What Came First?


It’s hard to say.

I’m pretty sure that the chicken was there when we arrived.

I’m not sure if I was the prop, or the chicken was there to make me look good.

Either way it didn’t work; for either of us.

Obviously someone thought it was funny.

I didn’t; I was fed up and I don’t think the chicken was any too pleased either.

I’d been in what was laughingly called ‘show business’ for a bit over eighteen months.

It was my mum’s idea.

She entered me into one of those baby contests that were all the rage back then and I aced it.

You probably think that the cigarette was a prop; part of the gag, but it wasn’t.

I was a two pack a day kid by then.

Everyone thought it was so cute.

They didn’t have to put up with the cough.

Frankly, I preferred cigars, but my mum said I looked ridiculous.

This shot is an ‘out-take’ of sorts, and also the only shot that survives from the session that seemed to take forever.

I still don’t know how they got the chicken to stay in frame for so long. Personally, I think it was pissed.

I remember that Hitchcock had a lot of the birds drugged with grain soaked in alcohol.

I’ll bet that this chicken was on single malt whisky.

Her fee was more than I was getting for making silent movies and I was a star.

A very small star, mind you, but a star none-the-less.

I guess cute little kids were easier to find than a chicken who would stand still for hours and take direction.

She didn’t even need a dressing room and there was a bloke employed just to clean up after her.

What a life.

Permanently off her face on expensive whisky; she must have enjoyed being a chicken.

I, on the other hand, was fed up with show business.

I’d made twenty-eight movies that year alone and it was only August. My dead-beat-dad would run off with a script girl in a few months and take with him, all the money I had earned.

A few years later they found him naked and passed out next to a dead starlet in an expensive house in the Hollywood hills. The starlet was wearing only a smile and the studio paid a fortune to hush it all up.

My dead-beat-dad took the rap and died in prison when a very large convict fell on him during a particularly rowdy bout of Yoga.

I made a couple of hundred movies the next year but my career went down hill when sound came in.

Apparently my voice sounded strange, and mix that together with my growth spurt and I was out of a job.

I limped along for a couple of years doing cigarette commercials but it wasn’t the same.

I missed the big-time.

Within ten years I’d been forgotten and most of my movies went up in flames when the studio used them for special effects in ‘The Burning Of Rome’.

The photo you see here is pretty much all that is left of my early career. There are still a few old posters floating around but none of my films survived.

I heard that the chicken’s owner invested wisely and ended up running the largest chicken ranch in the south-east.

I’m gonna look him up and see if I can get a job.

I like chickens and it seems that they like me.

15 thoughts on “What Came First?

  1. I was looking at the photograph as closely as possible to see if it was the chicken or yourself who felt they’d been saddled with an amateur for the shot, but to be fair, you both look very professional. Now I want to look that chicken up on IMDB but you didn’t put his name out there. Are there any chickens in the “The Godfather”, you know the one where the hero is nearly shot, but a smart chicken rushes out from behind the curtains and trip up the super villain just as he’s about to shoot our chum, leaving the bullet free to destroy a priceless Ming vase instead. A lucky escape for all concerned apart from the bank balance, of course

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read this comment 12 hours ago and I’m still smiling……. you were on a roll and I loved it.
      Sadly, as time has gone by, chickens [as well as Australians and non English speaking actors] have gotten less and less recognition on IMDB. The problem seems to be that a lot of the chicken’s films did not survive the nitrate era so her profile has slipped as the years have rolled by. It didn’t help that she acted under an assumed name for a number of years, and there was talk that there was a ‘stand in’ during her ‘substance abuse’ period. I believe that she deserves better and so does Melvin Purvis, a young film student at Melbourne University, who is undertaking a reconstruction of her most famous film ‘What the Cluck’, using remnant pieces of film discovered in a closet in a motel in Miami, and studio stills. The sound track had to be completely redone using modern techniques, but recent research has shown that chicken voices have not changed that much over the past hundred years, so it should sound authentic. I’ve pre-ordered my ticket.


    • Skip the grain and go straight to the whisky…….. cut out the middle man……… and yes, Hitch complained about the way the birds moved around too much so the prop man solved the problem…..


  2. Birds are natural drinkers, in case any of your correspondents is worried about Hitch’s abusive tactics: just watch after a good freeze when the birdies start falling out of the berry bushes and crabapples, drunk as lords on the fermented stuff. Hilarity is sure to ensue.

    Speaking of suing, it seems to me that you have a great case building up a head of steam, if you manage to tie in your parents’ estates, the studio, the cigar and cigarette industries, and the poultry farming mob. You should be able to nab a tidy sum and lie back in your retirement, enjoying that single malt all by its precious and pure self.

    Loved this one!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kathryn. There was a bit of horror expressed at the Hitch ‘solution’, and your explanation should cool a few brows…… I like the class action idea……. not a lot in my superannuation account, I need a miracle to keep me out of the poor house and your idea might just do it. I appreciate the time you took to craft this comment…… thanks again.


    • I listened to an interview with the director of ‘The Artist’ and everyone wanted to know how it was to work with that little dog……. one bloke asked how a director gets a dog to ‘act’….. the director said,”The dog does not act. We say run and he runs. He does not know why he is running. He does not act. He runs if we give him little sausages….. tiny little sausages.” I think that dog got paid as much as the actors.


    • My pleasure, and the jury is still on what exactly my mind is……… my guess is a hung jury and a retrial.
      Thank you for the compliment….. I could listen to them all day…. lol


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