Twisted ankles, cracked ribs, and even (gulp!) death — Hollywood can be a dangerous place. Movie stars aren’t immune to accidents, and filmmakers have long had to think up creative ways to deal with the whims of fate.
For Janet Leigh, there was almost nothing sexier than… a sling? When Touch of Evil‘s romantic interest broke her arm just before filming, director Orson Welles had to decide on an approach. While a beautiful blonde in a cast might have been a mordant touch for a film full of contrarian choices (Charlton Heston as a Mexican?), for once, the iconoclastic director took the safe route: He hid her arm.
After a party at co-star Elizabeth Taylor’s house while filming Raintree County,
Montgomery Clift ran his car head-on into a telephone pole. His nose was broken
and his jaw was crushed. Shooting was suspended and Clift valiantly
returned to the set weeks later. Many said he shouldn’t have. Heavily
medicated and with a wired jaw, the heartthrob’s face looked like a
mask and he delivered a performance that was stiff at best. Yet the
film was a surprising success — attracting audiences who were curious
to get a glimpse of the actor’s brutalized face.
Even a Western icon isn’t invincible. A horse’s misstep while filming The Undefeated
threw the Duke to the ground, fracturing two of his ribs. Wayne
returned to work after just a few days off, but lightning struck twice
when an uncooperative saddle caused yet another spill — and a
dislocated shoulder. “I’m lucky I didn’t kill myself,”
Wayne said. But the show went on and, despite being in excruciating
pain, Wayne delivered a top-notch performance, bringing in the film on
time and under budget.