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A spiraling cluster of news & events from distant decades

The Roving Retro Reporter reports on the current scene:

1932 - SCOOP! In a village near Hollywood, the Chamber of Commerce has erected a huge sign which reads: "Don't wait for 'good times'-spend now and keep business alive !"

Hollywood doesn't need that advice.

Many screen stars earn salaries so fabulous that they stagger the imagination of the average business man. For the past five years Tom Mix, for example, has been paid approximately $500,000 a year. He has spent it lavishly. During those five years he has paid to the United States government in income tax $574,000. He owns an estate in Beverly Hills which is valued at approximately $500,000; also, a number of small residences and ranches. What his annual property taxes amount to, Allah alone knows. He owns nineteen horses and three mules, and spends $600 a month for their feed and stable space. He employs thirteen people- three grooms, three riders and seven house servants. I don't know their exact salaries, but the aggregate is undoubtedly in the neighborhood of $18,000 a year. Last year he gave more than $20,000 to organized charities, without counting his contributions to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization which has always had first place on his list He also gave private gifts to needy friends, which amounted to $22,000. He spends $1,000 a year for the white sombreros that he gives to his admirers, and it costs him $12,000 a year to take care of his overwhelming fan mail. His wardrobe expenditures are estimated at about $8,000 a year, groceries at $7,000 (remember that small army of retainers to be fed), and physical conditioning (doctors' bills, gymnasium expenses, etc.), at about $4,000 during an average year.

In the foregoing maelstrom of figures, the $574,000 paid in income tax is worthy of especial note. No wage-earners in the United States pay so large a proportion of their lifetime incomes to the government as do the screen stars. The average star's professional span is short, usually about five years, but in that period he earns a sensational salary and pays a sensational tax. With the new tax schedules established this year, many of the highest salaried stars will pay nearly one-half of their total incomes to Uncle Sam. Incidentally, because of the California "Community Property Law," a screen star actually saves money by being married-unless his mate happens to make a still larger income. As you know, the percentage of income tax paid increases quite drastically with the amount of the income. In California, the total income of a family is divided equally between the husband and wife, and each member of the connubial partnership is taxed separately. A star who earns enough to pay a forty per cent income tax (Harold Lloyd, for instance saves about $35,000 a year by being wed to a non-professional.)

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