As Read by Karen Sharpe Kramer
At the Screening of Champion
August 23, 2013
"When a giant tree crashes to the ground in the forest, it leaves a void – an empty space. The smaller trees around it weep for the death of their giant. Saplings will start to grow, but it takes a long time to become a giant.
Stanley Kramer was a giant. His death created a void that cannot be easily filled. I started with Stanley Kramer long ago when he was just a sampling. The picture was Champion. He not only produced the picture, but directed the montages with great skill.
My agents were against me doing the picture. They had secured for me a costarring role with Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck in The Great Sinner. Who is Stanley Kramer they asked? Who is Carl Foreman? I insisted on doing the movie, even though they did not have the money to pay me. Of course Champion was a great success.
But it was not that easy to get the role. At a preliminary meeting with Kramer and Foreman, they looked at me, with doubts that I could play a boxer. They asked me to take off my clothes and flex my muscles. I got the part, and history was made. This was the first time in Hollywood that a man had to take off his clothes to get the part."