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Early Members: 1935
I started at the top. My first picture was The Painted Veil (1934) with Greta Garbo. I loved doing the Charlie Chan series in which I played his "Number One Son," although all I seem to remember is the grueling pace. Everything was done so fast. Our budgets were so low we were constantly being rushed about. When we made those pictures back in the 1930s, we thought we were making the best damn murder mysteries in Hollywood. We were so proud of them and that's all they were pure entertainment. When the Guild started publishing its own magazine, I helped out by providing caricatures of other actors for some of the very first issues. I was already working as a featured player at that time.
I was in an independent film called Silver Lining (1932) and it was absolutely hell to make. We worked until we dropped and then we'd have an early call. This was before the Guild and it was so awful that I started to cry. I told the producer I was too tired and that I'd only had a few hours of sleep. He said if I didn't pull myself together, I'd never work again. So under threat of that, I worked. I remember the union first being talked about in 1935. I was doing a film called Cardinal Richelieu with George Arliss, Cesar Romero and future SAG president Edward Arnold and they talked about it incessantly. The studios weren't that anxious to have a Guild, but actors had to do something about unionizing because of the horror of working without one.