What’s the price Hollywood? If Fred Astaire couldn’t dance anymore? If Bette Davis gained weight? What if the most popular pinup of World War II was suddenly disfigured or if Marlene Dietrich lost her voice? What if Ben Turpin’s iconic crossed eyes happened to become uncrossed? Clearly, Hollywood couldn’t take a chance, so what did they do? They insured them.
Legs are by far the most prominent body part for stars past and present to insure. A more well-known fact is that Fred Astaire’s were priced at $75,000 per leg but lesser known is that Astaire also insured his arms for $20,000. Most believe that the term “Million-dollar Legs” originated when Betty Grable’s stems were insured for a million dollars when in fact the phrase originated when actress/dancer Ann Miller’s appendages were insured for the same amount in 1938. And an even lesser known fact is that there is one more dancing lady who outdid both of them for the title – late Cyd Charisse’s legs were insured for $5 million dollars in 1952. Cyd Charisse also holds the title “Most Valuable Legs” in the Guiness Book of World Records. Another star with a talent for singing, Marlene Dietrich insured her voice for a million dollars.
A star’s appearance has always mattered in Hollywood – some were insured to maintain theirs. Remembered most for his iconic crossed eyes routine, silent movie star and vaudevillian comedian Ben Turpin insured his eyes for $25,000 if they were ever to straighten. Although Bette Davis was considered more for her strong female roles than for her figure, the studios did not want to take a chance on her gaining weight. To keep her svelte, they insured her waistline from weight gain for $28,000.
Present stars have been following suit. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis insured her legs for a million dollars and America Ferrera, television star of “Ugly Betty”, recently insured her teeth for $10 million dollars. It is clear that if Hollywood is going to invest in the talent, they have to protect themselves from possible future losses.