The Lemon Drop Kid

Photo of Andrea King and Bob Hope in "The Lemon Drop Kid." Paramount, 1951.

Andrea King and Bob Hope in “The Lemon Drop Kid.” Paramount, 1951.

In 1951, Andrea King accepted the small but pivotal role of Stella in Paramount’s “The Lemon Drop Kid,” starring the legendary Bob Hope. It was a rare chance for the actress to display her comic abilities, and she jumped at the chance. Sporting a drawling southern accent and a stunning Edith Head wardrobe, Andrea truly sparkles in the opening sequences of the film.

“I loved working with Bob,” Andrea recalls. “His timing was impeccable. So marvelous. And he was such a good sport after what happened. There was one unfortunate mishap on the set,” she quickly adds. “I was a bad girl, I’m afraid.”

According to Andrea, the writers put her up to playing a practical joke on Bob. It seems there had been a disagreement with Mr. Hope over the script, and the writers were looking for an opportunity for a bit of playful revenge. Andrea thought it sounded fun, so she unfortunately agreed. She was filming her second scene in a penthouse apartment with Bob and Fred Clark (once again playing Andrea’s villainous partner, as he had done so well in 1947’s “Ride the Pink Horse”).

The cameras rolled, and at the end of the scene, Andrea (as Stella) was supposed to kick Bob out the door, right in the seat of his pants, as written. But Mr. Hope didn’t realize that under Andrea’s glamorous Edith Head evening gown, she was wearing an oversized cowboy boot, courtesy of the avenging writers.

The scene came to its climax, and Andrea booted Bob in the rear with a little extra effort. The writers and the rest of the crew roared with laughter, but then Bob didn’t get up. In fact, he had to be carried out and taken to see a doctor. It was soon discovered that he had suffered a bruised tailbone from the incident, and production was shut down on the film for two days.

“I was horrified,” remembers Andrea. “I thought I’d killed him.”

Instead, Bob rallied beautifully. He knew exactly who had put Andrea up to it. For Andrea, he ordered a giant still photograph of the now-infamous booting, which had been captured on film, and he autographed it as a keepsake. To this day, she has it hanging on her wall as a memento.

“He got the last laugh,” Andrea sighed. “My small part got even smaller. We never did finish shooting the scene, and the second half of it isn’t in the film.”

Fans can only glimpse Andrea at the beginning of that scene, pouring Bob a cocktail, never to return again.

“The Lemon Drop Kid” has stood the test of time as a true classic. This Damon Runyon tale introduced the Christmas favorite “Silver Bells” to the world. It also features a terrific cast. Aside from Bob Hope, Andrea King, and Fred Clark, the roster includes Marilyn Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, and William (“Fred Mertz”) Frawley.

Andrea King as Stella and Fred Clark as Moose Moran in "The Lemon Drop Kid." Paramount, 1951.

Andrea King as Stella and Fred Clark as Moose Moran in “The Lemon Drop Kid.” Paramount, 1951.

Original title card lobby poster for "The Lemon Drop Kid," 1951.

Original title card lobby poster for “The Lemon Drop Kid,” 1951.

Watch the opening scenes of “The Lemon Drop Kid” on YouTube now: