By Max Tarlton
Budd Schulberg’s novel What Makes Sammy Run tells the story of young boy, Sammy, who is constantly “running” to better his career by manipulating and backstabbing others to get to the top of the entertainment industry. Seen as very eager in the beginning of the book, the views os Sammy Glick become radically different by the end. When, after everyone has been used and flushed, he was pretty much left to his own devices. As I analyzed the story of What Makes Sammy Run, I saw multiple people in todays media that are relatable to the young, poor boy trying to be successful. Only knowing very little about celebrities’ personal history, a couple of television personalities stuck out to me the most. Not because of their manipulative abilities or because everyone has left them, but because of the running force they had to climb to the top of success.
Immediately, Oprah Winfrey came to mind. Also a rags to riches story like Glick’s, she started out as a poor girl in the south, who after an abusive home life, escaped to make a drastic change in her future. Though Oprah wasn’t a backstabber or a manipulator, Winfrey still had to build certain relationships with people to create the type of success she aspired to have. She, like Glick, had to work her way up.
“You know I told you the other day I had something I wasn’t ready to to break yet? Well, it still hasn’t quite jelled, but there’s a good chance I won’t be writing much longer. I’ll be on the hiring end…” (188)
I found said quote to be relatable to that of Winfrey and a moment in her professional career. Showing how Winfrey moved up the entertainment industry ladder. Starting out as a morning show reporter moving to a talk show host, to writer, producer, and director. She put her name on so many things, while at the same time, having a huge influence as to who was going to be apart of her productions.
“He wasn’t working to make money… He enjoyed living well, like anybody else. But that wasn’t the main part. He was a picture maker. He had pride in his work, like an artist or a shoemaker. The reason he worked was to make good pictures.” (260)
This quote also rang true to how Oprah is a huge success story in the television industry. She’s passionate about everything she has done and has made many productions in the industry to share what she is passionate about. Oprah created many works she felt were very important to get exposure, like The Color Purple for example, which she has expressed her devoted passion for.
In another aspect, Sammy Glick’s rise to “the top” similarly resembles the rise of Kris Jenner in the way she’s using people to become more successful. Raised by her single mother, she moved her way up the ladder by marrying high-class men, hanging around prevalent people in the industry, and then moving on to the next best opportunity. After she had children of her own, she basically sabataged her daughter Kim Kardashian, by releasing her sex tape with recording artist Ray J. Well, she used he daughter and struck gold.
“I was just thinking about me. I just kept thinking nothing but me. I just kept saying Sammyglicksammyglick over and over inside my head and it kept growing louder SAMMYGLICKSAMMYGLICKSAMMYGLICK. I guess that don’t quite make sense, does it?” (33)
The quote, reminded me of Kris Jenner. As the media portrays, she’s always worried about the next project or business plan she’s going to do to make more money- from the work of her daughters of course. Though Jenner acts like a “team player” and helping her children succeed, It comes across as a manipulative move to ride the coat tails of her children to make fame and fortune of her own. Similarly, Glick used other people’s works to better his career and essentially make more money and a bigger image of himself in the industry. Kris relates to Sammy in the way the she is constantly manipulating the people around her to increase her personal fortune.
Though many people say the novel resembles that of Sam Goldwyn, I lack the knowledge of his history to be able to compare the two men together. Though, Kris Jenner and Oprah Winfrey have a bit more respectable rises to success than Sammy Glick, I still notice similarities of them trying to make it to the top of the entertainment industry. In fact, many people in the entertainment industry are relatable to different aspects of the book, whether it be for money, fame, or both.