It all began with The Morning Moneyman Movie. Hosted by former Paramount player Robert “Bob” Ivers of I Married a Monster from Outer Space fame, this kitschy mix of cash give-always and black and white movies was a staple of mid-morning television in the small northwestern town where I did most of my growing up. If I was watching, it meant that I was home from grade school, (most likely) pretending to be sick, just so that I could spend a couple of hours with some of the most glamorous human beings ever to inhabit a screen.
“Oh, this one stars Loretta Young!” my mother would murmur with something close to reverence. Her devout worship of any number of leading ladies and gentlemen who were stabled at one of the major studios dotting that long ago Hollywood land captured my young imagination, and that was it. I was hooked.
Whether it was suffering with Joan in Mildred Pierce or living the life of an incredibly selfish diva along with Bette in Mr. Skeffington, classic films represented a world in which the leading lady (no matter what kind of melodramatic disaster befell her) was usually guaranteed at least a good chance at living happil y ever after. Since this was something I almost never experienced in my own life, the magic of film exercised an irresistible pull. Its spell has not diminished over time.
There was something so mesmerizing about all those gorgeous men and women living in that enchanted, silver-tinted world. I wanted to live in this world too, of course. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go nightclubbing in a vast, satin-white Art Deco space designed by Cedric Gibbons while costumed by Adrian and coiffed by Guillaroff?
As is the lot of most mortals, I never became a star. I didn’t even get a chance to work on the fringes of this business we call show. Instead, I got a couple of degrees and set about living a hopelessly normal existence. Fortunately, I never lost my obsession with all things Hollywood and began to write about it in my spare time.
I wrote a book about the making of The Women (1939) which no one seemed to want to publish. I’ve just completed a novel entitled Joan Crawford: The Secret Memoir and am now working on my second. This one is about the relationship between Bette Davis and her mentally ill younger sister Bobby. It’s called Whatever Happened to Bette and Bobby?
Please join me on this crazy adventure. I’ll try to get published–self or otherwise–and we can talk classic movies and the stars who inhabit them. Next blog I’ll tell you about the time when I met my personal movie star.