The drab exit of a big studio, where everybody goes in and out except the carriage trade and the clock-punching proletariat. Door to the studio in the rear—door to the street at left. On the right behind a cage (open toward the audience) sit two young clerks on high stools. Between the two doors a man and two women occupy chairs against the left wall.
As the curtain rises, a small female urchin has just come in, autograph book in hand and is defying them.
First Clerk —You get out of here.
Urchin (Waving the book) —Yah-yah. I got Dick Powell in his automobile.
First Clerk —Get out.
Urchin —I got more than any kid at school.
First Clerk —You can't come on studio property.
(Urchin looks out the door)
Urchin —Whew! Whose limousine?
First Clerk —Learn something today?
Second Clerk —I can't memorize a thousand faces in a day.
First Clerk —Nobody gets in without a card or a slip—except there's a guy named H. G. Wells you got to let by.
Second Clerk —Is he a star?
First Clerk —No, he's a writer. I think he was on those Tarzan series.
Second Clerk —Suppose I kept out a star?
(Tom Ritchie, a rather handsome, futile man of thirty, rises from his seat against the wall and goes to desk)
Ritchie —Surely it wouldn't matter if I walked to my wife's stage. You don't believe who I am?
First Clerk —Sure I do, Mr.—
First Clerk —But how do I know she wants to see you. Once I let a husband by like that and it turns out he was the wrong husband. There were two others between him and now. Did I get it?
Ritchie —I am Miss Ritchie's first and only husband.
First Clerk (Carelessly) —Congratulations.
(Ritchie sits down)
(Gabriel Weatherby—description—enters from studio and stops at desk)
Gabrielle —Will you pass me tomorrow? I'm a journalist.
First Clerk (Shakes his head)—If we get a slip from Publicity.
Gabrielle —I represent twenty French and British papers.
First Clerk (Insolent)—Do they have talkies over there yet?
Second Clerk (To First Clerk)—Will they fire me if I kept out a star?
(A woman enters from the studio wearing dark glasses four inches in diameter. She goes slowly, almost blindly, toward exit. During her passage, First Clerk has turned to answer Second Clerk's question)
First Clerk —The stars mostly drive in by the gate. I've been here two years and I never seen Solita San Martin.
(The outer door clicks shut after the woman. Gabrielle, who has been staring at her, turns to First Clerk)
Gabrielle —You'd have seen her then if you'd been minding your business.
(He exits upon their consternation)
(Major Crandall, a dignified man of fifty, comes through)
Ritchie —Hello, Major.
Crandall —Hello, Mr. Ritchie. I'm dining with you tonight.
Ritchie —We're looking forward to it.
(Crandall nods and goes out)
Second Clerk —Who's he?
First Clerk —Major Crandall from the Hayes Office. Big shot.
(Ritchie rises again)
Ritchie —Can I at least phone my wife?
First Clerk —All right.
(Urchin's head appears at the door)
Urchin —Hey! Ain't there anybody worth looking at?
(A portly Jewish Producer comes in in a hurry)
Producer —Send my car to the drugstore across the street.
First Clerk —Yes, sir.
Urchin —Ain't there anybody more coming?
(She blocks the entrance)
Producer —Excuse me.
(She lets him by)
First Clerk (Fiercely to Urchin)—That's Mr. Bortz. He only owns half the studio.
Urchin (Unimpressed)—Oh, say, listen, I got to go home now. Ain't there anybody—
(First Clerk opens door and makes a rush for her)
Ritchie (On phone at extreme right of stage)—Oh, hello, dear—I'm right here in the office. They won't let me in ... Never mind if you're coming right over … Were you in good voice? … Ah, fine, fine.
(Hap Hapsburg comes in from studio. He is an insignificant body with a rather noble and incredible head and a haughty manner)
Hapsburg (To First Clerk)—Have I any mail?
First Clerk (Shortly) —This isn't the mail desk. Say, you're not employed here, are you?
Hapsburg (Smug) —Scarcely.
First Clerk —What's your name?
Hapsburg —Baron Hapsburg.
First Clerk (Looking at book)—I haven't any record of you and I don't know how you keep getting in. But you slip by again and I'll put the police on you.
Hapsburg —If they should dare to touch me there'd be an international episode.
(As he exits, little Joy Terry and her mother come in. Joy is about 12 years old—rather thin, but with masses of golden curls. She wears an organdie party dress. The mother is like a freshly painted doll, her round eyes move like a doll's; what she says has a doll's range and mechanical sound. The clerks and the people waiting stare.)
Mrs. Terry (To Clerk ) —I want a 1938 card, please.
First Clerk —I'll have it for you tomorrow, Mrs. Terry.
(During this, the Urchin has put her head in and is staring at little Joy)
Urchin —Joy Terry. Whoops! Write it.
First Clerk —You get out—
Joy —I don't mind.
(She writes in book. Urchin wets her finger and touches her, staring)
(Two women, waiting, begin ad libbing, “Isn't she cute, isn't she the sweetest thing?” “Oh, she's adorable, adorable.” Joy smiles all around and exits with her mother and urchin)
Second Clerk —No stars, eh—just the biggest one of all.
(Robert Acton comes in. Description)
First Clerk (To Second Clerk) —And here's another.
(Ritchie has been at phone with back turned, now he hangs up—sees Acton)
Acton (Surprised) —Hello, Tom.
Ritchie —Hello, Bob.
Ritchie —I'm waiting for her. You're coming to dinner tonight, aren't you?
(Josie Ritchie comes in. She is spectacularly attractive—her red hair is a startling frame for her pale handsome face; her lipstick is the same shade as her hair)
Josie —Hello, Bob. Hello, Tom.
Acton—You have a devoted husband.
Josie —You're coming to dinner tonight?
Acton—Yes, I've got to make Malibu and back.
Josie —I've got to wait for my maid.
Ritchie —I couldn't help coming. I was playing the piano. The aria from Rigoletto—do you remember—and thinking how happy we were—once—
(She gives an anxious look around and walks down center)
Josie —Oh, Tom—please—you promised.
Ritchie —I know—your glorious voice comes first. But there should be a little left for me.
Josie —Tom, don't—I can't stand this sort of thing. When the season is over, we'll go away somewhere. Tom, you mustn't forget it was you who taught me that music comes first. Remember Martha Sorel.
Ritchie —That's different. She had a hundred affairs before she was 21. She didn't have time to sing. But Constinelli—certainly didn't live like a monk. (Looks at her and breaks off) —Oh, I'm sorry, darling. I know it upsets you when I talk about him.
Josie (Primly) —Constinelli was a tenor—that's different.
First Clerk (Hanging up phone) —Your maid is waiting in the car, Mrs. Ritchie.
(The Ritchies go out)
First Clerk (To the two women waiting) —We're closing. Only the big gate's open now.
(The women rise and go out. The curtain begins to go down.)
Second Clerk —What are you doing tonight? I feel like a change.
First Clerk —So do I. Let's take in a picture.
(As they begin to turn out the lights—)
(The Curtain is down.)
Act I. Scene 1.
Miss Minns, secretary
Chris McMann, director
Judy Johnson, columnist
Gabriel, news gatherer
(On telephone) Robert Acton, Great Lover
ACT I. 45 minutes (25-20)
ACT II. 55 “ (15, 20, 20)
ACT III. 25
Plot is that radio commentator's broadcast brings to climax long brewing resentment against her and her kind. She loves a director who has fallen into the dutches of a woman psychiatrist, is put in the position of sentencing her. She is about to be pilloried, but circumstances demonstrate that her removaltakes the very life and humanity from people who pictured her as their enemy. She is as much or necessary part of the industry as any other element—more, she is the only real person in a world of marionettes.
As for the love story, the director sees that the psychiatrist encourages the unreality and phonies in characters—which Judy frankly castigates and concludes that she is the healthier influence—and particularly for himself.
Acton Van Cleve, ventriloquist
Consuella Van Cleve, his wife
Joy, child star
Josie Ritchie, singer-screen star
John Ritchie, her husband-manager
Caress, young actress
Michael, young actor
Lefty, tennis pro
Judy Johnson, columnist-commentator
Chris McMann, director
Dr. Anna Slagle, psychiatrist
Arnold Liggett, radio sponsor
Gabriel, news gatherer
Living Room of Judy's house in Beverly Hills—6:15 of an August evening. The house rents unfurnished for $150 a month. The living room has cretonne curtains, and comfortable furniture. A low bookshelf runs all around the room ontop of which are knickknacks and photographs, not of film stars. There is a large desk down stage at right—on it is a small vase with two roses and a microphone, and before it a swivel chair. In the center of the stage is a small table with a typewriter and a telephone—sheets of paper have fallen from it to the floor. The aperture on the back wall is an impromptu window drilled into the serving pantry. This has been glassed in so that the kitchen can be used as a control room. One door leads to outer hall and stairs—the other to the kitchen.
(As the curtain rises, Martha, maid of all work—thirty-five, fresh complexioned, hair tied German fashion—sits in front of the microphone, clutching it with both hands. Her face is serious, slightly frowning. Bending over her, making adjustments to the microphone, is a young radio engineer.)
Radio Engineer: (Straightens up and says in bored voice) When I give the signal, you talk into this in your natural speaking voice—understand?
(Martha, a determined, solemn expression on her face, stares at him silently)
Radio Engineer: (Impatiently) You understand, don't you?
Martha: (Slowly, with a German accent) What I say?
Radio Engineer: Oh, anything—let's see—say something about your boss, Miss Johnson.
Martha: But don't know anything about her—I only came work here last Friday.
Radio Engineer: (Looks at his watch with exasperation) “Jesus—it's 6:15, in 45 minutes we go on the air and I've got to test this set-up. Where is Miss Johnson?
Martha: She in some studios. She say anyone come say she back six o'clock.
Radio Engineer: She's fifteen minutes late. If she doesn't hurry one million listeners are going to be very disappointed not to hear 'Dame Rumor' dishing the dirt. And I'll get the blame. And I don't think her sponsors will like it. Look—you're Miss Johnson (as Martha gapes)—Yes, you're not, I know. But you will be just for a few minutes—to please me. (Martha shrugs her shoulders in bewilderment) You've heard her on the air, haven't you?
Martha: Sure. Last month when I work Mrs. Ritchie—she's opera singer—she always listen Miss Johnson— sometimes she say 'I no go dinner until that MM come on.' (There is no doubt what the MM stands for) And Greta Garbo—I work for her two months ago—she listen Miss Johnson. Everyone listen Miss Johnson—they hope perhaps she say something terrible about their friends.
Radio Engineer: That's fine. Now just keep talking.
Martha: (Beaming) I talk all America? Yes? Want speak brother Berlin. Yes?
Radio Engineer: No. Now just talk. I go listen control room. Jesus, She's got me doing it now. (Exits into kitchen, while Martha looks fearfully at the microphone. His face appears at glassed-in window and his voice booms suddenly into the room, frightening Martha)
Radio Engineer: Now say something—just like before.
Martha: Who I talk about now?
Radio Engineer: Look, I wouldn't strain your brain like this—only I'm new to the job, too. This is the first time I've fixed a radio in a private house—and I hope it's the last. Just answer my questions. Is Miss Johnson married? No, don't turn round—answer into the mike.
Martha: (Holding the mike like a telephone) She is, she not.
Radio Engineer: That's fine.
Martha: No, not fine. I no like work for woman no man in house. (Now warming up to her subject) Her secretary say Miss Johnson marry young. I no know what happen—Ithink he—(she turns to engineer and makes motion of drinking. He shakes his head and motions her to turn back to the mike.) She divorce. Now, see this man, that man.
(The telephone bell rings and Martha jumps to answer it)
Martha: Hallo—yes—what? No—this 1530 Prince Road, Beverly Hills. Who you want speak? Yes, this Miss Johnson house. You want speak her? Who speak? Yes, this Miss Johnson house. Who? Mr. Boxstead? Foxtead? Jones? Acton? Oh, Mr. Acton. (The radio engineer gives up and comes back into the room) No, she not here. Message? All right, I say you call. (Repeating slowly) Mr. Robert Acton —tank you—you welc'm.
(From the hall, a stately, dyed, somewhat affected woman of forty comes languidly into the room)
Miss Minns: Who was that, Martha?
Radio Engineer: Miss Johnson?
Miss Minns: (Arranging hair) No—I'm only her secretary. You're the radio man? (He nods) Is everything ready?
Radio Engineer: Okay.
Miss Minns: (To Martha) Who was that on the telephone?
Martha: (Slowly) Mr. Robert Acton.
Miss Minns: (Waking up) Really? Hm! Miss Johnson IS going up in the world. Public Lover number one.
Radio Engineer: That sap! I can't see what my wife sees in him. I bet he puts glue on his hair. Does he? You ought to know. My wife tried to get me to look at her like he looks at dames. (Gives a terrifying imitation) He must have a crook in his neck all day.
Miss Minns: He's only been here once. He was probably calling about something he didn't like in her column. She has a lot of that to deal with. One day she and her friends are thick as thieves—I don't really mean thieves—you know what I mean—and the next day they won't even come to the phone when she calls them. What time is it?
Radio Engineer: Time Miss Johnson was here. It's 6:17—she goes on the air at 7:00.
Miss Minns: Oh, she'll be here. She always is—sometimes only 10 minutes before the broadcast. She's out collecting the very latest gossip—what with her column to do as well, she's on the go all the time.
Radio Engineer: I once had the pleasure—(sarcastically)—of hearing Miss Johnson. Don't tell her I said so, but I don't go for this gossip about the stars. Who cares whether Marlene Dietrich sleeps in her pajamas or her birthday suit? And I don't care if Clark Gable's going to marry his grandmother. I put in a radio for him last year and there's one swell guy. But why should some dame yap about his private life?
(The door bell rings.)
Miss Minns: (A little dithery) That's Miss Johnson.
(Judy bursts into living room. She is in her middle twenties, slender, attractive, with quiet vivacity. She is well dressed—hat by Lily Dache, a conservative model; dress by Magnin's—also conservative. She speaks with a rather British intonation though her original Nova Scotia vocabulary is full of Americanisms.)
Judy: (To radio engineer) Good evening. Everything ready?
Radio Engineer: (Nodding) But I'd like to run through it with you once—if you don't mind. (He speaks humbly and stares at her unbelievably. He had expected a middle-aged homely woman.)
Judy: Look, I've still got 35 minutes and I want to rest. I'll be ready in ten. (She takes her hat off, loosens hair, gives hat to Martha) Would you like a drink while you're waiting, Mr. ——?
Radio Engineer: Kopfki. Thanks, I never drink on duty.
Judy: (Absently) Fine—give him a drink, Martha.
(Kopfki and Martha exit right)
(The phone rings and Miss Minns starts for it)
Minns: Mr. Acton called twice—if it's him again, are you in?
Judy: He promised to get me an interview with Solita Dino. (Considers) No, today I'm not in.
Minns: (At phone) Hello … Who is this please? Oh, Mr. McMann. (Hand over mouthpiece) You don't want to speak to Mr. Chris McMann, do you?
Judy: Oh, heavens! Yes. (Goes to phone)
Minns: Well, I didn't know.
Judy: (At phone—starts to speak enthusiastically, stops herself, takes a deep breath and continues in a languid voice) Hello, Chris. (Then with more heartiness) I mean helLO Chris … You can't—Oh … No, of course I'm disappointed, but it doesn't matter … (her face tightening) No, not tomorrow—I'm tied up this week. You see three times I'd put people off and three times… No, Please DON'T, I'm broadcasting—hello … (She hangs up the phone and turns around to Miss Minns) He's coming over. (Suddenly, half unwillingly, she smiles.)
Judy: (Surprised) Well, that was effective. Usually that 'either or' thing is only good with weak specimens. And I never thought of Chris McMann being weak.
Minns: Me either. I had a bit in one of his pictures and I stood near him all afternoon. Five hundred extras and Chris McMann never raising his voice or losing his head.
Judy: One's private and public personalities.
Minns: What's that?
Judy: Well, me for instance. Isn't the general impression that I'm as tough skinned a little she-cat that ever came to Hollywood?
Minns: Well, I wouldn't say—
Judy: And underneath I'm as timorous a female as—
Minns: You have character, Miss Judy.
Judy: Have I?—Is that what it is when you're more afraid to stop than to go on?
Minns: You have character—something we actresses never have—(Complacently)—We only have other people's characters.
Judy: I'd trade with anybody—character, profession, person and all.
Minns: You don't like—exposing people.
Judy: I don't mind that. That's an honorable profession that goes back to Cato and Junius. But there's so little to expose. These people haven't the time or the brains or the stimulous for doing anything very bad or very good.
Minns: Eddie Cantor is very charitable.
Judy: Yes, and Fatty Arbuckle was very indiscreet. But Miss Minns, here's the awful secret (lowers her voice)—There isn't an actress in Hollywood whose private life could make second page of the New York Times—unless she was an actress. I'm an imaginative writer—that's what I am—
(Chris McMann enters left. He is—description here—a little out of breath)
Chris: I came right in.
Judy: Hello, Chris.
Minns: (Nervously) You have just 20 minutes, Miss Judy.
Judy: All right. (Miss Minns goes out)
Judy: Well, Chris …
Chris: I had to see you—you seem in a mood. I'm—
Judy: I am. I'm in the mood—(weighing her words)—where chasing you seems scarcely worth the effort.
Chris: I wouldn't say you've been chasing me.
Judy: I have been. Or I've stood pretty still when you were chasing me.
Chris: (Trying the spoiled child) Oh, I feel badly about the whole thing.
Judy: All right, you sit and feel badly. Only today I won't be sorry for you, Chris. Because I feel a little sorry for myself.
Chris: You do?
Judy: I feel a bit alone—just before these broadcasts—one girl against an industry—that sort of thing. When I go to that mike about 1000 people and their syncopants and admirers are waiting to see what I dare to say.
Chris: You ought to get a guard like Winchell.
Judy: I'm not afraid that way.
Chris: No,you're not afraid. That's why I need you.
Judy: Doesn't your lady psychiatrist help?
Chris: Yes—and no. Judy, I hate her.
Judy: (Cynically) Yes? That's why you're having dinner with Dr. Anna Slagle tonight.
Chris: I swear I'm not—I'm going to the Ritchie's and she won't be there. I wanted to see you but she's got me so mixed up—
Judy: —that she wouldn't let you have dinner with me.
(Miss Minns comes in door)
Minns: Mr. Acton again. Same message?
Judy: Same message. (To Chris) The Great Lover is trying to enter my life.
Chris: Re-enter your life you mean. You told me that was over. (annoyed) You, a hardboiled newspaperwoman, to fall for that. (walks a few steps) I don't see how that fellow could do it without an audience.
Judy: You're indecent. I like Acton—he thinks I ought to be in pictures instead of writing about them. What do you think? (joking) Haven't I got it on most of your stars. Why don't you give me a test for 'The Last Blonde.'
Chris: (Absently) You said you had a screen test in Nova Scotia.
Judy: I did—I won a contest and it got me a job in New York. The City Editor sent for me—he said I was just the type but he didn't say what for. He took me out to dinner and next day I was a newspaper woman. (Chris nods knowingly) Not what you think? And not what he thought. He gave me the job because it was cheaper than paying my fare back to Nova Scotia.
Chris: (Gloomily) I'm stingy—I can understand.
Judy: A new fault—I hate stingy people. (She sighs) Chris, you represent everything for which I have the most sincere contempt. And I love you—perhaps because you're the only honest man I've ever known.
Chris: Not even that—I haven't told you everything about Anna Slagle.
Judy: (Ironically) Don't shock me. Did you think I thought your nerves were the only bond between you?
Chris: Judy, she's older than I am. She has a son. God, how I hate that boy. Just the thought of having him call me papa doesn't bear thinking of. Fine thing to be telling you.
Judy: You'll never find me so interested in anything again.
Chris: It all began with my mother complex—that's why I'm good in war scenes.
Judy: I don't quite follow.
Chris: Well, my mother fed me till I was three, so I can't sleep above the second floor and—
Judy: Wait a minute. Go back to war scenes.
Chris: Well, mother hated war, see—so when I'm directing a war scene—
Judy: You can't do it above the second floor.
Chris: It's easy to sneer at all this—but half the people in America believe it. And the other half soon will.
Judy: Sometimes I think this country ought to go to bed—as one man. But that's my Nova Scotia birth.
Chris: It'll reach Nova Scotia, too.
Judy: No, no, let's keep it right here in Los Angeles. Honestly, Chris, I'm not sneering—I'm nearer crying. What about your mother, what has it got to do with me?
Chris: Judy, I've been married three times. Each time I marry I make my wife into my mother and go to someone else for love because I have to get away from my mother.
Judy: That's not so good.
Chris: It's awful—the very words of the marriage ceremony do it—I've heard it three times—I pronounce you man and—mother.
Judy: And Dr. Slagle is going to cure you.
Chris: In six more months. If I stick to her six more months I'll be through with it forever. Then I'm yours if you want me. I'll have something to bring you.
Judy: If you knew how unattractive that sounded. Are you a sissy—just under the surface?
Chris: (Laughs) That's the last thing I am—and you know it. I'm a neurotic—and most of the important work of the world is done by neurotics.
Judy: I don't mean your work—your work's fine—I think you're the best director in Hollywood, except maybe Lubitsch. But I want somebody to love me, and you're not anybody—you're a stock company with a lady doctor holding over half the shares. Let me alone for six months—I'll be here—probably.
Chris: What do you mean probably. Judy, I'm mad about you. I've got to have you. I couldn't bear to think of your being with other men. If I had my way I'd marry you tomorrow.
Judy: You once told me you always had your way.
Chris: I do. By God, I do! I'll marry you and Dr. Slagle can cure me afterwards. Or if she won't I'll get somebody else.
Judy: (Tenderly) You don't need a doctor. You need to love someone outside yourself.
Chris: And that's you, Judy. What you do to me never has been done before.
(The kitchen door opens. Radio engineer appears, says apologetically)
Radio Engineer: It's 20 minutes to broadcasting time. We'd better run through your material.
Judy: Oh, my God! (She calls) Miss Minns—my script. (Secretary comes in from kitchen and stares at her open-mouthed—slowly) The broadcast—get me the broadcast.
Miss Minns: You didn't give it to me. I thought you had it—
Judy: (Impatiently) Of course I did—that stuff you typed this morning.
Miss Minns: (Weakly) Oh, that? Oh, dear, or dear! (Miss Minns collapses onto the sofa. And now it is Judy who stares at secretary.)
Judy: Very good stuff, Miss Minns. What ails you? I've got 19 minutes to the broadcast. Where's the material?
Miss Minns: (Weakly) I thought it was for your column, Miss Johnson. I thought it was your column. I wired it off to New York for the morning papers.
Judy: My God! (She sits on edge of sofa) I haven't any program.
Miss Minns: Why can't you use it anyhow?
Judy: In some cities it's on the sheets already. I'll just have to get another program together quickly. Get me that contract list quickly and I'll try to round up something. (Turning to Chris) Chris, what do you know that I could use?
Chris: I only know what I read in your column and hear on your broadcast.
Judy: This isn't the time for joking.
(Martha has come to the door and stares at the scene impersonally. She stares for a couple of seconds, then says phlegmatically)
Martha: You want skins potatoes or insides tonight dinner?
Judy: (Still calm) Not now, Martha, not now. (As though talking to a child) Go back to the kitchen and I'll tell you about the potato skins after the broadcast—(As Martha turns slowly back) Oh, just a minute, Martha. You've worked for Garbo—you've only just left Josie Ritchie—can you think of anything unusual that happened while you were there? (The telephone rings. Miss Minns answers it—while Martha's face gets blank as she tries honestly to think)
Miss Minns: Oh, Mr. Gabriel—Miss Johnson's very busy now. Will you call later—yes.
Judy: Don't put that receiver down—(takes it just before Miss does so) Oh, he's rung off—get him, Miss Minns. (Miss Minns dials)
Martha: (Hesitantly) I don't know—perhaps this good—but when I work for Miss Garbo—no, don't think any good.
Judy: (Still keeping calm) It might be, Martha. Just tell me, then I'll decide.
Martha: No, it no good.
Miss Minns: (Almost screaming) Oh, Martha, what is it, for heaven's sake! I'm going crazy—No, Mr. Gabriel, I'm not going crazy, I mean I am—Oh, I don't know what I mean—Miss Johnson wants to talk to you.
Judy: (Taking phone—talking quickly) Have you anything exciting I could use for the broadcast? Yes, tonight's broadcast; yes. I know you gave me some items this morning. I want some more. Why? Oh, Gabe, please, this is a crisis. My broadcast has gone—never mind where—oh, think of something, please—Oh, I knew I could rely on you. All right, come over—but write the items on the way. (Turning to others) Call NBC, Miss Minns, tell their lawyer to stand by—I'll have a new program to read to him. (Miss Minns dials) Now, Martha, what was that about Miss Garbo?
Martha: (Twisting her apron) She say she tank she go home Denmark Sweden.
Judy: You're a fine one to laugh—while I'm about to be ruined. What about your new picture, Chris? We ought to get something out of that.
Chris: You've sucked that dry in your column. You've interviewed everyone in it—from Josie Ritchie to the prop man.
Radio Engineer: (Poking his head out) You only have 15 minutes, Miss Johnson.
Judy: Oh, wait a minute. Why don't you go into your cage—(waves vaguely in direction of glassed-in compartment) I'll have it all ready soon.
Miss Minns: (On telephone) Yes, Mr. Butcher, Miss Johnson will call you in five minutes—it's very innocuous this week—so there won't be any trouble. All right, then, in three minutes. You'll hold on—well—yes, I suppose that's all right. (She puts earpiece down and puts finger to mouth.) Sh! We'll have to be quiet—the NBC libel lawyer is on the phone.
Radio Engineer: (From control room—his voice always booms into room) I've got something you can use—about a year ago when I put in that radio for Clark Gable—he called up Carole Lombard while I was there—I think he's in love with her. That's good, isn't it—unless you think it's too old?
Judy: (Smiling politely) No, of course not. Thanks very much. (Out of the corner of her mouth to Minns who is waiting to type the items) Forget it.
(Gabriel rings doorbell. Judy opens door. Sound of whispering in hall)
Gabriel: (Breezily) What's all the trouble? (Gabriel is short, stocky, very dark—speaks with ultra cockney accent—he is an Australian. He does not see Chris, who is reading paper in corner of room. He brings out his notebook) Miss Minns, takes this dictation. Dr. Anna Slagle, well known psychiatrist, and Mr. Chris McMann, the famous Hollywood director, are planning a Yuma-igration—(at this point he sees Chris—doesn't falter) Oh, hello, old chap—let me be the first to congratulate you. (Chris goes on reading paper)
Judy: (Coldly) Cut that one—but keep on dictating. (She is looking down list of names in her hand)
Gabriel: (To Chris) Pardon me, sir, but isn't Solita Dino in your new picture? Gad, she's a lovely creature—almost as lovely as Johnson. Any item about her is news—surely you can think of something.
Chris: (Getting up) You'd better leave Miss Dino out of this. I don't want anything to upset her. You know what she is about keeping her private life private.
Gabriel: (Penitently) Sorry, sir—I only thought that in these trying circumstances, well—how about Josie Ritchie—she's in your picture, too, isn't she?—and she likes publicity—or why does she give all those parties, because she likes the press?
Chris: (Really trying to think now) Let's see, what can I tell you about Josie Ritchie—well, she has terrific lung power—equal to a man's. (Miss Minns takes this busily) She broke a couple of recording instruments when she sang into it a couple of days ago. They wanted to take a picture of her showing her lungs and the broken records—but she refused—said it would destroy the illusion of fragile femininity the studio had built around her.
Judy: That's good, Chris. I'll use it—if you think it won't hurt you with the picture.
Chris: Well, don't say you got it from me—that's all. I'm going there for dinner tonight, so be careful.
Gabriel: And Robert Acton—he's your leading man, isn't he? I have an item about him. They tell me he's drinking again—or rather that he never stopped. How about something like this—Robert Acton, the Great Lover of the Screen, has been at the bottle again, which is why he will soon be a has-been lover of the screen. Damn funny, what!”
Judy: A—it's not funny; B—it's not true; C—it's libelous; and D—it's not funny. I'd sooner use something about you, Chris—give your picture a boost.
Chris: (Casually) Just as long as you don't say it's a bad picture.
Judy: (Dictating to Miss Minns) My scouts inside the studio inform me that 'The Last Blonde' is a near future candidate for Academy Honors. A brilliant cast will enact the scintillating story—check their names, Miss Minns—No less a personage than the great Solita portrays the title role. Of course, her beautiful red hair wall be dyed blonde for the picture.
Miss Minns: I thought her hair was dark brown.
Judy: It is—(repeats) beautiful red hair—it was red for her last picture, wasn't it? (Miss Minns nods, typing)—will be dyed blonde. Playing opposite her and fighting for the hero's love, is Josie Ritchie, that famous song-bird from the New York Metropolitan Opera House, who will make her picture debut in this wonderful film. Robert Acton, the male lead, tells me that never before in his screen life has he had a role that fits him so well—and you know what that means, girls—
Miss Minns: (Sighs blissfully) Yes. (Radio Engineer looks bored and shakes head in disgust)
Judy: But best of all, “The Last Blonde' is directed by that famous veteran of the screen, the man who put sex into screen love-making—the man who made the movies move—who was there to guide the stars over the first talkie hurdle—
Chris: (Softly)—And to catch them when they fell—
Judy: —That brilliant megaphonist responsible for the success of half the actors and actresses in the business, who has always put art before money, but has made money pay for art. I refer to that old in experience—youthful in years —handsome, Chris McMann.
Chris: (Getting up) My God! judy I can't help it, Chris.
Chris: Don't overdo it. I'll listen to you at the Ritchie's. (He kisses her) Goodbye, darling. We'll have dinner tomorrow. (He goes out) “Buck up, old girl—time is jolly well passing, you know.”
Judy: (Absently) “Yes.” (Still looking after Chris, she sighs a little and comes back to center of stage.) “All right now, let's get going.” (Reads names on list) “Joy—oh yes, Little Joy—I saw her in a downtown cafe yesterday with Philip Jones.”
Gabriel: “She's only about ten years old. Or is she? I had a cable from Australia a few days ago saying my paper had definite proof that Joy Dawkins is really about 25.”
Miss Minns: “Yes, I've heard that, too. No child could act the way she does—and her language—well, I don't know how or where any child could hear the things she says.”
Judy: “How do you know?”
Miss Minns: “Mr. Gabriel keeps telling me—”
Gabriel: “Yes, my dear, it was excrutiatingly funny. When I interviewed her, she gave me a highball and flirted like hell. Asked her mother if she could sit on the knee of the 'nice mans' as she couldn't hear very well. Doesn't sound like a child, does it?”
Judy: “It sounds like a lie to me.”
Gabriel: “All right, belittle me. I'm only trying to help.” judy: “Of course you are, Gabe. Forgive me. I'm nervous.” gabriel: “I understand, old dear.”
Judy: (To Miss Minns) “What do you think is the better item —that the child wonder of the screen is really a woman of 25, or that she had a date with Philip Jones, who's 16, if he's a day.”
Miss Minns: “I'll take romance.”
Gabriel: “That settles it. Use my item.” (Miss Minns and Gabe glare at each other—and audience understands they dislike each other.)
Judy: (To Gabe) “Yes, I think yours is more sensational—and that's what the sponsor wants. Now let's get something on an M-G-M star. What about Greta Garbo?”
Gabriel: “I saw her talking to Harpo Marx in the studio. They both ran when they saw me.”
Miss Minns: “Who wouldn't?”
Judy: “They went to a preview together according to the Reporter. I think I'm safe in saying they are thinking of getting married.”
Gabriel: “Harpo Marx is already married.”
Judy: (Sighs) “Yes, I knew that wouldn't really work. Well, I'll just say—“(and here dictates to Miss Minns)—” 'Greta Garbo will shortly elope with a well known comedian who plays a harp and has never yet spoken on the screen.' That'll disguise him.”
Gabriel: “Here's something about Solita Heber. I happen to know the people who live next door to her house. And they say she's gone—or going—crazy. She talks to herself all the time. She sometimes laughs, they've even heard her cry. She's going crazy! I think that's a wonderful item.”
Judy: “It's not bad, but I've got to be careful. That libel lawyer at NBC won't pass it—I don't think he likes me. Besides, she's in Chris' picture. The last thing I want to do is make him sore. Let's see, 'Solita Heber is so excited about her role in 'The Last Blonde' she rehearses her part night and day.' No, that wouldn't thrill a high school girl. This is it—'Solita Heber is so bored with her self-imposed solitude, that she has taken to talking to herself—so I'm informed by her neighbors.' ”
Judy: “Or “Things look bad for the number one recluse of Hollywood,' and then the rest. Now there ought to be something to say about Robert Taylor—let's see—everyone knows he's got hair on his chest.”
Gabriel: “But not as much as I have, by Jove.” (Bares his very hairy chest.)
Judy: “Gabe!” (Judy stares at chest in fascinated horror) “You never told me about this! I'll use it.” (Dictates) ” 'Mr. Dan Gabriel, Hollywood scribe, challenges Robert Taylor to a hair-on-the-chest competition. Judges to be a hand-picked beauty chorus. The winner gets a date with Solita Heber.' ”
Radio Engineer: (Almost hysterically) “You've only got 10 minutes, Miss Johnson.”
Judy: (Showing nerves for the first time) “I'd better take a drink now. I'm getting awfully nervous.”
Miss Minns: “It's the aspirin you take for your nerves—the drink's to pep you up. Martha, get two aspirins for Miss Johnson.” (Martha goes upstairs)
Judy: (To Miss Minns) “NBC is still waiting? Tell them to keep the line open. And Martha—” (shouting upstairs) “bring down my lozenges—my throat's getting dry—I don't think I can speak.”
Miss Minns: (Shouting) “And bring some aspirin for me—I can't stand this any more. We've only got three pages done—you need another two.”
Radio Engineer: “Six more minutes.”
Judy: “Loretta Young—anything new on Loretta Young?”
Gabriel: “Well, she's not going to marry Joe Mankewicz or Tyrone Power or Charlie Chaplin or Eddie Sutherland or David Niven or Jon Hall or Jimmy Stewart or Wayne Morris or Cesar Romero or George Brent or Brian Aherne.”
Judy: (Slightly feverish) “Good, I'll use that—say somethingabout 'Loretta Young being a confirmed celibate, will not marry Joe Mankewicz or Tyrone Power or Charlie Chaplin or Eddie Sutherland or the rest of Hollywood's bachelors.' That should take up a minute.”
Gabriel: “Katherine Hepburn flew East yesterday.”
Judy: “To see Howard Hughes?”
Gabriel: “I don't know—she didn't tell me.”
Judy: “Fine. We'll say she's going around the world with Hughes in his plane. First, of course, they will be married by the pilot—they're like captains of ships—and can marry people.”
Gabriel: “No. I don't think so.” judy: “They do where I fly from.”
Radio Engineer: “Five minutes, Miss Johnson. I've got to send the station the Okay signal.”
Judy: “Well, send it—I'm ready—practically. Look, Gabe—you take this stuff upstairs and telephone it to Mr. Butcher of NBC—the line's open.” (Gabe takes it from Miss Minns) “And tone it down as much as possible when you talk to him. Say a messenger is on the way with a copy.” (Gabe is out of the room during half of the conversation) “Now what else.” (Judy scans contract list) “Er—the Ritz Brothers—the Ritz Brothers—No, I'm not that hard up.” (Turning page to Warners' list) “Er—Kay Francis—Miss Minns, what would you like to know about Kay Francis—pretend you're the listening public and I mention Kay Francis' name. What would interest you most to hear about her?”
Radio Engineer: “That she's quitting the screen.”
Miss Minns: “Oh, how could you! I think she's wonderful. Looks so fragile and helpless. I can't think why she doesn't marry.”
Judy: (Repeating) “Why she doesn't marry.” (Shouting upstairs) “Gabe, when you've finished on that phone tell me why doesn't Kay Francis marry.”
Gabriel's voice: “I guess she hasn't met her ideal man yet.”
Judy: (Dubiously) “It's weak—but I'll have to use it.” (Looking at list again) “Errol Flynn—Errol Flynn—he's always good for a war trip or something.” (Calling upstairs again) “Is the Spanish War still going on, Gabe?”
Gabriel: (Shouting) “Yes!”
Judy: “Then I can't send him there.”
Miss Minns: (Thoughtfully) “We've sent him on cruises to South America, the South Seas, and India.”
Judy: “All right, he's going to South Africa in his boat because he doesn't like the looks of the peace situation there and will fight for the side that is right.”
Gabriel: (Coming into room) “NBC didn't like your item about Joy going out with Philip Jones—said it might give ideas to the youth of America.”
Judy: “Oh. Then I'll use the other item about her—I'm sure she's older than her mother says she was. Yes, it's a better item anyway—write it down the way I said it before.” (Miss Minns types)
Radio Engineer: “Two more—”
Judy: “Stop saying that, please! I know, I've got two more minutes. How many pages, Miss Minns?”
Miss Minns: “With your review of the week's pictures, it's the right length.”
Judy: (Collapsing weakly into chair) “Thank God! I wouldn't go through this again for all the money in Louis B. Mayer's bank.”
Gabriel: (Always in a very tough voice but with precise English) “Well, I presume I can go now, Johnson. I have a date with a gem of a girl. We are going to make love.” (Rather coyly) “She promised to give herself tonight. Toodle-oo. I'll listen to the broadcast in my car. Best of luck, old top.” (He goes)
Judy: (Wearily) “Better telephone those last items to NBC, Miss Minns—upstairs. Leave the duplicate with me.” (Miss Minns goes—Judy scans copy—murmuring some of the notes aloud.) “Hm—not bad—but not awfully good—I wish I had something startling—I'd like a baby.” (Radio Engineer coughs into the microphone—but Judy is oblivious to it) “I've never had a baby except once—and that didn't come off.”
Martha: (Who has been at door most of the time, interrupts) “You no tell me—how potatoes done—skins—inside?”
Judy: “I forgot to tell you, Martha, I'm dieting—no potatoes at all. And—” (as Martha starts to talk)—“I'm very busy —the broadcast—I'm going to broadcast” (slowly) “Martha, I talk America—” (Martha makes another motion of talking)—“Look, why don't you go into your bedroom, turn on your radio, and listen in?”
Martha: (Slowly) “A'right.” (Leaves the room)
Radio Engineer: “Stand by, Miss Johnson. I'll give you a 30 second signal at the end—so you can cut or go slow if you're too long or short.” (Judy, making pencil corrections in copy, nods.)
Miss Minns: (Half-way downstairs in a stage whisper) “It's all right, Miss Johnson—but they want a copy right away.” (During this stage whisper, Martha has come into room again)
Judy: “Oh, Martha, Martha—what is it?” (Moans softly)
Martha: (Whispering at sign from radio engineer) “Baby —what you say want baby—remind me something.” (The radio engineer does a silent 'sh') “Josie Ritchie—the one I work last week—she going have baby—big secret. She no know I know. But me know those things.”
Judy: (Snatches piece of paper and writes furiously while saying to Martha) “Remind me to give you $10 after the broadcast.”
Martha: (Looking blank) “What you say?”
Radio Engineer: “Stand by for the commercial, Miss Johnson.”
Judy: (Looks trapped for a second—clears throat—finds it not clear) “My lozenges” (she whispers to Martha—Martha rushes upstairs, brings them down during middle of commercial. Judy puts one in mouth, sucks furiously —swallows before beginning. The commercial which lasts one minute, is heard.)
(First a bar of spirited martial music)
(“The makers of So-Good Chewing Gum bring you”—here another bar of music—” 'Dame Rumor'—on a coast to coast hook-up.” Another ta-ra of trumpets. “Dame Rumor, the nom de air for that beautiful brilliant reporter of the Hollywood scene—Miss Judy Johnson —brings you good news, exclusive news—and new news. Her column is syndicated from Hoboken to Honolulu, from Montreal to Malibu. Her delicious tid-bits of Hollywood gossip are brought to you every Tuesday at this hour by the makers of 'So-Good Chewing Gum.' Incidentally, we do not necessarily agree with Dame Rumor's opinions. But we like them and you will. Of that the makers of So-Good Chewing Gum are confident… . Before introducing Dame Rumor, we will do our weekly slenderizing exercises. Have you all got your package of 'So-Good Chewing Gum' ready, ladies and gentlemen? All right—place two lumps in your mouth. Yum—Yum. Tastes good, doesn't it—but there is better to come. Now, while I beat time with the music, chew, using the back teeth only—opening the mouth as wide as possible.” Judy unconsciously begins to chew andopen mouth—with the lozenges Martha has just given her—the audience can see how very nervous she is. Music starts like that Margaret had—one-two-three—open, open, wider, wider, etc. “There, did you feel a surge of circulation through your entire body? Of course, you did. And good circulation is good for dissolving the cells of fat that too often mar the female form divine—and the masculine. Now once more—” (here repeat)—“And now here is Dame Rumor in person—and while you listen to her chew the rag—don't forget to chew So-Good Chewing Gum.” A loud trumpet call. “DAME RUMOR!” Judy's voice is now beautifully modulated, soft and clear—no nervousness after the first convulsive gulp.)
Judy: “Good evening, listeners of the United States—and Nova Scotia. This is Dame Rumor in the living room of her home in Hollywood bringing you the latest and most authentic” (here makes a slight grimace)”—news of the stars.” (Here I will use my funniest real star item.)… (Black out and—
Short scene, ventriloquist's house.
7:55 P.M. Same night.
Atmosphere: Comedy and eerie.
Actor Van Cleve
Mrs. Consuela Van Cleve.
Little girl's fascination with ventriloquist and dummy.
Hollywood wife bored.
Broadcast about child, no effect.
Broadcast about ventriloquist, great effect, ending with hint of his madness.
Child's mother takes her away, worries about ventriloquist.
The drawing room of the Ritchie's house in Beverly Hills.
Over the fireplace is a portrait of Josie Ritchie in a white very picturesque dress, with barbaric jewelery on her wrists and throat and a white gardenia in her hair. The walls are painted in apple green and a somber painted screen covers where a fire would be if it were winter. The walls are decorated with good prints showing a canal in Venice, a Doge's Palace in Florence. One side is practically covered with a tapestry showing the harbor at Naples. At the far end of the room is a very large grand piano, on which is much stacked music. On a table stand inscribed photographs of prominent opera stars. Two large sofas in cream satin face each other by the fireplace with small low tables in front of them. The drapes are drawn, showing the dusk of a California summer evening. The cream parchment lamps are lit.
When the curtain goes up, Tom Ritchie, in a dinner jacket, sits at the piano playing very softly. He is dapper, short, with scanty black hair brushed very carefully back over his high forehead. His eyes are his best feature—large and dreaming. His wife, Josie Ritchie, dressed exactly like the portrait over the fireplace, is lying on the sofa beneath the light holding a script, humming from it as her husband plays. She is very attractive in a spectacular way—her red hair is a startling frame for her pale handsome face; her lipstick is the same shade as her hair. One foot, in a silver shoe, taps in time to her humming.
Ritchie: (After playing a few bars of the song which is a compromise between the classical and popular.) It you were a torch singer, you could sing this. But for your glorious voice—it's just funny.
Josie: Speak to Rossoff.
Ritchie: No, he's only the music director—this is too important—it's the title song of the picture. Rossoff can't do anything without Chris … Don't look so worried.
Josie: I'm not, Tom. You always fix everything.
Ritchie: Of course it's hardly the picture I'd pick for your debut—Josie Ritchie between the trained seals and elephants—it's—it's illegitimate.
Josie: Solita Dino isn't a trained seal—or an elephant.
Ritchie: How D'ye know? Have you ever seen her?
Josie: (Somewhat ironic) Has anybody? But you forget there's also Joy to keep me company. She and her mother are coming to dinner tonight.
Ritchie: My God! And we haven't a high chair. Did you invite the seals?
Josie: They're probably studying their roles. (Turning pages of thin script) They don't seem to have left much to me.
Ritchie: (Coming over and putting his arm round her) Will you stop worrying? You worry all the time lately. Chris is a good director—the best. You mustn't expect too much—this is Hollywood—not the Metropolitan. And fifty thousand for three songs. A hundred dollars a note. (He sighs) But sometimes I wish we were back in the old days in Florence.
Josie: We were happy then. You were going to be the best pianist in the world.
Ritchie: You were so sure I would be.
Josie: I still think so. Remember the day I fainted because I'd had nothing to eat for 36 hours?
Ritchie: Yeah—life was pretty wonderful in those days. Sure, we didn't have any dough—but we had other things. (Comes toward her sentimentally)
Josie: Oh, Tom—please—you promised.
Ritchie: (Humbly) I'm sorry, darling. I know. You can't give everything to the millions who worship your glorious voice and have anything left for your husband. But you're so lovely—it isn't so easy.
Josie: Tom, don't—I can't stand this sort of thing. When the season is over, we'll go away somewhere. Tom, you mustn't forget it was you who taught me that music comes first. Remember Martha Sorel.
Ritchie: That's different. She boasted of having had a hundred affairs before she was 21. And God knows how many afterwards. But Constinelli—(Looks at her and breaks off) oh, I'm sorry, darling. I know it upsets you when I talk about him.
Josie: (primly) Constinelli was a tenor—that's different.
Ritchie: Forgive me, Josie. I'm sorry. I'm just a big, ugly brute at heart, I guess. Come on—let's dance. (He pulls her up from the sofa)
Josie: They'll be here in a minute. It's after seven. (He looks at wristwatch)
Ritchie holds her in his arms. She towers above him.
Ritchie: Better take your shoes off.
Josie kicks them off. They dance a bad rhumba cheek to cheek. Ritchie draws himself up to his fullest height with a very proud and yet humble look on his face as he presses his cheek against Josie's.
The bell rings very softly, but they do not hear it. A child'slaughter rings out by the door as Little Joy Terry comes in with her mother. Joy is about 12 years old—rather thin, but with masses of golden curls. She wears an organdie party dress. The mother is like a freshly painted doll, her round eyes move like a doll's; what she says has a doll's range and mechanical sound. They stand in doorway until Josie sees them and stops dancing. The Terry's come down center.
Josie: (Very sweetly) You're little Joy, of course. How d'ye do. (Shakes her hand)
Joy: To her mother. Dolly—this is Mrs. Ritchie. She's going to sing in my picture.
Josie: Looking for her shoes. Please sit down, Mrs. Terry.
Joy: To Josie. D'ye always dance without your shoes? You'll get cold. Looking at her mother. Dolly has a cold from watching me on the set.
Ritchie: Will you have a drink, Mrs. Terry? Butler is now handing them canapes.
Joy: Have a stiff one, Dolly. It'll do you good.
Robert Acton enters, strides into the room. Englishman, handsome, a young 40.
Acton: He crosses room to radio. Hello, everyone. Am I in time for Judy Johnson's broadcast? Twiddles with switch of radio.
Josie: Yes—it's just seven.
Acton: Still twiddling with knobs. What's new on our picture?
Ritchie: Nothing. I wish we had a director who knew more.
Acton: What station is she on?
Joy: KFI. To Ritchie. I heard that Mr. McMann can't read.
Josie: Oh, yes he can read. I know. He just likes to have his scripts read to him.
Joy: Maybe we could get my school teacher to give him lessons on the set.
Announcer's Voice: Before introducing Dame Rumor, we will do our weekly double-chin reducer. Have you all got your package of Wendell's Chewing Gum ready, ladies and gentlemen? All right—place two sticks in your mouth. Yum—Yum. Tastes good, doesn't it—but there is better to come. Now while I beat time to the music, chew, using the back teeth only—opening the mouth as wide as possible.
People in the room unconsciously begin to chew and open mouths—music starts.
Announcer's Voice: One-two-three, open, open, wider, wider. There. Did you feel a surge of circulation through your entire body? Of course you did. Good circulation is good for dissolving the cells of fat that too often mar the line of the chin. Now once more—
Everyone in the room chews—even the butler who comes in and stands in the door. Behind him comes Chris McMann and, seeing him, Ritchie turns off the radio.
Chris: Hello, Josie. How are you? Hello, Joy. Mrs. Terry. Well, if it isn't my old friend, Acton. Hello, Tom.
Ad lib greetings.
Josie: How's everything with you?
Chris: Everything? Everything's perfect.
Josie: Since when?
Chris: Josie, darling, I'm in love. She's wonderful—wonderful. I tell you—wonderful.
Josie: I get it. She's wonderful.
Chris: Everything I've always wanted in a woman. Yes, it took me by surprise, too, but wait till you meet her.
Josie: But I have—and she's coming for dinner tonight.
Chris: Tonight? But I've just only left her and she was up to her eyes in work.
Josie: When I called her this afternoon, she said she wanted to surprise you.
Chris: Funny, she didn't tell me.
Josie: Anna always does things her own way.
Chris: Anna? Josie, you don't mean Anna Slagle? He laughs. I wasn't talking about her!
Chris: Emphatically. NO! He laughs. It's Judy Johnson.
Acton: Hearing the last four words. I wish someone would get Judy Johnson's program.
Josie: To Chris. Oh-h-h! She's nice.
Ritchie: I don't like newspaperwomen. They make me nervous. They twist everything you say into something they've got already written.
Josie: Not Miss Johnson, Tom. She seemed most intelligent. To others. She had lunch with me here last week. I thought she was very charming.
Ritchie: She was just like the rest of them—didn't know an A minor or a B flat.
Joy: She promised to buy me a rabbit. I don't like rabbits—but I like her.
Acton: I can't complain—she's always done very well by me. Humming softly with a far-away look in his eyes. In fact, I once named her as one of the ten most attractive women in Hollywood.
Josie: To Chris. I promise to call her and invite her for dinner one night—as a friend, not a newspaperwoman.
Ritchie: You can't trust reporters. They think in headlines. There isn't one of them who wouldn't sell out his best friend for an inch of space in his paper.
Chris: You don't know Judy. I've told her things that would ruin me if she ever used them—I'd tell her anything.
Ritchie: They're a menace to the industry. I know a lot of picture people here who won't let her get inside their homes.
Chris: It's her business to print things about the movies. And she does a good job. That's what they pay her for. Here, let me at that radio. Goes to radio and turns switch.
Major Crandall comes in.
Josie: Going to him. Major Crandall! Do you know everyone here? To others. Major Crandall.
Crandall ad libs greetings.
Dr. Anna Slagle comes in. She is dark-haired—fairly slender but rather big busted, about 38, fairly good-looking, little makeup. Chris doesn't see her. His back is to the door—until she speaks.
Joy: Who sees her first. Good evening, Dr. Slagle.
Josie: Hello, Anna. Come on over. We're listening to Judy Johnson.
Slagle: Coldly. No, thanks. I'll stay here. Josie gives Chris an embarrassed look. Chris smiles at Anna feebly and waves his hand.
Dame Rumor: Over radio. So “The Last Blonde” is at last in production. And now for some scoops about the members of this brilliant—she clears her throat—cast. They look at each other meaningly—Chris smiling—Robert Acton self-consciously tugging at collar—Mrs. Terry beaming. Joy with nonchalance, Ritchie with a vague sneer. Dr. Slagle seats herself near the door. Neighbors of Solita San Martin are complaining about her new habit of talking to herself. Can it be that self-imposed solitude is breaking her down? It'll be too bad if her illness causes a postponement of “The Last Blonde.”
Josie: Oh, dear, I hope not.
Joy: Sh—I want to hear the rest. Chris' smile fades. Dr. Slagle gets more interested.
Dame Rumor: Continuing. Now here's an item that will surprise you as much as it surprised me. Little Joy Terry—Joy gets very excited, holds her mother's hands and looks round triumphantly at others. She is not the little girl you have been led to believe. She is a young woman of 27. I hate to say this because I love Joy just as much as you do—but the little sweetheart of America is the same age as your Dame Rumor. But this doesn't mean that young Joy—or should I say “old” Joy?—should stop portraying the child roles she has made so famous.
Mrs. Terry: Very indignantly, but with confusion. Well!
Chris gets less amused and Dr. Slagle more—the others are a mixture of being startled and amused with Josie registering sympathy for all of them.
Dame Rumor: Continuing. And now for the scoop of the week. They all lean forward expectantly. Josie Ritchie, who was brought here from New York for the top singing role in “The Last Blonde” is preparing a bassinette for the little stranger she is expecting in February. That will be all this week, except—
When the word “all” has been said, Ritchie turns off the radio.
Ritchie: What did I tell you? That girl's a malicious liar. Josie going to have a baby! Why, it's the most outrageous thing I ever heard! The girl is crazy!
Joy: She can't do that to me—and get away with it!
Ritchie: We were so nice to her. Treated her like one of the family. I even got Josie to sing for her. And all we get for thanks is a baby!
Josie: Weakly. I think I'll have a drink. joy: My, how pale you are, Mrs. Ritchie.
Ritchie: Darling, you're not going to let this silly story upset you, are you?
Across the room, Robert Acton faints to the floor.
Ritchie: Ad lib. In perplexity. What the hell—! He's fainted! Get water! Slap him on the back! Put him under a shower! Get a doctor!
Josie: A little frantically. Do something! Take him into the den —the big couch.
Ritchie: Yes, dear, of course. To butler. Here—give me a hand. They half carry, half drag him out of the room.
Chris: Sitting dejectedly on sofa. I could have sworn Judy would never do a thing like this. I'd have trusted my life with her.
Josie: Tom was right, Chris. I'm through with reporters. I'll never give another interview as long as I live.
Slagle: She's smarter than I thought. When did she say the happy event takes place, Josie?
Josie: This is not the time for kidding. Can't you see I'm very upset?
Slagle: That's just it. Why don't you come to my office tomorrow? Maybe I can reconcile you.
Josie: Stiffy. No, thanks. I'm sorry—I know you mean well—but—.
Anna shrugs shoulders and goes over to picture censor.
Slagle: I'll call you in the morning.
Butler: Mr. Thater calling, Mr. McMann.
Chris: Jumping up. Solita's manager.
Slagle: Maliciously. Take the call here, Chris.
Chris: On phone. Yes, I know it was terrible ... Of course not … Why should the studio give out that item? What do you think we are—on Judy Johnson's payroll? … Well, we're not! Look, put Solita on the phone. Let me talk to her… . Yes, I know she's upset—so are we all.
Joy: I'm not a bit upset. They shush her—all wanting to hear Chris.
Chris: Solita, hello … Yes, awful… But no one will believe it… I suppose you have got a case for slander—but those things are always unpleasant—you'll have the rest of the press on your neck… . You want her run out of Hollywood tonight. He laughs, without enthusiasm. Of course you're joking, Solita. To others. She hung up on me. Puts receiver down with dejected air. It immediately rings again. Chris lifts it hopefully—but expression changes to gloom.
Chris: London calling—for Mrs. Terry.
Joy: Let me take it, Dolly. Hello, the Daily Express? This is Joy … Is it true? Dolly, they want to know, is it true? She laughs shrilly—then into phone. What do YOU think? Puts phone down.
Josie: Poor Joy. We'll get out of this mess somehow. Even if you are a midget—it isn't your fault.
Butler: The Josie Ritchie Fan Club would like to talk to you, Mrs. Ritchie.
Josie: My God! Where are they—outside? Butler silently hands her receiver. Josie braces herself and in her most sugary tone. No—it isn't true. Yes, I'm sorry too… . Oh, that was very sweet of you … Yes … Grimly. Yes, I promise if I have one I'll let you know first… Yes, goodbye. To the others. They want to organize a Josie Ritchie Baby Fan Club.
Ritchie: Coming agitatedly into room. Bob's sitting up, but he's still very weak. He wants to talk to you, Josie.
Josie: The poor boy—this has been a terrible shock to him. Excuse me. To her husband who is following her out of room. Let me go alone.
Ritchie: I'm coming with you.
Josie shrugs her shoulders—they exit.
Chris: Disgustedly. We have a great cast with one star crazy —the other going to have a baby, and—sinks his voice—Joy a midget.
Joy and her mother have been whispering aside. They come down left together.
Joy: Dolly, I'll lay you five to one we can do it. mrs. terry: It sounds so risky.
Slagle: What's on your mind, Joy.
Joy: Nothing, Dr. Slagle, nothing. I'm only going to call on Judy Johnson tomorrow—and scare the living daylights out of her.
Mrs. Terry: When we're finished with her she'll be sorry she ever heard the word 'midget.'
Joy: Don't tell them, Dolly. It's a secret, remember. Let's go look at Mr. Acton. I've never seen a fainted man. They exit to den with Crandall.
Dr. Slagle comes over to Chris, puts her arm around him. He takes no notice.
Slagle: Now, Chris, take a toe-hold on yourself. chris: Very tersely. I resent the implication.
Slagle: Look. I've been giving you psycho-analysis for three years now. I think I can claim to understand you better than anyone else, don't I?
Chris: I suppose so.
Slagle: And I've helped you, haven't I?
Chris: I suppose so.
Slagle: You don't sound very convinced, Chris. You look almost as desperate as when you first came to me for help three years ago. You'd been to other psychiatrists and they weren't able to help you, were they?
Chris: Yes, yes.
Slagle: You'd just been divorced for the second time.
Chris: Oh, why bring that up.
Slagle: Passionately. Because you're headed for the same mistake again. You were only 19 when you married that girl in Texas. Now you're thirty-seven. For seventeen years you've been fighting the love your mother imposed on you when you were a little boy.
Chris: I didn't tell you that. All I said was that my mother didn't wean me until I was three.
Slagle: Ignoring the interruption. You married a sweet little girl. You loved her—she loved you. And immediately she became your wife you began deceiving her. And why? Because directly she was your wife, she became your mother.
Chris: Yes. Yes, that's right.
Slagle: Then you marry your mistress, and how long were you faithful to her, Chris?
Chris: Quite a long time—about a month.
Slagle: That's practically a lifetime considering the sub-conscious forces that were tearing you apart. A month after your second marriage, you have an affair with your script girl.
Slagle: You manage to keep this affair from your wife a long time—at least two months. But she has you watched.
Chris: She'd been having affairs, too—
Slagle: What did you expect her to do—enter a nunnery?
Chris: No, I didn't.
Slagle: That's when you came to see me. The script girl wanted to marry you.
Chris: I'll always be grateful to you for getting me out of that.
Slagle: She preferred the cash anyway—Now tell me, how much are you in love with Judy?
Chris: At this moment, not at all.
Slagle: Judiciously. She's young and I suppose some people would call her pretty. And she's very much in love with you—of course, for what she could get out of it.
Chris: She's not a gold digger.
Slagle: You can't judge that. I'd have given you a week at the most to have an affair with a woman you could regard as your sweetheart.
Chris: I thought I was cured.
Slagle: It's obvious that you're not. But it's also obvious you don't need me any longer.
Chris: In wild alarm. Anna, darling, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. Look—be reasonable. I love you. I need you. You can't run out on me now—just as I'm almost cured. Anna, you can't go—I'd go crazy without you.
Slagle: Goodbye, Chris. She moves toward the door.
Chris: Anna, don't be silly. Goes over to her—tries to take her in his arms. Then desperately—I'll kill myself, I swear it—if you give me up. I hate Judy Johnson. I'll never see her again. I need you so, Anna, please, please, don't go.
Slagle: Who now sees she has him where she wants him and can afford to torment him. I don't know, Chris—you're so unstable.
Chris: I know I am—that's why I need you so. Anna, marry me—now BEFORE the picture starts. I wouldn't be able to make the picture anyway—if you run out on me.
Slagle: Taking off her coat. You know I couldn't abandon you, darling. You're such a fine person, I want so much for you to find yourself in life.
Chris: Then you'll marry me?
Chris: Thank God! We'll buy the ring tomorrow. He kisses her cheek. The others are heard coming down the stairs.
Ritchie, Acton and Josie are the first to come into the room. Acton is still very pale and Ritchie is supporting him.
Acton: Testily. I tell you, I'm all right now. Ritchie lets go and Acton staggers slightly. But recovers, walks to fireplace, and leans against mantelpiece.
Slagle: Chris and I are getting married.
Josie: Watching Acton anxiously and hardly hearing. I'm so glad. Double-take. What! Chris avoids her eyes.
Slagle: Yes. She lights her cigarette with fingers that tremble a little. josie: Oh, how wonderful. To Acton. How do you feel, Bob?
Acton: I'm all right, Josie.
Ritchie: I'm going to that Judy Johnson and push her face in.
Josie: No, she might get more vindictive and say I was going to have twins. Maybe Bob will speak to her—he has a way with women that's irresistible.
Acton: Weakly. Thank you, dear. I'll do my best.
Slagle: To Josie. Don't let it get you down, Josie.
Josie: I'm not—but how would you feel—it would be the happiest day in my life, if it was true.
Ritchie: Quietly. And mine, Josie.
Butler: In doorway. Dinner is served.
Joy: Poor Mrs. Ritchie. Don't worry about Judy Johnson. She'll be leaving Hollywood tomorrow. I'm going to fix her good.
All exit to dining room except Ritchie and Crandall.
Crandall: I'm glad this happened tonight—these radio commentators and newspaper columnists have been carrying their dirt dishing too far. My office will take strong action. Tomorrow morning every studio will put Judy Johnson on the black list.
Ritchie is now alone on the stage.
Josie's voice: Tom, are you coming?
Ritchie: Yes, dear. Leaves room looking very worried.
Published in The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-Five Years Later by Sheilah Graham (NY, 1976 - Appendix).