Thursday, October 27, 2011

The most famous theater in the world




Must be 18 years old. Rated "R" for expletives

Retailers may order at INGRAM Book distributors
ISBN  978-0-615-37758-2

Well, I was in Hollywood and working at the theater where I had wanted to work. I wore a black uniform, that snapped up the front and had a dragon woven on it. I sure liked the attention I got from the tourists. I would often be asked to pose with them while pictures would be taken. "Oh Men, Oh Women," was the picture playing. But, I was waiting for the premiere of "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison." It would be a star studded event
I had to sweep the cigarette butts from the famous footprint and handprints in the forecourt. And at that time, there were a couple of trees that seemed to drop leaves every five minutes. I had to sweep those up too. I didn't mind, but when I was asked to sweep the street gutter, in front of the theater, this was embarrassing. It seemed beneath the dignity of the job. Was I a street cleaner?

Ralph Hathaway was the manager. He was an older man, quite fat, with curly gray hair. He had a Mexican lover, Alex, who was also his assistant manager, well, one of his assistants. He had three. I got along with him but he seemed to have an atitude. One of his other assistants, Rod, was a real handsome guy. He reminded me of Paul, my first lover, or sex partner. And, I eventually had sex with him too, in the restroom, downstairs. (It was his idea). I felt I was in love with him but he was living with an Army veteran whom he said he would never leave. So, that killed our relationship.

To make extra money, I would often usher, part-time. One night I stayed after the theater closed, to watch the janitors clean up the auditorium. After sitting there for over a half hour, Ralph, the manager, came through the auditorium from backstage, with his assistant, Alex. I guess they were "taking care of business." I learned Ralph later owned two gay bars in Hollywood, the Jaguar on Santa Monica Boulevard and the Gaslight on Ivar, near Hollywood Boulevard. At that period in time, he had an Indian lover and after selling the bars, they moved to Las Vegas.

One afternoon while I was ushering, an actress, Cleo Moore, came in with her boyfriend. I had gotten her autograph in Flint, at the Garden theater, when she appeared with John Agar, (also signing autographs), promoting their film, "Hold Back Tomorrow." I started down the aisle, showing her to a seat, while talking about our "meeting" in Flint. I was so busy talking to her that I had left her boyfriend standing at the top of the aisle.

Cleo was a buxom, blond, whom the studios were trying to compare to Monroe and Jayne Mansfield. I don't recall ever seeing her in any other film and she had a short life on screen as well as dying at a young age. John Agar had been married to Shirley Temple. That was his claim to fame. He was never a very good actor and even the autograph party didn't help the box-office. John recently passed away too. I had met and talked with him about the "Hold Back Tomorrow," film and he had a million stories to tell about it.

Charlton Heston, also had an autograph party at the Garden, where his first film, "Peer Gynt," was showing. Heston lived in northern Michigan and his father asked the manager, Earl Berry, if he could sign autographs? Earl phoned the main offices in Detroit (Butterfield theaters) and the okay was given. Years later, Heston would purchase a Buick in Flint and drive it back to California. The newspapers said he had to replace about everything on the car before reaching Los Angeles. I guess he bought a "lemon" and it literally fell apart as he drove across the country. Heston had also lived at the Commodore Garden Apartments when he was filming, "Ruby Gentry." He was having a home built and he had rented the front, one bedroom apartment. Dennis Cole, another, once famous actor, had also lived at the Commodore Gardens.

Frank Gorshin (also recently deceased), was an impressionist and actor known from the BATMAN television series, who had been appearing at the Purple Onion, (a club that helped Phyllis Diller get her start), dropped by the theater and asked if Rod was in? When Rod came out, they shook hands and Rod said it was okay to let him in. Frank was a smart alec and would do anything to get attention. I never liked him. I recently had seen him and had asked whatever happened to Rod?, and he didn't even remember who he was.

We finally had the premiere of, "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison," and it was a star studded event. I asked for the night off so I could "mingle" with the crowd. I got to talk to Terry Moore and I had asked what she had thought of Elvis. (I guess I was born to do interviews and gather gossip), and she didn't respond except to say she had just finished a film with Pat Boone. Then I saw Dick Powell and I yelled out, "Hey Dick, where's June?" (he had been married to June Allyson, who just passed away too). He turned around and said, "None of your damned business." Then I remembered reading that they were having marital problems. Another goof for me.

A starlet (a name for wannabe star), named Vikki Dougan appeared, sitting on top of the backseat of a convertible wearing a backless dress. I never saw her in any film, so I guess she was known as the girl with th backless dress! She was dating photographer Earl Leif. I guess backless was new and "in", in 1957.

The most glamorous star there was Jayne Mansfield. She was there with her husband, Mickey Hargitay. Jayne was beautiful and a true, true, movie-star. She signed autographs for everyone. Her name would be called over the loud-speakers, "car for Ms. Mansfield, car for Ms. Mansfield." But, she didn't care if her limousine was waiting or not. She just wanted to please her fans. And the fans loved her. Her body builder husband, Mr. Universe winner, Mickey, would grab her around the waist and hoist her in the air, over his head, to reach the fans in the bleachers to sign autographs. And Jayne loved publicity and she would go to any premiere or opening, even grocery store openings, if there would be photographers there, and they would be there.

One time when she was leaving a premiere, she autographed the back of my hand. I didn't have any paper for her to write on. She said, "I'd rather autograph your chest." (I was thinking, I would like to autograph yours). Several photographers had me stand next to her showing the hand she had autographed. I don't know if it was ever published in any magazine. One time she was having her picture taken around some lions and had taken her young son along, when suddenly the lion turned on her son, and bit his head. Actually, the lion took the kid's head in it's mouth. He survived.

( Meeting Elvis in Hollywood!