The Stars Come Out

Stanley Kramer had envisioned a galaxy of stars for his Mad World movie; he wound up with the vault of the heavens in terms of a cast.

There were fifteen principal roles and fifteen superlative comedy virtuosos were signed up to play them.

Spencer Tracey, the true-blue -- but fading -- chief of police detectives. Milton Berle, the pill nibbling president of an edible seaweed company. Dorothy Provine, his gorgeous wife. Ethel Merman, her harridan, bellowing mother. Dick Shawn, the handsome, fast-acting, slow-thinking beach bum. Sid Caesar, the dentist who couldn't bear pain in his patients. Edie Adams, his curvaceous spouse. Buddy Hackett and Mickey Rooney, the daft gagwriters. Phil Silvers, the bespectacled, out-of-work piano player. Terry-Thomas, the English Yankee-phobe. Jonathan Winters, the massive-shouldered, peanut-brained truck driver. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson and Peter Falk, the bewildered, meter-padding taxicab drivers. And Jimmy Durante, the stickup artist who meets a violent demise.

No cameo or vignette roles, these; every one a starring, picture-length characterization.

The casting was really no problem at all. Everybody wanted to get in on the act. But there was one proviso. Since most of the stars were only free in the summer from TV, night club and theatrical commitments it was necessary to shoot the movie during the mid-year months.

For secondary parts Stanley Kramer provided a glittering array of famous faces, many of whom, in their own time, had shone as brightly as the principals: Buster Keaton, ZaSu Pitts, Joe E. Brown, Leo Gorcey, Edward Everett Horton, William Demarest, Jim Backus, Paul Ford, Madlyn Rhue, Arnold Stang, The Three Stooges, Carl Reiner, Don Knotts, Jesse White, Ben Lessy, Sterling Holloway, Barbara Pepper, Sammee Tong, Marvin Kaplan, Norman Fell, Chick Chandler, Ben Blue, Alan Carney, Tom Kennedy and Barrie Chase.

Then Stanley Kramer cast yet another 65 speaking parts and that was that!!