Put on Your Trivia Hat … it’s Time for the Academy Awards

A rare six-sheet poster for The Grapes of Wrath (20th Century Fox, 1940), measuring 81 by 81 inches, sold for $35,850 at a July 2007 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

The 89th Academy Awards are set for Sunday:

►Three films won 11 Oscars: Ben Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

►Three films had 14 nominations: All About Eve (1950), Titanic and La La Land (2016).

►Cabaret (1972) won eight Oscars … but not Best Picture.

►Katharine Hepburn has the most Best Actress Oscars … four (yes, more than Meryl Streep).

►Henry Fonda is the oldest actor (76) to win an Oscar for Lead Role in On Golden Pond (1981).

►John Ford won four Oscars for Best Director … The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941) and The Quiet Man (1952).

►Peter Finch won Best Actor posthumously for Network (1976).

►Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor posthumously for The Dark Knight (2008).

►Peter O’Toole was nominated for Best Actor and lost eight times.

►Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland are the only sisters to each win an Academy Award for Best Actress.

►Walt Disney won 22 competitive Oscars and four Honorary.

►Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Oscar, for her Supporting Role in Gone With the Wind (1939).

►Midnight Cowboy (1969) is the only X-rated movie to win Best Picture.

►Gone With the Wind (1939) is the first color movie to win Best Picture.

►Cate Blanchett won an Oscar playing real-life Oscar-winner Kate Hepburn in Aviator (2004).

►Laurence Olivier is the only person to direct himself in winning an acting Oscar, for Hamlet (1948).

►Barry Fitzgerald was nominated twice for the same role in Going My Way (1944) … Best Actor and Best Supporting (won). The rules were changed to avoid this in the future.

►The most nominations (11) with zero Oscars … The Turning Point (1977) and The Color Purple (1985).

►Halle Berry is the only African-American to win Best Actress, for Monster’s Ball (2001).

Tatum O’Neal and Ryan O’Neal in 1973’s Paper Moon.

►George Bernard Shaw is the first person to win an Oscar and a Nobel Prize (Bob Dylan matched this feat last year).

►Timothy Hutton is the youngest (20) to win Supporting Actor, for Ordinary People (1980).

►Tatum O’Neal is the youngest (10) Supporting Actress, for Paper Moon (1973).

Best of luck to the nominees.

Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is president and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Early Broadcast Advertising was Shunned … Until Listeners Demanded More

A $12 ticket could get you into the first Super Bowl in 1967. This full-ticket example, a Gold Variation graded PSA NM-MT 8, sold for $26,290 at a May 2015 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

In 1967, the cost to air a 30-second commercial in the first Super Bowl was about $40,000. Nearly two weeks ago in Super Bowl LI, the cost had increased to $5 million and fans were eager to see the latest creative efforts of Corporate America to hawk their products on TV. Ads are everywhere we look. They pop up on our computers and iPads and are common on race cars, golf apparel and sports stadiums. The Nike swoosh is instantly recognized.

It was not always this way, at least on radio.

During the early days, many radio stations had a practice of observing a weekly “silent night” when they would go off the air. However, the trend was definitely in the opposite direction as listeners were seeking more programming than the stations could produce. This led to hybrid programs combining content with advertising. Early high-profile examples included The Maxwell House Hour (the No. 1 coffee in the U.S.), General Motors Family Party, and The Ipana Troubadours from Bristol Myers toothpaste.

But the issue of regulation hovered over radio like a dark cloud. Some argued for total government control as was the practice in Britain. An even more vigorous debate erupted over commercial advertising. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover asserted it would kill radio. After all, how many listeners would stay by their radios to learn about the advantages of one soap over another? (Quite a few, it turned out.) He argued for the industry to adopt self-policing policies to curtail advertising excesses.

However, broadcasters were salivating over the new revenues and wanted even more. Finally, in 1926, an NBC variety show was interrupted for a special promotional announcement from Dodge cars and it encountered little audience objections. From this point forward, commercial breaks during regular programs were the norm.

Advertising became an integral part of radio broadcasting and never hesitated again.

Some early sponsors did worry about being too aggressive and carefully chose tasteful, discreet language … “Swift & Co has a few practical hints on how to lower your meat bills.” That quickly changed once they discovered consumer-crazy citizens of the 1920s were eager to embrace radio advertising. Far from being insulted, people desperately wanted to hear the messages. They wanted to stay hip, keep up with the latest technologies and the most modern forms of behavior.

A hundred years later, I have a smart phone with more computing power than an Apollo mission, that can hold all my music and trace my ancestry. But after spending most of my life chasing larger screen TVs, I do object to watching my programs on my watch!

Must be a generational thing. Times change.

Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is president and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Hamilton-Burr Duel Remains a Puzzle of American History

alexander-hamilton-warner-brothers-1931-one-sheet
Warner Brothers’ 1931 film Alexander Hamilton was based on the play that opened on Broadway in 1917. This original poster for the movie sold for $5,975 at a July 2016 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

Alexander Hamilton was born in the West Indies, arriving in America in 1772 to pursue an education. Aaron Burr was born in 1756 in Newark, N.J. When they met for their famous duel, Hamilton was a former Revolutionary War General and had been the first Secretary of the Treasury. Burr was a respected soldier, former U.S. Senator and the vice president of the United States.

Their duel is still controversial and somewhat puzzling. Why would two prominent Americans end up early one morning in a situation where one would be killed and the political career of the other effectively ended?

Burr has steadily become one of the great villains of American history. But before the duel, he was an impressive man. Contemporary reports asserted he was open and kind, and wrote letters to his servants, solicitous about their welfare. He had fought to eliminate slavery throughout the country and is credited with helping end the practice in New York in 1799.

Before the contentious election of 1800, Burr and Hamilton were friends who enjoyed dining together and their two daughters were also friendly. Yet the two men, among the most prominent lawyers in New York and the entire country, found themselves enmeshed in the code duello, a system of honor no better than current street rules for gangs in Chicago or Los Angeles.

It had started in February 1804 at a political dinner when Hamilton had supposedly called Burr a “dangerous man” unfit to lead. A doctor, Charles Cooper, leaked the comments to an Albany newspaper, which printed them. When Burr confronted Hamilton, Burr was told to ask Dr. Cooper, and then several more letters were exchanged, each one slightly more hostile than the previous.

Eventually, Burr challenged Hamilton to the duel in June 1804 and they agreed to meet in Weehawken, N.J., the exact spot Hamilton’s son had been killed in a duel three years earlier. The time was to be 7 to 7:30 a.m. on July 11 and both men were using modified pistols of over .50 caliber, more lethal than World War II heavy .50 caliber machineguns.

These guns were designed for killing, not dueling!

Hamilton was hit in the lower right side, fell, was carried to a boat waiting in the Hudson River and taken back to a friend’s house in New York. He died 36 hours later and his funeral was very impressive – a procession of his coffin on a carriage and his general’s uniform proudly on top. It was a memorable date, July 14, Bastille Day, and the 15th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Burr was indicted for murder, but never tried. In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson dropped him from the presidential ticket and Burr’s career careened into a deep spiral, his honor tarnished forever.

The infamous code duello had claimed two more victims.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

As America Played, Europe’s Dictators Set Stage for World War II

This 1939 edition of New York World’s Fair Comics, featuring a blond Superman on its cover and graded CGC VF/NM 9.0, sold for $25,300 at a July 2002 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

Spring 1939 was a season of triumph for Europe’s trio of new dictators. Francisco Franco finished up his work in Spain at a cost of 1 million dead. Benito Mussolini seized Albania and Adolf Hitler marched unopposed into Prague and claimed the rest of Czechoslovakia. Neville Chamberlain and his Munich Pact would be enshrined in the hall of naïveté for eternity. Another diplomatic fantasy dashed.

War fever was ratcheted up a notch, but most of the world pretended not to notice.

In the United States, people sought escape in entertainment, particularly in New York, where the flashy World’s Fair offered them a glimpse into “The World of Tomorrow.” The pavilions of 33 states, 58 countries (minus Nazi Germany) and 1,300 companies filled the imaginations of visitors with modern marvels like television, nylons, robots and man-made electricity.

The popular General Motors “Futurama” exhibit drew 28,000 visitors daily and featured their vision of life in 1960, where everyone would be fit and tan, take two-month vacations and drive cars powered by “liquid air.” Visitors left with a button reading “I have seen the future” — wandering the 1,200 acres like members of a congregation that had witnessed a divine miracle.

The 1938 film Love Finds Andy Hardy marked the second pairing of the popular Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

In June, the King and Queen of England came to America and their parade in New York attracted over 3 million people (second only to Charles Lindbergh) and another 600,000 in Washington, D.C. Eleanor Roosevelt famously served them genuine American hot dogs when they finally made it to the White House.

Fantasy also reigned at the movies, where Walt Disney in 1937 introduced his first full-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and was hard at work on an animated paean to classical music, Fantasia. But the hottest box-office draw in 1938 was the freckle-faced teenager Mickey Rooney and his small-town exploits as Andy Hardy. Then came the most anticipated event in movie history, the premiere of Gone with the Wind and its epic romance in Civil War Georgia.

Awash in fairy tales and cartoons, science-fiction and nostalgia, people had little patience for bad news. However, when it started, there seemed to be no end. A surprise agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union and on Sept. 1, 1939, the killing began. After a faked Polish invasion of Germany, they unleashed 1½ million German soldiers in “response,” backed up by the most powerful war machine ever known to man.

Fantasy time had ended.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Martial Artists with Supernatural Powers Proved No Match for Eight-Nation Alliance

The 1963 film 55 Days at Peking, starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven, dramatized the siege of Peking during the Boxer Rebellion.

By Jim O’Neal

August 14 is an important date in Chinese history.

In the turmoil of the late 19th century, it was almost predictable that governmental efforts would be mounted to try and alleviate the growing dominance of the West in internal commerce policy. The Imperial government made some late-ditch efforts that all proved ineffective and the chaos came to a climax by yet another internal revolution that was dubbed the “Boxer Rebellion.”

This was an effort mounted in 1899 by a semi-secret society known as “The Righteous and Harmonious Fists,” whose singular goal was to expel foreigners. It was composed mostly of young men with martial arts skills and a remarkable belief they had supernatural powers that would make them impervious to bullets and weapons of the enemy.

The Imperial government was variously opposed and supportive, uncertain whether it represented a means of salvation or a risky provocation of the foreigners. After the Boxers’ fists proved to be vulnerable to bullets, they had their answer. The Eight-Nation Alliance (Japan, Russia, the British Empire, France, the United States, Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary) was successful in crushing the rebellion – invading and occupying Peking on Aug. 14, 1900 – and proceeding to extract more trade concessions and over $300 million in reparations.

In 1963, Charlton Heston and a boozy Ava Gardner appeared in a mediocre movie, 55 Days at Peking, that did not do well, even though it still shows up occasionally on cable. One interesting tidbit is that it was filmed in Madrid and the casting called for 6,200 Asiatic-appearing actors. Oops … there were only about 2,000 in proximity so over 4,000 were recruited from Seville, Toledo and at least three cities in France. Many of them were owner-operators of Chinese restaurants and when they shut down to be in the movies, a major shortage of Chinese food quickly developed.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Fun Facts: Tarzan of the Apes, Satchel Paige, Mickey Mouse

This Tarzan of the Apes one sheet for the 1918 film featuring Elmo Lincoln sold for $19,120 at a November 2009 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

Some random tidbits for a Friday:

►The first adult actor to play Tarzan in the movies was Elmo Lincoln (1918) in Tarzan of the Apes. (Gordon Griffith played him as a child in the same movie and actually appeared first on screen). Lincoln was in two later Tarzan movies in the 1940s, both uncredited, and then died of a heart attack in 1952 at age 63.

A 1948 Leaf Gum Co. Satchel Paige #8 card realized $38,240 at a November 2015 Heritage auction.

►On Sept. 25, 1965, Leroy “Satchel” Paige officially became the oldest player in MLB by pitching three innings for the Kansas City A’s. Paige pitched a one-hitter with Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox getting the only hit off the 59-year-old Satch.

A Mickey Mouse stock poster (Celebrity Productions, 1928) realized $101,575 at a November 2012 Heritage auction.

►In 1929, Mickey Mouse (previously Mortimer Mouse) speaks for the first time in The Karnival Kid. Carl Stalling subbed for Walt Disney and provided the voice for that first line – “Hot dogs … hot dogs” – as Mickey played a hotdog vendor for the first and only time.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

In Mid-1930s, News Joined Entertainment to Shape American Culture

The Fibber McGee and Molly radio show premiered in 1935 and aired for nearly 25 years.

By Jim O’Neal

In the mid-1930s, neither of the two big radio networks – NBC and CBS – had a news department. All they did was air a couple of daily five-minute news broadcasts that were supplied by the Press Radio Bureau. But toward the end of the decade, the country began to count on getting its news from both networks.

It became a standard evening ritual in houses. People gathered around rather large radio sets when it was time for the news and there was little conversation until it was over. They listened to commentator H.V. Kaltenborn with coverage of the Spanish Civil War, including the crackle of genuine gunfire … a real first on the radio.

In fact, as radio brought news into people’s homes, it began affecting public opinion on things going on in the world. So when something important happened in Europe, the country was eager to listen. Prior to this, they were mildly interested, but didn’t feel that they were intimately involved. Now, they were fascinated.

When Adolf Hitler annexed Austria, there was a full hour of coverage with correspondents in Paris, Berlin, London and New York acting like today’s Anderson Cooper. Then, in 1939, came the Czech crises, which was a major radio event and the country was enthralled by it … listening as much as possible. The minute-by-minute coverage monopolized the attention of the country and it was a great novelty to hear Hitler speak or British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning from Munich waving a paper and saying, “This means peace in our time!”

To hear the actual words was simply amazing.

It is no exaggeration to say that radio brought the country together, all at the same time, everyone listening to the same things. And the country liked being tied together that way. In the morning, people would say, “Did you hear that last night? What do you think?”

People didn’t quite see how all those things overseas were going to affect them personally, but it was the greatest show they’d ever been offered, and it helped the country overall achieve the melting-pot effect. Radio played a major role in helping people escape the daily humdrum with the soaps during the day and Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Bob Hope, and Fibber McGee and Molly at night.

Politics could never compete with The Shadow in my book.

Now we have to listen to both sides of every issue (sometime all sides) from “talking heads” who claim to be experts, who debate every point and counterpoint. Who are these people? How to judge their expertise or veracity when the ether is filled with so many divergent views? If you don’t have an opinion, just pick one and you can amaze your friends with your brilliant insights.

My advice is to watch the Fishing Channel. These folks really know their stuff and you can probably believe most of it … except when you hear “You should have been here last week. They were really biting!”

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Americans Familiar with Getting Over the Gloomy Pessimism

Two scrapbooks with news clips about the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast, compiled for Orson Welles by a professional clipping service, realized nearly $4,700 at an April 2014 Heritage auction.

By Jim O’Neal

The most popular radio show in America in the mid-1930s was NBC’s The Chase and Sanborn Hour. A variety show, it featured the antics of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his sidekick Charlie McCarthy. By 1938, it was so dominant that competing network CBS could not find a sponsor willing to back a show to go against it.

In semi-desperation, the network commissioned Orson Welles, a 23-year-old director who had thrilled theater critics with his unusual staging of Macbeth, set in Haiti with an all-black cast. He agreed to provide CBS each week with a one-hour, commercial-free drama aired directly against Bergen on Sunday nights.

On Oct. 30, 1938, Welles’ Mercury Theater opted to present a radio play based on H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. However, at the last minute, the young director decided to exploit the reputation of radio as the medium of truth and offered the play as realistically as possible. They began as if they were presenting an evening of ballroom music and then interrupted the band with a sudden announcement that Martians had landed on a farm near Grover’s Mill, N.J. From there, the story unfolded much as a real crisis might, with radio reporters relaying dispatches from the scene.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have witnessed…,” sobbed Welles’ correspondent as he encountered the invaders. “There, I can see the thing’s body. It’s large as a bear and glistens like wet leather… the eyes are black and green like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips.”

In the course of a single hour, Welles’ Martians landed on Earth, constructed deadly ray machines, defeated the American Army, destroyed radio communications and occupied large sections of the country. Remarkably, hundreds of thousands of Americans believed every word of it.

Radio stations were inundated with calls from listeners gripped with fear. Train stations were crowded with families demanding tickets “anywhere.” In New York City, theaters were emptied in panic and in Northern New Jersey – the site of the Martian landing – roads were jammed with people in cars packed with precious belongings, fleeing extraterrestrial annihilation.

When Welles signed off at 9 p.m., police were ready to arrest him, but he had broken no laws and the FCC only issued a mild reprimand.

His program had touched a sense of apocalypse that dominated the lives of many people in the late 1930s. Everywhere they looked, there were signs that things were going deeply awry. The American economy had remained stubbornly stagnant; one-third of the people were “ill-housed, ill-clad and ill-nourished,” in FDR’s own words.

Even nature looked like an enemy. Only a month before, the East Coast had endured a storm of such mammoth proportions that it felt like an invasion, as well. The Hurricane of 1938 caused more damage than the Chicago Fire and more deaths than the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Seven hundred people were killed and the homes of more than 63,000 people were destroyed. Forty-foot waves crashed against Long Island, with ocean spray felt as far north as Vermont.

Yet even as people struggled to keep food on the table and their homes on the ground, it was the rumblings of war around the globe that jangled nerves. First, it was Italy seizing Ethiopia, then a civil war in Spain, and the Nazis in Germany making preparations for more war in Europe (again). But this time, most Americans were convinced we would never get involved in these foreign affairs and even had promises of “no American boys in foreign wars” from our leaders.

Twelve years later, after a global war ended with the dropping of two atomic bombs, America would make a fresh start with the glorious 1950s — after all, this is the United States! — and leave all that gloomy pessimism behind us forever.

And so we will again.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

1968 Was a Turbulent Year – But the Nation Survived

This benefit concert poster for Robert Kennedy promotes a show in Los Angeles just days before his death.

By Jim O’Neal

Robert Kennedy was boarding a plane for a campaign stop in Indianapolis when he heard the news that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and when Kennedy arrived, the chief of police informed him the city could not guarantee his protection. Kennedy ignored the warning and went straight to the rally.

He asked an aide, “What should I say?”

When they arrived, the crowd of nearly 1,000 waiting for him was unaware that King had died and they gasped when Kennedy told them. Some, in disbelief, continued to cheer. Others had not heard him. “You can be filled with bitterness, with hatred and a desire for revenge,” he said, speaking in the glare of lights, a black overcoat protecting him from the cold. “Or we can make an effort as MLK did … to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed … with an effort to understand, with compassion and love.”

RFK had the best speechwriters in the business, yet here, he spoke extemporaneously, asking the people to reject division and lawlessness and to pray for “our country.” Then he remembered words from the Greek poet Aeschylus: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

After he was assassinated, an air of the absurd and perverse was moving into a void. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In tweaked establishment sensibilities. On radio, Country Joe and the Fish sang irreverently (“Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box”), and Simon and Garfunkel asked plaintively “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Campuses were in revolt. The most notable uprisings came with the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Led by absurdist characters like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin – whose Yippie party reportedly planned to slip LSD into the city water system, and seize Nabisco HQ and distribute free Oreos – 10,000 demonstrators came, but 23,000 police and national guards were waiting and many heads were whacked.

By midweek, the convention took on a confrontational tone itself. Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff denounced the “Gestapo tactics” of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s police and Daley, 20 feet away on the floor, cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted an expletive-filled retort. All for the nation to see on national TV.

Yet America endured the rioting and assassinations, the cold-blooded killings, and the absurd, nihilistic campaigns and it all ended with an election … not a revolution. I’m willing to bet we can do it again.

RFK and Aeschylus were both wise men and others will take their place.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].

Comics Legend Stan Lee Shrugs Off George Lucas Comparisons

The Avengers was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963. A copy of the first issue, graded CGC NM+ 9.6, realized $215,100 at a November 2015 auction.

By Hector Cantú

It’s been a busy year for legendary Marvel Comics editor and creator Stan Lee. He’s executive produced two of the year’s biggest movies – Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool. In the wings for theatrical release are X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27) and Doctor Strange (Nov. 4). Then there are the multiple TV projects, including Daredevil and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lee, partnering with colleagues such as Jack Kirby, Bill Everett and Don Heck, co-created or helped conceptualize most of the Marvel Comics heroes and villains that have jumped from comic-book pages to the big and small screens (Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Kirby; Deadpool by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza; and Doctor Strange by Steve Ditko).

The Intelligent Collector interviewed Lee eight years ago, before both Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm were acquired by Walt Disney Studios. Even back then, we saw the similarities between the character-rich universes conceived by Lee and George Lucas and asked Stan about it.

“Damn!” Lee said when told that among the top 15 movies at the time, Lucas’ movies had grossed just a bit more than movies based on Marvel Comics characters. “He’s always beating me! I don’t like being in second place!”

Here is an excerpt from that 2008 interview:

Q: Do you consider yourself one of the most successful creators in Hollywood?

A: Of course not! Lucas does movies. I only wrote a lot of comic book stories, which other people have made into great movies. I had nothing to do with the movies and yet I seem to get so much credit for them. I feel like a phony!

Q: But Lucas created Luke Skywalker, you created Peter Parker. He created Darth Vader, you created Doctor Doom. Lucas wrote the stories, you wrote the stories.

Stan Lee was the cover story for the Fall 2008 edition of The Intelligent Collector.

A: … I think I was very instrumental in making these characters famous and successful as comic book characters. In the comic book field, I did very well and I am happy to accept all the credit that might be heaped upon me. But the movies that have made all this money you’re talking about, while they were based on things that I wrote, they were written and directed and acted by other people. I had nothing to do with that. So I would be an idiot to compare myself to a George Lucas. I think I’m cuter! [laughs]

Q: People would still argue you’re on the same level. You created characters. You created stories. The movies are based on those characters and those stories. The similarities are there.

A: Look, I’m not going to fight it. I’m very flattered to be put in the same class. The only difference is, of course, I created probably more things.

P.S. It appears Stan is no longer in second place. Since this interview appeared, Marvel movies have surpassed Star Wars movies on the Top 10 ranking of worldwide grosses, according to Box Office Mojo.

HECTOR CANTÚ is editor of The Intelligent Collector magazine.