Things had been peaceful at the Colman home far too long!
With the resolution of the libel suit, I was again able to focus on my career, and Benita returned to her multitude of interests...but Juliet missed her 'bestest friend', Clemmie, terribly, and, if the number of phone calls to my home were any indication, Clemmie missed our daughter, equally!
I finally gave in to the barrage of pleas from both sides. and agreed that, with proper supervision, our child and Jack Barrymore's monkey could spend a day, together...
The morning of the visit arrived, and Jack sent his Rolls and driver over to pick Juliet up...
"Be good," I ordered my beautiful daughter, "and DON'T let Clemmie draw you into any of her hair-brained schemes!"
"Oh, Daddy!" Juliet giggled, as she hopped into the Rolls, and hugged the grinning monkey. With a wave, the two friends began the day together...
"So, Clemmie," Juliet said, "what are we going to do at your house?"
*SNORT* At my HOUSE??? *SNICKER* Boring! *SNICKER* We're going to spend the day ON THE TOWN! *GIGGLE, GIGGLE*
"We're not going to do anything bad, are we?"
BAD? *GIGGLE* Not me! *CHUCKLE* Does Coley ever take you downtown?
"We go to the zoo, and out to dinner, sometimes, with Mommy..."
With piggy old Benita? *YAWN* Well, I can do better than that! *GIGGLE*
There was a broken-down stand at the foot of the hill, offering maps to the stars' homes, as well as fresh fruit. Clemmie eyed the bananas, and had the driver pull over.
*YUM YUM* *SNORT* Juliet, take this money...Can you get me a bunch of bananas? *YUM YUM*
Juliet grinned, nodded, and hopped out of the car. Running to the vendor, she asked for the fruit, then looked at the maps around the booth. "So, where do the stars live?" she asked, innocently.
"Do you know any?" he asked, then quickly corrected himself. "Oh, STARS!!! This whole area is loaded with movie stars! Why, Roy Rogers lives right up the block!"
"He does? I thought he lived at a ranch, in the valley..."
"Au contrare, little girl! And I'll let you in on a secret...He can't even ride a horse! Trick photography and stunt men! Without those get-ups and and the Sons of the Pioneeers behind him, he looks like a fish merchant from Altoona!"
"Really?" Juliet asked, wide-eyed. "What about Trigger?"
"Two guys in a horse suit!" He grinned. "You want to know about Hollywood, just ask Shemp!"
"What about Ronald Colman?"
"Who? Oh, yeah, the British guy...Oh, he CROAKED, years ago!"
"Don't you read the paper?"
"Just the Racing Forms..."
"He was just in all the papers!"
"Oh, yeah!" Shemp acknowledged. "Now I remember! He was that guy they caught foolin' around in the motel...really UGLY old broad, I recall...even uglier than my brother, Moe...well, those old has-beens...they deserved each other, I figure..."
Juliet glared at him. "That old has-been is my DADDY!" she hissed. "And this was the ugly old broad..."
"N-nice monkey!" he stammered. "You l-look more like Curly than Moe...Want a m-map?"
One punch later, Shemp was on the ground, really seeing stars!
As the Rolls pulled away, Clemmie snorted, *SNIFF, SNIFF* Ugly old broad! *SNORT* He probably hasn't had a woman since they raised their prices on the Strip! *SNORT*
Never mind! *GIGGLE*
"Look, Clemmie, it's the Hollywoodland...I mean, the Hollywood sign!"
*SNORT* They STILL blame me for THAT! *SNIFF SNIFF*
"Well, you did shoot my Daddy..."
*SNORT* I was just cleaning my gun! *GIGGLE* Besides, Asta's the one who set off the fireworks...*SNORT*...and how did they punish him? *SNORT* Doggie treats! *SNIFF, SNIFF* Ape Discrimination! *SNORT*
"Well, you did wreck this place!"
*HISS* Not me! *CHUCKLE* John Wayne and Coley started the riot! *GIGGLE, GIGGLE* I was just supporting our military! *GIGGLE* Love those sailors!
The rolls stopped at the entrance of the famous Hollywood Bowl.
*SNORT* Ever been here?*SNORT*
Juliet shook her head. "It looks pretty neat!" she said, jumping out of the car, and running down the deserted steps. Clemmie giggled and joined her, the pair hopping on and off chairs. Approaching the stage, Clemmie stopped her.
*SNIFF* Sound is funny here...lots of echoes! Yell something!
Juliet thought for a moment, then took a deep breath, and shouted, 'CALL FOR PHIL-LIP MOR-RIS!'"
As the echoes bounced back and forth, the two friends started to giggle...then a voice replied, "I'm not Morris, but will I do, Juliet?"
It was Nelson Eddy! "Mr. Eddy," Juliet whispered, surprised, "I didn't know you were here!"
*SNORT* Me, either! *SNORT* Clemmie grunted.
"Oh, hello, Clemmie," he said, acknowledging the monkey. "Barrymore let you out?" Clem glared at him, but Juliet began to giggle, and the monkey soon joined in, as well.
"I come here, quite a bit," Eddy said, looking around. "There are ghosts, here, but friendly ones...it's a good place to sing, and dream..."
"Oh, could you sing something for me?" Juliet asked, a hopeful smile filling her face.
"Hmmm...I don't usually do requests, but your Dad is one of my best friends...Let's see...
There's a saying old, says that love is blind
Still we're often told, "seek and ye shall find"
So I'm going to seek a certain gal I've had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven't found her yet
She's the big affair I cannot forget
Only one I ever think of with regret..."
"I know that song, Mommy taught it to me!" Clem spit, but Juliet sang,
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?"
Eddy smiled, then sang the next verse...
"There's a somebody I'm longin' to see
I hope that she, turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me..."
He nodded, and Juliet sang the next verse...
"I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood
I know I could, always be good
To one who'll watch over me..."
...and from out of the shadows appeared Jeanette MacDonald! She took over the singing...
"Although he may not be the man some
Girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key
Won't you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me..."
As MacDonald fell into Eddy's arms, Clemmie tugged at Juliet's shoulder, and indicated they should leave...the pair quietly slipped away...
Juliet looked back at the couple, as she climbed into the car. "They really love each other, don't they?" she asked.
Clemmie nodded. *SNIFF* Dam' studio! *SNIFF*
As they drove into the city, Clemmie brightened, and began to dress in an elaborate outfit. *GIGGLE* Now we have some FUN! *GIGGLE* You and I are going to play a little game!
"I love games!" Juliet laughed.
*SNORT* Well, when we get into the store, repeat what I whisper to you, okay? *GIGGLE*
The pair walked into the beautiful boutique, and were quickly joined by Fifi, herself...
"Good morning...uh, ladies," she said, staring at Clemmie. "Can I help you find anything?"
Clemmie whispered in Juliet's ear, then Juliet repeated, "We're looking at six ensembles for me, and some sexy lingerie for her..."
As Fifi strode back to gather the clothing, she was joined by her partner, Min. "Those are two strange customers," she whispered. "...I swear, the one is a monkey..."
Fifi shook her head. "Ever seen a monkey dressed like that? She's gotta be foreign, that's for sure!"
With much nodding and clucking, six beautiful outfits were chosen, as well as some lacy things that made Juliet blush!
"So," Fifi said, at last, "How will you pay?"
Another quick conference between Juliet and Clem, then Juliet announced, "Bill it to our Embassy!"
"Wait a minute, I don't know what you're trying to pull, but..."
More whispering, then, "Her Majesty doesn't understand your problem...the Queen of the Pygmy Empire, confidante of Haile Selassie, spiritual leader of East Africa, doesn't like to be questioned like some commoner..."
"Mrs. Roosevelt praised your establishment quite highly, we would hate to disillusion her..."
Min tugged Fifi's sleeve, and pulled her back, away from Juliet and Clem.
"Can you believe this?" Fifi hissed.
"Fifi, I think she's legit," Min whispered. "They came in a white Rolls Royce, and we both know how eccentric Eleanor can be!" The women stared at each other...
"Just think," Fifi said, brightening, "A real Queen, shopping here...and getting recommended by the First Lady! We're going to be famous...Min, call EVERYBODY!"
Min was a one-woman phone exchange, and within minutes, it was the hottest news in Hollywood...an African Queen and her young interpretor were cruising the streets in a white Rolls Royce!
When Clemmie and Juliet stopped at the Brown Derby, crowds quickly gathered to see the hottest thing to hit Tinseltown since Mae West!
Clemmie then decided to treat Juliet to the best ice cream sundae in town, at Schwab's...
"Why are all the girls hanging around? Is it us?" Juliet asked.
*GIGGLE* Not this time! Ever since Lana Turner was 'discovered' here, in a tight sweater, every teenage girl in town stuffs her bra with tissue paper and tries to get 'discovered', here, too! *GIGGLE, GIGGLE*
Still, the appearance of the royalty in the Rolls Royce did attract attention, as they walked in...and Clemmie was every inch a Queen...until she leapt on the Schwab counter and swallowed a flying scoop of ice cream in her mouth!
Arriving in Chinatown, the community staged an impromtu parade, with the Pygmy Queen as the Grand Marshal...
*SNORT* When I'm around, it's always the Year of the Monkey! *GRUNT*
Despite all the attention, Juliet was actually relieved when Clemmie decided to visit the Studio..."We're going to get in so much trouble," she muttered.
The gate guard, recognizing Barrymore's Rolls, glanced inside the car, quickly, then waved them into the lot...
Shaking his head, he mumbled, "I think the liquor's finally done Barrymore in...that is the UGLIST old hag I ever saw...and with a kid to boot! I need to buy that chicken farm...Hollyweird is right!"
Quickly undressing, Clemmie outlined the afternoon's entertainment...*SNICKER* Now, we play a game called 'Top THIS!' *SNORT* We split up, and sneak into as many productions as we can...We meet back here in two hours, and whoever gets into the most movies, wins! *GIGGLE, GIGGLE*
"We have to s-split up?" Juliet sniffled.
*GRUNT* Just for the game...then we'll have dinner together! *GIGGLE*
Juliet would score, first...
"He's the Sheik of Araby, His Heart belongs to me..."
"Hi, Miss Faye! Hi, Miss Grable! It's me, Juliet!"
"Begging honorable officer's attention, as old Chinese saying reminds humble self...
WILL SOMEBODY GET THAT %&**!!! MONKEY OUTTA HERE??? I can't be inscrutable with IT around!!!!"
"You sho' is one fine dancin' lady, Missy!"
"Thank you, Uncle Peter!"
"Hey, Shirley, it's me, Juliet! Can I join you?"
"Hi, Juliet! How's your Mommy and Daddy?"
"Uh-oh, gotta run! Bye Shirley, bye, Mr. Robinson!"
"Give my best regards to your parents, Miss Colman."
"Yes, sir, Mr. Robinson!"
The director threw down his script. "ROBINSON!!! Get back to shuckin' and jivin', boy!"
By this point, the alarm had gone out, and security raced around the studio to apprehend the intruders...
I had arrived to sign some contracts, and asked what all the commotion was about.
"A little girl and a monkey are disrupting shooting, all over the studio!"
"Juliet and Clemmie!!! Oh, my God!!!!"
"There's a monkey humping my leg..."
"Eleven...Twelve...Thirteen...I swear, there's one kid too many..."
"Hi, Mr. Webb!"
"Juliet Benita Colman! Just what do you think you'd doing???"
"Playing a game with Clemmie!"
"With Clemmie, eh? I should have known...I love you dearly, child, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn you in...this is going to break your parents' hearts...You're in a LOT of TROUBLE..."
"Oh, Countess, my beloved, I have a secret I must tell you, if our love is to survive..."
"I have a secret, too, my darling..."
"...There is SOMETHING between my LEGS..."
"If that means what I think it does, you can forget about cocktails in my dressing room this afternoon!"
"Clem! Fancy meeting YOU there! Cocktails are back on, my dear...ah, and it's HAPPY HOUR!"
"Come to Papa with the nectar, girl!"
"MR. BARRYMORE! YOU AND THE MONKEY REPORT TO THE OFFICE, IMMEDIATELY!"
"After a quick snort..."
Although it was breaking my heart, I had to be firm with Juliet. "What you did was unforgivable...hundreds of people depend on the studio to make their livings, and when you interrupt filming, people can lose their jobs...the studio must recoup the lost money somehow...do you understand this?"
"Yes, Daddy," she replied, trying to be brave. "I'm sorry..."
"Oh, lighten up, Colman," Barrymore scowled. "Things aren't that bad, no need to scare the kid..."
"Jack, they are that bad. She can go to jail for this stunt!"
"So how bad can kid jail be? 'You've been a bad girl, no Mickey Mouse cartoons, tonight?' Jail can build character, right, Clem?"
To her credit, the monkey spat at him!
"How will I ever explain this to Benita?" I groaned.
The door swung open, and a female voice said, imperiously, "I want to see the Queen of the Pygmy Empire!"
And the First Lady, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, walked in!
"This is the funniest thing I've heard since Sam Rayburn addressed the House with his fly down!" she laughed. "Where's Clemmie?"
"No need for anybody to lie, or make up stories about Clementine being a 'dumb ape'... I believe aliens have visited our planet, I believe in extra-sensory perception, I believe in ghosts, and spirits, and things that go bump in the night...and Clemmie and I have been writing each other for years!"
"I believe in spirits, too," Jack said, solemnly.
"I'm not referring to Jack Daniels," she said, testily. "All charges are dropped."
"As much as I appreciate your gesture," I said, "I'm at a loss to know why..."
"Well, Ronald...may I call you that? Clemmie and your daughter have really done our country a great service...I'm here on the coast on a very sensitive mission, and any publicity would have defeated any chance of it's success. The hoopla Clemmie created as the Pygmy Queen took the attention off me long enough to accomplish my objective, today..."
She turned to Juliet. "I'm not saying what you did was right...you will have to return everything you 'bought'...but sometimes the wrong things can produce the right results...do you understand?"
"I-I think so..."
"Good girl! You have quite a remarkable daughter, Ronald...You must be very proud of her..."
"I am, and no prouder than I am, this moment!"
"I do ask one favor, however...I want you to kiss Clementine!"
'Oh, no, anything but that! It's disgusting!"
"It is the one thing I shall not waiver on, Ronald...Clemmie wants a kiss, and America owes her one!"
"C'mon, Colman!" Barrymore leered. "I'll never tell!"
So, yet again, this time for the good of the nation, I kissed the beast!
As we drove home from the studio, Juliet grew quiet, and I saw the little frown line in her forehead which always told me she was deep in thought...finally, in earnest, she looked at me, and said, "Daddy, I have a question..."
"Ah," I smiled, "I knew something was on your mind! What is it, darling?"
"Well, I saw a director yell at Mr. Robinson to act stupid, when I know he's really smart...Mr. Oland is supposed to be Chinese and really smart as Charlie Chan, but I speak better than he does...Tonto is as smart as the Lone Ranger, but he talks like he can't speak English very good...even Tarzan talks like a baby, even though he's really smart...
Why do movies make smart people act so dumb?"
I pulled the car to the side of the road, as I realized the answer would take some thought. "That is a very good question," I said, slowly. "I can't give you more than my personal feelings on this, but...Most people who go to the movies are white, working-class people, and they've had some very bad times, in the last couple of decades...topped off by a Depression that ruined nearly everybody, and now a war, where too many of their sons are giving their lives...they're frightened, as the world is changing, all around them, and they can't deal with it. So they try to pretend that it's the past, when they had more power, and they thought people of other races were inferior to them."
"But that's not true, is it?"
"Absolutely not! But movies cater to white audiences, so they still portray black people as slow-witted, Chinese and Native Americans as incapable to learning English, even Tarzan as being intellectually inferior to the audience...even if he is stronger, and has more common sense!"
"But that's WRONG!"
"Yes, it is...and there are many people trying to make things better, and show white people that all races are equal...Mrs. Roosevelt is one, so is my friend, Bing Crosby...but I'm afraid my generation is too set in our ways, and will always harbor long-held predjudices."
"That's so unfair!"
I smiled. "It will take another generation to change things...your generation, Juliet! When this war ends, things are going to be crazy...women are working in factories, now, and they won't want to return to being second-class 'housewives'...men of all races who fought side-by-side in the trenches as equals will not want to return to 'superior/inferior' status...issues will be raised, without resolutions that will be acceptable to my generation, who will still be controlling things...but by the time you're grown up...in the 1960s...we won't be 'running the show' any more, and you'll have your chance to make things better...What a decade that will be!"
"Oh, Daddy, do you think I really can make a difference?"
"Darling, you can do anything you set your mind to...don't ever let anyone ever tell you that you can't!"
"I love you, Daddy!"
"I love you, too, Juliet...Let's get home and see what Benita has been up to, alright?"
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!