Chapter 2: BARRYMORE'S REPLY...
I arrived home from my meeting with Bugsy Siegel, both frightened, and with purpose! I knew I would have to get Jack Barrymore to take Siegel's threat seriously, but, more importantly, I knew I had to get Benita and Juliet out of harm's way!
I quickly called Bing Crosby, and cancelled our golf date (Bing laughed, and asked if I'd ever make one of our planned outings!), then I called Benita's cousin Rose, in Boston, one of my dearest friends...
"Rose, darling," I said, trying to sound more confident than I felt, "I need a favor..."
She laughed. "Anything, Ronnie, you know that!"
"Well, I need you to do something for me, and not ask me why."
"Uh, okay," she said, obviously curious. "What can I do?"
"I need you to call Benita, this afternoon, and make up some excuse to get her and Juliet to come to Boston for a week or so..."
"Ronnie! Are you cheating on her???"
"Of course not, but please, no questions!"
"Are you in trouble?"
"Okay, okay, no more questions! But I need to know, will you be joining them?"
"In a few days, I promise."
There was a pause, as Rose thought of an excuse for the trip. "I think I have something that will work."
"But you be careful, alright?"
"Always! You're an angel, thank you!"
I breathed a little easier, and next phoned Barrymore's house. Jeeves, his butler, said Jack was living in his trailer at the studio, for a few days (not surprisingly!), and asked if I had any idea why the strange men had been visiting, also asking for Jack.
"No idea," I lied, and, for the hundredth time, silently cursed both myself and Jack, for ever having anything to do with the Mob!
I drove out to the studio, then walked to Jack's trailer, where a truly weird sight greeted me...
"Colman, old chum!" Jack greeted me, a shotgun in one hand, and a bottle of liquor in the other! "Welcome to my humble fortress!"
"You certainly don't want visitors..." I said, gazing over the many variations of 'No Trespassing' signs.
"I hate salesmen," he replied, with a straight face.
"Please lower that shotgun, before you shoot me!"
"Oh! Yes, of course! It's only loaded with buckshot, anyway...it makes interesting patterns on a man's behind..." He placed the weapon against the door of the trailer.
"And you can cut out the nonsense about 'salesmen'," I said, sternly. "I just left Siegel."
Jack sighed. "I suspected as much! What did the little twerp have to say?"
"Well, he's pretty riled! Why in the world would you suggest starring his girlfriend in a horror movie?"
"Have you seen her screen test? I've seen more talent in a head of lettuce! If she wasn't pleased, let her do what every other starlet does..."
"Take acting lessons?"
"No, idiot, sleep with some casting directors!"
I decided to change the subject. "And why would you set Siegel up with a bunch of old, homely actresses?"
"I'm not a pimp! You know, Colman, the funny thing is, I slept with most of them, years ago...amazing how I improve with age, and my women just get older!"
"Well, Siegel sent me with an ultimatum...You have a week to come up with something acceptable to him...or you, Clem, and I all get...what's the expression?...'bumped off'..."
"Look, Colman, we're in the midst of a World War, with most of the humanity fighting for it's very existence; taking that into account, do you really believe I'm going to kiss the ass of some two-bit hood with a name like Bugsy? It's all a bluff..."
"Then why are you holed up, here?
"Easy access to the liquor!" Seeing I wasn't smiling, he amended the statement. "Look, his boys have already paid me a visit, and I decided they were less likely to put in another visit with a lot of people around."
I shook my head. "I don't believe that will help, honestly," I said. "I'm scared, Jack...he's using Benita and Juliet as pawns to get me to help..."
"He's bluffing," Jack said, with a crooked grin. "Get the family out of town for a few days, until he backs down! He's already called his boys off me..."
"You think so?" I replied, skeptically.
"Of course! Let me slip on a jacket, and let's take a walk..."
He picked up his shotgun, and entered his trailer, then emerged in a sports jacket, still clinging to his 'security blanket' bottle of spirits.
For all intent and purpose, it really did look like an 'average' day on the lot, as filming took place at the various sound stages.
"Does this look like the Mob is around?" Jack asked, as he unzipped his pants to answer 'nature's call'...
Then a large sandbag fell from the ceiling, smashing into the ground behind us!
I shuddered, but Jack seemed to take it in stride, as we continued our stroll...
Entering another, deserted sound stage, Jack laughed, and motioned at the solitude. "See any boogie men, Colman?"
Then a large studio light crashed between us!
"Okay," Jack admitted, "So maybe I am being targeted! But these idiots never even touch me!"
"Maybe they aren't trying to," I said. "I'm certain Siegel's just hoping to frighten you into doing what he wants."
Then a knife whooshed past, inches from Jack's face!
"Jack," I said, desperately, "You can't afford to be so blase about all this! Siegel's a pro, he'll find the chink in your armor!"
"Oh, come off it, Colman! I'm a Broadway star, a screen legend, I've been everywhere, and done things that would even make a sailor blush..."
"Siegel knows that he can't touch me, because there is no 'chink'!"
Then a bullet smashed his liquor bottle!
Jack stared at the broken bottle, tears welling up in his eyes. "How...DARE...he???" he spat, dropping it. "Losing a friend is one thing, it happens to all of us...but depriving a man of his life's blood??? What kind of fiend would do such a thing?"
"No 'chink', eh?" I said, softly.
Barrymore glared at me, for a moment, then lowered his head. "Damn the man!" he whispered.
"What do you intend to do?"
"I'll do what he wants, dammit...after the ceremony at Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater..."
Jack was scheduled to place his footprints in cement, in a major Hollywood ceremony, nine days from now.
"Wait a second, Jack, that's after the deadline..."
"So what? I'm a busy man, he'll have to wait until I'm ready...what's he going to do, put a horse's head under my blanket?"
I shook my head, skeptically. "When it comes to Siegel," I said, pessimistically, "Who knows?"
Next: BARRYMORE IN CEMENT!
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!