In the days following the amazing events of the William Randolph Hearst "Hollywoodland" party, I saw just how powerful a man he truly is; as good as his word, he 'clamped down' on all publicity concerning what had transpired, swore all of us to complete secrecy (I could not even tell Benita that Clemmie had shot me!), and concocted an elaborate 'cover' story, of road construction involving dynamite, which accidently triggered the power blackout that affected the entire area, that night.
The trickiest aspect of the evening involved the monkey, herself. By law, any animal that attacks a human must be 'put down' (something no one, not even I, wanted to see!) After the cover-up, Clemmie was quietly returned to Jack Barrymore's care, but Jack certainly did not want a potentially dangerous, jealousy-prone female sharing his home, particularly as he'd begun an amorous pursuit of beautiful Dolores Costello!
So, much to her unhappiness, he dumped the monkey in the Luna Park Zoo, in Lincoln Heights. Besides a few love letters, I never heard from Clemmie, and eventually, I forgot about the amorous simian!
Today, being Juliet's birthday, Benita and I decided to devote the entire day to our glorious daughter. She adores streetcars, so we all rode on this most colorful of transports...
As we were in Lincoln Heights, Benita suggested a trip to the Luna Park Zoo, which thrilled Juliet, and didn't raise any suspicions, from me, at the time...
The zoo is a fabulous place, home of many movie animals, with live performances each hour, guaranteed to thrill adults and children, alike!
After catching a few shows, and a rather unhealthy lunch of hot dogs and cotton candy, we watched Clyde Beatty's lion act, and Juliet dragged us over to visit the monkey cages...
I paid little attention to the animals, enjoying, far more, Juliet's complete sense of wonder over everything she saw! There are times, being a parent, when you are so proud you could nearly burst, and I basked in that feeling, at that moment!
Then Benita tapped me on the shoulder...
"Ronnie!" she whispered. "Isn't that..."
"CLEMMIE!" I hissed...
She stood, in her cage, forlornly gazing at us! After a momentary shudder, I regained my composure, seeing the monkey that had nearly murdered me...
"She looks well," I said, trying to be nonchalant.
"She looks miserable!" Benita quickly contradicted.
"She's a great actress," I replied. "This is just the spot for her."
"How can you say that?" Benita said. "Locked inside a cell, without love, without friendship..."
"Love? Friendship? Benita, remember, this is the creature who tried to break up our marriage, who accused me of being the father of her child!"
"Ronnie, how can you not feel compassion when she's reduced to this?"
I shook my head. "Benita," I said, gently, "If you knew what I know, you certainly would agree that this is a far, far better place for her, than any other!"
"Oh, really?" she said, disbelieving. She called over a nearby attendant. "Excuse me," she asked him, "Do you think this is a proper home for this monkey?"
"Honestly," he said, "for little Clemmie, here, no. When an animal has interreacted with humans for an extended period, putting her into a cage, away from human kindness, is devastating! I'm afraid they usually die from a broken heart..."
"That's HOGWASH!" I snapped. "Animals are more than able to adjust...look at this zoo! Do these animals look MISERABLE?"
"Are you the expert, or am I?" he asked, coldly.
I stared at the man. "Don't I know you?" I asked. "You look very familiar...have you acted?"
He backed up, a step. "Me? Act?" he replied. "Heavens, no! I prefer reading! I'm in the middle of "Winnie the Pooh", at the moment...I must get back to work..."
Under my suspicious gaze, he quickly strode away.
"I believe him," Benita said. "Why can't Clemmie be placed in a loving home?"
"With Clemmie there, it wouldn't be a loving home for LONG!" I answered, tersely. "She's a sex-crazed little home wrecker!"
"She's just a monkey! Wouldn't Dickie Barthelmess take her? He did seem to have a fancy for her..."
"Richard is STILL recovering from that...Benita, Clemmie is not an ordinary monkey...I swear, I think she's the reincarnation of Lucretia Borgia! She writes, she plots, she schemes..."
"You had me believing that, too! But Jack Barrymore wrote me, and explained everything..."
She brightened. "Oh, yes, Ronnie! Jack wrote me a lovely letter, on how he made up everything about Clemmie, as an elaborate joke...The pregnancy, the letters, everything! It's so silly, really, thinking a MONKEY could read and write, and even speak! I'm surprised you never caught on, before!"
"Benita," I said, slowly, "Jack didn't write that letter, Clemmie did..."
"Ronnie, you're crazy! MONKEYS CAN'T WRITE!"
"Benita, Benita!" I pleaded, "If I could only share what I know, about "Lost Horizon", about the Hearst party..."
"How can you look at that sweet, sad monkey, and say those hateful things?"
Benita stared at Clemmie's phony tears, then announced, "If Dickie won't take her, I think we should!"
"She needs a loving home, and she'd be a marvellous pet for Juliet..."
"I could feed her, and take care of her, and you'd never even know she's around..."
"You'd even get over this phobia you have, this fantasy that she has some kind of crush on you..."
I took a deep breath. "Benita, she's using you! The letter, that phony zoo attendant, it's all part of an elaborate scheme to get out of here, and close to me...and I won't let her get away with it!"
"And that is your last word?" I nodded.
"Juliet!" she called out. "We're leaving." She turned to me. "I'll pack our things when we get home. Juliet and I will be staying at my family's place, until you come to your senses...You are NOT the loving, compassionate man I married..."
"Benita, please," I pleaded. "Can't you trust me, on this? If there is the slightest chance I'm right, shouldn't I be given the benefit of the doubt?"
"I won't allow our daughter to grow up in a house with a crazy man who thinks a monkey is smarter than me!"
"Daddy?" Juliet asked, solemnly. "Are you making us go away?"
I looked at my beautiful daughter, and the woman I loved, and realized Clemmie had won...at least for now...
"No, darling," I said, with a sigh. "and Clemmie is coming to live with us."
"YIPPEE!!!" Juliet shouted.
Clemmie watched us, and I swear, I could almost hear her laugh!
THE RONALD COLMAN SAGA
"The Dinner Party for Erich von Stroheim"
"The Misadventures of John Barrymore's Cheeky Monkey, Clementine"
"The All-Star Surprise Party for Laine"
"The Classic Hollywood Long Beach-Catalina Yacht Race"
"The Ronald Colman Seance"
"My "Lost Horizon" Surprise!"
"A Night at the Hollywood Canteen!"
"But I Thought You Were..."
"The People vs. Ronald Colman"
"The Epic Hearst Costume Party..."
"The Monkey on Ronald Colman's Back Saga" (A 9-Part Adventure):
"A MAN, A MONKEY, the MOB, and RONALD COLMAN!" (A 5-Part Adventure):
"Introduction: Broadway, 1920..."
"Chapter 1: A LONG Memory..."
"Chapter 2: Barrymore's Reply..."
"Chapter 3: Barrymore in Cement!"
"Chapter 4: A Desert Grave..."
"SURPRISE PARTY for RONALD COLMAN!"
"The RONALD COLMAN Banner Collection"
Finally, if you'd like to 'go to the source', with over 200 photos of Ronald Colman's life and career, please visit Myspace.com/Ronald Colman...the page that started it all!