Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig On Film
The New York Times reports more film footage of the mighty Babe Ruth has been unearthed, this time from 1927 showing Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig up close and personal in a barnstorming tour. The article goes on to say that in the Major League Baseball archives there is less than an hour’s worth of film footage of Ruth! The majority of film footage that probably still exists resides in attics across the country waiting to be discovered. This film was found in a cellar in Illinois and shows Ruth and Gehrig in or around Sioux City, Iowa on October 18, 1927.
Gehrig and Ruth were good friends, had a presumed falling out (over mysterious circumstances) and eventually made up when Gehrig was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which ended up taking his life at the age of 37.
The public perception via film of Ruth and Gehrig together is not really when they are together at all.
Hollywood accomplished that trick with The Pride of the Yankees, the 1942 movie depicting the life of Lou Gehrig ,who is played by Gary Cooper. Babe Ruth plays himself in the picture. No mean feat as Babe was already 46 years old and was significantly heavier than in his playing days. Ruth would not be embarrassed. Before the movie started shooting, Babe went on a diet and dropped a significant amount of pounds so he could play the part himself.
While the picture is embellished for the silver screen, it still covers a fair portion of Gehrig’s baseball accomplishments while telling more Lou’s devotion to his family and the love story between Eleanor Twitchell (the future Mrs. Gehrig) and Lou. The movie almost never got made. Producer Samuel Goldwyn knew nothing about baseball and knew from experience that baseball movies were never “big box office.” But Goldwyn had been shown a newsreel of Gehrig’s farewell speech at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day by Niven Busch, a Goldwyn screenwriter. Busch was confident a movie about Gehrig would be a success. By the end of the newsreel Goldwyn was crying and had made up his mind to acquire the rights to Gehrig’s story. The end result was a success, with the picture being nominated for 11 academy awards, including best picture.
Here are some photos of The Babe and Lou together. (click to enlarge)