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One evening I received a new script from Universal. My last movie had been Ain’t Misbehavin’, in which I’d been horribly miscast. I was told the reviews were punishing. Many times through the years, my agents and I had tried to change the structure of my contract, giving me some freedom to do other things. But they would not budge. Still, I was ever hopeful.
I read the new script. This one wasn’t even a B western. It was a C western. The male star would be Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II. He was a genuine hero, had a likable natural presence on the screen, and had become a Universal movie star, playing the lead in many movies. The woman’s part was a prop and just barely that, possibly the worst part they had ever handed me. I suddenly felt so deeply insulted, so unappreciated, so mortally wounded. This time they had gone too far. I calmly got up, walked over to the fireplace, and dropped their script into the flames. With it went a little of the humiliation I had endured in the last five years. Something was coming alive in me.
—From Chapter 8, “Burning the Contract”
From the Hardcover edition.