Edward G. Robinson was not only one of the great character actors of the classical period of American film, but also a very erudite man who amassed a distinguished collection of impressionist paintings, which deliciously contradicted his image as a tough guy.
I found this terrific story in Leonard Lyons’ Notes from the Lyons’ Den:
In 1944 Robinson was in New York and visited the Museum of Modern Art. He walked through the galleries and stopped to admire a painting by Grant Wood. He studied it from various angles, walking to the left, then to the right, taking a few steps back, and then peering at it close up. He noticed one corner of the painting had been dirtied. Robinson drew his handerchief and polished the spot by using the standard, low-tech method—first wetting the handkerchief on his tongue.
Of course the a museum guard saw this rushed up to the screen star, and shouted: “Stop it! You can’t do that here!”
“Oh yes, I can,” replied Robinson, pointing to the card under the painting. It read: “Loaned by Edward G. Robinson.”