Well, the gauntlet had been thrown down, and I'd embarked on a truly quixotic mission...to clear my name of the scandalous gossip that the monkey, Clementine, had 'leaked' to the press...but before I had to face this daunting task, a happy reconciliation was held...
"Oh, Ronnie, I've been such a..."
"Yes, a fool, and I've behaved so..."
"Oh, yes, Ronnie! You tried to warn me at the zoo, but I was so..."
"Will you STOP putting WORDS in my mouth??? I'm trying to..."
Benita growled, and I had to laugh! "My darling," I said, chuckling, "you have given me love, a beautiful daughter, and more happiness than any one man has a right to expect! You, I, and many others, have been pawns of that diabolical monkey...she is the villain of this farce, not you! Your intentions were always pure and honorable...And I'll love you, now and always!"
We kissed, and I felt ready to face any challenge!
Unfortunately, my lawyer friends weren't nearly as confident!
As I explained my situation and desires to them, you'd think I'd just announced my imminent suicide!
"Ronnie," my attorney, Ben Matlock, exclaimed, "Have you been slipping into Benita's cooking sherry? You can't win a libel suit, those newspapers have an army of lawyers checking every story before it hits the stand, just to cover their behinds!"
"Ben's right, Ron," my old friend, Perry Mason, concurred. "Any story those newspapers publish is always phrased in such a manner that they are nearly impossible to challenge! Even Hamilton Burger, if he were representing them, could win their case!"
"Picking on D.A.s again, Perry?" Jack McCoy laughed. "Come to New York City, sometime, and I'll break your winning streak!" We all laughed, then Jack grew serious. "As a court officer, I can't legally sit at your table for the trial, but I'd be a lot happier if you let Ben or Perry take the case! An amateur would never stand a chance against the legal talent they'll line up..."
"I know, Jack," I nodded, "but I'm the object of this smear campaign, and I simply won't hide behind lawyers, to confront them." I patted Ben's arm. "At least I'll have friends to hoist my body upon my shield after the battle!"
"I'm gettin' too old for hoisting," Ben cracked, and we all laughed, again!
The day arrived, as the sun shone down upon the L.A. Courthouse...
...and the courtroom was filled with many of my best friends...
Matlock laughed, coldly. "Well, Ronnie," he said, "You know they're takin' you seriously...at the litigant table are F. Lee Bailey, Clarence Darrow, and Johnnie Cochran!"
I heard Benita, behind me, whispering to Juliet what was going on, and I smiled. "The shepherd boy, David, faced greater odds with only a slingshot!" I replied.
"You may wish you'd just had to face Goliath when this is over," Perry said.
We received the order to rise...
"...the Honorable Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr., presiding," the Bailiff announced.
"Who represents the Plaintiff?" he asked, imperiously.
"Well, your Honor, I'm representing myself...with Ben Matlock and Perry Mason, serving as my advisors..."
"Mr. Colman," Judge Kingsfield said, "Off-the-record, I applaud your courage, but I have to warn you, you may be far out of your depth!"
I nodded, and he continued, "Who represents the Litigant?"
"Our clients and legal team are represented by Clarence Darrow, F. Lee Bailey, and Johnnie Cochran."
"Very well," he replied. "Everyone," he announced, "Please be seated."
"Ms. Megan Carter," I said, to my first witness, "can you tell the Court your story?"
"I was a reporter with the Miami Herald, and I received information that a local businessman, Michael Gallagher, had active Mob connections...After my stories were published, I discovered the information was phony, planted by the head of the Organized Crime Task Force...Gallagher sued us, won his case, and, I admit, I helped him do it!"
"Why would you help?" I asked.
"Because I believe in truth, and personal integrity...No wild flights of fantasy for me!"
Johnnie Cochran asked, "I understand, Ms. Carter, that you quit the Herald, afterward?"
"Yes," she admitted. "I went to Puerto Rico, and became a novice nun at Convent San Tanco."
"Very noble! Oh, and I hear you have a new talent!"
Carter mumbled something, and Cochran said, "Can you speak up? I didn't catch that..."
She looked uncomfortable. "Uh, I can fly, like a bird..."
"So this woman, who claims to be not prone to flights of fantasy, is now a self-proclaimed Flying Nun!"
I stood up. "I object!"
Cochran laughed, patronizingly. "Withdrawn...No further questions!"
"Mr. Lou Grant," I asked, "you are the city editor of the L.A. Tribune?"
"Yes, Mr. Colman."
"In your capacity, how do you handle stories submitted about unsubstantiated love affairs between apes and humans?"
He laughed. "I'd fire anybody who submits that kind of nonsense!"
Cochran stood, and asked, "What was your job, prior to the Tribune?"
"I was the Line Producer at WJM, in Minneapolis."
"Why did you leave?"
"I was fired."
"Weren't there stories of an affair between you and an associate producer, Mary Richards?"
"That's not what Ted Baxter claims..."
"Ted Baxter is a lame-brained, no-talent egomaniac!"
"You mean the Emmy-winning, highly respected journalist..."
"Ted Baxter is a MORON!!! He bought that award!"
"And you'd share that with the world?"
"In a heartbeat!"
"Even though it's unsubtantiated? No further questions!"
"Carl Kolchak," I asked, "Would you write stories about an ape-human affair?"
"Only if I needed a shrink and a drink!"
Darrow arose. "I understand you were fired from your job, in Las Vegas?"
"And what about Chicago, and L.A."
"I was fired from both newspapers."
"You want to know? Vampires! Werewolves! The Undead! They're EVERYWHERE, and I CATCH them...but nobody believes me!!!"
Darrow smiled. "Maybe you DO need a 'shrink and a drink'..."
"Mr. Glenn Howard," I asked, "you managed a chain of magazines through Howard Publishing?"
"Yes...the best-known was People Magazine, which I ran personally, until Time-Warner bought me out, and took over the title..."
"You've examined the tabloids...Would you have published the Colman/Clemmie stories?"
"Never! They lack class..."
F. Lee Bailey yawned, then commented, "I've been looking over a People...great piece on the government cover-up of the mating of Bigfoot and the Martian woman..."
"Jeff Dillon swore it was true!"
"Lots of 'class', there, I must say!"
"Peter Parker..." I began, "you're a photographer for the Daily Bugle...weren't you assigned to get photos of my illicit rendevous with Clementine?"
Parker laughed. "There was no rendevous! The whole Colman/Clemmie affair is totally bogus!"
"And the Bugle doesn't support 'bogus' headlines?"
From the gallery, a voice shouted out, "SPEAK FOR YOURSELF, PARKER!!! You're FIRED!!!!"
Judge Kingsfield glared at the gentleman, and asked, "Who might you be?"
"J. Jonah Jameson, editor of the Bugle! And I LOVE 'bogus'...Yellow journalism is JUST what I look for! It sells papers! Take that menace, Spider-Man..."
"You take him, Mr. Jameson...Bailiff, eject him from the Courtroom!"
"Um, that concludes my witnesses, Your Honor..."
"Very well...Mr. Darrow, your first witness?"
"I call Hedda Hopper..."
Hedda was sworn in..."Do you promise to tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help you God?"
"Why, I ALWAYS tell the truth!"
From the gallery, Errol Flynn shouted out, "In a pig's eye!"
The crowd roared, and Kingsfield banged his gavel to restore order. "Bailiff, eject Mr. Flynn!" he commanded. "One more outburst, and I'll clear the courtroom!"
Hedda recounted how she found Clemmie, on top of me, in bed at the motel...then I had an opportunity to cross-examine...
Still chuckling over Flynn's comment, I approached Hedda...
"So, Hedda, you caught us in bed, together..."
"Absolutely! I was sickened, but my responsibility as a journalist prevailed!"
"What was my state, when you caught us?"
"Why, Ronnie, I'd NEVER look...down there!"
"No, Hedda, I'm asking, was I dressed?"
"And what was I saying?"
"As I recall, something like 'ENOUGH!'"
"Is that, in your experience, what men usually say during a sexual encounter?"
"It happens to me, all the time!"
"Hmmm...No further questions..."
"Ranger Bob," I asked the next witness, "Are you certain I was...how did you put it?...Fornicating with Clementine, by the river?"
"We Rangers have excellent eyesight, Mr. Colman! I know sex when I see it!"
"Are you a qualified lifeguard?"
"Yessir, got my certificate, and everything..."
"Did you observe Clementine to be wet, when you 'found' us?"
"Then can you be certain I wasn't trying to revive her?"
"Well...I think you were reviving her a little too well, if you know what I mean..."
I stared at him. "No further questions..."
I cross-examined the next witness. "Don't you believe every individual has the right to keep certain secrets from others?"
"Well...If you put it that way..."
Darrow then examined the reporter who first broke the news of the 'Colman/Clemmie' scandal, Bob Woodward. I soon had my opportunity to question him...
"Just how did this 'story' break?"
"We...my partner, Carl Bernstein and I...had been following leads about a super-intelligent, sexually uninhibited ape for some time...we called the story 'Monkeygate'...but everything led to dead ends...then an inside source contacted me...I nicknamed her 'Apethroat'...and she filled us in on the dark conspiracy!"
"Who, exactly, was 'Apethroat'?"
"I'm not at liberty to say...reporter/source confidentiality, you know..."
"I'm afraid I do...My name can be smeared, from coast-to-coast, but the law allows my accuser the anonymity I'm denied!"
I believe Darrow and his fellow lawyers thought my fellow actors, out of fear, would rush forward to cast stones at me...but they would be disappointed!
Bailey: Mr. Barthelmess, did you, or did you not, have a brief affair with Clementine, the monkey?
Richard Barthelmess: I did not!
As he passed me, he whispered, "She wouldn't let me..."
Bette Davis was even more coy. "I really wish I could help, but ever since I played the woman with the inoperable brain tumor in 'Dark Victory', I've suffered memory lapses! Why, some mornings I even think I'm Joan Crawford...how sick is THAT?"
Marlene Dietrich: Have I known an over-sexed ape? Darling, most of my lovers have been over-sexed apes!
Darrow: Answer my QUESTION! Don't you realize we can hold you for Contempt?
Fredric March: Then we'd be EVEN, because I already hold YOU in contempt!
John Wayne: Mister, you tell me there's a Nazi fifth column in America, and I'll back you...you tell me Commies are in the film industry, and I'll point them out, gladly...but asking me to ruin Colman's career by some trumped-up story about a horny ape? Step outside, Pilgrim, and I'll give you the answer you deserve!
"Well, hasn't all this been special??? Lunch recess until 1:00...Court's adjourned!"
"Well," I said, sighing, "I think that went well!"
Ben shook his head. "They're playing with you, Ronnie! You're losing in a big way!"
Perry agreed. "They have Clemmie sequestered somewhere nearby, and I'm certain they'll call her to the stand, after lunch...As soon as she proves she's intelligent, you're finished...it won't matter whether the stories are true, or not...if she's smart enough to seduce you, the Judge will rule that all the stories have the possibility of being true...which is all that the Litigants need to prove..."
"Well," I said, glumly, "It was a good fight..."
Benita, her voice quivering, asked, "What will happen to you, Ronnie?"
I thought about it. "Well, my career will be finished...Nobody will hire a romantic leading man who has a 'thing' for simians...We'll lose the house, of course...maybe we'll have to move to England, or Europe, to live..."
Benita hissed, "All because that monkey wanted to break up our marriage, and have you!"
Juliet, listening to everything, tugged on my pants leg, and I kneeled to speak to her...
"Oh, Daddy!" she cried. "Is Clemmie going to ruin you?"
I smiled at my beautiful daughter, and lied. "Not at all! Some things are going to change, that's all...and I'll still love you!"
Ben and Perry took Benita and I aside, to go over my options, and Juliet decided on her own plan of action...Sneaking out the door, she decided to find Clem!
Children have remarkable powers of observation, and she soon spied a guarded door...and when an officer came out, carrying banana peels, she knew she'd found the right room...
When a rather voluptuous blonde distracted the guard, for a moment, Juliet slipped in!
Clemmie looked up from her bananas, as Juliet entered. *SNORT* Juliet! You aren't supposed to BE here! *SNICKER, SNICKER*
"Are you trying to break my Mommy and Daddy up?"
*CHORTLE* Of course! *SNICKER* I'd be MUCH better for Coley than *GRUNT* Piggy old Benita! *SNORT* And think of all the fun WE'D have! *SNIFF, SNIFF*
"NO!!!! You're my bestest friend, but I love my Mommy! When I was sick, she never left me...she holds me when I'm scared, and sings to me when I can't sleep...she loves my Daddy, and my Daddy loves her, and I love them BOTH! Didn't you love YOUR Mommy???"
*SNIFF, SNIFF* But, Juliet, I could...*SNORT*
"NO!!! I HATE you!"
Hearing the shouting, the guard entered the room. "Little girl," he said, "you're not allowed to be here!"
Sniffling, Juliet wiped her eyes. "I'm leaving," she mumbled, and quickly left the room.
And Clemmie stared at the door, as it closed...
A few minutes later, the case resumed, and Benita and Juliet were behind me. Juliet had tears in her eyes, but I couldn't comfort her...and Clemmie was called, as the next witness...
She opened the door to the courtroom, and stared at Juliet, for a moment...then she dropped on all fours, and began to howl! Leaping from spectator to spectator, she made an incredible jump, landing on the ceiling fan!
F. Lee Bailey turned to the Judge, nervously explaining, "I'm sure Clementine is just a bit uncomfortable with the crowd! She'll calm down, in a minute! She's VERY bright! GET DOWN HERE, CLEMENTINE!!!"
She leapt from the fan, and bounced to my shoulder, throwing her paw over my mouth. *SNORT* For Juliet! *SNORT* she whispered, then stuck her tongue in my ear!
She then leapt from my shoulder, landing on Clarence Darrow, and promptly began licking him!
"That does it," he muttered, "No more monkey trials for me!"
She then leapt to Bailey, and kissed him...
"Careful, Bailey," I said, sarcastically. "The press will write you're having an affair with her!"
Johnnie Cochran leapt to his feet. "Obviously, somebody tampered with our witness!" he shouted. "She's MUCH smarter than THIS!"
Clemmie leapt on him, and gave him her opinion...
"Don't you give me the finger, you little..." he screamed.
"MR. COCHRAN!" Judge Kingsfield warned...and Clemmie turned, and leapt upon the bench!
The two stared at each other for a long moment...then Clemmie relieved herself, on him!
Looking distinctly unhappy, Judge Kingsfield said, "After this exhibition, I can safely say that there is no way this...this simian could be the femme fatale all the stories make her out to be...therefore, I'm ruling for the Plaintiff, and want retractions of every story published, IMMEDIATELY!"
"Now, would someone please remove this ape from my bench?" With what little dignity he had left, Kingsfield left the Courtroom, returning to his chambers (to clean up, I'm certain!)
Pandemonium broke out! "YOU WON! YOU WON!" Benita shrieked, as chaos erupted!
Clemmie weaved through the crowd, to Juliet. "Thank you," Juliet said, quietly, and Clemmie shrugged, and winked...
The insanity spilled out into the corridor, leaving my lawyers, Benita, Juliet, Clemmie, and an old derelict, alone in the Courtroom, with me.
Ben shook his head. "Ronnie, that's the craziest thing I've seen in 35 years! Perry, care to join me for a drink?"
"Make it a dozen...I need them!" Perry muttered, and the lawyers left for the saloon.
I turned to Clemmie. "What can I say?" I said, humbled. "Thank you."
Suddenly the derelict ripped off a faceful of make-up, revealing JACK BARRYMORE!
"YOU UNTALENTED, UNGRATEFUL, PENNY-PINCHING, ASS-KISSING EXCUSE FOR A THESPIAN!" he screamed.
I was stunned. "What in God's name are you talking about???"
"Here I give you this uninhibited, sexy beast...and you turn her into a wimpy little do-gooder!!! What's next? A spot in some choir with blue-haired matrons????"
"Clemmie simply discovered a capacity to do good, something we all have, deep inside us!"
"Please, Colman, save me the fortune-cookie platitudes! I prefer my liquor straight, and my women randy...and Clem was just FINE the way she WAS!"
"Oh, come off it! You dumped her in the zoo!"
"That DOES it! Colman, I know you'd like me to say this will hurt ME more than it will, you, but by God, I HOPE not!"
As I hit the floor, Barrymore smiled, looked at Clemmie, and exclaimed, "Come, Clem, a bit of exercise always get my libido into high gear!" Grinning from ear to ear, Clemmie leapt upon his shoulder, and the pair left.
Benita and Juliet rushed to my side. "Ronnie," Benita exclaimed, "Are you all right?"
Groggily, I replied, "It's a far, far better thing I do...", then passed out!
THE MONKEY ON RONALD COLMAN'S BACK
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!