I will very shortly be boarding the 20th Century for Chicago, where I’ll transfer to the Super Chief and arrive at L.A.’s Union Station next Monday. This will be my first trip to L.A., so I look forward to dining at the Brown Derby, stealing John Wayne’s footprints, and watching Peg Entwistle take a swan dive off of the 13th letter in the Hollywoodland sign. Anything else I should do?
In her solo show Elaine Stritch At Liberty, Stritch tells a damning story about co-workers and then, with perfect deadpan, adds, “Don’t you love the theater?” before growling, “And all the lovely people in it.”
Because I won’t rest until one knows the etymology of just about everything, I feel compelled to point out that this was not a Stritch zinger. It actually comes from the film Twentieth Century, starring John Barrymore and Carole Lombard. When I watched it last night for the first time and heard Barrymore say that line in a very different way, it stuck in my brain like a seed in your molar. It wasn’t until I’d turned it over and over again, muttering it in different voices, that Stritch came to me.
And that’s a little peek into the way my mind works!
What’s that? You don’t know who Kilgallen was? No matter. She was one of the panelists on What’s My Line? She had a legendary feud with her former friend, Frank Sinatra. And she allegedly interviewed Jack Ruby while he was awaiting trial for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.
It seems that Kilgallen wasn’t content with the official version of the assassination. “It’s a mite too simple that a chap kills the President of the United States, escapes from that bother, kills a policeman, eventually is apprehended in a movie theater under circumstances that defy every law of police procedure, and subsequently is murdered under extraordinary circumstances,” she wrote after the release of the Warren Commission report. She also might have told friends that, after her interview with Ruby, she was set to “blow the JFK case sky high.”
At the height of her beauty, Faye Dunaway made the mad model movie Puzzle of a Downfall Child. Directed by Jerry Schatzberg, a former fashion photographer (and loosely based on interviews Schatzberg conducted with Anne Saint Marie), Dunaway stars as Lou Andreas Sand, a former model now living in seclusion in a beach house. She recounts the early days of her career for a filmmaker interested in making a movie about her life, but her narration doesn’t jibe with what we’re seeing. A little too psychosexual, the movie nevertheless contains Dunaway’s greatest film performance—and that’s saying something. She’s also never looked as gorgeous, even in Lou’s middle age.
The film isn’t on DVD in America yet, but you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube. And I highly recommend doing so.