1961_09_30--083_SP - Page 1

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

September 30, 1961 83 "Let's not rake over the past," said Harriet Hart. "We were tired and wrought up." She raised her voice. "Lora, dear. Do come out." "Well, what's all the fuss?" asked the film star, emerging from her bedroom. "Darling, listen," said Harriet earnestly. "You mustn't take stage people literally. During rehearsal what sounds like an insult is only our jangled nerves talking." "No doubt about it," said Bixby, "Bill Garrett was right. We've been acting like stinkers, and I'm the biggest." "No, the mistake was mine," said Lora firmly. "I'm just somebody who was brought up in the sticks. I'll never be a Broughton of Boston-if I try till my dying day. So I'm simply stepping out." Young Garrett said, "I—I wish you wouldn't, Miss Tremaine." She turned. "How come you to agree with these others? Yesterday you were riled up. What changed your mind?" "Yesterday I forgot one thing. I forgot that if our play folds, about forty innocent people will be thrown out of work, people who are being hounded by landladies for their back rent." "Maybe," Harriet Hart suggested, "we could get together mornings and work the two parts by ourselves." "You don't Seem to understand," murmured Lora. "I was doing this for Lily. She's too young to know you can't make a sow's ear into a silk purse." Lily's lip trembled as an unbidden tear ran down her cheek. "Don't say that, mamma. Don't say that in front of all these people! It wasn't for myself. I thought—I thought if you acted in s-something serious, if you were a b-big success in a fine play, it might change things between you and papa, bring us all together again. I th-thought —" Unable to control her emotions, she ran sobbing from the room. After a long silence Bill Garrett spoke up. "I have a feeling we've all been saying the wrong thing except Lily. Will you come back, Miss Tremaine. Please?" She hesitated, then said; "I'll let my daughter decide. If she thinks I ought to take another stab at it, I'll try. . . . Lily! Stop sulking and come out here." Clary, the author of New Blood, who had not said a word during all this, was staring into space as though in a trance. "Our literary friend," commented Bixby, "seems to be off in some private world of his own." "Wha—what?" "Are you here," asked the producer, "or somewhere else?" "Somewhere else," admitted the playwright. "And where," inquired Lora, amused, "do you get your material from, darling, if you don't pay attention to what goes on in life?" "I often wonder," said Clary vaguely. "I've been thinking." Lily had returned with reddened eyes and slipped her warm hand into her mother's. "But before I say what I've been thinking, let me repeat an observation I made at rehearsals," Clary went on. "I said then, and I say now, that in Lora Tremaine's case we've done a major bit of miscasting." "Look," said Bixby. "We've just about got Lora in the mood to return to the play. What are you trying to do, louse the whole thing up again?" "Not necessarily. With Lora and Harriet in the leading roles, I figure New Blood could be one of the biggest things on Broadway. The trouble is, nobody's ever taken a real close look at these two women." He paused. "Did I hear you say you're a quick study, Lora?" "Yes. Why? I know everybody's lines, by heart. I've got a photographic mind or something." Clary glanced around as though mentally setting a stage. "Then try your entrance from that door. Come barging in out of a hot kitchen as though you'd just finished baking a pecan twist." Lora stared at him. "Me?" she asked. "You mean I'm to play the cook?" "Exactly. Switch parts. I can't imagine what we were thinking of. You're Mrs. Quinlan to a T—voice, gestures, the works. . . . Harriet, do you have Mrs. Broughton's lines?" "Sure." "Then let's go." The air suddenly shot sparks as Lora, now assuming the cook's part, declared, —You listen to me. I'd rather Marie stayed single the rest of her days than marry that idiot son of yours, Mrs. Broughton. Just remember, their children too long ago for her to remember. Her folks lived on our block. I was just a small kid then. I used to see her when she'd come home after some night-club engagement or other. To us kids she was an actress, a glamorous star." After a little intake of breath, Lily said, "I knew there was something, the way you'd steal an odd glance at her every once in a while —" "She'd drive up in a big car, and there'd be piles and piles of packages, presents for her ma and pa. One time —" He had to laugh. "Once she gave us kids bags of candy, and I slept with mine under my pillow. We never knew exactly what she did on those road trips, but whatever it was, it was bringing comfort and happiness to her folks. And in this play I realized she was still using her talents for somebody else's sake. That's why I blew my top and said you didn't deserve such a mother." "I'm going to cry in a minute," Lily told him. His fingers felt for hers. "Don't. Remember, we all belong to the world of make-believe. In the end it turns to comedy, and the curtain comes down on a laugh—or maybe a kiss." He stopped and leaned close to her. "A kiss? Here, in broad daylight—with everybody watching?" "If you intend to be an actress you might as well get used to audiences." He kissed her again and again as the passing crowds stared at them. She finally had to draw away. "I feel kind of heady," he said. "Let's go and have a gypsy tell our fortunes." "why?" "Well, if she doesn't say a big, tall, handsome fellow named William Garrett is about to come permanently into your life, we'll call the police and have her arrested as a faker." "Mr. Garrett, is this your daffy way of proposing?" "Let me put it this way. How else can I go about getting Lora Tremaine for a mother-in-law?" When they at last arrived at the theater, they found Miss Tremaine in tears. "Now what's the matter, mamma?" Lily exclaimed. "N-nothing," she sobbed. "Look. People don't sit down and bawl for nothing, mother. What happened?" "Nothing, I tell you. Just this telegram." "Who is it from?" Lily demanded. Lora dabbed at her eyes. "Here. I guess you'd better read it." "Dear Lora," the wire read. "Have just been speaking to Martin Latimer on the phone. Informs me you have changed roles and are superb as Mrs. Quinlan in New Blood. I said this was great news, but no surprise to me. Have always insisted you could act, so I backed this play with half its production money two months ago to show I meant it. Will be on hand. opening night to yell bravo. Give my little girl a big hug and kiss, and say I hope all three of us will be celebrating your success together. Meanwhile, love. George Tremaine." "Now she's crying!" Bill Garrett scratched an ear, nodding at Lily. "What is this, anyway—East Lynne ?" "I doubt it," said Lora, gazing at the young man quizzically. "Here, let me have your handkerchief—mine's soaked." She reached up and rubbed his lips. "I doubt if there's any character in East Lynne who enters with his mouth all smeared up with lipstick." "I can explain that, mamma," said Lily. "O. K. Start explaining." THE E Np next week CE 1° CHILDREN BY JOHN ALLEN M D will be my grandchildren, and I'm damned if I'll have any such mixture as this in my family. Oh, you rich are all right to work for. But to marry —' The dialogue crackled back and forth as Miss Hart, assuming the haughty socialite's role, rose to the occasion. At the scene's end, when Lora turned, then flicked her head back and said, " 'You go to hell, madam," and strode from the room, a burst of applause broke out spontaneously from the little audience. "Terrific!" cried Bixby. "Mark my words, we're going to see the birth of a fresh, new dramatic star." "Well, don't leave out Harriet," said Lora, beaming. "She can play both parts. That's what I call an actress." Lily and Bill Garrett had decided to walk back to the theater together. "You're very quiet," she was saying. "I'm sorry. I was thinking of what I said yesterday. You know, that loud speech about your not deserving a mother like Lora. I--I've been sort of revising my opinion." "I should hope so." "I've decided I was talking about the wrong party. It's your father, whoever the devil he is, who doesn't deserve a woman like Lora Tremaine." "You've always stuck up for mamma from the very beginning. Why?" asked Lily curiously. "The answer's simple." Garrett was smiling. "Remember when your mother first spoke to me? She said, kind of puzzled, 'Don't I know you from somewhere, sonny? From way back?" He held her arm as they waited for a traffic light. "Well, she was right. Only it was It's refillable! 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1961_09_30--040_SP [Mother Is a Movie Queen]
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