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Sins of Hollywood

300px-Sins_of_Hollywood_1302MEET HOLLYWOOD

FROM

ITS EARLY DAYS!

The Beginnings of an

Amoral, Unethical, and

Unscrupulous way

of doing Business

and Lifestyle

 

 

 

-First in a Series-

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LibriVox recording of The Sins of Hollywood, by Ed Roberts. Read by Chuck Williamson.

 

“The Sins of Hollywood – An Expose of Movie Vice”

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Exacerbated by several high-profile Hollywood scandals, a wave of anti-Hollywood rhetoric tried to paint the movie capital as a veritable hotbed of crime, licentiousness, and moral transgression. THE SINS OF HOLLYWOOD, published in May 1922, is perhaps the most prominent anti-Hollywood polemic published during this turbulent time in film history. This anonymously-written booklet recounts in sensational, lurid detail the various high-profile scandals that precipitated the firestorm surrounding Hollywood’s supposed moral turpitude.

downloadThe author (later identified as former PHOTOPLAY editor Ed Roberts) pulls no punches in his condemnation of “movie vice.” He even takes aim at some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, directors, and producers: Rudolph Valentino, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Wallace Reid, Thomas Ince, Mabel Normand, Mae Busch, and more. Although real names are only sparingly used, most subjects can be easily identified.

In a nutshell, the author takes us on a guided tour through the seedy, disreputable, thoroughly indecent underworld that lurks beneath Hollywood’s glistening, glamorous facade. It is a sensational work of moral alarmism that gives us a wild, untamed, unapologetically lurid account of Hollywood’s dark side.

The Sins of Hollywood is an entertaining, compulsively readable book regardless of one’s prior knowledge of early Hollywood history. However, some listeners may want to know the identities of these scandalized stars. Their identities can be found in the annotations provided by TAYLOROLOGY. (Summary by ChuckW)

 

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What is TAYLOROLOGY?

TAYLOROLOGY is a newsletter focusing on the life and death of William Desmond

Taylor, a top Paramount film director in early Hollywood who was shot to

death on February 1, 1922. His unsolved murder was one of Hollywood’s major

scandals.  This newsletter will deal with: (a) The facts of Taylor’s life;

(b) The facts and rumors of Taylor’s murder; (c) The impact of the Taylor

murder on Hollywood and the nation; (d) Taylor’s associates and the Hollywood

silent film industry in which Taylor worked. Primary emphasis will be given

toward reprinting, referencing and analyzing source material, and sifting it

for accuracy.

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In the aftermath of the Taylor case there were many published revelations of scandal in Hollywood.  The most prominent such collection during that time was the book THE SINS OF HOLLYWOOD: AN EXPOSE OF MOVIE VICE, published in May 1922.

Although real names were not used, most subjects are easily identified.  Our conclusions regarding the identities of those subjects can be found in the endnotes (of course, the fact that the subjects can be identified does not mean that the incidents are true).  The booklet was published anonymously, the author listed as simply “A Hollywood Newspaper Man.”

But in the film industry’s backlash against this book, the author was revealed as Ed Roberts, the former editor of PHOTOPLAY JOURNAL, and Roberts admitted authorship of the book.  The complete book is reprinted below. Also enjoy some selected chapters of the audio-book.

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-THE SINS OF HOLLYWOOD-

AN EXPOSE OF MOVIE VICE

A Group of Stories of Actual Happenings

Reported and Written

by

A Hollywood Newspaper Man [Ed Roberts]

May 1922

Hollywood Publishing Co.

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Introduction: – The Reasons for the “Sins of Hollywood”

Chapter 1 – DOPE

Chapter 2 – Duck Blinds

Chapter 3- Strip Poker and Paddle Parties

Chapter 4- How the Great Letty Played Her Cards

Chapter 5- The “Gold Digger” and the Wife

Chapter 6- The Battle Royal That Led to Stardom

Chapter 7-  A Wonderful Lover

Chapter 8-  Whiskey Fumes and Orange Blossoms

Chapter 9- A Movie Queen and a Broken Home

Chapter 10-  Making Sodom Look Sick

Chapter 11-  The Girl Who Wanted Work

 

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The Reasons for the “Sins of Hollywood”

Introduction

                                       

  The sins of Hollywood are facts--NOT FICTION!
     The stories in this volume are true stories--the people are real
people--
     Most of those involved in the events reported herein are today occupying
high places in motion pictures--popular idols--applauded, lauded and showered
with gold by millions of men, women and children--ESPECIALLY THE WOMEN AND
CHILDREN!
     To the boys and girls of the land these mock heroes and heroines have
been pictured and painted, for box office purposes, as the living symbols of
all the virtues--
     An avalanche of propaganda by screen and press has imbued them with
every ennobling trait.
     Privately they have lived, and are still living, lives of wild
debauchery.
     In more than one case licentiousness and incest have been the only rungs
in the ladders on which they have climbed to fame and fortune!
     Unfaithful and cruelly indifferent to the worship of the youth of the
land, they have led or are leading such lives as may, any day, precipitate
yet another nation-wide scandal and again shatter the ideals, the dreams, the
castles, the faith of our boys and girls.
     It is for these reasons that the SINS OF HOLLYWOOD are given to the
public--
     That a great medium of national expression may be purified--taken from
the hands of those who have misused it--that the childish faith of our boys
and girls may again be made sacred!
     Fully eighty per cent of those engaged in motion pictures are high-grade
citizens--self-respecting and respected.
     In foolish fear of injuring the industry, Hollywood has permitted less
than one percent of its population to stain its name.
     The facts reported in these stories have long been an open book to the
organized producers--No need to tell them--they knew!
     They knew of the horde of creatures of easy morals who hovered about the
industry and set the standard of price--decided what good, clean women would
have to pay--have to give--in order to succeed--
     They knew of the macqueraux--of the scum that constituted the camp
followers of their great stars.  They knew of the wantonness of their leading
women--
     They knew about the yachting parties--the wild orgies at road houses and
private homes--
     They knew about Vernon and its wild life--Tiajuana and its mad, drunken
revels--
     They knew about the prominent people among them who were living in
illicit relationships.
     There was a time at one studio when every star, male and female, was
carrying on an open liason--The producer could not help knowing it.
     Eight months before the crash that culminated in the Arbuckle cataclysm
they knew the kind of parties Roscoe was giving--and some of them were glad
to participate in them--
     They knew conditions--knew about the "hop" and the "dope"--but they took
the stand that it was "none of our business"--
     Their business was piling up advance deposits from theater owners and
manipulating the motion picture stock market.
     They frowned upon all attempts to speak the truth--
     Any publication that attempted to reveal the real conditions--to cleanse
the festering sores--was quickly pounced upon as an "enemy of the industry"--
A subsidized trade press helped in this work!
     Any attempt to bring about reform was called "hurting the industry."
     It was the lapses and laxities of the producer that precipitated the
censorship agitation--that led a nauseated nation, determined to cleanse the
Augean stables of the screen, into the dangerous notion of censorship--almost
fatally imperiling two sacred principles of democracy--freedom of speech and
freedom of the press!
     They have made "box office" capital of everything--Nothing has been too
vile to exploit--
     They created the male vamp--
     Nothing was sacred--nothing was personal--if it had publicity
possibilities--
     In the Daniels case they exploited the courts and made them a laughing
stock-- [2]
     At this moment Taylor's tragic death is being exploited in connection
with his last production--
     If the screen is to be "cleaned-up" the sores must be cut open--the puss
and corruption removed--This always hurts!  But it is the only known way!
     THE AUTHOR
Hollywood, April 1, 1922

CLICK  FOR THE AUDIO – INTRODUCTION: →  The Reasons for the ‘Sins of Hollywood’

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Chapter 1

Dope!

 

During the throbbing, feverish years of the World War all roads let to

France or–Hollywood.

The conglomerate, nondescript mass of beings of every hue and type that

swept over the battlefields was no more complex in its composition, no more a

mixture of oil and water, than were the high and the low, the vile, the vain

and the vicious that made up the mob which swarmed into Hollywood to dip its

fingers into the pot of gold that was being poured from the movie crucible.

No mining camp ever equaled it.  No mad, lurid, wild and woolly border

town every attracted so many men of women of so high a station in life or so

vilely sunk as did Hollywood.

None of the country’s historic bonanza towns every beheld one half the

real money that Moviedom bathed in.

The Hollywood of those days will go down in history as the Rainbow Age

of the mountebank and the mummer.

The circus, the Uncle Tom show, the medicine show, the carnivals, the

physical culture fakes, the pony shows, the wild west outfits, the concert

halls, the dives, the honk-a-tonks–and in many cases–the bawdy houses–all

contributed their quota to the studios of Hollywood.

With them came men and women who had achieved world wide fame–actors,

authors, dramatists, composers, dancers, whose names are indelibly written in

the list of the world’s great artists.

When the shower of gold fell this latter group held its wits–in the

main.  Here and there one dropped into the mire of licentiousness and incest.

But this was rare.

The great actor of the spoken drama rarely got very far in the movies.

He refused to fit into the scheme as laid out by those who held the purse

strings.

It was the upstarts, the poor uncouth, ill-bred “roughnecks,” many of

whom are today famous stars, and who never knew there was so much money in

the world, who made the Sins of Hollywood the glaring, red sins they are

today.

After the first few weeks of plenty, of full feeding, the days of penury

and vagabondage faded into the dim vistas of the past.  Then came indulgence

in the common, ordinary vices of the average being.  And still the money

lasted and even increased.  Then the appetites became jaded and each tried to

out-dissipate the other.

Strip poker parties of both sexes, wild drinking debauches and lewdness,

motor cars in designs and colors that screamed and shrieked–dogs and cats as

aids to stimulate the imagination.  The odors of the Tenderloin and the

lobster palaces.  Poor, futile mimicry!

Then one day a certain well-known and muchly adored heart-breaking star

of the so-called “manly” type taught them something new.  And this is how it

came about:

This star–who shall be called Walter [3]–had tried out something.  In

his mad endeavor to provide for himself a thrill not written down in the

Movie Vicealogue, Walter sought out several habitues of the underworld of Los

Angeles and visited with them, consorted with them for the purpose, he

explained, of obtaining “local color.”

Once they induced him to try “a shot of hop.”  It was great, he told

some of his friends and “Yes men.”  They agreed that if he said it was great,

it was indeed great.

Yes, Walter smoked an opium pipe and went back for more.  He then tried

“snuffing” a bit of cocaine.  That too gave him the desired kick.  He “took a

few shots in the arm.”  Ah, that was still better.  He was getting on.

But why have his pleasures all alone?  Walter was a good sort.  He

wanted his friends to taste of the sweets of life as he found them.  Here’s

what he would do–he would give a “dope party.”

Obviously he could not hold this party at his own home.  His wife–she,

too, a star [4]–would object.  She didn’t even know that Walter had been

trying out various kinds of dope.

But that was easy.  Walter merely leased a cabin in Laurel Canyon and

invited a few select friends to come and enjoy something new.  Many attended:

Margaret and Mae, Vincent and Jay, Frank and Louise, Mary and Jack and

Juanita–all good fellows and friends of Walter.

Oh, yes, there was a Chinaman there with his layout–pipes and little

pellets of opium.

But first they must try “a shot in the arm.”  My!  How they enjoyed that

“shot in the arm.”  It thrilled the blase actor folk as they had not been

thrilled since Clara Kimball Young auctioned off her teddy bears, removing

them right before all the crowd. [5]

“Sniffing cocaine” through a little tube, one end of which hung inside a

vial of “snow,” was another pastime which all hugely enjoyed.  It exalted and

made other beings of them.  It was thoroughly a worth-while party, his guests

told Walter, and he was pleased–very pleased, indeed, if he had succeeded in

bringing a few thrills into their uneventful lives–lives, too, made up of

many thrills, but little else.

But the crowning event was when the Chinaman entered and gave each of

them a pipe and a pellet of opium.

Walter had fitted up cozy lounges for them to lie in.  Soft, clinging

curtains hung about them, pink-shaded lamps shed a soft glow, and the

Chinaman worked fast and soft-footedly.

Luckily the night was long–it was Saturday.  None of them had to appear

for work on Sunday.  So all the rest of the night and far into the next day

did they loll there upon the soft cushions and dream–and–well, there are

things that cannot be printed even for truth’s sake.

One by one they staggered homeward, vowing to return–any time–and

partake of handsome Walter’s hospitality.

And they did.  For that was but the beginning.  Today the Chinaman has

increased his output of pipes and pellets.  He has two assistants and he

holds himself in readiness to answer a summons at a moment’s notice to appear

at somebody’s home and help to make the night short and the dreams long.

Today the dope peddler is a common sight around the streets of

Hollywood.  And once, not so long ago, the Federal officers called upon

Handsome Walter and talked things over with him.  They wanted to know if he

was the go-between–the man who acted as middleman for the actors and the

peddlers of drugs.  Somehow he got out of it.  At least, he is still in

pictures and out of jail.

But the dope users are increasing; dope peddlers prevail.

There is a handsome home, closed temporarily, on a certain fashionable

street in Los Angeles, where if you could enter you would find the finest

equipped dope outfit in America.

Here come the players–mostly stars and near stars–to revel in

Popplyand; here are held high revels–or such was the case only a few months

ago–and here are the wildest of wild parties stages.

Not so long ago Dottie Pitchfork [6] fought a duel with a former Follies

girl [7] with fists and vases; though it is claimed that hair pulling

constituted and really ended the argument.

But they are interesting parties for all that.  They must be

interesting, for there have been as many as a hundred guests at these

“affairs,” not all of them dope fiends, but many of them are.

Most of them are easy to pick out.  Their nervousness betrays them.  The

twitching of their mouths, the “snuffles,” the listless air of many of them.

A rather new and somewhat unusual dope lately employed is that of

bromidia, a drug which taken in teaspoonsful drives the user to continuous

sleepiness, swelling of the limbs and a lassitude that brings great surcease.

There are but a few of these, however, more of them preferring cocaine,

a “shot in the arm,” and an occasional drag at the pipe.

Take for instance a certain young actor [8], son of one of the country’s

foremost exponents of the spoken drama. [9]  His face is yellow as saffron.

He is a pipe smoker.  Twice his father has had him committed to sanitariums.

When his father’s company comes to Los Angeles now the son secretes himself

and after his father’s departure writes and tells him how sorry he was to be

away on location during his stay in the city.

Then there is the case of the blonde with the Scandinavian name. [10]

Last year it cost her a thousand dollars a month for her dope supply.  She

uses cocaine and heroin, goes to sleep on the set, slips over to her dressing

room, takes a few “sniffs” and returns full of ginger, only to fade away in a

short time again.

A once noted song writer, now a movie scribbler, spends the greater part

of his income for drugs. [11]

An actor who has had a long and successful career with two of the big

companies is one of the list.

A well known director is another. [12]

A young woman star, whose name has been very much in the public print of

late, is still another. [13]

The list is interminable–almost inexhaustible.

These indulgences are not always confined to the privacy of the home,

either.  In certain more or less public resorts one may upon occasion find

well known movie people partaking of ether cocktails or other concoctions–

perfume dipped on sugar, for instance.  Anything and everything in the nature

of what the jazz mad world knows as a “kick.”

Walter, they say, still persists in giving an occasional party, though

his wife has long since learned of his condition.  But Walter has stamina.

He is still the handsome young devil he always was.  He gets away with it.

And even whiskey still has a thrill for him.  He dearly loves to go out-

-to some other town, of course–and fight a couple of policemen, tear out

sections of the hotel lobby and throw dishes at the head waiter.

But there are two young girls who regret that they ever attended one of

Walter’s parties.  They were new at the game, but they wanted to be “good

fellows.”  They “hit the pipe,” they “took a shot in the arm,” they snuffed

cocaine, just as the others did.

One has returned to her home in Illinois–back to her parents–where

they say that the drugs have so eaten into her system that she is dying of

tuberculosis.

The other, driven to desperation because of the insistent demand of her

nerves calling for the drugs, is now an ordinary street walker.  Her place of

“business” is a shabby rooming house in the underworld district of Los

Angeles; her “beat” is Main and Los Angeles streets.  Occasionally when she

can lure a sailor or a stranger to her room she gets from him whatever money

she can and then, as soon as she can rid herself of her companion, she rushes

frantically down to “John” and buys another “shot.”  It is all she lives for,

that “shot.”  And she prays nightly that she will not live very long.

There are other cases, of course.  For it is the young and inexperienced

who suffer most.  It is they who are driven to despair, and there are many in

Hollywood today.

The Federal officers are trying to stamp out the plague, but somehow the

dope users manage to obtain enough to keep them happy.  It has made wrecks of

several good men.  One of them, in his efforts to break off the habit, has

gone into the wilderness.  He is trying to make a little farm pay him a

livelihood, and his estimable wife is helping him.  She has had a hard fight,

but they say she is winning over the drug.

But Walter, handsome, debonair, smiling Walter, goes serenely on, having

a handsome salary, feeling, no doubt, that he is a benefactor to his friends.

Didn’t he give them a new thrill?

 

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Chapter 2

Duck Blinds!

 

There are no houses of prostitution in Hollywood.  No foot-weary

Magdalenes patrol the night. [14]

Hollywood looks with contempt upon the hunger-driven sisterhood that

haunts the streets and bawdy houses.  Here the merchandising of sex has been

made a fine art–its devotees are artists.  The unskilled worker is a

pariah–unwelcome.

The old Barbary Coast–the old Tenderloin–Armour Avenue, at their

height, are not Hollywood.  There is no restricted district–no “other side

of the railroad track.”

There is nothing crude or tawdry about Hollywood.  Hollywood loves

refinement.

Wherefore, the “joy parlors” and the “love nests” of Hollywood are not

all in Hollywood.  The “artists” pay a little more for what they get than

anyone else–go where they will and are welcomed.

Foul fingers reach far out from the city into the green hills and

valleys.  The reek of city vice mingles with the scented air of the open

places–Hollywood overlooks no bets.

A thousand roads lead to canyon cabin, sequestered cottage or mountain

shack.  There are easy routes to a score of hidden bays and inlets where wait

lavishly furnished yachts and house-boats.  From San Diego to Del Monte, from

the beach to the desert Hollywood drips its ooze.

The private dens–or retreats, as it,–where the idols of our boys and

girls disport and indulge their vices span a hundred miles in any direction.

It is in these snug bowers that the “domesticity” the fan magazines so

lovingly and so lyingly prattle of is revealed of in its true form.  Here the

veneer assumed for box office purposes vanishes–

The language of the gutter resumes its place as the mother tongue–

a space is a spade or even a harder name–passion is mad passion and nothing

less.

No frowning “Madam” calls a halt to maintain a show of order.  Hollywood

has eliminated the “madam” and the grafting policeman.  They belong to the

crude days.

Hollywood knows no curb but sanitation and exhaustion.

Half a dozen miles north of the Ridge Route on what is known as the

inland highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco lies a small lake that

nestles between the foothills and the highway.  On its shores are scattered

clumps of brush and a few blinds for duck hunters.

In the stories we read of Sodom and Pompeii there is nothing about duck

blinds.  Hollywood is creative–requires no precedent.

Hollywood has found a new use for duck blinds–

On the far side of the lake about two hundred yards from the water’s

edge stands a frame house.  It is painted a dark shade of green.

The house and the acres that lie back of it are the property of two

nationally famous film producers and a Los Angeles business man who runs with

the film crowd.

Silence holds the green house most of the time.  The nearest neighbor is

some distance away.  Many shade trees hide his view of the green house.

A few turkeys roam the hills.

To the passing motorist the green house is but a speck on the landscape.

The general aspect is one of serenity and peace.  The scene is truly

pastoral.  The spot exudes an air of rural innocence.

Hollywood knows the value of “atmosphere.”  That is part of Hollywood’s

business.  In studio parlance “atmosphere” and camouflage go hand in hand.

During the summer months the hills are hot and few visitors come to the

green house.  But as the days grow cooler and October draws near, signs of

life appear.  The duck season is approaching.  Automobiles wind over the road

back of the lake and unload their cargoes.  Everything is made ready for

hunter and huntress.  By the first of October all is in shape for the

season’s sport.

The green house duck hunter travels like the Mexican army.  His women go

with him.  The laws of California are the same for men or women who hunt

ducks.  You must carry a hunting license.

The law says nothing about a marriage license.  So the little green

house complies with the law.  Also the law says nothing about chaperones for

house parties of married people–who do not happen to be married to each

other.  Again the green house complies with the law.

More than one noted screen beauty has spent the week end in the green

house.  More than one famed portrayer of sweet innocence has “hunted” on

these shores.  It is not every passing motorist that carries field glasses–

and the naked eye does not carry across the lake far enough to recognize

faces–

Form Friday to Sunday night through October, November and December, the

greenhouse walks with kings and queens of shadowland.  It sees them at play–

in what the naturalist would call their native habit, untrammeled as it were

by the artificial conventions of society or the demands of business.

It sees them shorn of their gloss and their glamour.

Not long since a certain beauty [15] who was once the wife of a widely

advertised male vamp [16], a hunting went on the far shore of this lake.  This

lady has achieved much fame.  She first won her way into the heart of a noted

producer [17] by “hanging crepe” on the “lamp” of a rival who was at that time

basking in the sunshine of his favor and the public smile.  Carmen stuff

comes natural to her.  Although she and the producer in question are not the

pals they once were, their names are more or less interwoven, and they are

still very good friends.

Yes, very dear friends.  He has a wife and family and must be more or

less careful.

Just as day was breaking the beauty was escorted to one of the blinds.

It was not quite light as yet and her escort, a noted screen celebrity, had

to help her.  The blind is constructed in front of a row boat moored to the

shore.

It was cold.  He had a bottle of which both partook freely.  He emptied

it and produced another.  It was real cold.  So they partook freely–and

cuddled close against the wind.

There were few ducks that morning.  In fact, the waters of the lake had

been particularly low and the birds hardly alighted before they flocked off

again on their way southward.  There were chances for but few shots.

It grew a bit lighter but the cold wind grew colder.  The sport began to

lag.  Pretty soon she dropped her gun and snuggled closer to him and took a

few more drinks.  He continued peering into the distance in search of passing

birds.

Up over the edge of a hill some distance back from the house a man with

field glasses gazed intently.  As the woman cuddled closer he fixed his gaze

more intently.  For weeks he had been watching the place unknown to its

owners.

Of course, he had no idea of the prominence of those he spied upon or he

might have hesitated.  There is not much spice in the life of ranch hands.

When tales of strange carryings on came floating over the hills early in the

season, the man with the field glasses bethought himself of a good use for

them.  More than once his vigil had been rewarded.  But this time he was

puzzled.  He could not tell what was coming.  He did not know a new thrill

when he saw one.  He was not an “artist.”

His eyes remained riveted on the scene before him.  Soon the woman’s

male companion dropped his gun, rested his arm on the side of the boat, slid

down into the bottom with his legs sprawled over one of the seats and

appeared to have fallen asleep.

The beauty yawned, took another drink and sat down on the same seat.

For a long time the watcher on the hill could detect no sign of life.  Clouds

came up and hid the sun.  There was no stir in the green house.  The other

occupants, if there were any, were evidently fast asleep.

A flock of birds made a sweep over the edge of the lake and settled.

Another bunch came and joined the first.  Sun and sky remained obscured.  The

pair in the boat will still inert.  The watcher on the hill grew more puzzled

than ever.  What had happened?

He stepped down and started to circle to the lower reaches of the ridge

over toward a pass in a canyon that led to the house.  Cautiously he drew

nearer until he was on the rim of a high bluff directly overlooking the

blind.

On this bluff a hole had been dug into the ground and crawling toward it

he slid out of sight until he was entirely covered.  From this vantage point

he could, with the aid of the glasses, see all that transpired.

More ducks came.  No shots were fired.  The mystery deepened.  A slight

ripple danced away from the side of the boat as it slowly rocked.  The

ripples grew larger and came more often.  The boat rocked more violently.

The watcher lifted his glasses and gazed again.  This time he did not remove

them from his eyes.  The glasses remained fixed or rather transfixed.  The

watcher was oblivious to all else but what was going on in the row boat on

the water’s edge.

Suddenly the boat rocked more violently than ever.  It seemed to be

having a spasm.  The watcher jumped to the edge of the hole.  He could stand

it no longer.

He waved his hands aloft.

“The dirty dogs,” he cried out aloud as he walked into the open.  There

was a flurry of wings as the startled ducks took to the air.  The boat gave a

final lurch like a ship in a gale.

The watcher on the hill had recognized the beauty–he knew the face.

Had seen her in pictures a thousand times!

But he had never read of Sodom or Pompeii!

 

CLICK  FOR THE AUDIO – Chapter 2: → 02 – Duck Blinds –

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Chapter 3

Strip Poker and Paddle Parties

 

“There surely must be some way of getting into the movies without

stooping below one’s own level.”

So thought Jane Evans, who had been in Hollywood some weeks without

making any impression on casting directors other than to invoke insinuating

invitations.

Surely the high-class stars were not so coarse.  These men who talked so

openly were just the riff-raff.  It could not possibly be otherwise.  The

newspapers said such nice things about the great actors and actresses–

Soon opportunity came to Jane to mingle in the social whirl of the much

talked of celebrities.  She had left her telephone number at all the studios.

One day she was telephoned to by some mysterious person.  She was told it was

a business call.  She went to the studio designated and found a young man

pawing over some photographs in a wire basket.  She noticed that a picture of

herself, that she had left hopefully, lay segregated from the others.  She

entered without being seen and was almost taken off her feed when she heard

the young man say:  “I am rustling up some new ones for the Boss’ party

tonight.”

The young man picked up Jane’s photograph and was going to say something

else when he noticed her presence.

“Ah, this is Miss ——-?”

“I am,” said Jane, “you telephoned for me.”

“Do you ride and do you swim,” he asked with a peculiar glance towards

another man that sat playing with another photograph and who was just then

ruining it utterly by poking a hole in it with a paper knife.

“I do a little of each.”

“All right,” said the young man.  “Wait.”

The youth went into an inner office and threw the picture on a desk by

which sat a very handsome man, well known as a screen favorite.  He was

playing with a dog and drinking a cocktail.

“Not bad,” he said, and sized up the picture.  “I’ll take a look.”

He went towards the door and peeked out carefully.  He came back and

said in a very cool and deliberate way:

“She is a new one on me.  She’ll do.”

The young man came back and was all attention and politeness.

“Mr. ——-, well, the boss, says that he will be pleased to have you

meet some of the members of the company at his house tonight,” he said, “and

he wants you to be there promptly at midnight.”

He wrote an address and a telephone number and gave it to Jane and

showed her the way out.

“Midnight?” asked Jane of herself.  “How odd.”

But then it occurred to her that perhaps the great men worked late and

she thought nothing more about it.  She made up her mind to take the

opportunity and to let no chance to meet the great and near-great go by.

She spent the evening at her apartment and, after having written an

optimistic letter to her mother, she dressed in her best and soon looked very

charming.

Promptly at midnight she arrived at the address given.  It was one of

the largest houses in the city and stood buried among magnificent trees in

the middle of a park-like garden.  She approached the entrance.  But the

house was dark, but for a small light in the hall.  She thought at first that

she was at the wrong house, but rang the bell.  At length the door was opened

by the young man she had met at the office and he asked her in.

“You are on time,” he laughed.  “That’s enough.  I know now that you

haven’t been long in the movies.  Nobody gives a whoop for appointments or

time.  I guess they’ll show up, though.  They do at times.”

The young man asked her to take a seat.  Whether she removed her wraps

or not did not seem to bother him.  He sat down and lighted a cigarette,

threw the match on the floor and smoked.  He remarked suddenly that his name

was Mack.  He made a move now and then as if he would sit down close by Jane,

but he looked towards the door and refrained from doing so.

Jane saw a light-button and deliberately turned on the lights.

“Go as far as you like,” said the young man with a raucous laugh.  “Most

o’ them don’t want no lights.”

Jane pretended not to hear him.

“Is that you, Mack?” suddenly came a drawling voice from upstairs.

“Yes, sir” replied Mack, all attention.  “I didn’t know you was in.”

“Is the little one there?” asked the voice.

“She has just came.  She’s kicking about more light.”

“Give her a drink or two till I get down,” said the voice.  I’m having a

row with Clara.”

“Who is Clara?” asked Jane, and rose to her feet.

“Nobody,” replied Mack.  “I think she is his wife.  That’s nothing.”

Jane, frightened, got ready to leave when she heard a volley of laughter

outside and four boisterous persons came rushing in.

Jane now could see that they were under the influence of drink.  They

made a rush for the decanters and the sideboard.

They all seemed to know where everything was in the house and helped

themselves liberally.  Then one of the men noticed Jane and said to Mack.

“Mack, who have we here?”

“Gee, you didn’t give me a chance to introduce her,” said Mack.  “She is

a new friend of the boss–and–”

“Great God,” snapped one of the women, “Is he through with Clara

already?”

“Of course,” laughed the other woman, “Clara has lasted longer than any

of them.  Gee, what do you expect?”

“Where is his Nibs?” asked one of the men.

“Upstairs, scrapping,” said Mack.  “But he’s told me to tell you–”

“That’s enough,” cried one of the women.  “Get the cards and the

lubricants and we don’t care if he never comes down.”

Jane found herself swept on to a chair at the card table and soon a

poker game was in full progress.  She was given an allotment of chips and had

no idea whether they represented money or not, or if so, how much.  She did

not know what to do or say and nobody seemed to care.

“Ante-up,” said Mack.  “Gee, it’s hell to be popular.”

The game progressed.  Jane knew enough of poker to keep up her play.

Soon one of the women lost all her chips.  Jane thought she would now learn

what the stakes represented.  She had heard of games where thousands of

dollars changed hands in a few minutes.

The losing woman stood up.  Jane then witnessed a remarkable

performance.  The woman calmly unhooked her shirtwaist and stripped it off

her and threw it on the floor.  She picked up her cards and continued to

play, after lighting a cigarette.

“Are you warm?” asked Jane in bewilderment.

“Yes,” laughed the woman.  “Wait till you get your turn.  Quit your

kidding.”

The other woman was the next one to lose out and she calmly removed her

skirt and flung it away.

Jane had never heard of the popular game of “strip poker,” and

consequently concluded that her companions were losing their minds as well as

their chips and clothes.

She felt a sinking feeling as she suddenly saw her last chips gone.  She

noticed that they all stared at her, the men especially.

“Pay your loss,” laughed one of them.  “Strip off something.”

She said she did not understand.  They explained to her that the game

consisted of a system of undressing and that the losers had to strip off some

garment each time he or she lost their last chips.

Jane kicked off one of her slippers and smiled.  The men looked

disgusted and the women turned up their noses and the game went on.

While Jane was so busy trying to devise some plan by which she could get

out of the house, she found her last chips again swept away in a large

jackpot.

“Nothing can be stripped off that some other player has removed before,”

laughed one of the men.  “Now be a good sport and pay your bets.  No waists

or skirts or shoes.”

She became fearfully indignant.  She arose and said she thought it was

time to leave.

“She is crawfishing,” cried one of the women.  “Make her pay, Al.”

The man who answered the name of “Al” put his cigar more firmly into the

corner of his big flabby mouth and arose.  He took hold of her and unhooked

the back of her dress.

The others roared and the other man wanted to know if “he wanted any

help?”

Jane began to cry.  She tried to tear away from the man.  He sunk his

dirty fingernails into her white full arm.

Just then the “boss” was heard coming down.  He reached the scene at the

poker table with incredible haste.

He looked at Jane who was wiping a tear and tried to look calm.

Mack tried to intervene and explain.  The big, handsome host took him by

the neck and flung him into a corner.  He picked Jane up bodily and carried

her to a nearby sofa.

“There’ll be no rough stuff while I am here.  This is one of my homes,”

he said with apparent chivalry.  “Nix on that.”

“Who dragged this nice, young girl into a strip poker game?” he

demanded.  For God’s sake, don’t you know a lady when you see one?”

The two men stood like whipped dogs and Mack sneaked out of the room.

But Jane did not see how her supposed champions winked to the men and

how they exchanged glances.

The big man walked over and sat down by Jane.

“Look here, he said, consolingly, “nobody is going to get neither me nor

any of my homes in bad.  I am going to be your friend.”

At last, thought Jane, she had met one of screenland’s noblemen,

although he was rather rough in manner.  But he seemed to have a heart as big

as his body.

It was past two o’clock and Jane said something about departing.

“Don’t spoil the party,” pleaded the host.  “There ain’t nobody here

yet.  I expect a raft of ladies and gentlemen.  The bunch seldom gets here

before two.”

Little did Jane know that the foregoing was merely an overture to one of

the great bacchanalian parties, to one of the nauseating orgies which are the

order of the day in Movieland.  Or, perhaps, it would be more correct to

style them the order of the night, or nights.

It was not long before the parlors of the house began to fill up.  The

most remarkable etiquette seemed to prevail.  Whether a man preceded a woman

through an open door, or if he conversed glibly with his cigar or cigarette

in his mouth, mattered not at all.  Everybody called each other by their

first name and all of them smiled in a peculiar way when they met Jane.  The

men smiled pleasantly and the women critically.

Jane recognized some of the leaders of the profession and was glad to

have a chance to view them and hear them at close range.

In a semi-circle, around a fire-place, sat a young handsome man with a

name like one of the country’s most famous playwrights. [18]

He was jabbing a hypodermic needle into the pretty white arm of a young

girl, and then others were watching him intently, and still others sat in a

stupor and leered.

The girl evidently had not the courage to inject the narcotic drug into

her own arm.  She was a novice.  Then the needle was passed around just like

the pipe of peace was passed by the noble American Indians on the same spot

in days of yore.

A famous girl, in the meantime, was drinking perfume and another was

pouring perfume from the bottles on the dressing table on lumps of sugar, and

eating it.

The supply of liquor seemed inexhaustible.  As fast as the bottles were

emptied fresh ones took their places.  Bottles that had cost as much money as

would maintain an ordinary family for a week were emptied almost in one

swallow.  Concoctions were mixed that even old time drinkers had never before

heard of.

The women were the first to show the effects.  Their high kicking left

nothing to the imagination.  The men encouraged them.  One pair shimmied

three-quarters nude.  There was nothing concealed in the climax to their

dance.  The onlookers shook their shoulders and bodies in unison with the

dancers.

Suddenly the host, from the far end of the big room, called for silence.

In his arms he carried what looked like ordinary flat sticks of wood.

Painted on each one was a number.

At the same time Mack, his assistant, passed about among the women

pinning a paper tag with a number on it to each of their backs.  Not knowing

what was coming, Jane permitted him to give her one.  She thought it was a

new game.  It was–to her.  Possibly something like the old time donkey

parties they used to have at home?  Not a bit!

Then Mack went around among the men and collected twenty dollars from

each of them.  This money he placed in a heap on the table in front of the

host.  The girls were told to gather in a corner and turn their backs to the

men leaving their numbers exposed to view.

“The new one is 18,” said Mack in a low tone as he approached the table.

The host slipped that number into the table drawer.

“Awrit lesgo,” cried the host.  Mack spun the wheel that lay on the

table.

“Number 6,” yelled the host.  A dozen men grabbed for it.  The victor

turned about and made a rush for the girl marked “6.”  Maudlin shouts and

suggestive grimaces greeted them.  Mack handed the girl twenty dollars as the

pair walked to another part of the house.  They were seen no more.

“Some paddle party,” said Mack, as without hitch of any kind, one man

after another drew his girl.  The girl took her money and each pair in turn

vanished.

During the sale of the “paddles,” as Jane learned the wooden disks were

called, she had overheard enough to let her know what it meant.  One of the

women even told her of a “paddle” party she had attended and what a “fine”

time everybody had–and money besides.

Jane found it easy to slip upstairs and find her coat.  It was four

o’clock.  She passed out of the house unnoticed, walked and ran until she was

a dozen blocks away.  It was broad daylight when she reached home.

Her absence was not remarked until the room was almost emptied.  Then

Mack noticed she was gone.  He hunted everywhere.  He went back and told the

host.

“Why in hell didn’t you watch her,” he growled at Mack, as he slipped

Jane’s number out of the drawer and on to the table and replaced it with

another.

In this way the host drew a girl.  Mack drew the blank that represented

Jane.

The big room was empty now but from every part of the house came

suppressed laughter.  The lights went out.

Thus ended the function.  It was regarded as a great success.

The morning sun shone through the windows, but the house was stale with

tobacco and liquor reeks and the sickening odor of “dope.”  Here and there

lay torn women’s garments and in the halls were bits of lingerie.

 

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Chapter 4

How the Great Letty Played Her Cards

 

Letty had aspirations to be somebody. [19]  Early in life she learned

that if a girl cannot be good she must be fairly careful.  This grew to be

her motto.

Born in a Western state where men see fit to provide for more than one

wife–brought up among these strange surroundings the girl had talent in more

ways than one.  She learned to play the piano at first, then she took up the

violin.  When fifteen years of age she sought and obtained a position playing

for dances with an orchestra.

Thus she was able to purchase the baubles and dresses which appealed to

her as the greatest possessions a girl could acquire.

But Letty was young then–only fifteen.  She is older now–and wiser–

much wiser.  The Past has a baleful look to her–a saddened chastened look.

A forbidding Memory haunts her, taunts her.  And this is the story:

Growing into a fairly pretty girl who knew how to wear clothes, a

winsome expression, an innocent face, with a simulated poise that was always

on tap, Letty heard of the movies.  She had played in a theater where

pictures were shown.  The lure of the silent drama called to her in such

determined tones that she forsook her violin in the land of many wives and

hastened to Hollywood.

Letty found that the job of “extra girl” brings little remuneration–

unless–well, Letty didn’t know the ropes–then.  It was an assistant

director who first taught her the things she wanted to know.  Assistant

directors are sometimes wonderful artists at teaching young girls many things-

-many tricks of the movie profession.

By the time the assistant director had shown Letty how she could be

successful as an actress, she was granted an opportunity to give her

education a test.  The assistant had found a blonde who looked particularly

good to him, anyway.  He was finished with Letty.

As a bathing girl, Letty got her first part.  The director of comedies

merely wanted to see if she could screen in a bathing costume, he said.  He

“looked her over” in the privacy of his office.  The bathing suit was

particularly daring–even for the movies.  The director approved of her

form–and in comedies he was one of the big directors. [20]  That was Letty’s

cue.  She is a bright girl, is Letty.

Some girls would have started right in to vamp the great director–who,

incidentally, is part owner of the studio where he directs.  Not so, Letty.

Letty had been schooled–by an assistant director.  She had learned all about

the fine art of “yessing.”  Vamping is old.

True she displayed her physical charms as best she could–as much as she

dared.  Not too much–just enough.  She had been an apt pupil.

So Letty did bits and atmosphere–as a bathing girl.  But this did not

last long.  Letty came to life when she thought the time was ripe.  She

showed a decided interest in the great comedy director.  She patted him on

the cheek–she leaned against him when she conversed with him; she tantalized

him–and walked away.  Letty had learned a great deal more than some of the

other girls–they had not all been schooled by an assistant director.

Soon the great director was seen out with Letty at a few of the

roadhouses at Venice, Playa del Rey, Beverly Glen.  Letty and the great

director often exchanged knowing glances on the lot.

And with the passing of each day Letty kept getting wiser.  She was wise

enough not to tax the great director too much.  She needed clothes and other

things.  There was a certain shoe merchant in Los Angeles.  He liked movie

girls.  Letty saw to it that she was the particular movie girl he liked.

Letty was nice to her director and nice to the shoe merchant–but each

had his place in her scheme for the future.  The former was to be her

stepping stone.  The latter supplied the wherewithal to keep her dressed for

the part until–well, one day his wife went to a department store and got the

wrong bill–it amounted to over Five hundred.  Letty had to be more careful

after that–but not less ambitious.

There was heralded throughout Hollywood one day the news that a

wonderful director was coming to town–a master builder. [21]

Letty read the news with avidity.  She began to plan.  She had sense

enough to know that as a comedienne she never would arrive.  No girl ever

amounted to anything in comedies.  They were good enough to rub off the rough

spots, but that was all.  She must have a chance a drama.  She had tried

innumerable times–when the great comedy director did not know it–to get

even a bit in the big pictures, but always she had been turned away.

So she decided to use her wit–and her physical charm.

Patiently she waited till one evening the opportunity came when she

could meet the Great One–the wonderful director of master pictures.  The

introduction was simple and brief.  To Letty it was an event upon which she

was determined to capitalize.

The Great One gave her but passing notice.  But Letty was patient as

ever.  She bided her good time.  There was but another step.  The Great One

needed a girl to play the role of a woman member of a gang of thieves.  With

the aid of a booking agent, she succeeded in selling herself–her services–

to the Great One for his big masterpiece–a picture that has been called the

equal of anything Griffith every produced. [22]

Letty’s work made an impression.  She knew how to be hard–to play the

embittered woman.  She was wise but–it had cost something and the hardness

in the picture was not all acting.

By degrees she began to appear at places the Great One frequented–just

as if by accident.  By the same slow process she practiced the wiles she had

learned from her two teachers–the assistant director and the great director-

-and soon she began to see progress.  Slowly, but none the less surely, she

broke down the Great One’s reserve and then–

Step by step she builded the foundation for her success.  She intrigued

the Great One–without shame she permitted him to come to her in the great

silences of the whispering night; and in the pink tinted hours of the dawn

she bade him begone lest someone learn of their illicit love.

Then she twisted her mouth and to herself she smiled a smile of cynicism

and scorn.  She had won over the Great One in spite of himself–

Later she told him many things and–he believe her.  She had not

realized all her ambitions yet.  She needed him.

At a cafe in New York he agreed to provide the funds for her own company-

-her triumph was complete.  She had her publicity man call in all her bathing

girl pictures of the earlier days.  The publisher of a motion picture trade

paper agreed to get a release for her pictures–It cost her only a smile to

secure this service without pay.  The publisher and the Great One were

friends of long standing.  The publisher had helped make the Great One great

and–it had paid well.

Mystery surrounded the formation of the company–Letty paid all the

bills at the studio–her name appeared on the pay checks.  Hollywood

suspected but did not know.  The Great One was involved in law suits over his

big picture and his name must not appear.  The Great One chose an air of

mystery–well and good.  Hollywood was used to mysteries–none of which were

really mysteries to Hollywood at all.

But Letty had started something–she had succeeded in making a slave of

the Great One.  She had won him from his relatives, his friends and his

backers.  She had made of him a servant who answered her every whim–he lived

only for her.

It was strange, too.  For here was a brilliant man–a man with a

reputation for big things–a scholar, a gentleman, a connoisseur–yet he was

a veritable groveling slave to Letty, an uneducated, unrefined, mongrel type

of middle western girl.

But it was all too true–and sad.

Now there was a handsome young chap–and actor of a class–who

frequented the lot  [23]–the young son of a famous theatrical father. [24]  He

looked good to Letty, did Waldo.  He was clean-cut, husky, clever and a good

dresser.  Better looking by far than her Great One–and younger.  Why, he had

no gray hairs at all.

So Letty fell really in love–or at least she thought it was love.

Anyway, Waldo appealed to her in a different way than did the Great One.  She

began to cultivate Waldo, the young one.  And Waldo appeared to like Letty.

Perhaps he was flattered, for Letty was now a star; the newspaper clippings

said so.  For the Great One maintained a fine staff of press agents for the

express purpose of exploiting Letty.

Soon Waldo and Letty began to go about the roadhouses together; to

appear at public places in each other’s company.  He was always by her side

at the studio.  Indeed, it soon became noised about that the young couple

were engaged, and neither one of them took the trouble to deny it.  Even the

press agents failed to capitalize upon the choice bit of material.

The Great One called Letty into his office.

“What is this I hear about you–and young Waldo?” he wondered, as if

afraid to learn the truth.

“Search me,” replied Letty, flippantly.  “I haven’t the slightest idea

what you have heard.”

“It isn’t true, is it, Letty?  You are not going to marry him–and leave

me are you, Letty, dear?”

“Aw, what’s the matter with you again?” burst out the girl.  “You always

manage to think up something to razz me about.  What’s eating you, anyhow?

Haven’t I got a right to do as I damn please?  Who the hell do you think you

are, anyway–King of Ireland, or something?”

And she walked away from him.

Had she looked back she might have seen the Great One drop his head in

his hands as he settled back in his chair.  The Great One was very, very

tired.

Letty’s picture was finished and released.  It was regarded as a good

one.  The Great One was given little time to rest.

In order to hold the girl, he supervised another picture–and his

assistant completed it.  This picture, of course, starred Letty.  It was not

such a wonderful picture–mediocre, in fact.  But the publicity brought about

by the success of the masterpiece made of Letty a well known actress.  It

made her famous.  And her name carried the second photoplay past the booking

offices and into the projection rooms of the theaters throughout the land.

By this time Letty was flaunting the Great One openly.  She turned from

him, head uplifted, eyes straight ahead.  But she had succeeded only too well

in her efforts to drive the Great One from her.  Indeed, she had broken his

heart.

He took to his bed and for many weeks lay there, paying no attention to

anyone.  Apparently he did not want to get well.

Before his death the company which he had formed for the purpose of

starring Letty went into the discard.  But Letty was “made.”  The death of

her benefactor brought about the solution of her problem–a problem she had

been trying to solve for several months.  That problem was How to Become a

Star for One of the Biggest Companies in the Business.

For immediately one of the Biggest Directors sent for her.  Letty knows

men.  She had clothes now, and a name.  She wore her clothes well.  They

displayed just enough of her physical charms to attract the Big Director.

And she knows just how much to say–and how much to hint.  Letty is a very

intelligent girl–along certain lines.

Today Letty is listed among the Stars.  Every day she climbs higher.

Her position appears to be secure.  Her escapades seem to be confined to

playing a quiet game with those who can do her the most good.

 

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Chapter 5

The “Gold Digger” and the Wife

 

He is famous now, this comedian–famous and rich. [25]  Children of all

ages laugh in joyful glee at his screen antics.  His salary extends into the

thousands per year.  For he is one of the greatest in his line.

But it was not always thus.  Time was when he was a plugger–a worker in

another line of endeavor–a newspaper man.

Happily married was this comedian whom we shall call Parry.  He stayed

at home those days and employed the society of his loving wife and happy

little child–his daughter.

Through the years of struggling for a livelihood, fighting off the

spectre of debt which followed in the wake of the birth of their baby, the

wife was ever at his side cheering him, praising him, helping him to make a

success in life.  That was her job–she was a helpmate.

Then–he became a motion picture actor.

At first he was only ordinary and commonplace.  But his trained

newspaper sense showed him that many comedians who were funny were

overlooking some important features–ideas which make for fun on the screen.

“Gags,” the comedians call them.

So Parry began to try out new stunts–“gags.”  From the first he was

successful in his new idea.  His employers saw that he “had something” and

they permitted him to spend all the money he required to properly “put over”

his stunts.

And soon he became known as a real comedian–not because of his acting,

for he is not an actor–but for the reason that his “gags” were novel and

new.

Soon his head became slightly enlarged–he was becoming famous.  His

letters to his wife, who still remained in New York, became more and more

infrequent.

He was so busy.

There came to the “lot” one day a dark-haired, fair-skinned girl of,

say, twenty years. [26]  Her smile–to Parry, was infectious.  She had “a way”

about her.  And, indeed, she had.  The “way” had become a habit with her.

She had employed it for many years for just the purpose of decoying men to do

her bidding.  She was clever, none can gainsay that.

It was no trick at all for her to ingratiate herself in the good graces

of the comedian.  And at once she became his leading woman.  She was a

comedienne.  She admitted it to Parry and he believed it.

In time he bought her a handsome light blue car–a limousine.  Parry was

her slave.  He visited her apartments.  Virtually he lived there–day and

night.  A paid chauffeur drove her to the studio.  Parry drove a nondescript

car.  Of course, they did not arrive at the studio together.  That would be

too crude.

Back in New York a little woman began to eat her heart out.  The cry of

mate for mate went out across the continent, but Parry heard it not.  His

tiny daughter, now a beautiful young girl, sent tearful messages to her

daddy, but Parry ignored those appeals.

Came the time for action.  The wife had been receiving a fairly liberal

allowance, but no endearing words from her now famous husband.  She wondered

why.  Later she wondered why her allowance was being gradually cut down.  The

little daughter, too, now old enough to see that her mother was terribly

worried and sad, wondered.  She tried vainly to cheer her saddened mother–to

tell her that “Daddy” would come home some day–or perhaps send for them–and

they would all be happy together once more.

But the long days dragged themselves out and no word came from the

comedian.  True a small check occasionally drifted along, but nothing

accompanied them–no words of love for the wife and little one.

The wife could stand it no longer.  She decided that once and for all

she must find out what the trouble was–what influence was turning her own

lawful husband against her–and their baby.

So she packed up and with her daughter they came to Hollywood.  Vainly

did she try to get on the “lot” where her comedian husband was employed.  The

gate keeper had his instructions–for she had wired that she was coming.

Yes, she had telegraphed Parry–but he did not meet her at the train.  The

little daughter mingled her tears with those of her mother that night in the

gloomy hotel room.

Telephone calls received no response–Parry was not at home.  Than it

began to dawn upon the wife of the comedian that he was deliberately turning

her down–flaunting her love.

The wife learned of a noted attorney–a lawyer who knew all the movie

folks, for they were his clients–many of them.  To this attorney she went.

The gruff, old lawyer’s heart was touched at the pathos of it all.  He

knew the kind of a man Parry was–of his philandering, of his infatuation for

his leading woman.

So he sent for Parry.  Parry came at the lawyer’s bidding.  Many of the

film workers do.  They know what he knows.  They are afraid not to answer

when he beckons.

Parry came–and met his loving wife and his tearful daughter at the

gruff, but kind hearted lawyer’s office.

Joyfully did the little girl bounce to the side of her “Daddy.”

“Daddy!  Oh, my Daddy!” she cried, throwing her arms about the

comedian’s neck.

Roughly the comedian loosed the tiny arms that encircled his neck.  Then

he turned to his wife–the wife he had promised to love and cherish–the wife

who had helped him when he needed help most.  The woman stood aghast at his

actions.  It was incredible!

“Still nagging, I see,” he said, sneeringly.  “Still hounding me!  Well,

what do you want?”

The wife fell upon her knees before the comedian, begged him for the

sake of the baby to make a home for them–to love them–to live with them.

But her turned away from her–whistling.

“Let’s get it over with,” he said to the lawyer.  “What does this woman

want?”

“She wants–and we intend to get–all that is coming to her–in money,”

answered the attorney.  “She wants your love and your kindness–she wants a

father for her daughter–she wants a home.  But this she sees now she cannot

have.  She wants happiness–and you are denying her that.  So she must have

money–to properly bring up your daughter–and hers.”

“Well, how much?” asked the comedian.  “I’m not a millionaire, you know.

It costs me a lot of money to live here–”

“We know your salary–never fear.  We’ll get what she wants–in our own

way–unless you see fit to be fair right now.”

The comedian did not see fit to be fair.  But before he left the

attorney’s office he had paid–paid in hard coin–and he is still paying.

And he will continue to pay–for the contract is iron bound and certain.

That is the kind of contracts the lawyer draws–because he knows some of the

movie folks for what they are.

Tear-stained faces now peer from the windows of their apartments in New

York–two saddened hearts beat dully, yet occasionally with a faster beating

of hope–for some day, maybe, “Daddy” will see the error of his ways and come

home–some day–maybe.

For Lucy–as she shall be called–now has the upper hand.  She is what

is termed in Hollywood “a gold digger.”  She has extracted every dime she can

from the comedian–her rent, her car, her jewels, her clothes, her pleasures.

But even to the man who has brought her all these she oftentimes is not

at home.

And why?

Because oftentimes other men are there–men she has lured; men who are

fond of her charms; men who do not leave her apartments until daybreak–and

later.

Every know and then she makes a trip to New York–fatigued from being

too closely wedded to her art–she needs a change.

And Parry pays the bills as she flits in and out of the Tenderloin’s

mazes.  Her face is familiar in every hotel lobby on Broadway.  She has many

telephone calls–many midnight suppers.

Parry pays for these jaunts to the same city where a little fatherless

girl sits and waits with her face pressed against the pane–waits alone for

her “Daddy” who never comes.

Every day Parry talks to Lucy from Los Angeles–if he fails to reach her

he comes home sick.  She disappeared for two days on her last trip and they

had to get a doctor for Parry.  His assistant and his “Yes Men” were sorry

for him so they tried to frame lying excuses, but they knew where she was and

under their breaths they cursed her.

Finally she wrote and said she was not coming back–the going was too

good in New York.  So after a couple of weeks of illness, during which he was

under the doctor’s care; the doctor knew what he needed and didn’t dare tell

him–Parry went to work with a new leading woman.

His friends and faithful assistant were happy–Parry was cured.  He was

through with Lucy, through with his parasite.  But they did not know Lucy.

When she tired of New York she came back, smiled and Parry and the next

morning the new leading woman was fired.  Lucy resumed her place as sole

occupant of the harem–

That evening she recounted to a group of laughing and screaming studio

pals the wonderful time she had in New York.  She told of all the men she had

met, and set the bunch roaring with glee again and again as she re-told her

adventures.

Lucy enjoyed playing the wanton, and her friends enjoyed hearing about

it.

Yes, she is wanton–wanton and cruel and selfish.  Think not that the

“entertains” other men because she is so fond of their society–because she

is a “man’s woman.”  No, she is just a “gold digger.”  Parry’s money is

good–but it is not enough.  She wants more–always more.  And then Parry may

be a great comedy star but he is not much for looks.  She wants more and more

and more.  And that is her way of getting it.  Soon Lucy will be rich–for in

proportion as their men grew poorer. the “gold digger” grows richer.

And back in New York with her little face pressed against the pane a

little girl waits and watches–alone she waits for her “Daddy” who never

comes.

And a lone woman dreams of the days when she was the helpmate–the happy

wife of a poor newspaper artist–and in her heart curses the hour motion

pictures came into being.

But some time–some day–there may come a familiar step–and with a

great joy, that will fill their tender hearts to overflowing, they will dash

down the stairs and fall into the arms of their “Daddy”–if he sees the light

in time–in time.

But, of course, that will only be when Lucy gets ready.

 

CLICK  FOR THE AUDIO – Chapter 5: → 05 – The ‘Gold Digger’ and the Wife –

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Chapter 6

A Battle Royal That Led to Stardom

 

Love brings strange contrasts–it upsets traditions and turns precedent

all topsy-turvy.  But what is love?

Long years ago when motion pictures were struggling along in baby

clothes there was a man whose total histrionic experience had been confined

to carrying a spear on the speaking stage.  He was a “super.”

It was D. W. Griffith who gave him his first chance in the pictures–and

he still carried the spear well.  That, in fact, was about all he ever could

do successfully.

But it did not keep him from becoming a maker of pictures–of many

popular pictures.

But right at first it was a struggle.  Somehow he managed to break away

from a job–induced half a dozen others to put in their wages along with his

and take a chance on making a comedy.

Finally, they sold their finished production and realized a profit.

With this money they made another picture and by degrees the spear-carrier

became the sole owner of the company–the others worked for him.

Such is the law of humans.  The man with the executive ability wins

always in business.  This man was an executive.  To make it easier to

comprehend his title we shall call him Jack–which is not his name. [27]

Now there was a girl–a comedienne–who started out with Jack.  She was

his leading woman through all the vicissitudes which accompanied the first

experiments in pictures.  It was Molly [28] who cheered Jack up when things

went wrong, who kept all the players in good spirits.

And so it came about that Jack learned in his crude way to care for her.

So did many another.  But from the beginning it seemed that Molly’s affection

leaned more toward Jack than any other of her pals in the “good old days”

when custard pies and stuffed bricks were coined into golden ducats.

Time went on and gradually the other suitors pulled away–Jack was

winning out.  True now he had much money and fame was beginning to look in on

him when he was at home.  The world looked particularly good to Jack.

With some of his now easily earned money he fitted up a handsome

apartment.  To this love nest Molly came often.  No, they were not married.

It seemed fair enough to Molly, she who had been reared to look lightly

upon moral conditions.  She could see the point.  As a married woman she

would not be so popular in pictures.

And so they drifted along for a year–two years–and then–

One day there came on the “lot” an attractive brunette.  Straightway the

girl [29]–shall we call her Mae?–and Molly became friends, then pals.  It

was Mae who proposed that they be good friends.  At first Molly demurred,

then she agreed.  It was a diplomatic move.  There was a good deal of talk

going on around the “lot.”  She wanted to stop that talk.  So she frolicked

with Mae.

Jack was true to her–this the girl knew.  Of course, there were a large

number of new faces around the studios these days–they were necessary in the

sort of pictures Jack was making.  But Molly worried none about them.  Her

Jack was hers–always.

And so blissfully working her way along toward stardom.  Molly drove to

the “lot” with a song in her heart each morning, and with a happy smile on

her face in the evening.  Wasn’t she “kept” by the great maker of pictures,

himself?  Was not she soon to become a star?  Was she not earning a

wonderfully big salary?

But Jack began to get young ideas.  True, in his way he loved Molly; he

does yet.  But Temptation tossed her curls and beckoned him to come and play

along the Highways of Immorality.  Temptation, guised as a shapely maid with

alluring lips and firm, rounded bosom called to him and he began to take

heed.

Temptation’s other name was Mae–

There were little parties arranged–quiet parties in secluded places.

Molly, all blissfully ignorant of these meeting places, still went about her

work with a song in her heart.

Once she was called out of town for a couple of days.  She returned one

day ahead of her planned schedule.  A friend whispered a word to her.  She

was dumbfounded.  Certainly it could not be true.  Her Jack would not do such

a thing.

The friend offered proof.  All she needed to do, she was told, was to

quietly go to a certain apartment that evening–late–and she would learn

something.

Molly dashed to the apartment, the friend following.  They took Mae by

storm.  She opened the door.  Mae was naked to her skin.

Molly’s worst fears were confirmed.  For there, occupying the bed,

was–Jack.

Like a tigress Molly tore at the head of the sleeping Mae.  But she

reckoned without her adversary.  Mae was the stronger, the more cat-like of

the two.  With a bound she was up and fighting her former chum.  Grasping her

head, Mae thrust Molly’s head against the wall.  Time and again she battered

it against the wooden casing of the window, lacerating the scalp, tearing

long gashes in her cheek.

Jack hurriedly dressed and like a slinking coward, sneaked out and down

the elevator and fled.

Molly fell unconscious, her head bleeding, her breath coming in gasps.

Mae, waiting only to see the havoc she had wrought, too hurriedly dressed and

went to a hotel for the night.

Molly, with beating head and too weak from loss of blood to go

downstairs, called in her physician.

The next morning, Jack quaking with fear, called up the apartment.  She

was deathly ill, he was told.  No he could not see her.  The doctor said she

was too ill.  Well, then, was there anything he could do.

He was told to go to Hell!

That scared him all the more, just as Molly and her friend expected it

would.  So he called up the doctor.  Yes, Molly was in bad shape–the end in

grave doubt–only hope for the best.

Jack started sending flowers and gifts of every description and wanted

to hire all the nurses and doctors in town.  But it was no use, they would

not let him see her.  Every day he was told she was getting worse.

Then about a week after the eventful night, one of the Los Angeles

papers came out with a seven column scream headline “MOLLY DYING.”

Jack was petrified with fear.  He called in his man Friday–at that time

a cadaverous young man with a reputation as a clever fixer.

Friday got busy.  The first thing to do was to quiet the papers.  By the

pulling of a few advertising strings the newspaper stuff began to abate.  The

journal that ran the seven column head in its first edition on the first page

buried the story in the center of the second edition under the smallest head

it could find type for.

Of course, the editor had been convinced that he was in error, that the

lady was really getting better already–was mending rapidly.

Jack had a very busy fortnight following the battle.  Between keeping

the papers under control and trying to find out just how ill Molly was, he

didn’t have much time to make comedies.  Every request that he see Molly was

denied.  She was too ill, far too ill to see him or anyone else.

Yet, somehow or other the papers had allowed the story to drop–

It was two weeks later that Jack received a curt summons to call at the

apartments of Molly.  Her head was still swathed in bandages.  She was pale

and thin.  The doctor said she might not get well.

Jack was offered an ultimatum.  The ultimatum was this:  He must

immediately build a new studio away from his “lot.”  He must employ one of

the finest directors obtainable.  He must buy a first-class story–a comedy-

drama, something to which Molly aspired.  Then he must star her, advertise

her, spend money in making her name know, offer her hundreds of luxuries to

which she had never before been accustomed.  And he must pay in an enormous

salary–away into the hundreds of dollars per week.

There was another alternative:  The doctor said she might die.  Mae

would be held for murder, Jack would be an accessory.  The whole sordid

affair would be aired.  Jack would be ruined.

The producer faced either ruin–or the necessity of spending a fortune

on the woman he said he loved–if she lived.

Now, as a matter of cold, sordid fact, Molly was not ill–she was not

suffering from her injuries–she had been cured.  But doctors are odd

persons, and this one was her friend.

Nearly two years were spent on the production in which Molly was

starred.  Of course, the new studio was built; many a first-class director

went down to defeat before the picture was completed.  But she received

everything she demanded–and what she demanded was a plenty.

The picture was not released for still another year.  But it was a good

one.  It made the star famous–and rich.  Jack made a lot of money in the

meantime, and he needed it.  Molly took heavy toll.

Finally, when her big picture was cut, titled and released, she found

that she must go to New York.  There she remained until her name was spread

about the land as a great star.

Daily there came to her frantic telegrams begging, pleading with her to

come back–to her Jack.  He needed her now more than ever, he said.  And he

wanted so to be forgiven–and they would start all over again.

There was a long silence; finally Jack received a telegram.  It said:

“Just signed a long term contract with____________ [30]   I am to be

starred in comedy-dramas at a salary, the basis of which you started.  You

and I are all through.  Goodbye.  P.S.–You made me what I am today, I hope

you’re satisfied.

Molly.”

 

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Chapter 7

A Wonderful Lover

 

“What a lover!  Doesn’t he just make you tingle all over!” cried the

foolish wife of a prominent citizen.

“Oh, what wouldn’t I give to go through that last scene with him.  Where

he hugs her as only he can hug.  When I think of that kiss my head gets

light,” chirruped the idle spouse of the local usurer.

“Well, girls, those kisses and wondrous embraces are easy enough to

get–if you have the price,” remarked the big woman who sat between them.

She had been doing comedy characters at the studios ever since pictures were

pictures.  She travelled in the train of the prosperous pair because she told

raw stories rawly, was witty and clever, was their connecting link with the

movies–they had nothing else to think of; no washing to do; and besides–her

cosily furnished bungalow on the edge of the foothills came in very handy at

times–very, very handy.

“I’d be willing to pay.  He can have me any time he wants me.  You only

live once,” said Mrs. Usurer.

“What my husband don’t know won’t hurt him,” said Mrs. Prominent Cit.

“And besides I’ve got enough on him to make him look sick.  If ever Adolfo

[31] comes my way watch me grab.”

“You’re both wrong again girls,” laughed the big woman.  “I don’t mean

what you mean. That’s easy–any woman can give that.  When I said ‘price,’ my

good wimmien, I meant cash, spondulix, mazuma, golden ducats.”

“What DO you mean,” cried both in a breath.

“I mean, children, that Adolfo has put a cash value on what he’s got.

He accommodates the ladies at so much per accommodate or–well, you can have

his services by the week, month, or hour.  It’s all according to how you

feel.”

“Right now?” cried Mrs. Prominent Citizen and Mrs. Usurer, in chorus.

“Now girls, don’t get excited, don’t be foolish.  ‘Right now’,” mimicked

the big woman.  “Right now, he’s a great star.  The mammas and the daughters

all over this dry nation fight like cave women to get good seats whenever and

wherever his love making appears on the screen.  He does not have to live the

old way any more.  He’s just like the successful bucket shop operator–in the

high finance class–probably contributes to the fund to clean-up the bucket

shops–or the lounge lizards–take your pick.

“All right.  Tell us the whole story, teacher,” said Mrs. Prominent

Citizen.

“Yes, please, teacher,” implored Mrs. Usurer.

“Time was,” began the big woman, “when our hero was not as prosperous as

he is today.  He wasn’t very prominent (nodding toward Mrs. Prominent Cit.).

And he did not have any money to loan out at high rates of interest.

(Nodding toward Mrs. Usurer)  So he had to do the best he could.  Now, it

happened that the boy had brains in his feet as well as his head.  Also he

had no scruples.  No scruples a-tall.  Adolfo was what they call a dancing

fool.  The ‘dancing’ part was okay, but they were wrong on the ‘fool.’  Very,

very wrong.

“With his little old dress suit–that was his wardrobe, he came to

Pasadena.  There was in Pasadena in those days just as there is now a group

of hotels that were as swell as–as–Hell.  The papas and mammas of the War

Babies–the sugar guys–the oil guys–the munition guys–all that bunch, came

there to play.  And more often than not mamma had to come alone because papa

had to stay home and nurse little War Baby.  And this made mamma a very

lonesome and a very miserable woman.

“So that every night at the ultra ultra Hotel Miseryland and the also

ultra ultra Hotel Wantington there were sundry women, not too good looking,

not too fair of form, nor too young, who sat by the side lines and enviously

eyed the young girls who had no difficulty in securing partners.  What good

were their diamonds and their gold embroidered dresses and their limousines

‘n everything when they couldn’t get them a dancing partner.  So there was

gloom, deep impenetrable gloom and disappointment among the mammas of the War

Babies.

“Then along came little Dolfy.  His appraising eye surveyed the field.

He saw what he saw.  The diamonds did not blind him.  In the dazzling light

he only opened his eyes all the wider.  He looked over the young ones and he

looked over the old ones.  For the time being–at least until after the

campaign was over–he determined to turn his back on the flappers.  They

would have to wait.

“He pulled no ‘boners.’  He was a bright young man.  He danced the old

girls dizzy.  He started out by dancing with the young ones and flirting with

the old ones over his partners’ shoulders.  No, he was not bold.  This was

work that called for a certain kind of finesse.  No matter how much he needed

them, he must hold tight until they came after him.

“You see, Adolfo had once read the story of Potipher’s wife and how she

chased little Joseph, a nice Jewish boy with black eyes and pretty hair, all

over her husband’s preserves just because Joseph handled the proposition

right.  He made her come after him.  ‘Them Jews have always been good

business men,’ he said to himself.  Wherefore, he planned his campaign along

Josephian lines.  He made them come after him.

“Well, he danced and he danced and it wasn’t long before he had the

rivals for his attentions glaring at one another and saying little spiteful

things about–and often right to–each other.  The young girls laughed and

sneered and the old girls cried–in the privacy of their rooms whenever they

didn’t get their full share of dances with him.  And, believe me, the boy

could dance.  He made very dowager think she had it on Mrs. Vernon Castle.

My, but he was the popular boy.

“There is no use in prolonging this story too much, children.  Adolfo

was going great.  Funds were getting very, very low, when the contest came to

a climax.  The rivalry for his favors narrowed down to just two contestants.

One was the wife of a very rich Easterner.  She had come to Pasadena a month

or two before with her young daughter.  They occupied a lavishly appointed

apartment near the Miseryland.  The other was the more or less well known

wife of a gay blade whose people had amassed millions in the packing game.

Wherever people eat her husband’s family draws revenue.

“For some time, he played with them both.  On one occasion he rode home

with the pair in a big limousine.  They met the next day.  Said the one from

the East: “Dolfy was wonderful last night.  He squeezed my hand all the way

home.”  “That was when he wasn’t squeezing mine,” snapped the other.

“Finally the lady from the East forged to the front and took possession

of Adolfo.  He lived well, had plenty of money and prospered.  The apartment

was cosy and comfortable and there was always room for him.  This lasted

until the woman who ran the apartment house decided things were getting a

little bold.  The lady was asked to move.  Which she did and Adolfo went

along.  But the time came for going home and her husband’s insistence could

be overcome no longer.  She departed sorrowingly.

“After that it was one after another.  He was making a good living.  He

finally began to drift over to Los Angeles.  He enlarged his territory.  He

became a four o’clock tea hound at the principal downtown hotel.  He walked

about the lobby with his hat off.  Was thoroughly at home.  The four o’clock

teas were patronized by a group of women who didn’t care.  He found many

patrons here and basked in the sunshine of success and plenty.

“On one occasion a florist who had received a bad check from Adolfo went

over to the hotel, where he had been informed he spent his afternoons.  He

found him and demanded payment in no uncertain terms.  Dolfy asked him to

wait.  But the florist followed him into the tea room and there our hero

whispered a word or two to a sportive looking matron and came back smiling

with the money to make good the check.

“The Dolfy met a movie girl. [32]  She was just on the edge of stardom,

just going over the top.  She helped him.  Then she married him.  That was

his entry into pictures.  He had done a few bits but was comparatively

unknown.

“With the opportunities and the personal contact his marriage gave him,

Adolfo moved fast.  He met the right people.  He had talent.  Brains in both

head and feet.  His opportunity came and he took advantage of it.  He could

act.  Had been acting all his life.  That’s how he lived.  His lessons in

love-making stood him in good stead.  All he had to do was be natural.

“When he finally hit the high mark he didn’t need the movie girl any

more.  She was a liability now, not an asset.  So he canned her.  Her career

is about ended.  His is just beginning.

“He draws a fat salary.  His love-making is an art.  He learned it in a

great school and was paid while learning.  He’s a big star.  Nice girls and

nasty ones are all in the same boat.  They all love Dolfy’s way of loving.”

 

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Chapter 8

Whiskey Fumes and Orange Blossoms

 

They met on the broad walk at Venice–three motion picture “extra girls”

and three natty students of aeronautics.

For a week the three uniformed men had been drunk; gloriously pickled.

They were on a three weeks’ leave and this was to be their last day in Los

Angeles.

“Well, if there ain’t a flock o’ chickens!” spoke up one of the

staggering representatives of Uncle Sam.  “Where’n hell you goin’?” he asked

the trio.

The girls giggled.  It was a very humorous situation indeed.

“Watchin’ the sad sea waves,” said pretty little Babette, tossing her

curls.  “Who wants t’ know?”

“Le’s all go together–six lil’ pals,” suggested O’Mara, one of the

airmen, and a prominent figure in the life of Hollywood’s wild set.  “Le’s

all go together an’ shee th’ shad waves wavin’.”

“Where d’ya get that pal stuff?” wondered one of the girls.  “Who said

so?”

“You–all get funny wi’ me an’ my pals an’ I’ll sp-sp-spank you where it

hurts,” said one of the students.

The girls giggled again.  The party was getting good.

“Well, if you guys’ll buy us a drink, maybe we might consider your

proposition,” said one of the “extras.”

“You’re on,” said O’Mara.

And so then, arm in arm, they went down the broad walk and into a cafe

noted for catering to the motion picture profession.

It was mid-afternoon when they emerged, each a bit worse for the visit,

but all contentedly munching peanuts.

Babette, though, was a bit overjoyous.  She lifted her skirts a little

too high for street decorum and she shimmied down the broad walk, but Venice

is used to that.

Suddenly O’Mara stopped dead in his tracks, for the moment half sobered.

“My Gawd!” he said in a stage whisper.  “I just thought of somethin’

damn important.”

“Aw, hell, there ain’t nothin’ as important as goin’ somewhere and

gettin’ anozzer drink,” said one of the “extras.”

“‘Simportant t’ me, jus’ same,” insisted O’Mara.

“What’s so damned important?” Babette wanted to know.

“This ‘s my weddin’ day,” said O’Mara.  Then singing lustily:  “Call me

early, mother, darling, I’m goin’–goin’–t’ be queen o’ th’ May.”

“You’re just a plain damn drunk an’ you ain’t gonna be queen o’ May or

Mabel or anybody,” asserted Babette.

“Hell I ain’t,” insisted O’Mara.  “I’ll bet an’body six-bitx I’m goin’

t’ be married today.  Thass all.”

“Who’s the dame?” wondered Babette.

“Damfino,” said O’Mara.  “But it’s sure as hell somebody.”

“Say, whassa idea, anyhow?” queried one of the girls.  “What th’ hell

you wanta go an’ spoil perfe’tly good party with a damn weddin’ for?”

“Ain’t spoilin’ no party.  Maker it fine party,” said O’Mara.  “Damn it,

le’s all get married.”

“See if I care,” giggled Babette.

“I wouldn’t mind it so much, but it always makes m’ wife sore whenever I

go out and get married,” said one of the other students.

“Me, too,” spoke the third.

“I gotta get me a wifie t’day, somehow,” insisted O’Mara.  “Where in

hell ‘m I goin’ t’ get me a wife?”

“Gawd, if it’s s’ damn important as that, I’ll marry you, you damn drunk

fool,” said Babette.

“‘S go,” said O’Mara.  “Le’s go.”

So they went.

So to the city hall they went, arm in arm, where they procured a

marriage license, and from there to a Justice of the Peace who performed the

ceremony.  After which they had a fine wedding supper, consisting to a large

extent of spirituous liquors.  Then at nightfall the three girls accompanied

the students to the Southern Pacific station where the boys entrained for a

point in Texas where their training school was located.

The bride and her two friends returned to their homes, none of them

remembering the details of the party.  But they all insisted that it

certainly was a very enjoyable affair–it gave them a new thrill.

Sobered, O’Mara explained to his friends the necessity for his marriage

to a girl he had never seen before.

He had applied for and had received so many leaves of absence that his

commander grew tired of permitting him to go off on his periodical drunks.

This time O’Mara had to have a good excuse.  Marriage was the only alibi he

could think of.  Indeed, it was the only excuse his commander would tolerate.

So he said he was going to be married.  He was given three weeks’ leave.  He

had to bring the license back with him.  He brought it.

When the armistice was signed, O’Mara was one of the first to return to

Hollywood.  He had a reason–he wanted to see what his new wife really looked

like; he wanted also to be certain whether or not he was married.  He found

out that he was–securely.

Then came the inevitable.  It was but a few short months till Babette

was in court applying for a divorce.  Her new husband beat her, cursed her,

hated her, she said.  To his friends and hers she made vile charges against

him.  She obtained a divorce and alimony.

O’Mara is one of the most brilliant young men in the motion picture

industry.  He has held several splendid positions at the biggest studios in

Hollywood.  He is popular at parties and very much in demand among a certain

set.

Babette is receiving regular money now, the first she ever received.

Being an “extra” doesn’t pay well, or regularly.  Alimony is much easier.

The court collects that.

And this is only one of a dozen similar cases.

Take Jim Brown, for instance.  Jim met a charming young married woman at

a movie party one night.  Her husband, a young and coming director, was

dancing quite frequently with his leading woman, and the young wife, piqued,

flirted with Jim Brown.

The liquor flowed freely, as it usually flows at movie parties.  Jim

Brown and the director’s wife went out for a walk.  The director found them

there spooning in the tonneau of Brown’s car.  Brown whipped the young

director.  The young wife said she was afraid to go home.  Brown said she

should go with him.  She did.

But the young wife, possibly repenting, decided the following day to

return to her home and beg her husband’s forgiveness.

Quietly she stole into the house, for it was night.  Noiselessly she

switched on the lights–and occupying her place in her bed was her husband’s

leading woman

The young wife returned to Jim Brown.  They are still living together–

and her husband is living with his leading woman!

 

CLICK  FOR THE AUDIO – Chapter 8: →  08 – Whiskey Fumes and Orange Blossoms –

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Chapter 9

A Movie Queen and A Broken Home

 

Hollywood drafts its workers from the Trenches of Life–

Argosies from all the seven seas–caravans from every clime–bring their

contributions of ambitious toilers to the movie mill.

A vivid, living mirage of everything the human heart desires lures alike

the innocent blue-eyed girl, the sophisticated damsel, the flower and the

froth of mankind, into the yawning mouth of the abyss–the tragic realm of

Moviedom–

Showers of gold, luxury realized beyond the wildest dreams, a life

resplendent with jewels, gowns that bewilder the eye, ravishing silks and

satins, sables and ermine, fortune, fame–and shame!

Pugilists become actors, song writers become directors, physicians

become character men, bartenders and button-hole makers become producers,

artists models and modistes’ manikins become stars–in some cases almost over

night–and police court lawyers become arbiters of the public taste!

There are numerous stories of how men–popular idols–have abandoned

their wives–their children, to carry on illicit relations with the women of

the studios; of how wives have left their husbands to associate with a stage

carpenter or an assistant camera man.  These cases are of common knowledge.

The winning of another man’s wife or another woman’s husband was a sort

of friendly contest.  A game in which many played a hand.  The incident of

the leading woman who took away the husband–of a prominent actor and

director–of the wife who discovered her and selected her for the position,

is but one example of this kind.

At a dance another leading woman openly boasted that she was going to

win a certain assistant director, then present, away from his wife and child.

She did.  The pair are now in Australia.  The wife is working in a Los

Angeles office, supporting herself and the girl.  They never hear from the

husband and father.

Only a few months before, this, then happy family, had enjoyed a

wonderful Christmas–a fine big tree, gifts for the girl, games and good

food, friends dropping in all day.  Whenever the wife passes that house–the

place of her last happy memories, the tears start.  But–the leading woman

wanted that man.  She got him.  Movie conditions–close, unrestrained

contact–helped her.

But a recent case, a very recent case, involving a certain woman star

and a married man, once admired by all who knew him as a model husband–

father of two children–is receiving more than passing notice.  It has

shocked even shockless Moviedom.

The facts:

There came to Hollywood a few years ago a man who had once been a famous

football player.  In the East he had been known as a great varsity athlete.

He is a fine specimen of physical manhood.  He is good to look at.  His

father is a prominent financier, rich and liberal.

He came to Los Angeles with his wife and child.  He made friends fast.

Everybody liked Hefty [33]–which we will call him hereafter but which is not

his name.

He started to serve his time in pictures.  He had been a gridiron star.

He was naturally affable and a regular fellow.  Why not reach stardom on the

screen?  He worked conscientiously.  He was determined to make his way

without any fatherly aid.

Hefty and his wife took a modest apartment.  At night Hefty came home

and helped–helped with the baby–with the dishes.  With the exception of

going to an occasional prize fight, his only pleasure was running out to see

the few intimate friends they had made.

He struggled on.  He was good looking–a type.  He had strength and

physical appeal.  Before long he was much in demand–had work almost all the

time.  He was living clean.  No scandal attached itself to his name.

V——- [34], the woman in the case–had reached Hollywood long before.

She had already won her way to stardom when Hefty arrived.  Aided and abetted

by her girlish appearance, her good looks, her insinuating manner, her easy

morals–and a capable mother who handled her affairs–she was living in easy

opulence on a salary that ran into four figures.

She was known to have been married at least once, although the concern

that owned her pictures made much capital of her “innocent” youth.  According

to the press notices she was still in her teens.  She had been married to a

director. [35]  The flu carried him off.

Sometime before Hefty appeared on the scene she had been “playing”–as

they say in Hollywood–a famous aviator, a man who received enormous fees for

his dare-devil exploits.  More than once he had risked his neck after hours

spent in V—–‘s society.  For a while the aviator forgot his wife in Texas

to be with V—–.  They had a merry, merry time while it lasted.  Then the

aviator was killed. [36]

At the time Hefty arrived on the scene V—– had not yet selected a

successor to the aviator.  There were what might be called a few casuals who

filled in the lapse–a wild party or two–but nothing in the way of a

prolonged liason.

Where or how they met is of little consequence.  Somehow or other they

manage to meet in the movies.  Their first meetings were but friendly visits.

Then V—– saw to it that Hefty should see more of her.  Hefty was willing.

Before long he wanted to be with her often–oftener than he would care to

have his wife know.

It required cunning with a wife and baby but somehow they managed it.

It is more simple–in pictures.  There is night work–long trips on location.

Numerous excuses and opportunities that exist in no other walk of life.

In time Hefty’s friends–and he had made a lot of them–began to notice

things–to open their eyes.  Hefty and V—– were growing careless–were

taking no pains to avoid a scandal.  The studios began to talk.

Hefty’s friends were worried.  They felt bad about the thing for they

all liked his wife.  She was as good a fellow as her big husband.  She was a

good wife, a good mother and a good friend.  They were willing to overlook

ordinary lapses, but this affair was growing dangerous–and besides Hefty’s

wife was soon again to become a mother.  Happy, she had told her intimates of

her condition.

But Hefty and V—– didn’t seem to be particularly concerned about what

their friends had to say or what they thought.  Hefty remained away from home

more often now–made few if any excuses and saw his wife and home only when

he could not be with V—–.

Events were fast drawing to a head.  The affair was now a matter of

common gossip.  At last the wife heard the whole story–learned all the

details.  Most of them Hefty himself told her.  The telling was cold and

brutal.

Two or three days before the anticipated arrival of their second child,

he came home and informed his wife he was going to leave.  He did leave.

Entreaty proved unavailing.  She pleaded and implored–but Hefty went.  The

unborn babe had no influence!

Then friends abandoned Hefty and came to the wife’s aid.  They promised

to help her.  This gave her courage.  She was told to threaten.  They showed

her the only way to reach the victims of movie viceitis.  She followed their

advice.  She would expose them–ruin their careers, their money making

powers.  This appeal succeeds in Hollywood when the calls of humanity and

decency fall flat.

So they settled in cash and its equivalents.  Hefty made provision for

his family.  The wife agreed to keep quiet–but her friends say that she will

never be able to quiet the aching heart that will not heal.

V—– is still a star.  The alleged movie “clean-up” has passed her by.

And Hefty’s friends do not think so much of Hefty–not even in callous

Hollywood.

 

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Chapter 10

Making Sodom Look Sick

 

Measured by the pace set at some movie star parties there must have been

a lot of weak and sterile minds in ancient Sodom and Babylon–Rome and

Pompeii.

Either that or the historians have been holding out on us–have not told

us all there is to tell.

Possibly there was a limit beyond which even a Pagan emperor dared not

go.  It may be that the truth was not so easily suppressed in those days.

There was no phalanx of press agents in the armies of the ancients.  There

were no million dollar advertising appropriations to help still the

journalistic conscience.  No sixteen page displays such as ran recently for

ten consecutive days in a certain Western daily.

In the light of revealed history it is certain–whatever may have been

the cause–that ancient degenerates had to exercise a certain amount of

prudence.

There were no modern safeguards such as surround the kings and queens of

Moviedom.  No ramification of interests to suppress the truth at every step.

Moviedom’s imagination had free play–unfettered, unrestrained it made the

scarlet sins of Sodom and Babylon, of Rome and Pompeii fade into a pale, pale

yellow!

Not so long ago a certain popular young actress returned from a trip.

She had been away for ten days.  Her friends felt that there ought to be a

special welcome awaiting her.  Rostrand [37], a famous comedian, decided to

stage another of his unusual affairs.  He rented ten rooms on the top floor

of a large exclusive hotel and only guests who had the proper invitations

were admitted.

After all of the guests–male and female–were seated, a female dog was

led out into the middle of the largest room.  Then a male dog was brought in.

A dignified man in clerical garb stepped forward and with all due solemnity

performed a marriage ceremony for the dogs.

It was a decided hit.  The guests laughed and applauded heartily and the

comedian was called a genius.  Which fact pleased him immensely.  But the

“best” was yet to come.

The dogs were unleashed.  There before the assembled and unblushing

young girls and their male escorts was enacted an unspeakable scene.  Even

truth cannot justify the publication of such details.

Another recent party that was given by Count ______, a “prince” of a

fellow, at his palatial mansion.  Nearly two hundred guests were present.  A

jazz orchestra furnished sensuous music.  The guests, women and men,

disrobed.  Then a nude dance was staged which lasted until morning.

Some of the guests were outraged.  They departed.  Others remained and

took part in the orgy which did not stop with mere dancing for some of them.

But these nude parties were common.  There is another comedian of no

mean ability, whose home for several months had been the meeting place of

these nude dancers.  Recently a raid on the home of this comedian was

scheduled, but he was “tipped off” in time to be acting perfectly decorous

when the officers arrived.  The neighbors, however, knew better.

A type of “citizen” well known in certain quarters–handsome, young,

well proportioned men who work as “extras” in the pictures–is the paid

escort or “kept man.”

Deplorable as it may seem these beings have found patrons as far north

as the exclusive precincts of Del Monte.  Montecito, Pasadena, San Diego are

familiar to them.  Women of a certain sort used to have the telephone number

of the establishment where these men held forth and many calls came to them

every day and night.  Pay for their “company” ran high.  Only the few could

afford it.

Recent events suggested that it might be best to close this

establishment but the former “club members” still hover about plying their

profession.

 

CLICK  FOR THE AUDIO – Chapter 10: → 10 – Making Sodom Look Sick –

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Chapter 11

The Girl Who Wanted Work

 

 

The girl came from Atlanta.  So we will car her by that name just to

mark her for identification, as the lawyers would say.

Tired, yet brave, she entered the great sanctum of the great producer.

There was an outer and an inner office.  In the outer office nobody paid the

slightest attention to her, so she walked into the inner room.  Half of the

walls were unpainted.  On a large near-leather sofa lay a man, snoring

lustily with a newspaper over his face.  His funny derby hat was threatening

to fall off.

At the desk sat a frizzy stenographer.  She was sucking an orange with

much smacking and now and then took a bite, peel and all.  With the other

free hand she typed a little spasmodically.  She had her limbs crossed with

great abandon and wore rolled-up stockings with wild lace curtain effects.

At last Atlanta was in the presence of a great film magnate.  Everything

seemed eccentric, to say the least.  The great man on the sofa was snoring

with a struggling noise as if he expected to die every minute.  The

stenographer said, without looking at the girl,

“Leave your photos on the desk–is your name and phone number on the

back?”

“I beg pardon,” said Atlanta.  “I have a letter of introduction to

Mr. Junius.” [38]

The blonde frizzy-haired head turned and the stenographer gazed at the

girl as if she had dropped down from another planet.  She wiped her rouged

lips on the back of her hand and said while inhaling a mouthful of orange

juice:

“Wasn’t you going to register for a job?”

Atlanta stated that she had a letter.  She also asked when she might be

able to interview Mr. Junius.

“For the love of Mike,” said the girl.  “How should I know.  There he is

on the sofa.  He’s dead or something.  He gets awful sore if I wakes him up.”

“I have been here all day,” said Atlanta.

“Gee, in this game you’re lucky if you see somebody the first week,”

laughed the girl, and took another bite of the orange.  “I don’t want to wake

him.”

He was small, dark haired, with a bullet head and a low, receding brow.

He looked very boyish.  His trousers were much too long for him.  He was bow-

legged and wore a silk shirt with huge monograms on both sleeves.  He had a

large nose and small ratty eyes and dangling from his ear hung a pair of

goggle-like eyeglasses.

Suddenly the telephone rang.  The man sat up and rubbed his eyes,

mumbled something of an anathema in a language that Atlanta did not

understand and he walked to the desk and answered the telephone.  He did not

seem to see her.

He snatched the telephone receiver off and thundered:

“Vat the hell?”

He listened for a moment and then replied to somebody with a flow of

excited and lurid language.  The substance of the conversation seemed to be

the practicability of using an African elephant in an Indian scene.

“Golly, go to it,” he snapped.  “Who knows the difference between an

African elephant and a American elephant.  I don’t Nobody does.  Vat the

hell?”

He slammed up the receiver and then saw his stenographer through the

door.

“For why don’t you answer the telephone,” he snapped.  “Vat I pay you

for, here?”

He turned and was going to lie down when he saw Atlanta.

She wore some very pretty stockings that day and very trim slippers.

“Vell,” he said, looking at her ankles.  “Vat do you want?”  Then he put

on his hat.

“Are you Mr. Junius?” began the girl.

“No, I’m Kristopher Columbus,” he smiled.  “Who do you think I am?”

“I have a letter of introduction to you from Mr. Riddle, the theatre-man

of Denver,” she said, presenting the letter.  He evidently could not read it.

“Are you vun of his checkens and he wants to get rid of you, eh?” he

smirked.

Atlanta was so suddenly taken “off her feet” that she did not get time

to get fully indignant.  The little man’s eyes gleamed with merriment over

his own cheap witticism and his ears stood out like the wings on a biplane.

He shook his bullet head and the little “derby” hat, of the “fried egg”

type, fairly danced on his head.  Then he saw how the girl’s lower lip

quivered, and he decided to try another tack.

“Sit down, dear,” he said, “you are a friend of a friend of mine.”

Then he shouted out to the stenographer:

“It’s time for your lunch, eh?”

Although it was in the middle of the afternoon, the girl said “yes,

sir,” with a wink and left closing the door behind her.  Atlanta heard a snap

lock go shut.

“Vell,” he smiled, and pushed his chair close up to where the girl sat.

“Speak your piece.”

Determined to succeed and to tolerate his idiosyncrasies, Atlanta began:

“I want to get into the motion pictures and will work very, very hard.”

“You have a nice figure,” said Junius, and looked her over.

“I have had some dramatic experience,” she stuttered.

“Vy don’t you act that way, then,” he smiled.  “You are camouflaging,

and vhy?”

“In high school plays and in–”

“You have swell ankles and pretty knees, I think–” he continued.  “Vat

do you veigh–live weight?”

“I weigh one hundred and twenty-two,” said the girl.  “As I was going to

say–I–want to be given a chance–”

“It’s up to you,” replied Junius.  “You are a high kicker, yes?”  He

held his hat high above his head, invitingly.

“Can you do anything for me?” she asked, ignoring his personal remarks

and attempting to overlook his leering glances.

“I told you it vas up to you personally,” said the man, insistently.

“Do you live with your mother or have you an apartment.  If you live with

your mother–well, there’s nothing doing–”

Atlanta could stand it no longer.  She arose, trembling and disgusted.

“You shouldn’t be so particular,” he laughed.  “Anybody that’s been

Riddle’s chicken.  I know Sol and his wife and family.  Are you the girl he

bought them squirrel furs for, eh?  He vas telling me.”

“I–I don’t accept presents from men and I don’t know Mr. Riddle,”

snapped Atlanta.  “My mother does.”

“Ah,” smirked Junius, “the old lady is gayer than the daughter, eh?”

This remark about her mother proved the last straw.  With super-human

effort she kept outwardly cool as she walked towards the door.

Either ignoring her state of mind or two calloused to understand that he

had hurt every sensibility in the girl, Junius asked, with an attempt to

tighten her coat around her:

“How you look in a bathing suit, yes?”

Atlanta snatched her hatpin from her hat and held in menacingly towards

him.  He turned pale and opened the door.  The boy was outside.

“Show this one out, Teddy,” said Junius.  “She is a flivver!  Look out,

she has a hatpin.”

Scarcely knowing what she was doing Atlanta found herself on the

sidewalk and as she passed the window of Junius’ office he looked out and

shook his finger at her.

“I’ll qveer you all over town,” he said, “you–you are a lemon!”

Of course, the girl did not know till later that he was a member of a

producers association, and that the blacklist was one of his weapons for

stubborn girls with “false” standards of virtue.

 

(The End)

*****************************************************************************

*****************************************************************************

NOTES:

[1] There were two other well-discussed scandal publications in 1922:

HOLLYWOOD CONFESSIONS (not to be confused with later publications bearing

the same name) and an issue of FREE LANCE.  We have not been able to locate

copies of either; if photocopies are made available we will reprint them in

future issues of TAYLOROLOGY.

[2] This is a reference to Bebe Daniels’ arrest and incarceration for

speeding.

[3] Wallace Reid.

[4] Dorothy Davenport Reid.

[5] See TAYLOROLOGY #20.

[6] Lottie Pickford.

[7] Flo Hart.

[8] Henry Miller, Jr.

[9] Henry Miller, Sr. (the actor and dramatist, not the later writer).

[10] Juanita Hansen.

[11] Harry Williams.  See TAYLOROLOGY #22.

[12] Probably Marshall Neilan.  See TAYLOROLOGY #8.

[13] Mabel Normand.

[14] Alas for the good old days!

[15] Dorothy Dalton.

[16] Lew Cody.

[17] Thomas Ince.

[18] Jay Belasco.

[19] Betty Compson.

[20] Al Christie.

[21] George Loane Tucker.

[22] “The Miracle Man.”

[23] Walter Morosco.

[24] Oliver Morosco.

[25] Larry Semon.

[26] Lucile Carlisle.

[27] Mack Sennett.

[28] Mabel Normand.

[29] Mae Busch.

[30] Goldwyn.  In reality, she signed her contract with Goldwyn long before

the film “Mickey” was released.

[31] Rudolph Valentino.

[32] Jean Acker.

[33] Lefty Flynn.

[34] Viola Dana.

[35] John Collins.

[36] Ormer Locklear.

[37] Roscoe Arbuckle.

[38] Julius Stern.

*****************************************************************************

For more information about Taylor, see

WILLIAM DESMOND TAYLOR: A DOSSIER (Scarecrow Press, 1991)

Back issues of Taylorology are available from the gopher server at

gopher.etext.org

in the directory Zines/Taylorology;

or on the Web at

http://www.angelfire.com/az/Taylorology

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