with the stars can throw you off balance.
E. ZASTROW, O. D., LODI, CALIF.
1956, I was practicing optometry in Hollywood (Yes, the Hollywood) with Dr. E. W.
Kurrle at the Bank of America building on Santa Monica Blvd. and Western Ave. Dr.
Kurrle's brother, Bob Kurrle, was a top cameraman for Warner Brother's Studio. Consequently,
our office constructed most of the optical props for Paramount, Warner Brothers
and 20th Century Fox Studios. Dr. Kurrle saw many cameramen as patients, along with
set designers, prop men, electricians and character actors.
Tricks of the trade
Our optician, Fred Angoni, had been with Dr.
Kurrle since 1939. He would use 1/8 inch flat window glass for most of the actors'
spectacles because flat lenses did not reflect the klieg lights used on the set. To
create the appearance of a high prescription, Fred would take one quarter inch
of flat window glass and put a hand bevel on the front. The prop department always
wanted two pairs of spectacles; if they lost or damaged one, they wouldn't have
to shut down the set.
We knew 'em all
In the film The Spirit of St. Louis, starring Jimmy
Stewart, the prop department sent over a picture from the Smithsonian Institute
showing the glasses that Charles Lindbergh wore on the famous transatlantic flight
to Paris in 1927. We were able to closely match both the clear and sunglass lenses
because Dr. Kurrle had stored frames since 1929.
We worked with Lewis Hayward, Vincent
Price (surprisingly soft-spoken and humble, not at all like the scary fellows he
often played), Rosalind Russell, a very young Sal Mineo and Rock Hudson, as well
as many character actors. Then one day, the assistant director to Alfred Hitchcock
called and told us he was sending Barbara Bel Geddes over for a fitting. Mr. Hitchcock
wanted a flesh-colored frame for her to wear in the film Vertigo.
A true star
When Miss Bel Geddes arrived, however, she informed
Fred, the optician, that she wanted some color in the frame and did not want the
flesh color, as ordered. She assured us, "I will take care of this with Mr. Hitchcock."
Miss Bel Geddes was so positive on the subject, Fred didn't even question her. He
fit her with an American Optical plastic frame, in a demi blonde color, and P3 shape.
myself to Miss Bel Geddes; what a nice and pleasant lady. I could not take my eyes
off of her she had an electrifying presence, doubtless acquired during her
successful career on Broadway before she came to films. She walked across the reception
room to leave. Before she opened the door, she turned around and said thank you. It
was like she was walking off the stage. What a great presence none of the
other stars I'd met could compare with her. Our contact lasted only about five minutes,
but I've never forgotten it.
Barbara Bel Geddes died this
year in Northeast Harbor, Maine. She was 82. OM
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EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENé
LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC
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OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR
Optometric Management, Issue: December 2005