St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on March 11, 1945 · Page 53
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 53

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 11, 1945
Page 53
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TH AY IWI WBJ'L J ! Published Everq Dc Weekday and Jundaq U V U inthe SILOUIS POST-DISPATCH PART SIX ST. LOUIS, SUNDAY MORNING, MARCH 11, 1945 PAGES 11 OH The Midnight Earl Woman Under Fire P VIEWY m The Comeback of Smiling Jimmy His Role as Singing Walter In "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" Has Made James Dunn a Star Again Once Ranked With Best Ten at Boxoffice Joint Really Jumped For a Hot Trumpeter The Boys Took Her Up To the Fighting Front By Earl Wilson i vis ROBERT WALKER... NEWEST DARLING OF THE SWOONERS. KEW YORK, March 10. COMEDIAN JOEY ADAMS thought up this brilliant sentiment about the Curfew, as any New York night club owner might sob it: "Twelve o'clock and all is hell." . . . "Now that they're serving buffalo steaks," writes M. H. K. of Brooklyn, "would you say rTTTyJTTTf that one man's meat is an other man's bison?" . . . Robert Walker, the young MGM star, is the new darling of the swooners. They practically tore off his collar when he left the Capitol Theater after one of his personal appearances. Cops had to help him. . . . The Joint really Jumped at the Para-mount the other day. ... Hot trumpeter Cootie Williams, bringing his leg down hard on a downbeat while leading his band, actually threw his kneecap out of Joint and had to have doctor's treatment. ... Concerning Mexico City's non-curfew high life, one wit said, "Mexico fiddles while New York Byrnes." . . . The Monte Carlo has a novel way of getting rid of customers at midnight when the curfew begins. The patrons stand up for "The Star-Spangled Banner," then Manager Dick Flanagan has the waiters pull their chairs -from under them so they can't sit down again. .... Everything's a "sneak" now, and the latest fable is that there's a sneak race track in New Jersey, where the horses run at 2 a, m. But wouldn't the track have to be lit up? No, goes the gag, only white horses run on this track, and any black nags are eliminated as dark horses. "Women's hat will 1 ftllUrr than ever this year, according to Ann Delafleld, which reminds me that my B. W. has a new one with roses, radishes, carrots, turnips and other flora piled on top of It. When she wore It to the Stork Club a waiter asked her for her order. Radio Producer Lee Segall spoke up and said, "Bring her a Scotch and soda and an Insect spray." 9 EX-STRITPER, LOIS DE FEE, the 6-foot-6 cutie, who's been married seven times, said in the Monte Carlo that she and her new husband will set up a residence at once in Utah, home of the Mormons, where she'll show 'em that a woman can have a flock of spouses, too. . . . Tavern-on-the-Green now starts its dinner dancing at six and has continuous music, with two orchestras. . . . The Copacabana's three famous captains, Joe Lopez, Joe Hoffman and Eli Trucker are not accepting any tips "on the door" since the Copa Lounge started featuring its food. . . . Monte Proser, the Copa boss who closed up his show in despondency over the curfew, now says, when asked how he feels, "I'm as happy as the day is short." PVT. RED SKELTON, A FINE GENT, Is possessed of one foible; the belief that he can't hear over the telephone. He has a loud-speaker in his Hollywood home for phone calls, and when in New York he won't touch one of the gosh-danged Alexander Graham Bell contrivances, because he knows he can't hear over them. He's Hollywood-bound, and his ex-wife and manager, Edna, Is with him, which is fascinating intelligence, because when he gets to Los Angeles, he's going to marry Miss Georgia Davis. I hope you follow all of this but I don't ask you to understand it. Knowing it all, you can understand Red's attitude in Sherman Billingsey's Stork Club the other night when he was about to order a drink. "What do you want?" asked a member of the party. "Rum and coca-cola?" "All right," said Red, "but only one chorus." MISS BILLIE BOZE, ONE OF THE ex-Mrs. Tommy Man-villes, has always been a smart girl and not one of those Venus de Minuses, as Billy Vine calls dumb showgirls and models. Billie Just had her 23d birthday, and according to my papvine source (I call him that because he bolts down so irucn grape) she received a birthday gift of five $1000 bills from Tommy, who said he always thought she had everything, so he didn't know what to buy her, and maybe she could find some way to make use of those 5 G's. I couldn't get Billy on the wire but I feel confident she'll be able to find some way to -use this extra lettuce. Olsen & Johnson had a big "corn" party where the guests wore corn suits, ate corn on the cob, corn fritters and corn syrup, smoked corncob pipes and drank corn whisky. There came a moment when Olncn krd for volunteer la wknIi the dUhes, and requested that the volunteers utand up. Instantly up leaped everybody, screaming and shouting. It was such nice co-operation that I thought I would tell you how they got It. The guest' chairs were secretly wired for electricity and at that moment one of Ole's confederates turned on the switch." 0 THE MIDNIGHT EARL: Walter Winchell will return to play-reviewing for the Mirror in addition to doing his column. ... Pat di Cicco is resisting a brain operation that might relieve the septicemia he suffers, and Gloria Vanderbilt's been phoning him in Hollywood about his illness. ... Pat Harrington, following his operation, will rejoin Frankie Hyers at the Latin Casino in Philadelphia. . . . Juke box kibitzers, says Len Bui ton, stand behind the guy putting the nickel in and protest, "No, no, not that one." . . . Arthur Treacher's writing now and will get a buildup as the British Bob Benchley. By Harry Niemeyer A Special Correspondent of the rest-Dispatch HOLLYWOOD, March 10. A FEW weeks ago we told you about little Peggy Ann Garner who is such a hit in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Today we'll tell you about her screen Pop-Jimmy Dunn a guy who is making one of the most brilliant comebacks in the history of Hollywood. Back in 1931 Jimmy became a star overnight in his first picture, "Bad Girl." Soon he was receiving 5000 letters a week. Within a year he was one of the top 10 box-office stars. Then, in 1935, something happened. Two studios merged and he became one of the casualties of the merger. His contract was paid off and he became a free lance actor. He worked at a variety of studios at a bigger salary than he had ever commanded before. . "But I made a mistake," says Jimmy today. "I let dollar signs blind me. If the salary was right, I was willing to do any picture that came along. And some of the pictures turned out to be turkeys. After three or four of those, producers stopped thinking of Dunn for major league roles. I still had Jobs, mind you, and the Jobs paid off. But I was a Hollywood paradox: a guy who was prospering, yet wasn't a success." In an effort to give Hollywood a new perspective on Jimmy Dunn, he went back to Broadway, landed the lead opposite Ethel Merman in the hit musical, "Panama Hattie." It had a run, of 87 weeks. But the movie moguls still didn't come running with big time roles. He trekked back to Hollywood a year ago, to scout the possibilities in person. He played a couple of major roles in minor pictures, which the right producers didn't see. He also did a flock of dramatic radio shows, which the right producers didn't hear. Then Twentieth Century-Fox began preparing the film version of Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." The male lead, the role of "Johnny Nolan," became the most sought after masculine role in years. Agents swarmed on the studio, offering the services of their clients. The studio considered all the candidates, tested several. But none had that certain something that gave "Johnny Nolan" his indefinable appeal. The search for "Johnny Nolan" was a common topic of conversation all over the lot, particularly in the casting office. One day a girl who had been in the "Panama Hattie" chorus, Gloria Grafton, was waiting in the outer office with a number of other players. "What's the matter with Jimmy Dunn for 'Johnny Nolan'?" she demanded. That was the beginning. The end came as soon as Jimmy's test had been screened. So here he is back on top of the heap. A success any way you look at him. BUT there's a paradox connected with that success. "Johnny Nolan" is a singing waiter, a happy-go-lucky Irishman liked by everyone who knows . him. He loves life and he imparts that love of life to other people. But he dreams so much and works so seldom that his wife and two children often go hungry. At the business of making a living he's a tragic failure. Dunn is grateful to Gloria Grafton. "Wasn't that a stroke of luck?" he asks. "If she hadn't happened to be there at that" particular moment and if somebody hadn't happened to mention that role right then, maybe no one would ever have thought of me as a possibility. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years. I certainly was surprised when I got the call to make a test." He made the test with 12-year-old Peggy Ann Garner, who was being considered for the role of "Francie." Both turned out to be naturals for the roles. Secretly, if not openly, most adult actors regard child payers ns pure poison. But not Jimmy Dunn. "They're lucky for me," he savs. As an actor who worked with Shirley Temple when she was a child star, and has also worked with Peggy Ann Gafner, he is repeatedly faced with the question: "How does Peggy Ann compare with Shirley?" "Oh, no, you don't," says Jimmy, hacking away. "You're not going to make me answer that one. Shirley was a swell little trouper, and Peggy Ann, who is an entirely different type, is also a swell little actress." Earlier this week, Jimmy and Edna Rush, a radio singer, were married in Philadelphia. Betty Smith, author of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," attended the bride. It was Jimmy's third marriage, the first two ending in divorce. 6UU as handsome as when he T " . y A fT ' l-l Oi I JAMES DUNN ... HE NEVER 1 f I VI Vi , j LOST THAT WINNING SMILE. W By Virginia Irwin A War Correspondent of the Post-Dispatch SAARLAUTERN, Germany, March 6 (By Wireless) (Delayed). ELL, the boys of the Yankee Division took me into the front lines with them today. After a couple of weeks of more or less vacation In Belgium and Holland, I came back to visit with my DUNN AS JOHNNY NOLAN, THE SENTIMENTAL SINGING WAITER OF "A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN." first became a star, with the-same infectious smile, Jimmy looks little older than he did 10 years ago. Six feet tall, he has dark brown hair and blue eyes, and he weighs the same, 157 pounds. "Had to take off 15 pounds to do it, though," he told us. "Couldn't play a hungry singing waiter at 172. How'd I do it? Mostly through that very hard and important exercise pushing my chair back from the dining-room table." Jimmy wasn't worried about being convincing as a Brooklynite. "If I had been I could always have called up my old pal, Leo I)u-rocher," he says. Durocher is the colorful, gabby manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. "We have a sort of exchange arrangement," says Jimmy. "I tell him how he ought to play baseball and he tells me how I ought to act." Brother Dunn's bright blue eyes proved a problem during one day's shooting. After several days away from the studio, Jimmy reported on the set healthy-looking and bright-eyed. He said he had spent his time off playing golf. But this day's scene called for him to raise his head dazedly from a table in McGarrity's saloon, where he was supposed to have slept all night. "How are we going to make those bright eyes looked dazed?" asked Elia Kazan, the director. "That won't be hard," replied Jimmy. "I'll Just think of some of those movie scripts that hit me when I wasn't looking." Before his marriage, he lived with his mother, Mrs. Jessie Dunn, to whom he is devoted, in a small rented house practically around the corner from the studio. Mrs. Dunn is a semi-invalid and the result is that Jimmy has become a good shopper and can even toss together a complete and full calo-ried dinner. JIMMY, who has acquired the sobriquet of "The Smiling Irishman," is that rarity, a native New Yorker. His father was a successful stock broker. "I might have been satisfied to become a broker, like dad," says Jimmy, "if I had grown up in a different neighborhood. Almost directly across the street from our house stood an exclusive club which had a dance oichestra whose music drifted through the windows on warm summer nights. When I heard that music I wanted to sing and dance on the stage if possible. "Another influence in that direction was the fact that down the streets lived the Foys, dozens of them and all in show business. I grew up with a couple of the Foy boys and took part in many impromptu shows at t: Ar home. Before I was half way through high school I was cutting- classes to play extra at various studios scattered around the upper Bronx. Dad learned about this and at his urgent suggestion I went with Sayings of Senator Soaper B ECAUSE of the brownout, the moon seems all the brighter. Many who had not noticed it heretofore find it as described in the songs. i.i 1 I I It was a Dayton schoolboy, asked to name the Great Lakes, who could think only of Veronica. lockout, a fellow really needs a home address. For oriental psychology at its most mystifying, we pick Yam-ashita with his head in the lion's mouth and fearlessly announcing, "I now have this fellow where I want him." Among those building barricades in Berlin streets are dowagers in fur coats. Even in defeat, Germany may be the best-dressed character in the breadline. Tales of the Manila fighting In which Japs held the upper floors of a hotel while Americans occupied the lobby say nothing of reconnaissance flights in the elevator. Through day and night shifts of bombes shuttle overhead, millions from the kraut hinterland are pouring into lively Berlin, the boom boom town. The old story recurs of Japs who appear to be fighting under the influence f a dope presumably Hirohito. The season approaches for cutting the farm lad out of his winter underwear. Which will leave only Hitler, In the uniform he was not to take off till victory. An overseas depot commander orders G. I.'s to cease filling fire extinguishers with gasoline to prime motors. Superstitious, eh? The whole housing crisis becomes suddenly more acute. Under the Byrnes midnight Weather continues to play a dominant part in late European developments. As yet there is little sign of a spring thaw in Pomerania, Silesia or De Gaulle. With meat-point values verging on the fantastic, a thought on opening the sandwich is "Man cannot live by bread alone." Something about the Crimea is conducive to brave stands by the outnumbered: The gallant six hundred against the Cossack horde; Bernard Shaw versus the Yalta decisions. him as a security salesman. T did well at that but I didn't like it. Once I made $10;000 in 10 weeks commissions. And lost the 10 grand in 10 minutes on some stock that went the wrong way." BUT always, he wanted to act. A bit part in a Broadway play called "Night Stick" decided him definitely. After four years of barnstorming he made the Broadway grade again, this time opposite Helen Morgan in "Sweet Adeline" That's the show he was doing vnen the Hollywood scouts found him. He arrived in Hollywood In 1931 under contract to Fox Film. His first film was to be "Over the Hill" but It was delayed and meanwhile he was tossed Into "Bad Girl." When the picture was released Dunn became the sensation of the year. During the next four years he starred in a steady succession of pictures, "Dance Team," "Stand Up and Cheer," "Bright Eyes" and others. His last picture on the old Fox lot was "Goerge White's Scandals," which brought Alice Faye to the screen. When Jimmy found himself among the unemployed, he didn't have to ask anybody any favors. He had saved some of that big money. Even if he didn't have work he still had an income from investments. That, for one thing, kept the fates from getting Jimmy down, no matter how they pum-meled him. Aside from that, he was naturally resilient. It was and still is hard for him not to be chipper. "Life," as he sees it, "is full of laughs." Fellow workers on the set the first day of shooting on "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" knew what was going on in the heart of Jimmy Dunn, back on the top floor following long years. The setting was the small second-floor flat of the Nolans in a tenement house in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one Saturday afternoon in 1915. The set was built 6n a high platform, so that when the camera looked out of the kitchen window it saw the areaway below. In the areaway, pushing its way up through the cement, grew the tree that gives the story its title. AS Kazan, the director imported from Broadway called for rehearsal, the camera was looking out of the kitchen window. On the s fire escape. Just outside, sat 13-year-old Francie Nolan slaved by Peggy Ann reading a library book. There were tears in her 0 eyes as she read, meanwhile munching peppermint drops. Suddenly Francie raised her H head, listening. Someone was ;j singing "Molly Malone" in the dis-;is tance, and coming nearer. She i; scrambled into the kitchen, ran gi; to the door and pulled it open. ji Outside, pretending to be sur-gl prised at having his song inter- rupted, stood her father, Johnny Nolan, otherwise Jimmy Dunn, ! looking very little older thai. 10 years ago, still handsome, with I! the same fine grin, ip This is an old game between j:;! Francie and Johnny. He always i) sings "Molly Mnlone" as he comes up the Htnlis, and her pni of the y game is to try to get the door open before he can finish the song. p It was easy to see that Johnny Nolan was In high spirits. A singing waiter by profession, but seldom employed, he suddenly had Hi a Job, and he felt good as he told ; j Francie about it. She auto-'i matlcally got out the ironing y board to iron his waiter's apron, hi and watching her, he said, half to himself and half to her, "You ii knoxv, a dav like this ) - some-;S body givin' you a present, every- thing Just right." :. As he finished the line, Jimmy paused and turned to Kazai. with, i if you could call it that, a serious sort of grin. i "With this my first day In the 'r? picture and all," he asked, "would ij It be all right with you if I said ?M that line twice?" favorite division in the Third Army, might go home unless the war winds up quickly. They said, "Irwin, the men of the Twenty-Sixth? Division are going to take you Into the line with them before you go." They did too. As a matter of fact, at one time the boys Inched me up to within two blocks of a German mortar posi- -tlon. I was as close to Jerry as I ever want to be again. I've been under machine gun fire. I missed eternity by a matter of yards when a German 88-shell, aimed at a bridge we had to go over, landed off to our left. I wound up practically a case of combat exhaustion from listening to the sickening thwack of mortar shells landing all over the place. These Joes here in Saarlautern are fighting the damndest war you ever saw. We hold about two thirds of the town, the Krauts the other third. The catch to the whole thing is I told the guys I thought I li s m. BILLY VANDYKE ... HE HEARD A VOICE FROM HOME. I! that the town is covered on three sides by pillboxes, gun emplacements and other fortifications of the Siegfried Line. I guess tho Army knows why it wants to be in Saarlautern, but I don't. But I'm glad I came because it gave one St. Louis kid a little thrill. Ho is Pvt. Billy Vandyke, 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Vandyke, 3611 North Ninth street. I was in the command post of tho First Battalion of the 101st Regiment Lt Col. Gramm of Worcester, Mass., battalion commander, got Billy on the phone for me. I said; "Hello, this is Virginia Irwin of the St Louis Post-Dispatch." Over the wire came the reply, "Post-Dispatch? Virginia Irwin? My gosh, I used to be a copy boy on tho Post-Dispatch." Then soberly: "Listen, sU, you're calling from battalion, aren't you? - That was the colonel's voice., I recognized it listen, don't you come up here." I told him the boys had me up aa far as I was going. I knew that Vandyke, a hand-carry emergency radio man, was sitting with his platoon only two blocks away, but they were two blocks I wasn't going to risk. THE WAY VANDYKE AND THE OTHER BOYS of the 101st Regiment are fighting the war in this town is fantastic. Kindly Col. Walter T. Scott of Burlington, Kan., regimental commander, veteran of 27 years in the army and my personal escort for the day, explained that it was "something like Indian warfare, only we don't scalp the Krauts after we knock 'em off." The command post was in the basement of what was left of an old house two blocks from the German front line. Every few minutes there would be the flarn-dest racket outside. "Those last two were 88s," Col. Scott said calmly. Just then something happened that sounded like the end of tho world to me. "That." said Col. Scott "is nothing to worry about There is a pillbox in a house up there. We tried to shoot a bazooka Into a window and the shell bounced off. The window was only painted on that pillbox. So we gave them an example of precision artillery adjustment We trained one gun on that house and reduced if SOMEBODY CALLED THE COMMAND POST on the phono and said that there was a dead German in the street about two blocks away and what should he do about it? Someone else called to say that a German mortar position had been located about four blocks away. Capt. Harley Langdon, artillery officer, whose home is in Faribault Minn., replied: "We'll give them a couple of 105s. And don't worry, if we don't hit them, we'll scare 'em to death anyway. I thought I'd had enough, but I was wrong. CoL Scott his driver and I did a double quick, running between buildings down the street to where our jeep was parked. We jumped in and raced away for what I thought would be the division command post, but it turned out to be the command post of the Third Battalion. The commander, Lt Col. James Peale of Flushing, N. Y., thought I might get a kick out of climbing up a winding stairway into an old attic and taking a look at the Germans from what he called his "cozy observation post." It was cozy all right All that was left of the attic was the cross beams, a chimney with the top knocked off, and: a floor littered with trash and rubble left by the Germans. Then machine gun fire started and I tried to keep my knees from buckling under me while bullets whined over our heads. When one went "ping" and cut the air close to my head, I stopped breathing for 80 seconds. In those seconds, while I stood behind the chimney under Jerry fire, I lost five pounds. I lost another five pounds when, while under fire, we went down a stretch of road the boys call "Howling Alley." I almost Jumped out of the Jeep when an 88 landed 75 yards away. 0 I'LL SLEEP TONIGHT EVEN IF I DIDN'T have nerve enough to go up to see Pfc. Donald Woods, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Woods of Ozark, Mo. Donald Is a message runner between his platoon and the company commander. I talked to him on the phone and he says he wants to get back to work in the cheese factory at Ozark. He says he prays every day that the war will be over soon so he'll have a chance to be home to see the baby his wife Bertha Is expecting In May. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm a coward, but I can now say, with the best of the men correspondents, that I've been In the front lines. That's about a mile closer than any other woman correspondent has been or I'll eat my correspondent's beret dry without Army butter.

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