A Coolidge cameo

50 years posthumously, Calvin Coolidge made a cameo appearance in Woody Allen’s 1983 faux documentary movie, Zelig.

Using the magic of bluescreen technology, Allen and his cinematographer Gordon Willis inserted shots of Allen ( in his role as the human chameleon Leonard Zelig) into old newsreel footage. Much of the humor in this equally funny and poignant movie derives from Zelig’s pathological adaptation of his appearance as well as his opinions to his surroundings; thus, while he speaks “adoringly of Coolidge and the Republican party” in a refined upper-class accent while hobnobbing with the affluent, he adopts a proletarian voice while in the kitchen with the servants, as he seethes with rage against the “fat cats”. Zelig is depicted as a 1920s phenomenon that inspires songs and dances such as “Doin’ the Chameleon” and “Leonard the Lizard” and the film purports to chronicle the story of how a psychiatrist, played by Mia Farrow, attempts to cure Zelig’s strange and unique disorder.

Leonard Zelig conferring with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover

 

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