Suzy Parker, a $1000-a-week photographer's model, canceled all
assignments for three weeks to rehearse her one-line speaking role for the television program "Mayerling". She was paid $1,000 a word. The line: "Drunk? He's mad!".
The NBC production of "Mayerling" had 32 scenes, a cast of 200 and four orchestras.
Mayerling Not Well Received by Charles Mercer.
"Mayerling" was one of the most ambitious and expensive television productions of the current season. Producers' Showcase (NBC-TV) lavished extraordinary attention on this meticulous period piece about an ill-fated love affair in the unhappy House of Hapsburg.
It starred a great dramatic actress Audrey Hepburn, in her television debut. It offered a superb cast of players. Anatole Litvak, a noted motion picture director, brought this unquestioned talents to bear on the production, ably assisted by TV director Kirk Browning. The entire effort reportedly cost about $500,000. So it is with regret that one viewer must report it failed to move or convince him as drama. What was the trouble?
Miss Hepburn, performing as sensitively and looking as beautiful as ever, found her role subdued by the weighty production placed on the fragile love affair which is the substance of "Mayerling". Mel Ferrer, as the Archduke Rudolph, failed to attract much sympathy. An excellent cast of such actors as Raymond Massey, Basil Sydney, Diana Wynyard and Judith Evelyn had little opportunity to perform.
Perhaps in these times a basic fault with "Mayerling" is in the story itself. We are asked to sympathize with two people, a frustrated crown prince and an innocent girl who loves him and whom he loves.
These days a dramatist, as well as an actor, must labor very hard and skillfully to arouse the sympathy and interest of us commoners in the unhappiness of a poor young rich prince. The Archduke Rudolph had, for example, fine clothes, palaces to live in, all the booze he wanted to drink, beautiful women making love to him. Now how, the commoner asks himself can the life of such a fellow be tragic?
This was actor Sorrell Booke's television debut.
Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer (in their television debuts, shortly after their marriage).