by Sara Hamilton
Photoplay—Movie Mirror is the first to record these frank statements made by handsome bandleader Phil Harris about his wife, “the only girl who ever made me cry”
At 3 o’clock on a warm May day, Alice Faye became the wife of Phil Harris, the bandleader. The setting was Ensenada, Mexico, and no two happier people in all the world returned across the border that evening to these United States than Alice and Phil.
Theirs had been one of those love on sight, whirlwind courtships. So much in love were these two, in fact, they could not wait until Phil’s American divorce from his former wife, Marcia Ralston, became final in September.
“We’re going to be married all over again then,” Phil told us, his grin wider than usual.
Several weeks ago, we sat with Phil in his dressing room at the Paramount Theater where he had a two weeks’ engagement and talked of Alice, the girl he frankly admitted he loved. All about his dressing room were reminders of Alice, little things she’d bought for that dressing room, kidding signs painted by members of Phil’s orchestra on doors and mirrors, a huge wreath of dried vegetables outside the door, a gag present from Alice to Phil, and something else, something almost indefinable—a feeling, or aura perhaps, of the happiness and joy that radiate from those who have found love.
And Phil Harris has found it in Alice. And Alice has found it in Phil. “I know everything will work out,” this famous bandleader told us, “But you see our love is so new and it happened to us so suddenly, and with Alice away for three weeks and me on tour, we can’t seem to understand yet just what’s happened to us.”
That’s how deeply in love Phil and Alice are, with each seeming to know and recognize this is not just the usual Hollywood romance with dates and gay times. It’s more than just that. It goes deep into their hearts and a meeting ten years ago. It has its roots in an affinity of unspoken yearnings for companionship and home and simple things.
It’s exactly as if, after a long and heartbreaking journey, Alice had come home at last.
She tried to express that yearning when she bought a ranch home out in the Valley. Alice, the bright—light girl from New York, on a ranch! It seemed incredible to Hollywood. But we who understand Alice Faye knew that some unexpressed longing for peace after storms, for rest after turmoil, was sending Alice in search of a permanent haven.
Now she’s found it. Found it in a man who also came through success with all its accompanying noisy fanfare to find true happiness in the simple things of a simple life.
They met for the first time ten years ago. Phil remembers everything about that meeting. It happened on the roof garden of the Pennsylvania Hotel when Rudy V allee beckoned over the little blonde that sang with his band.
ALICE, this is Phil Harris. His band is going to follow ours here for an engagement.” They sat down at a table, Phil recalls, and talked for fifteen minutes about nothing much at all. Alice was beginning her career then and so was the new bandleader. Neither knew or dared to dream of the success that lay ahead for each of them, of the amazing events that would carry them on. Certainly they couldn’t foresee that ten years later, in a little Ventura Boulevard restaurant out in California, they’d look at each other over their midnight sandwiches and say “Hello” as if those ten years had never been.
They were neighbors in the village of Encino and yet they’d never met. Alice could look over from her garden and see Phil’s place and yet their paths had somehow never crossed since that night ten years ago. Alice had gone on to stardom and Phil’s band had become a part of Hollywood, appearing weekly on Jack Benny’s NBC radio show and playing nightly at the Wilshire Bowl.
After the Bowl had closed Phil would wander home by himself, stopping nearly every night at Charlie Foy’s on Ventura Boulevard for a sandwich. One night Alice and her secretary were sitting by themselves in a corner. Alice had worked late at the studio making added scenes for ” The Great American Broadcast.” She was tired and weary; Phil looked over, grinned his wide friendly grin and said, “Hello.”
“We’re neighbors,” Phil went on. “Strange w e haven’t run into each other before this.”
Before she left Alice had been invited to Phil’s for dinner and Alice promised, as soon as her picture was finished, she’d come.
Three weeks later he phone her. “How about dinner?”
Alice came the next night. She met Phil’s mother. Then an event of deep importance happened to Alice.
She met Tookie.
Tookie is Phil’s little boy, just six, with all the independence and self—assurance of a little boy who makes up his own mind about people. Never demonstrative, Tookie looked long and hard at Alice and Alice looked at Tookie.
He walked over and put his arms around her neck.
It’s been Tookie and Alice ever since.
“He never did that with anyone else,” Phil said. But right off he loved Alice, and, of course, Alice is out of her mind about Tookie, loading him down with gifts and presents all the time.
“He’s a swell little guy,” Phil says, and then with a father’s usual pride he tells of his boy’s accomplishments. “The smartest thing I ever did was to have a sports instructor come out to the house three times a week to teach Tookie swimming, fencing, and boxing. Why, he can dive right now into the nine—foot mark in the pool!”
Tookie, of course, will divide his time with Marcia Ralston, the former Mrs. Harris, screen actress who has recently been signed by Universal. But right now he’s with Phil.
Almost instantly Alice and Phil’s mother liked each other and now once every week Alice and Phil go to his mother’s house near her own little corner grocery at Sixth Street and Normandie.
“Couldn’t do a thing with her,” Phil grins. “Brought her out to my home and begged her to stay, but no sir, she wanted a little business of her own and darned if she didn’t buy a grocery on a corner that has chain markets on each of the other corners.
“Mother’s putting them right out of business,” he laughed, “because she thinks she’s still in a little town back east. People come in on Saturday nights to pay their bills and mother never misses that sack of candy as sort of a reward.”
“It’s those small—town, homey, simple qualities of Phil’s mother’s character that have been passed on to one of the nation’s lead orchestra leaders.
“Alice wants to do all the things I love to do—fishing and hunting. We’re going to do them, too.”
“Your marriage,” we suggested, “will be like the Gables.”
“That’s what I hope for,” he said, “sharing the same love tor things like that.”
HE means it. For years Phil has lived on his ranch, visited his neighbors, sat on fence rails at farm auctions with Gable and Andy Devine and bought farm tools and saddles. When his Wilshire Bowl stint was over Phil went home and no gay spots ever saw him. Now Alice, who spent so many years of her young life in night clubs, is eagerly following Phil in his life.
Free evenings—and they have been few—are spent visiting Phil’s close friends, the Andy Devines and the Goffs (Abner of the hum and Abner radio team).
Children, hee Devine and Goff children, have taken Alice to their hearts just as Tookie has. Dinner and card games are about the wildest diversions on these ranches. Alice Faye has never known such contentment.
Alice’s life with Tony Martin, her former husband, was a hectic, trying one. It began with ten strikes against it, with Tony and Alice constantly quarreling and making up and quarreling again.
Separation and Tony’s spectacular and sudden success tore them farther apart than Alice’s success ever could have and proved the finishing blow to their marriage. Alice’s divorce is now final.
“It’s like going back and living part of my life over,” Alice told us during the struggle for her adjustment in her marriage with Tony. “I’ve done and am finished with all the things that Tony loves—the night clubs and glitter. I want to go on from there.”
And now Alice is going on—with Phil Harris.
“Alice Faye is the only girl who ever made me cry,” Phil says quite unashamedly. “There has always been something about Alice on teh screen that has touched me and I admit quite honestly, in that scene in the cab before Carnegie Hall in ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band,’ I wept right out with Alice.”
For months, Alice had begged for a vacation from the studio. She was tired, weary, and wanted to go to New York. She wanted to stay there for three months and rest.
That was just before she met Phil. When her boat sailed through the canal, they both knew that their meeting just a week or two before meant something wonderful to each of them. Every day Phil telephoned the boat while he and his orchestra were making one—night stands throughout the West.
She stayed in New York—not three months but three weeks—and then came home to be with him.
“My Faye’t is in your hands,” “Faye as you enter,” were some of the signs of the boys of the band hung around to greet Alice when she stepped into that Paramount dressing room. Outside his door that montrous horseshoe of beets, carrots, and artichokes, all dried now, that Alice sent him on his opening day, still stands. Phil can’t bear to let it go.
THEY laugh about the same things. “We seem to have so much in common,” Phil says. “And she’s such a swell girl. From every side I meet people who tell me some story of Alice’s kindess. I never knew or met a girl who thought constantly of other people the way Alice does. She’s wonderful. I’m crazy about her.”
Undoubtedly in the hands and heart of this boy from Nashville, Tennessee, the half—frightened, submerged ego of Alice’s, that has endeared her to all of us who know her, will find a place to blossom. In the heart of that boy that still says, “Yes, ma’am,” and means it.
Phil’s story is the American way of success. While attending the Hume—Fogg military academy in Nashville, Phil and four other students organized a small orchestra and toured in the summer. In Denver, Colorado, a theatrical man heard the lads andlater sent for them to play in his theaters in Honolulu. The boys left school and stayed a year in the islands.
But now it’s Alice, his wife. And with Alice it’s Phil—her husband.
Until September, they will live in their separate and neighboring estates with all Hollywood pouring upon them their best wishes for a happy, happy marriage.
by Ruth Waterbury
The heartwarming story of two men and a woman who have found the secret of Hollywood friendship
ONE friendship started out of tragedy and the other out of comedy, but added together, they created the riotous Three Musketeers of Hollywood, Power and Faye and Ameche.
There’s always talk about there being no friendships in Hollywood, and of how jealous stars are of one another. That’s true enough of the time to make this explosive combination the exception that proves the rule.
But Ty, Alice and Don work on the same lot. They play in one another’s pictures. They continually sing one another’s praises and they go in for horseplay and practical joking between themselves that gets so rough at times it nearly wrecks the whole Twentieth Century-Fox plant.
Men frequently get together in friendship, but this setup is unique in having a girl mixed up in it. And the fact that two handsome young men think enough of a slim blonde girl to spend hours thinking up new ways to tease her, spells out in letters a mile high what a swell number the Faye is.
This three-cornered friendship (and make no mistake, it is friendship and never was romance) started off on a noble fine note. Tyrone Power, very unknown, definitely unsung, was kicked out of Alice Faye’s picture, “Sing, Baby, Sing.” Maybe you’ve heard this before, but it has to be repeated for you to get this unusual relationship going in its proper sequence.
It was Ty’s first picture and thus the event was discouraging. At that moment if Alice had acted according to the guide to stardom she would never have spoken to Ty, not because he had done anything wrong, but because it looked as though he were to be that Hollywood thing worse than death, a failure.
Alice, however, barged over at this crucial moment of artistic disgrace and asked Ty to take her to dinner. She didn’t know him then, or he her, but they spent the evening together. They got solemn as owls about everything. Alice gave Ty a great pep talk, and Ty said she was his inspiration. Alice said he was her Friend. They told each other that each understood. They promised to be friends forever and ever. On such a high, moral, sweetness-and-light plane the Faye-Power friendship rested until Dominic Felix Ameche came along.
Now there is no guy who has been made to seem such a plaster saint in his publicity as Don, and who is, in actual fact, such an impudent devil. Don does go to church every Sunday and he does adore his wife and sons, but those things and those only, are what he is serious about. Everything else is a laugh to Don, and if you don’t laugh with him, he’ll soon find a way to make you.
His way of achieving that is dead-pan kidding, right in the middle of any production’s most portentous scenes. It’s a little difficult to convey to you the nerve tension, the solemnity that ordinarily reigns on sets, I suppose it is unavoidable. Millions are at stake, moods are the equation on which the whole hinges and the star to keep her moods happy must be pampered. Any star can walk from a scene on any set and without even turning her head, have a chair appear instantly back of her. Hairdressers spring forward wordlessly to run their combs through already perfect locks. Make-up men solicitiously pat cheeks and nose with unnecessary powder. Publicity men flutter and the yes-boys go into their gurglings. The star is either very gracious about it, or pretends she doesn’t notice all this fuss, depending upon which type of person she is. Either attitude kills Ameche, and he kills the attitude.
Don and Ty were old friends from their starving Chicago days, and after the “Sing, Baby, Sing” episode Ty had communicated to Don what a regular person Alice was. Don had never met her however until they were cast together in “You Can’t Have Everything.”
“You Can’t Have Everything” was a very important picture to Alice and she was prepared to treat her role with due respect, but the first day Don reported on the set he came equipped with combs, flowers, folding chairs, powder puffs and the firm determination to reduce her to laughter. He was polite as all get out at the introduction but once on the set, every time Alice moved, he popped up to serve her, a mocking gleam in his eyes. He raved over her beauty. He was speechless with adoration when she put over some big scene. The little Faye hadn’t grown up on New York’s Tenth Avenue and fought her way up through the song-plugging game to movie stardom without knowing a ribbing when she saw it. She knew Don was kidding the socks off her and it made her mad as a snapping turtle. She wasn’t actually too happy in those days. She didn’t like Hollywood or Hollywood men. She wanted to go back to New York—either that or be a great dramatic actress—and here was this clown, making her want to giggle all the time. She resolved she wouldn’t and the more fiercely she resolved that, the more determined Don grew that she would.
THE spoofing feud went on for two whole weeks of production or up until Don enlisted Ty’s aid in it. That brought results on the evening of the day Alice had been presented with a new dressing room.
The rooms the boys were dressing in at that time weren’t exactly hovels but still there was nothing about them to do them proud. Alice’s new dressing room, however, was a Class A, super deluxe special and she didn’t hesitate to let them know about it. In fact, she invited them to call and observe her splendor and that was what led to her downfall. For those two pranksters looked at the room’s miles of white satin, covering chairs and dressing table and hangings. They saw exquisite Victorian lamps with their big pink shades. They saw the neat closets for Alice’s gowns, closets concealed behind mirrors that reached from floor to ceiling. They observed all that and they just waited for Alice to be called away.
The call to return to the set finally came and away tripped innocent Alice. When she returned she saw what their loving hands had done. They’d wrecked the joint, that’s all. The lamps were overturned. The bows were off the satin. Her gowns lay in limp attitudes over everything. Her mirrors were scrawled with grease paint. One whole mirror just said “Hello, dear.” Alice surveyed that desolation and if those two boys had been anywhere around she would probably have wrung their necks. But they carefully weren’t around and then the more Alice looked, the more she realized how big she had taken all this luxury, and how silly that was, and when she thought of that, she began to laugh. Laugh and think about revenge. A simple call to the decoration department in the studio would do away with most of the damage, but she had to do the revenging herself.
She rushed over to Don’s dressing room but it was discreetly locked. But Ty, the most temperamental of the three of them, hadn’t thought that far ahead. Alice crept into his diggings. There before her she saw Ty’s first pair of imported English shoes. She knew them on sight because Ty had already proudly displayed them to her and even boasted that he had gone berserk and paid thirty-five dollars for them. Another telephone call and Miss Faye had a hammer and nails in hand. Five or six neat blows and Mr. Powers’ beautiful dog-coverings were fastened tight to the floor. They didn’t show it. They sat there slyly waiting for the moment when Tyrone, the 3rd, would put his feet in them and attempt to walk away. For that moment Alice also left a note on Ty’s mirror. It merely said, “Thanks, kids.”
After that, there was no stopping them. There was always two against one, though in different setups — sometimes Don and Alice against Ty or Ty and Alice against Don, or Alice against the two of them—and the fun never ceased. It raged during the making of “In Old Chicago” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” It was all childish but that very factor delighted them. Alice planted garlic in Ty’s dressing room but he, getting a whiff of it as he was walking that way with her, pushed Alice in the room first, locked her in and left her to nearly smother.
Another occasion was the day that Don was to die in “In Old Chicago.” Alice and Ty sent him dead flowers all day long, to get him in the mood. He returned that compliment by sending Alice a necklace made of empty gin bottles when she had to do her hysterical lost-in-the-fire scene. When Ty had to do his big regeneration scene, they prepared him for it by planting a pail of garbage in his car. (You may have gathered the idea that they’d discovered Mr. Power doesn’t care for unpleasant odors.) In case you think all this is pretty juvenile, remember that despite their always inventing telephones, or writing Stephen Foster’s songs, or building the Suez Canal or trying to stop on screen the French Revolution, Ty and Alice are still in their twenties, and Don not long out of them, and if your work forces you to take everything seriously all the while, you’ve got to relax somewhere.
Not that they always goofed around. They waited to see one another mornings with their eyes sparkling with mischief. But if they had to they could see deeper into one another’s feelings. There was the day when Alice was playing in “Sally, Irene and Mary” and Don was making “Happy Landing.” Don walked on her set, just to call. Alice was feeling miserable. She is a truly nervous girl and she drives herself too hard, but this day she was too pale. Don said, “Alice, you’re sick,”
“Oh, no, I’m not,” retorted Alice. “I’ve just got a lousy cold and I’m tired. Don’t worry about me.”
Don did, however, and Don is always a man of action. He went to the telephone and told his doctor to come out and check up on Alice. The doctor took one look and ordered her to bed. She was straight on the edge of pneumonia and without such prompt action she might well have died.
Underneath all this clambake, however, they are serious about their work, so the one thing they do seriously together is discuss roles and how to play them. Tyrone, the most talented, knits his handsome brows and suggests they play such and such a scene this way. Don and Alice listen respectfully. Alice, the magical song plugger, tells Don she’d sell the tune in such a manner and he gives it a try. Then they go into the scene and all three try to steal it.
Love had its effect on them, too. Don was the old rock in that department, of course, but the other two were always bringing him the sad news about each romantic upset they would go through. The Ameche, as a matter of fact, is a rabid matchmaker, so he was forever trying to push the two of them into marriages that he was persuaded would be as happy as his own. Thus he was very much among those present, beaming like a sunset, when Alice and Tony Martin did finally, after their many quarrels, unite, and he was the joyous best man at the Power-Annabella nuptials.
But what Hollywood is waiting for is the day when the first Power or the first Faye-Martin heir arrives. For just as much as Don slaved to get his pals married, just so much double he wants them to know parenthood.
When that day comes, Twentieth Century-Fox, if it’s smart, will padlock the whole studio. If they don’t, Don will probably burn up the executive building for the sheer joy of it, and Alice and Ty will wreck the rest of the joint just to get even.
IT WASNT the first time for either of them that day three years ago when Alice Faye added Harris to her name. She’d been throughall that front-page stuff with Tony Martin. Phil, in a less public way, had had his heart broken, too. So now they, were trying again, and they really meant it. You could tell that from the way Alice told reporters, “He’s a million times more important than my career.”
From the way Phil couldn’t take his eyes off her for more than seconds at a time. This time it was for keeps . . . That’s the kind of atmosphere baby Alice came into, and now at 18 months, she reflects the serenity, the happiness—and the flair for the dramatic of her mom and pop. Already she’s learned that cameras are to be mugged into, and there’s not an emotion unportrayable by her chubby little face. “What a ham,” Phil grins, thinking she’s just another Bernhardt. He thinks she’s another Gloria Callen, too, ’cause she takes to their swimming-pool like a 32-pound duck and goes into a darn good Australian crawl on dry land. “She’s a fearless character,” he brags further. Is crazy about the Harris’s “goggies” (huge German shepherds) and is constantly thumbing rides on their backs. . . . You can see what Alice is talking about when she tells you that all the fame and fortune in Hollywood can’t make up for what she’s missing at home; when she tells you she hopes next year to make just one good sophisticated comedy, and have the rest of the time for pampering Phil and watching the moppet become a subdeb. Alice Faye, the song plugger de luxe, the sweetheart of every music publisher in America, craving didie-changing—and more babies! At first it sounds strange, but then you remember how she and Phil longed for their kid. How, when the baby was coming, they went on the wagon for the duration; went to bed on the dot of ten. You remember that Phil insisted on holding Alice’s hand in the delivery room, and said hearing young Alice’s first cry the biggest thrill of his life. When you recall all this, it doesn’t seem strange at all. It’s just that Alice, hard-broiled and wise-cracking, but underneath it all, an awful softie, has traded a torch song for a love song, and found it a good swap. That rumor, by the way, that Alice would retired from the screen ain’t true at all, thank Heaven. We need you, Mom Alice.
by Nancy Squire
Some kids have all the luck! Like Alice Faye, Jr., for instance. Got a Baddy to cradle her in ruffles and a velvet-voiced Mom to rock-a-bye her into dreamland.
Our drama opens in the infants’ department of one of Beverly Hills’ swankiest shops. Seated here and there are happy-faced women, inspecting tiny garments and selecting crib robes, bonnets and those famous thirty-six-inch squares of white fabric. As it is just two weeks before Christmas, 1941, there is an occasional shopper investing in a singing Teddy Bear or a series of pink and white enamel building blocks.
Enter: one large, curly-haired man—alone. In what would pass for a dream walking, he wanders through the clothing section and finds himself in the junior furniture department. He begins to look like a cartoonist’s biggest rendition of a Joe E. Brown grin. He beams like the rising sun.
He buys the most gorgeous pink, blue and white crib available. It is a swish concoction of satin, lace and beauteous bows. “Deliver it the day before Christmas to Mrs. Phil Harris,” he instructs the faintly smiling saleswoman. “Er —I’m Phil Harris.
“Er—we’re having a baby in May.”
“You must be expecting a girl,” the saleswoman ventured. “Have you planned a name for her?”
“I want to call her Alice, Jr., but my wife is holding out for Jill. Then, if our next baby is a boy, we’ll call him Jack,” Phil explained. He stalled for several moments after the sale was complete. He touched the lace of the crib with great, apologetic male hands. “I beg your pardon, but do you have a jewelry department in the store?”
This direction firmly in mind, the prospective father descended to the main floor and purchased—guess what! An anklet! The smallest anklet in captivity.
doting daddy . . .
So Miss Harris’ first gifts from her father were a classy one-room apartment and an equally smart identification tag. Of course, the first thing the doctor said, when he supervised the removal of the new baby from hospital to Harris’ home was, “Get rid of that frou-frou! Not enough air, not enough light. Cushy stuff like that collects bacteria. Move it out!”
Once Phil had seen his new addition safely installed in the nursery, he hurried back to Alice. When she came out of the clouds long enough to smile mistily at him, Phil announced proudly, “She looks exactly like you, honey. She’s got the biggest, bluest eyes you ever saw!”
After a moment of silence, he added softly, looking down at Alice, “Think of the luck of a little girl, to have Alice Faye for a mother!”
Those who think of Phil Harris as having been born in a French horn and having grown up under a night club table should stop to realize that Phil is a native of Tennessee, that he grew up in a country town and learned to ride as soon as he learned to walk.
He has the deep emotional streak of the true Southerner and the intense loyalty to home. So, night after night during his tour, he telephoned Alice. Not once, but twice, three times, four times. Finally, one of the bandmen proposed an improvement. “If we have a telephone booth installed on the orchestra platform, Phil can conduct while he’s talking to Alice,” he suggested.
When the baby was six weeks old, Alice couldn’t endure being separated from Phil for another moment. She had secured a competent trained nurse to take care of the blue-eyed infant, so she flew to join Phil and complete the tour with him. “I was severely criticized for doing this,” Alice said on the set of “Hello, Frisco, Hello.”
“But, to be truthful, I’d do exactly the same thing again. After all, a young baby needs nothing but excellent physical care. There wasn’t a thing on earth that could do for the baby that couldn’t be done as well by a trained nurse.
In addition to her loneliness, Alice had another—and entirely generous—motive in leaving the baby and joining Phil. She felt that getting acquainted with the new member of the family was an adventure that she and Phil should share. She didn’t feel that it would be fair for her alone to see the first genuine smile, hear the first morning coo or witness the first discovery of chubby hands and feet. She didn’t want the baby to grow accus-
tomed to one person, a mother, and then meet a father at some later date.
By the way, the Harris family is not a trio—as you may have thought—but a quartet. Phil has an eight-year-old son, Phil Harris, Jr., who is presently a student at a Los Angeles military academy.
Ever since Phil and Alice have been married, Phil, Jr., has spent his free week-ends with them. He doesn’t miss much, but he always consults his father about a doubtful or a serious situation.
In the spring of 1942, he took his father aside one Sunday and asked, “Is there going to be a baby around here?”
Phil said, man-to-man, that there was. Phil, Jr., had nothing at all to comment, but the expression on his face was that of a hepcat given a permanent pass to the Palladium, which is Hollywood Heaven to solid senders.
big brother . . .
Phil, Jr., could scarcely wait for young Alice to get big enough for him to spend Saturday afternoons trundling her around in her pram. Whenever he is permitted, he holds her in his lap and carries on long one-sided conversations about the affairs of his school, athletic career and the condition of the world.
Miss Harris listens raptly for a time, but her big brother’s voice is very soothing, and the sandman is always nigh. Phil, Jr., grinning down at her, holds the young lady while she naps.
Phil, Jr., is known in the family as “Tookie,” but for heaven’s sweet sake, don’t tell any of the kids at school. Alice, Jr., is still called The Baby.
The Baby has a great deal to anticipate from the future. A preview of her training may be gained by reporting the manner in which Tookie has been reared so far.
Phil Harris was no novice father when his daughter put in appearance; he had served his apprenticeship with Tookie. For years, Phil—who prides himself on his cooking ability—prepared all of Tookie’s meals. Formula stuff, mind you, complete with vitamin charts, caloric content and table manners.
So The Baby will undoubtedly have her diet—once it progresses beyond the slushy stage—supervised by her dad.
hobby horse . . .
Item: No matter how late he had returned from his night club work the preceding night, Phil made it a point, in pre-war days, to get up the next morning and go horseback riding with his son. Miss Harris will undoubtedly be tutored in the fine art of horsemanship.
You may count upon The Baby learning to take care of herself in the clinches, too. Tookie has already taught her how to double her fists and dish out a miniature right hook.
You may depend on it that Little Miss Harris is going to be musical, or else. At least she is going to be so thoroughly exposed that she will have to possess the iron-clad determination of a General Sherman tank to resist the lure of bass and treble clefs.
For years, Phil has taken Tookie to the Benny rehearsals each Sunday morning. Naturally, as soon as Muffett has grown up enough to enjoy it, she will be taken along. There are some uncharitable enough at this point to say that if Mr. Benny plays his violin for her, La Belle Harris is going to be early discouraged from a musical career.
The Baby’s been dozing to the strains of Mama’s super smooth lullabies for months. Another rhythmic trick of this junior miss is to pull herself up with the aid of the bars on her crib and to stand there, laughing, while she jiggles in time to the music from the nursery radio.
Before she was born, flocks of Phil’s musical friends composed lullabies in honor of Miss Harris-to-be. Not only were dozens of sheets of composition paper covered with notes intended to rival Brahms’ best effort, but a good many of the eager composers had their songs recorded and delivered to Phil and Alice.
These records have been filed away and will be brought out some day when the Baby is big enough to appreciate all the melodies cooked up in her honor. Wonder what the slang phrase meaning “corn” will be in those dear future days? Or will Father Phil allow his daughter to speak such a delicate word?
We come, at this point, to that oh-soimportant item in a girl’s life: her wardrobe. Junior Miss started out with everything one could imagine. Small knitted sweaters, caps, longies and bootees came from England, Australia, South America and from a good many of the United States. Long dresses and short dresses, some gorgeously embroidered and some edged with exquisite handmade lace, arrived by each train and plane as soon as it was known that Alice and Phil were cradling.
Yet Alice, herself, didn’t do one bit of shopping until the final two weeks of the waiting time. She can’t quite explain it. It isn’t that she was superstitious; perhaps her reluctance to solidify her vaporous dreams into something as positive as a layette was caused by a childlike diffidence.
“All my life I’d planned on having a baby some day. When the time actually came, it all seemed like a wonderful dream—too good to be true,” she told Betty Grable.
So she bought nothing until she was ready to go to the hospital, and then she secured only those things that were absolutely necessary. She hadn’t even prepared a nursery—”because I knew that, if something went wrong, it would nearly kill me to have to come back and face my broken dreams.”
safe arrival . . .
But Alice, Jr., arrived safely to claim the wardrobe supplied by admirers of her mother and father. Whereupon, Father Phil began to look around. He became very baby-store conscious in the pink department. Seems that Phil has long selected all of his son’s clothes, and now he is prepared to be expert in the daughter-dress division.
At first glance—due to all the charming circumstances listed above—it might appear that all is bliss, pure bliss in the Harris menage. Yet there is one persistent cloud forever dimming the blue. There’s a war going on.
Alice confided to a friend recently, ‘All my life I’ve wanted a husband and a home and a baby. Now I have them, but Phil is away so much of the time . . . and there’s so much to worry about. I know that other girls have far more to distress them, of course, so I don’t really mean to complain. But I do get lonely and blue.”
Lieutenant (j.g.) Harris is on Catalina Island, performing the duties of an officer in the Merchant Marine[s].
So little Miss Alice Harris, proud of her Father Phil, will undoubtedly grow up to be true to the blue, a Navy girl through and through.
by Ida Zeitlin
Have doting friends and an adoring family spoiled Alice Faye? Whatever you thought, think again—then read the intimate story of this bright star
ALL RIGHT, some day you’ll be begging me to go dancing with you, and then I’ll say no.” With which twelve-year-old Alice flounced out of the room.
Her big brother Bill grinned as he went on brushing his hair. Alice would have been gratified to hear him murmur, “You’re probably right at that.” He stopped in the living-room long enough to kiss his mother good-night. “S’long. kid,” he added. “Five years from now we’ve got a date.”
She grimaced at him. “Alice!” Mrs. Faye reproved her mildly, “you know you’re too young to go to grownup dances.”
“Well, some day I won’t be too young,” hinted Alice darkly, “and then we’ll see.”
She was the baby and the only girl in the family, so the Fayes doted on her, her parents openly, Bill and Charlie masking their secret pride behind the orthodox elderbrotherly attitude toward kid sisters. The family circle revolved around her. She was pretty and spirited and had a passion for dancing. She. danced in school plays and for her mother’s visitors and in front of the mirror for her own delectation. As if by intuition, she picked up the latest steps while they were still only rumors to most people, and was doing the Charleston well before the world realized it was anything but a city in South Carolina.
Through her gayety ran a strain of intensity, both of which she has carried into later life. Where her work is concerned, lightheartedness forsakes her. She throws herself into it with an absorption that shuts out everything else. She worries as furiously as she works. She’s always sure she’s done a job badly till she starts the next job, and so has something else to worry about. Not all her success has broken her of this habit. “And we all have to worry with her,” grins brother Bill.
It was in this spirit that she threw herself into her dancing, for as a child in hair-ribbons she had no doubt that dancing was to be her career. Broadway fascinated her. She would get her mother to walk along that fantastic thoroughfare with her and, pointing to some name that glittered over a theatre marquee, she would say, “Some day you’ll see my name there. Now come round the corner and I’ll show you how I’ll look.” They’d turn into a side street, and Alice would hide in the dark doorway of a stage entrance. Then she’d come mincing out, holding an imaginary train high, clutching a non-existent ermine wrap at her throat, very haughty till she caught sight of her mother. Then she’d extend an elegant hand, wrist drooping. “Why, howja do, Mrs. Faye. I’m Alice.
Remember me?” And the star would break into giggles.
She was never much of a child for toys, but her father found he could delight her heart by bringing her flowers and candy. “Does Miss Faye, the dancer, live here?” he’d inquire, poking his nose in at the door. “We’re expecting her back from the theatre any minute,” Alice would reply in a high-pitched voice and her own idea of a French accent. “I am her maid.” She’d leave the room with the flowers, arrange them in a vase, and return in her own person. “It was so charming of you to send me those posies, Mr. Faye,” she would chirp, before plunking herself on his knee for a hug.
The greatest thrill he could give her was a taxi ride. He had relatives living near Woodlawn, whom they’d visit together. Then they’d take the subway, get out at 72nd Street and Broadway, hail a taxi and drive home in style. “It’s not the ride I’m so crazy about,” she explained, “although that’s nice too. But the best part is standing there at the corner, and holding your finger up, and having the driver open the door for you to get in and out. That’s how a queen must feel, don’t you think so, Dad?”
Her parents wanted her to go to high school and she agreed, though she felt, at fourteen, that it was a pity to delay her career any longer. She insisted, however, that she was going to look for a summer job before entering high school in the fall. The idea rather alarmed her parents, but they didn’t forbid it, the truth being that they could deny their darling nothing. She penetrated the offices of two or three managers, and was told to run home and play with her dolls. “Even when I was young enough to play with them,” sniffed Alice, “I didn’t.” One day she flew into the house to announce that she’d landed a job with a Chester Hale dancing unit that was being sent out to Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh.
That ended high school, so far as Alice was concerned. Having edged her way into show business, she was taking no chances on being edged out again. The successive steps in her conquest of that business, a conquest which has just placed her among the first ten box-office stars in Hollywood, are already well known. Alice went from the chorus to a night club and then to George White’s Scandals, where she met Rudy Vallee and, through him, his attorney, Hymie Buschel. At a party at Buschel’s, as a gag, he asked Alice to sing for his home recording machine. He managed to communicate his real enthusiasm over her voice to Vallee.
It was the time when popular orchestras were beginning to use girl singers, and Rudy asked Alice to sing with the Connecticut Yankees. She shook with fright beforehand, and collapsed into a state of shivering ‘reaction afterward, but none of this was apparent in her performance. Rudy wanted her on his radio program, but couldn’t convince either his sponsors or the producer of the show that they wanted her too. So he took matters into his own hands and presented her without benefit of authority. Her first appearance brought an avalanche of approving letters, and a somewhat bewildered girl who loved to dance found that she’d been elected by the great American public to sing instead.
The Fayes were a clannish tribe, and Alice’s leap into the limelight served only to emphasize their closeness. She was always bringing the gang home to stay with her, and there were generally more girls in the house than the house could hold. But Mrs. Faye managed to stow them away somehow. She traveled with Alice whenever she could. When the troupe was playing the New York theatres, one of her brothers would be waiting at the close of the show to take Alice home. On every opening night, she would find in her dressing-room a box of flowers from her father to his “favorite actress,” and as she came out for her first number, she’d smile and wrinkle her nose at him where he sat. openly adoring her, in the first row.
Bill was a teller in a bank. He was hanging to a subway strap on his way home one evening when the man beside him opened his newspaper. “Rudy Vallee and Singer Injured in Auto Smashup,” read Bill. At first the words didn’t register Then Bill felt himself engulfed in a sudden sick wave of apprehension. The Vallee company was playing a series of small towns along the Atlantic seaboard. They had only one singer with them. When the wave of shock had receded, he found he was clutching the strap with both hands to steady himself.
The speeding train became a crawling caterpillar. But the caterpillar finally reached his destination and Bill’s legs, though they shook, carried him home. He found his mother calm. “They phoned me and said Alice was all right,” she told him. “Just a little bunged up.”
The car had skidded on a wet road, gone into a ditch and turned over. Alice was thrown out. Luckily, the window was open. Luckily, she’d landed in soft mud. Luckily, the car had just missed her. The local doctor had patched her up and she’d been put on an early milk train for New York.
With all this luck, the Fayes weren’t quite prepared for what followed. They were at the hospital when Alice arrived, but only her mother was allowed to go in to her. She found the girl swathed in bandages from head to foot, her face and body a mass of cuts and bruises. A back injury had not yet been definitely diagnosed. She lay there and said not a word. Only her eyes pleaded somberly for the reassurances which Mrs. Faye gave while her own heart was wrung with the need for these same reassurances.
WHAT Alice suffered during that period left its ineffaceable mark on her. Her body healed, but for weeks the doctors couldn’t be sure whether or not her face would be disfigured. To any girl at the outset of life such a prospect would be appalling. To Alice it spelled tragedy. She lay there, and saw the whole bright structure she had built collapsing under her. In a few short years she had achieved her beloved Broadway and the peak of her dreams. She was very young to be faced with the realization that in one brief mo-
ment all this could be snatched from her.
The last bandage was removed to reveal a small, hardly perceptible scar over the eye. Her worst fears had proved groundless. Which didn’t minimize the poignancy of the emotional experience she had gone though as she lay staring disaster in the face. Her sense of values was crystallized. She clung still more closely to the one thing that would have remained unchanged in a shattered world—the devotion of those who loved her.
She went to Hollywood to sing one song, “Oh, You Nasty Man,” for George White’s “Scandals.” and remained to play the lead. But she wouldn’t hear of signing a long term contract. She would have no part of Hollywood permanently. She didn’t want to be in pictures. She wanted to in New York with her friends and family. To her, Hollywood was just a place three thousand miles from Broadway.
Hymie Bushel, her friend and business adviser, finally convinced her that she ought to give herself a fair trial in the movies. Her head was persuaded, but her heart wasn’t. She worked in the West, and pined miserably for the East. She practically commuted, fighting for a week here and a few days there so she could hop a plane to New York, even if she had to turn right around and hop back again. Her mother spent as much time with her as she could. She encouraged her brother Charlie to come out and get himself a job, which he did. Her father, who had been in the hospital supply business for years, turned a deaf ear to her pleas, for once. He had his own work to do. He couldn’t give it up to sit idle in Hollywood.
THIS state of affairs went on for three years. But with “Sing, Baby, Sing” and “On the Avenue,” a change began coming over Alice’s spirit. She realized that the studio was seriously interested in advancing her career, which acted as a spur to her own interest. She threw herself wholeheartedly into her work, which meant that everything else, including Broadway, was shut out for the time being. She began to wonder whether the others hadn’t been right and she herself wrong about Hollywood from the start.
In that case, it became more important than ever to get her family out. She hadn’t been able to move her father yet, but she tackled brother Bill when he arrived on a vacation visit. Alice told Bill, “I’ve been in the business long enough that I know I can stick. I want all of you with me.”
This was only heightened when Tony Martin came into the picture. She knew that her family would have to approve of Tony before she consented to marry him. To ask her brother to consent to their marriage sounds like an echo from a more formal day. Yet that’s exactly what Tony did, casually as befits our casual age, but none the less earnestly. Mrs. Faye was in New York with her husband. So Tony called Bill aside at a party they were both attending.
“Alice and I want to fly to Yuma when the picture’s finished and get married. Is that okay with you?”
Bill was to have been best man at the wedding. Airplanes made him violently ill, but he saw his duty and was prepared to do it. He stood waiting at the airport with the wedding party, which included Helene Holmes, Alice’s stand-in and bridesmaid. Claude Smith, Helene’s fiance, had come to see them off. The plane taxied in. Bill’s stomach lurched, and he turned green. “Bill!” cried Alice. “Maybe you’d better not go.”
He stuffed his ticket into Claude’s hand. “You and Helene take care of the ceremony,” he said lirmly. “I’ll take care of the party tonight.”
Bride and groom had to go back to work on Monday. What with movies and radio, their schedule Was grinding. Alice would get home exhausted, and go to bed. The nightclubs saw nothing of them. Tony would golf alone on Sunday mornings, because Alice was sensible enough to use her one free d a y for resting. But the newsmongers, avid for chatter to till their columns, barely gave them a chance to get married before they began hinting at trouble.
ALICE’S quiet, good humored brother grows distinctly caustic on the subject. “When Alice went to New York for the opening of In Old Chicago,’ Tony couldn’t go with her, so they picked that up. Tony managed to get time off to fly east for the World Series, Alice didn’t, so they picked that up. These people don’t take the trouble to comment that, when Tony’s away, Alice doesn’t go out with anyone but me or old friends of the family. If they aren’t forever kissing each other for the candid cameras, there must be something wrong. Well, there isn’t,” he said tersely. “They’re happy, and there’s not a thing the Hollywood gossip hounds can do about it.”
Tony’s temperament acts as a balancewheel for his wife’s. He works hard, but when he’s through working, he forgets about it. His clowning makes Alice laugh and, for the time being, lose sight of her worries. When she’s feeling particularly low, he has one infallible remedy. He buys
her a dog. There’s room for plenty of dogs in their Beverly Hills home, and Alice feels she can’t have too many to repay her for her hitherto dogless existence.
They don’t go in much for nightclubbing or big parties, but love to have the family and a few intimates in for dinner. After dinner they may run a picture, or Alice and Tony may constitute themselves an entertainment committee of two. He’ll put on a hilarious imitation of Harry Richman and, reverting to the old days, she’ll dance as she used to dance for her mother’s visitors.
SHE’s pleased, as who wouldn’t be, to be counted among the ten top-ranking stars, but now she’ll probably worry about how to stay there. Her moments of unadulterated happiness are still those she spends with the people she loves. Since her father’s death, the family has drawn yet more closely together. Alice dines with her mother two or three nights a week. Recently Mrs. Faye decided she must learn to drive. She couldn’t be bothered waiting for one of her sons to come round and pick her up when she had a date. Alice herself doesn’t drive. On the day Mrs. Faye received her license, she found a shiny new Pontiac coupe at the door, “With love from Alice to a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
Alice phoned her brother one afternoon. “I’d like to have a talk with you tomorrow, Bill. Let’s go out to dinner and discuss things.” He called for her. As they passed “The Tropics,” she asked him to stop and come in with her for a moment, there was someone she wanted to see. In the restaurant a boy told them that some people out in the patio had been asking for them. They walked out. Fifteen or twenty people round a festive table began singing, “Happy birthday to you.” A huge streamer across the back of the patio said, “Happy birthday to Bill.” A candlelit cake in the center of the table bore the same message.
“I’d forgotten all about my birthday,” he said. “And there I stood like a fool, and there stood Alice smiling up at me. And all I could see, believe it or not, was that kid of twelve, looking up at me and saying, ‘Some day you’ll ask me to go dancing, and I’ll say no.’
“I got kind of choked up and couldn’t talk, so I just grabbed her and hugged her. She doesn’t know to this day it was more than thanks. I couldn’t tell you myself exactly what it was, but it covered a lot of territory—then and now and all the years between and everything she’s been to us all. Maybe it was just thanks at that—not for the party, but for Alice.”
“Lillian Russell,” 20th Century Fox’s $1,000,000 Extravaganza
LILLIAN RUSSELL was vibrantly beautiful. Born at the dawn of the Civil War, she lived her life with a boilingpoint fervor which made that beauty felt by millions. As the most wildly-adored actress of her day, she scorched the headlines with her escapades, inspired “Bahs” and “Ahs” with her extravagances, and won four attractive husbands with her spine-tingling, head-spinning charm. Had she been less than this she could never have been nominated for Darryl Zanuck’s Hall of Fame.
Over on the Will Rogers stage of the Twentieth CenturyFox lot, Mr. Z’s cameramen are busily recording Lillian’s career. When they are finished, her name will again leap from every tongue and she will have earned her greatest triumph, the right to stand beside those other Fox immortals, Alexander Graham Bell, Jesse James and young Mr. Lincoln.
The casting of “Lillian Russell” was a snap. Any steno could have run her finger down the studio’s contract list and done the job. Alice Faye as the heroine was a natural. According to the publicity boys, she’s almost an exact counterpart of Russell—except for her size. True, there’s nothing skimpy about Alice, but Lillian was still a good 28 pounds up on her. You may be certain, however, that this is one historical detail which will be blithely overlooked by the producer.
Also overlooked will be two of Lillian’s mates. The researchers fought like devils to get every point down pat but somehow husbands No. 1 and No. 3 were lost in the scuffle. Of course, news that the survivors are being played by Don Ameche and Henry Fonda is enormously consoling and the hapless pair probably won’t be missed.
Lillian’s incidental romances will be more conspicuously absent. All have been thoroughly deleted with the exception of Diamond Jim Brady. With Edward Arnold oh the lot, such an omission would have been unpardonable so, as the walking gold-mine who flooded the actress with gifts and affection, Eddie will eat much and laugh loudly and never get to first base with our Lil. It’s unfortunate about the others but, as one star remarked, “We are not only dealing with history, we are dealing with the Hays’ office!” Yes, you can bring the kiddies.
As is usual with pictures of this type, the producers have gone to incredible lengths to obtain authenticity of minute details which few movie-goers can check anyway. William Anthony McGuire, ace Hollywood writer, worked two years on the screen play, devoting at least half of that time to research alone. McGuire is a man who is entitled to his own bit of fame because he passes up the typewriterand writes entire scenarios in longhand. When he completed “Russell” he found he’d used 1,800 pencils and a few score erasers, while his manuscript, laid sheet on sheet, measured one foot, six inches from the floor!
Packed into the script are scenes demanding replicas of many of Russell’s personal possessions. The most famous, for obvious reasons, is the $3,900 corset made for her by Madame Rosa Binner. The original was an ivory brocade creation with flexible gold stays, diamond clasps and $700 worth of Belgian lace. It was a gorgeous affair—as corsets go—but when Madame Binner laced Lillian into it she found that it bulged unflatteringly around her customer’s well-rounded thighs. The outcome of this near calamity was the first corset garter, designed to keep the corset down—not to hold the stockings up as we of the two-way stretch era have come to think. Madame Binner is in Hollywood now as the picture’s technical adviser on corsets. She will supervise the reproduction of the $3,900 garment and estimates that its cost will probably run to almost $1,000.
Before the production is finished, Mr. Willys DeMond, talented hosiery creator, will present his bill for nearly $3,000. The stockings he is turning out for Alice Faye are identical copies of those worn by Lillian, right down to the hand embroidered butterflies and lace insets. Though DeMond is hitting Fox for $100 a pair, his fee will look like bargain day against the prices paid by the actress who would never have offended her legs by clothing them in anything less costly than a $400 pair. But then, Lillian earned $250,000 yearly—and never heard of income tax.
Exclusive of the 27 gowns to be worn by Alice, 800 feminine costumes are being provided by the studio at a cost to them of over $25,000. Four thousand extras cavorting on 53 sets can be counted upon to take another substantial bite out of the budget. The sets, accurate to the last thumb-tack, will include Weber and Fields’ Music Hall, Rector’s Restaurant, Tony Pastor’s and the famous Savoy Theatre in London—which makes it simple to understand why they’ll cost approximately $200,000!
Probably the most interesting people connected with the picture are three men who really knew Lillian Russell. The first two, the ever-popular team of Weber and Fields, were her musical comedy companions at the close of the century and have come to the West Coast to portray themselves as they were fifty years ago. The third is Irving Cummings, youngish-looking director of “Lillian Russell” and her last leading man. In 1909, he and Lillian toured the country in a little number known as “In Search of a Sinner.” “But, you see,” explains Cummings, “at that time I was only a boy.”
by Frank T. Farrell
HOW ONE LONELY RODENT CAUSED AN AVALANCHE OF ACCUSATIONS AND NOW ALICE FAYE TELLS WHY
FIVE HUNDRED drinking, smoking, talking men and women jammed in the Perroquet Suite of the Waldorf-Astoria. Movie critics, trade paper reporters, editors, sob sisters, magazine writers, columnists, people from the censor boards, movie executives, flunkies, phonies—they were all having a jolly time of it, working up their appetites on Darryl F. Zanuck’s free liquor.
It was one of those super-colossal Hollywood cocktail parties for which, by some weird paradox, everybody turned out, even the guests who were invited. What is more, everyone displayed strange symptoms of being anxious to meet the stellar guests of honor, a pair of compellingly popular young people named Tyrone Power and Alice Faye, whose future on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot seemed magnificent. It was three years ago.
Tyrone Power was forty-five minutes late. For a half-hour of that time Alice Faye trembled and paced the floor in a nearby room. She downed several glasses of champagne, but it gave her no courage, no warmth. The thought of marching into that army and captivating it froze her. She tore her handkerchief to shreds in emotion.
“I can’t do it. I just can’t do it,” she whispered helplessly, when a studio press representative told her to buck up, that it would be easy once she set her foot inside the suite, that merely her presence would make worshippers of them all.
Finally she squared her shoulders and did it. She met them all. They toasted to her beauty and success. Some there were who actually slapped her on the back. And before Tyrone Power arrived she had taken over her army.
Her triumph was not long in flourishing, however. A lowly little mouse upset all the major strategy, a canape-eating Waldorf mouse who joined the party and seemed mighty desirous of meeting a star. For, when Miss Faye happened to turn slightly from one of the groups of newspaper people with whom she was conversing, there on the floor a few feet from her was the rodent.
No expert would be required to predict what almost any other actress in the same circumstances would do, but Miss Faye obviously is made of different stuff. In the height of good humor she pointed to the little rascal and remarked:
“I haven’t met that one.”
Since that day New York’s press is made up of two schools of thought, according to Miss Faye, those who construed her jest to be a personal insult, and those who thought it as funny as she meant it to be. And since that day she has avoided both schools for fear of saying the wrong thing again. She has not consented to a personal interview in two years.
Call her the most misunderstood woman in Hollywood. Advise her that hordes of people consider her strange shyness to be pure, unadulterated Tenth Avenue snobbishness. Insist that she could have the world at her feet, if only she would receive its ambassadors and let them know what she is really like—and Alice Faye will shrug her pretty shoulders, sigh and sum it up:
“What’s the use? I’ve learned not to plan, not to count on things.”
She gazed out the window of the Sherry-Netherlands’ cocktail balcony. She wore a smartly cut black dress with white lace at the neck. Her little black hat and veil left just enough platinum hair and Alice Faye showing, and set off her watery blue eyes and the extravagant star sapphire pendant which her husband, Tony Martin, had given her for Christmas. Underneath the table she nervously tugged and twisted her handkerchief.
“It’s no use,” she confided in this exclusive interview with Modern Screen. “Every time I try to plan things at the studio so that I can get together somewhere with Tony for a week, things get all messed up and immediately there’s a flood of divorce rumors in the papers. And every time I head for New York, I vow that I’ll get no cold. Invariably, I wind up with something just this side of pneumonia.
“I don’t know what the New York writers have against me, but I’ll bet you if I made all sorts of plans to convince them that I am a nice person I’d probably still say the wrong thing. Either that or I’d go hysterical with this terrific inferiority complex. No, I’ve made a lot of plans in my time, but they’ve never worked out.”
She recalled the day she took it on the lam from Manhattan’s P. S. 84. She had absorbed all the arithmetic she could stand and was committing a sin known to all young spitball hurlers as “playing hookey.” The truant officer searched all the haunts of Manhattan’s roughneck West Side, but he never thought of looking for her on the stage of the Capitol Theater, which is where she had landed.
“I had it in my blood, I guess,” she says. “I wanted to be on the stage. I didn’t care how I got there or what I did after I got there, just as long as I was on it. Well, Chester Hale needed dancing girls, and there I was.
“From this simple, pointless, thirteen-year-old start Alice Faye soared to her present heights as one of Hollywood’s first ten attractions.
She didn’t climb. She didn’t plan. Things just happened—and she soared.
She worked at the Capitol for about two years; then she passed through the night club stages to become a chorine in George White’s Scandals.
“I was in Atlantic City when it opened. Let’s see, there was quite a cast; Willie and Eugene Howard, Everett Marshall, Ethel Merman, Rudy Vallee . .
“I’ve never told anyone how I first shifted from dancing to singing. It was all by accident. Rudy Vallee’s lawyer, Hymie Bushel, gave a party for the cast when we came to New York. He had just bought one of those home-recording machines, and he made records of every girl at the party singing a song. When he played the records back Rudy was listening. One of them interested him above all the others. It was mine.
“So I took voice lessons and joined the Vallee band at the Hollywood Restaurant and sang on the air. After that Rudy took me to Hollywood with the band to make a picture of the Scandals. It was Rudy who arranged for me to sing ‘Nasty Man.’ Then I was offered a movie contract by Mr. Zanuck, and I don’t know any man who would have done what Rudy did. He tore up my contract with him so that I could sign one with Twentieth Century-Fox and he wished me all the luck in the world.”
It is ironic and it sort of illustrates Miss Faye’s no-plan philosophy, that while Rudy Vallee strove and spent fortunes trying to be a movie actor, the little songstress in his band slid into the industry’s top brackets.
At first Hollywood cast her almost solely in singing roles, but Miss Faye has come a long way since then. Her films provide plenty of evidence of her acting worth and of the long hours she has spent under the kliegs. And if you don’t think Mr. Zanuck got his money back on his investment, then the poll for the biggest box-office money-making stars of 1939 is wasted paper, because it places Miss Faye seventh.
Though an Academy “Oscar” seems nowhere within Miss Faye’s reach at the moment, she blandly admits that she would like to win one some time, if it were only to prove to her own quiet satisfaction that she can act and that the happenings of the last few years are not a dream.
All this reads like such a rapid, easy and early success. Dispel the impression. Think of a cute little Tenth Avenue kid with a lot of talent. All Tenth Avenue kids with talent seem to have a lot of relatives, particularly when they are making money, and Alice Faye is no exception. It would take a comptometer to figure out the “pals” who climbed aboard her starwagon for a free ride when Miss Faye started toward success. And it took a lot of work to feed them.
“I want to be successful,” she declares. “Perhaps it’s because I want to submerge this shyness. Or maybe it’s because I like to work. But I never mind it greatly when my vacation plans are killed, as they always are. When Mr. Zanuck calls me for a picture I am all on edge and bubbling over with gratitude. I feel that the only way I can thank him is to plunge into the part and work like a ditch-digger to make good.”
She has made good, and apparently taken care of all her “pals” because, to date, blackmail seems to be the one misery Alice Faye has been spared. She has been hit by swinging booms and falling lamps in the making of pictures. She has had ptomaine poisoning, la grippe, nervous indigestion, influenza, and falls down staircases, and has taken her banging around on the lot with patient resignation.
“You see, there isn’t much that anybody can do to me that will really matter, so much has happened already,” Miss Faye reminds, though she will admit without any reluctance that a certain New York movie critic can get her as “mad as all hell.”
“I don’t know what he has against me —unless he was there the day I spotted the mouse. Anyway, I’d like to meet him some time.”
She says she ducked the parties at the studio this year in order to be with her husband, who was working in New York. It was the longest stretch they had had together since their marriage in 1937, and the way they made eyes at one another on their few prowls in the night clubs ought to cancel divorce rumors for some time to come.
“It was a swell trip this time, except that I got the usual cold. But it served as a good excuse to stay home and rest. We don’t have much of a married life, I guess, the way things on both of our schedules get jammed up, but every now and then we have a real time of it together.
Despite her isolation both in New York and in Hollywood, it is considered selfimposed and unimportant at the studio. Other stars love to pass the time of day with her, and among the minor characters at the studio she is nothing short of a goddess.
She was pleased with the prospect of getting back to work the day she left New York. The weather was bad here, but on top of that there is always the friendly nonsense around the studio, at which she is rather adept. She still has a score to settle with Don Ameche. It started a few months back with his perfuming her dressing room with garlic-split and rubbed on the walls and furniture.
“Then, too, there is always the refreshing thought of getting up at five again every morning. “Ah,” she sighs in mock delight. “Ah, and getting my hair done every morning before nine. And then rushing into the arms of some leading man for a terrific love scene at nine in the morning. Ah nuts. There are times when I’ve sat back and wondered what life might have been if I had finished school and taken up typing. How simple everything would have been.”
“No reporters, no getting fitted for corsets for Lillian Russell until you choke and your eyes pop out, no autograph hunters. . . . Ooogod!”
Something occurred to Miss Faye quite suddenly. She remembered that her maid had sat up at the window the night before when Nancy Kelly, who also stops at the Sherry-Netherlands, was coming home. It was freezing, but Miss Kelly obliged about fifty autograph collectors.
“I guess I’d better get my little pencil and go out on the corner and do my bit for Twentieth Century-Fox,” was her parting shot.
by Alice Faye
Fox Publicity Department
July 13, 1939
Ever since I started in the theatre back in New York as a dancer in the chorus, I had heard of glamour.
“Without glamor [sic], my dear,” I was told, “you will never get very far in the theatrical world.”
It didn’t bother me much then as my chances in the theatre seemed slimmer every day. I had just talked to Buddy DeSylva about dancing in the chorus of his show, but he gave me a fatherly talk and advised me to go home and learn to operate a typewriter so I could become a secretary.
“The theatre,” he said, “is no place for you.”
Since I came to Hollywood, however, DeSylva has been a very good friend and adviser. Not long ago I made a picture for him.
“You should have glamor [sic],” DeSylva told me when I first came to Hollywood.
It was easy enough for people to tell me to get glamor [sic], but no one could tell me exactly what this strange and desirable quality was until I met Director Irving Cummings on the “Hollywood Cavalcade” set.
“You have glamour [sic],” Director Cummings said simply. I was flattered, but I still didn’t know what the word meant.
“What,” I asked, “does glamour [sic] mean?”
“That,” he explained very directly, “is a state of mind, not in you but in theatre audiences throughout the world.”
I suspected all this and well I might, as I later learned.
“Few have glamor [sic] in this glamorous of all cities,” Director Cummings said, warming up to the subject, “but you have that quality that makes men and woman throughout the world shell out their coin at the box office to see you act on the screen.”
“I’m telling you all this so you can see what led me into doing what I must do in this Technicolor role on the screen in “Hollywood Cavalcade”.
There never has been a woman who doesn’t like flattery, and I can’t pose as the exception. Naturally what Director Cummings said convinced me right off that he is the most charming, wonderful, intelligent, and grandest person in all of Hollywood.
“Now”, Director Cummings continued, a little too glibly, I recall now, “glamor [sic] depends upon the surroundings in which a player is cast, not necessarily upon the action in front of the camera.”
“It all sounded a trifle high flown, but I nodded assent.
“In this picture,” he expalined [sic] “there is a comedy sequence in which Buster Keaton picks up a custard pie and throws it at George Givot. It depicts the old Keystone Comedy days, only one phase of this historical drama which highlights all the years in Hollywood from 1913 to 1927. That’s what I mean by ‘glamour’ [sic]. If you’re in a glamorous setting of a glamorous day, you, too, take on that glamor [sic].”
You couldn’t beat that kind of logic and, of course, I nodded assent again. Who wouldn’t want to be in a glamorous setting?
“As Keaton tosses the pie,” Director Cummings suavely continued, “Givot bends over suddenly to tie his shoe instead of the custard hitting him it sails right by and hits the beautiful star of the picture right in the face”
“That” I said, “should be very funny indeed. I wonder how the actress will like that.”
“That’s something I’m not sure about,” Director Cummings slyly said, “but those were glamorous days and you certainly are a lucky one to be in that role.”
“Me?” I fairly screamed. “Get smacked with a pie?”
But who can out-talk Director Cummings? Before he finished I thought of the prospects of getting smashed in the face with a custard pie and with not exactly relish, but at least with fewer misgivings.
When the day came for the pie-tossing episode, I had been given such a buildup by Director Cummings and others in the company that I really looked forward to the scene. But just before the sequence I discovered that the studio chef had cooked 16 pies. I had thought of only one.
But Buster Keaton’s aim was good and one take finished the scene and the day for me. My face was smeared with the colored whipped cream from chin to brow. All my Technicolor make[-up] had to come off.
It wasn’t bad. I couldn’t in truth say it was wonderful. But it was glamorous. I have Director Cummings word for it.
July 8, 1935
Fox Publicity Department
It is hardly fair to ask me to look back into my past because it makes me sound terribly old. I have not been in motion pictures very long but considering my age I guess I have done a lot.
My early life in New York City, where I was born, was not unlike that of other New York girls. In the summer we went swimming, in the winter we went skating and sleigh-riding. We had our fun at Coney Island and at Central Park.
I enjoyed my school in the Bronx. History appealed to me mostly and while the teacher was relating incidents of the past I would vision myself as one of the characters of bygone days. It was fun to dream and ponder on a famous personage of another age. I played a game of “remembering.” I would jot down all of the things I would have done if I were Cleopatra, or Salome or Catherine the Great, and then I would compare the history of that time with my notes. Often the guess on my part would be accurate. Most of the time I gave the woman of history too sweet a part.
Dancing was my chief interest outside of school. My mother permitted me to attend a dancing school and I can truthfully say that I danced at least five hours a day.
A storm on a lake almost ended my dancing career. I happened in upper New York State one summer.
My Uncle’s house was on a bluff. Below was the beach and the lake. About 30 families from New York City, all friends or my family. In the summer it was beautiful. The hottest day was always followed by cool nights. The streams running into the lake were filled with trout and game was plentiful in that section. It was ideal.
I was in a row boat with my brother Bill. We were going to row to the opposite side of the lake to pick blackberries. We were about a half a mile off shore when the whitecaps began to show and the wind grew stronger. The spray flew all over the side and I became very frightened. I told my brother we had better had for the beach.
So he turned the boat around and rowed frantically for the shore. The wind was so strong that we fairly flew along even though we had no sail.
We rode the waves and shot down into the hollows between the breaking white foaming swirls. I hung to the seat of the tossing boat waiting for the next wave to turn us over.
We hit a rock about 200 feet off shore and the boat overturned. Bill dragged me to the bottom of the upturned boat and there we hung on for dear life. My brother held me with one hand as the waves washed over both of us.
Friends on shore saw our plight and launched a boat with some difficulty and succeeded in reaching us just as my strength gave out. In a few minutes all would have been over but when Bill said that a boat was coming it helped to keep my courage.
The boat reached us and when we were dragged aboard I was too weak to stand or to talk. It was too thrilling an experience to have more than once in a life time. Most people would be afraid of the water after such an experience but I love all water sports.
So, looking backward that experience will remain with me for a long time.
The summer after the boat mishap found me playing each week in club plays, school shows, at picnics and every place where they had an audience for me. It was this training that gave me a start for my work on the stage and screen. Later I worked in a Chester Hale stage unit and saw, what I thought, was the rest of the world outside of New York City when we played the New England states.
My dancing and singing led to singing parts at various night spots on Broadway and later with George White in the “Scandals.” George gave me a chance to dance and then Rudy Vallee, who had a feature spot in the “Scandals” allowed me to sing from the stage with his band.
Thanks to Mr. White I was given a featured spot in the first Fox Film version of the “Scandals” and other pictures followed that one.
I think that my love for dancing when I was quite young gave mea start in the motion picture business and I still think that luck had a great deal to do with what little success I have had on the screen.
It is my hope to be able to make enough money to travel all over the world. My mother loves to travel and I think that we will just take a boat some day and start out with no particular destination in view. Maybe for a year, maybe two, but I have set my mind on it and blondes are funny that way when they set out to do something.
by Alice Faye
Fox Publicity Department
Back in New York all Tin Pan Alley is beating its brains out under the prodding of Oscar Hammerstein II, trying to find a war song.
How about a love song?
What’s the matter with love, and since when hasn’t the best fighting song to come out of a war been a love song? Oscar Hammerstein, who’s written the lyrics to some of the best songs we’ve ever had—“Show Boat” for instance—ought to have a great new one under his belt, himself. For every “Over There” there’s 20 songs about the girl back home, all-time greats like “K-K-Katy,” “Smile a While,” and all right—even “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.”
* * *
I guess I know a smattering about love songs. I’ve gotten 2000 very special letters. These special letters all had the same thing to say: some song I’d sung had brought a couple together, or made a marriage or held one together. Of course, it wasn’t MY love song. The men who write the words and music were really the ones who should have gotten the letters. Anybody can sing a love song. It takes a Leo Robin and Harry Warren to give a singer the kindof hitslike “No Love, No Nothing, ‘Til My Baby Comes Home,”—one of six of their hits in “The Gang’s All Here,” which happens to be my last picture for 20th Century Fox until after a certain blessed event.
I wouldn’t trade all the corny drum beaters in the world for the chances of just one love song to go down in history as the song of World War II.
* * *
I’ve always been a pushover for sentimental songs. So has almost anyone I know. These are tough, martial times, all right, but “You’ll Never Know” which I had the luck to introduce in ”Hello Frisco, Hello,” is still topping the Hit Parade for soldiers, sailors, marines and fighting John and Joan Civilian. That happened to be by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon, both of whom ought to be dashing off a few lines to Oscar Hammerstein, come to think of it.
* * *
As long as there’s someone left on the planet to sing, they’re going to favor love songs three to one—war, peace, depression or slaunchwise [?].
Martha Raye and Carole Landis, who did five months overseas entertaining the boys in foxholes and Army camps, told me they never got one single request for martial music. All the boys wanted to hear was a love song and they didn’t care how old the song was or how new or how sad or how happy. What they wanted was a song to fight with—it could be any kind of song just so it was about love.
* * *
They want to sing “don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with anyone Else But Me,” and “In My Arms” and songs as great as “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” was, and songs like that have their place and a big place too, it’s the love songs, that the boys are hungry fro [sic] and that’s the song they’ve got to have.
Maybe the great love song of this war will come out of one of those Warren and Robin hits in “The Gang’s All Here.” Maybe it’ll come out of Paramount or Metro, or Warners or one of the others.
But wherever it comes from, Please Mr. Hammerstein and please, Tin Pan Alley, put away the tommy guns and pass the ammunition to Cupid.
Stop looking for war songs.
Give us a love song.
And watch our smoke.