Poor Benita! My beautiful wife was still depressed over the Women's Club fiasco, and felt she was now being shunned by her friends. She may have been right; Irene Dunne, the Chairwoman of the Club, and one of her best friends, hadn't called her in days, and even Bette Davis, normally the most understanding of people, had been silent, since that afternoon. Adding to Benita's depression was the absence of our Juliet, who had left for summer camp, on Monday, for two weeks (a fact that even seemed to have Clemmie in 'the dumps').
I pondered over ways to cheer her up...then a solution dropped into our laps!
Tony Martin's run at the Tropicana, in New York City, had been extended, leaving a hole in the Mocambo entertainment calendar, and the club invited our dear friend, Johnny Holiday, to be his replacement! This was an incredible stroke of good fortune, as the Mocambo is one of Hollywood's hottest nightspots, and Johnny sent tickets to us for his Opening Night!
As I brought Benita 'breakfast in bed', I teased her with the news! "Darling," I said, nonchalantly, "Would you like to go out, tonight, and see Johnny Holiday perform?"
"Oh, Ronnie," she replied, dully, "I love Johnny, but I'm not in the mood to sit in a cocktail lounge, tonight...Can you send him our apologies?"
"No, I can't," I said, holding back my excitement. "These tickets are too hard to come by!"
"Tickets?" she asked, her curiousity peaked. "Where's he performing?"
"Oh, the Mocambo..."
She shrieked, "THE MOCAMBO???" The first smile I'd seen in days, lit up her face. "That's FABULOUS, Ronnie! Oh, Johnny must be so thrilled! He's at the Mocambo!"
"It's a shame that you don't want to go out tonight..."
She laughed. "You're awful, you know!" As she launched into her breakfast, she gushed about how much fun we'd have, tonight, and I knew my beloved Benita was back!
It was a glorious sight, that greeted us, that evening...
"Isn't that fabulous?" Benita raved. "His name on the marquee of the biggest club in Hollywood!"
I smiled. "It's pretty wonderful," I agreed. "And it couldn't happen to a better boy!"
As we entered the alcove, who should be there to greet us, than Johnny, and his mentor, Bing Crosby!
"Ronnie, Benita! Good to have you here!" Johnny beamed. "I still have to get into my tux, but Bing and I wanted to greet you, personally!"
"Bing!" I said, smiling. "I bet you're nearly as excited as Johnny is!"
"More excited, Ron!" Bing laughed. "Johnny is as cool as a cucumber, I swear!"
"It's the LUX soap, Bing," Johnny answered. "It gives you that healthy glow that always leaves you looking your best, not matter how stressed you are!"
We all laughed. "Will this engagement interfere with your radio work, recording sessions, and producing the 'Ben Hur' musical?" I asked.
"Not at all," he said, confidently. "And an opportunity like this isn't something you turn down!" He looked at his watch. "Got to change," he said, "I'll see you after the show!"
We chatted with Bing for a few more minutes, then the club's doors 'officially' opened, and an array of the industry's finest talent entered. Bing left for his table, but Benita, unable to relax, dragged me around to 'table hop'!
We quickly ran into Bob Hope, sharing a table with voluptuous Jane Russell, and her husband, professional athlete Bob Waterfield.
"Hey ya, Ron, how's the monkey?" Bob quipped.
I winced. "Hopefully cliffdiving into a dry lakebed," I replied, and was rewarded by a jab in the ribs, by Benita.
"Clemmie is wonderful, Bob," Benita replied. "She's the perfect pet!"
"So was King Kong," I muttered, and was jabbed, again!
"She's probably fast asleep, right now," Benita continued. "We just love her, and Juliet does, too!"
"Count your silverware," Bob remarked, which got a startled look from Benita...and we quickly moved on!
At another table, we met Frank Sinatra, with Judy Garland, and MGM's musical 'wizard', Roger Edens, who's been working with Johnny on the 'Ben Hur' musical arrangements.
"Colman, old man!" Frank called out. "Just the guy I wanted to see! I've been talking to Roger, and if Johnny doesn't play the lead, himself, I think I'd be perfect as Ben Hur! I even have a guy in mind for Messala..."
"Who?" I asked, curious.
"Italian kid who's wowing them in New York...Dean Martin."
"You mean 'Martin', from 'Martin and Lewis'?" The new comedy team was a sensation, in the east.
"That's him! Good-looking, and a voice that sounds like Bing's."
"But can he act?"
Sinatra laughed. "Can I?" He pinched a waitress' posterior (she squealed, then slipped him a note), and he said, "Hal Wallis is bringing them to California for a screen test...Hell, if he can put up with Jerry Lewis, he can act!"
"I'll let Johnny know," I promised.
Benita was chatting, happily, with Judy, and I looked around at the mass of humanity...Johnny would have a full house, for his debut...and a group just entering the room left me momentarily speechless!
It was Clemmie, escorted by four sailors!
I suddenly realized that the 'proof' I'd been looking for, to prove to Benita that Clemmie wasn't simply a 'dumb animal', was right in front of me!
I ran to my wife's side. "Benita!" I whispered...
"...and then I told the Prince of Wales..." She turned to me, and snapped, "Ronnie, I'm talking! Don't interrupt me!"
"It can wait, Ronnie!" she hissed. "Anyway," she continued, "I said to the Prince..."
I decided that if Benita wouldn't come with me, I'd bring Clemmie to her...and I moved, cat-like, towards the monkey...
But Clemmie suddenly saw me, and ran!
Dodging between Duke Wayne and Marie Windsor, she eyed me, then gave me 'the finger'!
Well, I would not stand for that! I charged forward, pushing Windsor aside!
Wayne grabbed me, and said, coldly, "I think you owe a certain lady an apology, mister."
Trying to escape his grasp, and keep Clemmie in sight, I snapped, "Do you think I'd call that hairy little homewrecker a lady?"
"That cuts it," Wayne muttered. "I always thought you were a gentleman, but you earned this!" And he slugged me, sending me flying through a plate-glass window!
There was a moment's silence, then Benita, rushing over, screamed, "You MONSTER! You hit my Ronnie!!!!" She swung her fist, wildly, and knocked JOHN WAYNE off his feet!
He fell down beside me, and we both, groggily, stared at one another.
"Duke," I said, slowly, "I was referring to Clemmie, not Marie!"
"Oh!" Wayne said, "Then I apologize! Your Benita throws a helluva punch, Pilgrim!"
"So I notice," I chuckled. "Well, I've always said the Mocambo has the best floor show in town!"
Marie had jumped upon Benita's back, wrestling her down, and the two were flailing away on each other...and more fistfights were beginning to erupt!
Meanwhile, Clemmie raced past Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper, on the dance floor, enroute to the exit!
"Uh, I think we better head to Ciro's..." Coop said, watching the monkey.
"Why?" Claudette asked.
The room soon became a full-fledged battlefield!
It was absolute madness! Bottles, chairs, and tables were flying, whatever sophistication the crowd had entered with, was lost, and chaos reigned!
Grabbing Ginger Rogers, Jack Benny declared, "I'll protect you, dear!"
Rogers replied, icily, "Jack, I'm wearing a bra, that's all the protection they need, so would you kindly remove your hands from them?"
"Uh, am I doing that? Well!"
Bing Crosby dove beneath a table...and found Bob Hope already there!
"It's getting a bit...dodgy up there," Bing said, catching his breath.
"Hey, who's sponsoring tonight's gig, Lifebuoy?" Bob cracked.
"It looks like the Republican Convention," Bing quipped.
Taking the stage, Johnny Holiday knew the evening was lost, but kept his sense of humor...
"And remember, everybody," he addressed the pandemonium, "When you're locked up in the holding cells, LUX will make your shiners glow, your broken knuckles supple, and those missing teeth far less noticable! LUX is the official soap from Sing Sing to Alcatraz, the soap nine out of ten convicts prefer to drop on those shower room floors, if you know what I mean...If your jail doesn't have it, ask your lawyers to bring it...Lefty and Bugsy will thank you..."
After an evening spent at the city's expense, Benita and I were finally released, and we returned home.
"Poor Johnny!" Benita sighed.
"Well, at least he didn't go to jail!" I remarked, pouring us both stiff drinks.
"I know, but his big debut..."
"The management said the repairs will only take a week...and they promised he'd be invited to perform again...in five or ten years..."
"Why, look who's waiting for us! CLEMMIE!" The monkey entered the room, and gave Benita a big hug...while winking at me! Benita laughed, enjoying the simian's affection, and as the monkey jumped off her, and waddled to me, she said, sweetly, "Aren't we lucky to have such a devoted pet?"
"Yes," I muttered, "How did we get so lucky?"
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!