1961_09_30--082_SP - Page 1

1961_09_30--040_SP [Mother Is a Movie Queen]

82 The Saturday Evening Post DototilyN iii bright idea... [email protected] "Full Housepower makes a happy home!" Even in your present home, you can add the HOUSEPOWER you need — plenty of convenience outlets, handy switches, and wiring capacity to Live Better Electrically. Then you'll enjoy full benefits from modern labor-saving appliances and Light for Living. Get the full story. Call your local electrical contractor, or write us for a free copy of "Here's how Full Housepower makes a happy home." The National Wiring Bureau, 155 East 44th St., New York 17, N. Y. NATIONAL WIRING BUREAU • A SPONSOR OF FULL HOUSEPOWER dialogue. You've met Bill Garrett, of course." The young actor was staring at her with a mixture of awe and respect. She blinked. "Don't I know you from somewhere, sonny? From way back?" He shrugged, smiling. "No, I guess not. Well, let's get on with it." She turned to the director. "What do I do?" "Do?" Bixby's brows went up. "Just go ahead." Lora gulped. "'You were intoxicated again last night, Monty. I simply will not have it, do you understand? You're a disgrace to the Broughton name.'" The scene continued. Lora read her lines in a low, husky voice. During a breather Bixby took her aside. "You're underplaying. There's no microphone. You've got to project right up to the last seat in the balcony." The next time, she cried out in a heavy exaggerated way, " 'You were drunk again last night, Monty. I just won't have it, see! You're a disgrace to the whole damn family --' " "Don't ad lib, Lora. Read the lines. And bring down your voice." For several days this sort of thing continued. Young Bill Garrett and Lily had struck up a pleasant acquaintance. He described the difficulties of a boy from a suburban town getting a start as an actor, and she talked about her work in the amateur theater. Bixby, concerned, suggested night sessions. Breaking for dinner, he said, "Lily, I wish you'd tell your mother not to strain so hard. She keeps going from one extreme to the other." "Give her time, Mr. Bixby. Mamma will come around." "Incidentally," said Bill Garrett, "it so happens that I've got a couple of stools reserved at Jensen's drugstore around the corner. How about one of their famous corned-beef blue plates?" "Yes, you go along," said Lora, coming up. "You know I never eat when I'm rehearsing." "You'll be all right?" "Sure. Harriet Hart has been telling me about the time she opened in the play version of Salome. John the Baptist's head rolled off the charger into an old lady's lap — Anyway, you go on." "Now there's a real woman," commented young Garrett as they emerged into the daylight of Forty-eighth Street. "I don't know." Lily shook her head. "She doesn't seem to be taking direction. That really isn't like mamma." Back on the rehearsal stage the director and producer, along with the author, were sitting on camp chairs with their heads together. "Let's face it," Bixby was saying. "That woman can't act." The producer shrugged. "You said we needed a box-office name." "What good is her name if the play closes in Wilmington?" Clary, the white-haired playwright, felt his unshaved chin. "I wasn't too happy about her in the first place." "No, but you thought she'd be boxoffice too," Latimer declared. "People have always paid good money just to see Lora Tremaine do nothing." "That's the trouble," said Clary. "She's doing something all the time. What she moves, and the way she moves it, takes your mind off the lines. You always feel she is uncomfortable in the part. There's not an ounce of Mrs. Broughton in her system. Let's admit it, we've done a major bit of miscasting." "Well, it's too late to change now," said the producer. "And don't forget where a large part of the production money is coming from." Meanwhile, Lora and Harriet Hart had been exchanging reminiscences. "It's my daughter," Miss Tremaine was saying. "For a long time she's been after me to do something arty on Broadway. Her father, a Los Angeles lawyer, and I just don't see eye to eye on my career, and so we've been separated for the last couple of years. Maybe I've spoiled Lily a little to make up for things. I'm probably making another mistake about this Broadway play, but she's so hungry to see her mother in something dignified that 1 agreed against my better judgment." She sighed. "They all know I'm no actress." Miss Hart said, "Well, let's give it the old Method treatment. I'll fire the lines in your face with both barrels, and you come back like you hated my guts. O.K.?" "I'll try. But I still don't know what this play is about. Personally I agree with Mrs. Quinlan, the cook. I wouldn't want Monty in my family either." When the cast was reassembled, Bixby said, "Act one, scene two. Lora and Harriet. I'd like to start on a low key and work up gradually so there's a nice feeling of climax when the cook finally says, `You go to hell, madam,' and storms out. . . . All right, Harriet. Come in." It went along until Bixby interrupted. "No, you're just squabbling." He ran his hands through his hair. "This is a charged-up meeting. Let's feel something electric beneath the words." Lily and Bill stood together watching intently as the two actresses repeated the scene. Suddenly, in a burst of temper, Bixby exclaimed exasperatedly, "Damn it, Lora, quit wriggling your hips!" The actress turned. The color was drained from her features. When she spoke, it was in a low, restrained voice. "Do excuse me. I'll be leaving now." "Mother, please!" cried Lily. "You were wriggling your hips. Can't you do what the director tells you?" "Would somebody find my coat?" Bill Garrett hastily fetched it for her. "Mother, if you walk out now I'll never forgive you!" Young Garrett, the actor, came downstage. His eyes were blazing. "Why, you spoiled little brat, you don't deserve a mother like Lora Tremaine." He turned and said furiously, "Ever since these rehearsals started you've all paid her compliments to her face and made slighting remarks behind her back. Well, what did you expect, Sarah Bernhardt?" "Darling, you shouldn't get so excited," said Lora in a husky voice. "But thanks anyway. Would you put me in a cab?" "I'd like nothing better." The following day, at noon, a group of rueful-looking stage people called at Miss Tremaine's suite at the Park South Hotel. "I don't think she'll see you," said Lily in the small sitting room. "She's been talking on the phone with her manager. He's flying out to take her home." "She can't fly home, Miss Tremaine," declared Martin Latimer. "We've got an iron-clad contract." "You don't know mamma. She has lawyers who can break any contract." "Well, at least ask her to let us apologize," said Bixby. He nodded at Bill Garrett. "Maybe she'll speak to Bill." "Maybe she will," said Lily bitterly. "So let him go in and tell her again how her daughter is a spoiled brat who doesn't deserve a woman like Miss Tremaine for a mother."


1961_09_30--040_SP [Mother Is a Movie Queen]
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