right. If only it was always that easy to become a star. Obviously it isn’t—but here are some proven short cuts from the past 100 years of movie stardom.

1. Get a job on the inside

It’s the usual suggestion in most professions: Get into the industry first, and then go for the job you actually want. You don’t even need to get an acting job. Gary Cooper was a stuntman. Telly Savalas was a top executive at ABC Television and stepped into a role when nobody more suitable could be found. Boris Karloff told children’s stories on BBC Radio before he became famous for killing children in movies like Frankenstein. John Wayne was a studio props man, who was so good-looking that when he walked past Marlene Dietrich’s restaurant table she said, “Daddy, buy me that,” and Wayne was cast in her next movie. 

2. Cash in a debt with the studio

In 1922, Richard Arlen was a humble backstage hand at Paramount Pictures. While working at Paramount, he was struck by a company car and hospitalized with a broken leg. Studio executives decided to make it up to him by offering him a movie contract.

3. Enter a beauty contest

It helps to try this one if you’re conventionally attractive. Clara Bow won a national beauty competition in 1921 and one of the prizes was a role in a film. Within a few years, she was Hollywood’s most popular star. Ann Sheridan, a top star of the 1940s, was entered secretly into a contest by her sister and ended up winning a five-week movie contract.

4. Wait for the right role

Lew Ayres was a medical school dropout who took up acting and eventually became the first actor to play Dr. Kildare, hero of several medical dramas. Director Federico Fellini cast Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita because the young architect had a face “with no personality in it.” This is unusual for a star, but it proves that if you find a visionary director, being bland might work for you (though it probably helps if, beneath all the blandness, you still look like Marcello Mastroianni).

5. Get on the cover of a magazine

Sometimes a magazine cover photo can lead to a Hollywood contract. It worked with models such as Lauren Bacall, Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, and Ali MacGraw. Happily, at least one of those four could also act.

6. Take on any role you are offered

Obviously, this isn't always a good idea if you’re an up-and-coming star who is already being noticed. The wrong role or the wrong film could destroy everything you’ve fought so hard to get.

But if nobody has heard of you, that’s different. If the film is a flop, nobody will notice that you were in it, but if it’s a success, you might suddenly get some attention. Carole Landis had small speaking roles in at least 25 movies before she suddenly became a star in One Million BC (1940), a movie in which she played a cave-girl who didn’t have a single line of dialogue. The film itself wasn’t much good—and nor were most of her later films—but it made her a B-movie star. Even if you're a B-movie star, you're still a star.

7. Wait in the wings for your big break

You know the old story about the leading lady who breaks her ankle so that the chorus girl has to come out of nowhere to replace her and becomes a star? The story became famous in 42nd Street (1933), with Bebe Daniels playing the injured actress and Ruby Keeler as the new star.

Just as it worked for Ruby Keeler (even if only in a movie), it also worked for Shirley MacLaine, who was understudy for theater star Carol Haney in the Broadway production of The Pajama Game. When Haney fell ill, MacLaine took to the stage and the rest is history.

A few years earlier, when Betty Hutton fell ill making the Broadway show Panama Hattie, she was replaced by her understudy June Allyson. Both Hutton and Allyson were eventually spotted by talent scouts at the show and were sent to Hollywood. The advice for aspirants is easy: star in Panama Hattie on Broadway. 

8. Don’t be afraid of stalkers

Normally, you should be very careful with stalkers—but if you are desperate to be a star, you never know your luck. One day, film director Mario Costa spotted a young art student named Gina Lollobrigida on the streets of Rome and chased her for his new film. She decided he was just getting fresh and told him to go away, but he kept following her. Eventually he convinced her that he really was a film director. She signed up soon afterwards—and went on to be one of Italy’s most popular stars.

9. Be an elite sportsman

It has worked in the past, with superstars like swimmers Johnny Weissmuller (later of the 1930s Tarzan films) and Buster Crabbe (who played Flash Gordon around the same time), ice-skater Sonja Henie (whose figure-skating numbers made her a popular musical star), and of course, bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you’re an elite athlete, then you’re already famous. You probably already have a hero’s physique and your previous career may have been fairly short-lived, meaning that you want something else to do. Still, becoming a movie star is not so easy.

Sprinter Carl Lewis won nine Olympic gold medals and was one of America’s favorite sports heroes of the 1980s. He still took intensive acting lessons when he decided to go into the movies and used the same focus and hard work that made him a top athlete. So what was the highlight of his film career? An awful TV movie called Alien Attack. However big of a sports star you are, you still need to be very lucky to make it in Hollywood.

10. Be a pop idol

Even the most original and innovative musical performers have their heroes. Frank Sinatra was a Bing Crosby fan. Bob Dylan worshipped Woody Guthrie. And Elvis Presley’s idols were movie stars James Dean and Tony Curtis, neither of whom were known for their musical prowess. Though he was the king of rock ’n’ roll, Elvis’s ambition was to become a great actor. He starred in 33 films, most of which were highly popular, even if they weren’t taken seriously. They were mostly silly comedies with musical bits—exactly the sort of films that his fans wanted. According to critics, his best performance was in a non-musical, Flaming Star, which wasn’t a big box-office success. Fans didn’t want to see Elvis as a great dramatic actor, and non-fans didn’t particularly want to see Elvis doing anything. Still, other rock stars—from Cher to Mark Wahlberg—have been more career-minded in their choice of roles. If you want to be a movie star, it might not hurt to be a pop star first.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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