In the 1940s I had a glorious time in Hollywood because I was fired almost at once from the project I was working on and they had to continue to pay me. That was in my contract. For six months they had to pay me $250 a week. This was in 1943, when $250 was equivalent to about $1,000 now, I would guess. They had to pay me whether I had an assignment or not.
First they put me on Marriage Is a Private Affair for Lana Turner. Well, they expressed great delight with my dialogue, and I think it was good. But they said, “You give Miss Turner too many multisyllable words!” So I said, “Well some words do contain more than one syllable!” And Pandro Berman, who loved me very much–Lana Turner just happened to be his girlfriend at the time–he said to me, “Tennessee, Lana can tackle two syllables, but I’m afraid if you go into three you’re taxing her vocabulary!”
Then they asked me if I’d like to write a screenplay for a child star, one named Margaret O’Brien. I said, “I’d sooner shoot myself!” By that time I knew I’d get the $250 regardless.
So I lived out in Santa Monica and had a ball until the money ran out.