Last night, Benita and I hosted a small dinner party for our friend Erich, and his beautiful Denise. While the evening could be called a qualified success, I wanted to share a few details, before you read about it from Hedda or Luella!
Erich and Denise arrive for our party
The party was a small affair; besides Erich and Denise, we'd invited Bill Powell and Jean Harlow, Jack Barrymore and Errol Flynn, lovely Sarah, Freddie March, and Grace Moore (who substituted for Marlene Dietrich, and sang a selection of love songs by Brahms and Richard Strauss). Juliet was sleeping over at Glenn Ford's (his sons, the MacMurray children, and Joan Crawford's were having a children's 'pajama party'), and Benita was serving a German dish, 'Birnen, Bohnen, und Speck', in honor of our guests.
Bill and Jean in the foyer; beneath her wrap was a dazzling dress!
The evening started well; Sarah and Grace arrived early, and helped Benita on the 'finishing touches', Freddie arrived with Bill and Jean (who looked resplendent in a clinging silk cocktail dress), and Erich and Denise arrived promptly at eight. We had aperitifs, chatted about our last trip to Catalina, and Gary Cooper's invitation to join him and Rocky on a skiing trip to Sun Valley.
Sarah greets Jack, as Bill Fields chats with Clemmie, and Flynn poses...
Shortly before dinner was served, Jack Barrymore arrived, with Flynn, AND Bill Fields and Jack's monkey, Clementine! The three gentlemen were, to put it politely, 'in their cups', and Jack was dressed in a dinner jacket...and Bermuda shorts!
As I took Jack upstairs to loan him a pair of tuxedo pants, he swore he only had consumed a couple of highballs, and promised the trio would behave!
The dinner was wonderful; Benita (who acknowledged she'd been aided by Romanoff's chef, Alexi), truly outdid herself, and the German-themed menu even brought a smile from our dour Erich! Jack was charming, recounting his misadventures in Mexico with Fields, Freddie did his impressions of Sam Goldwyn (he does the tyrant dead-on!), and Bill Powell and I joked about our wigs, filming "Romola".
Freddie and beautiful Grace...
After dinner, we all adjourned to the sitting room, and Grace, accompanied by Sarah, on the piano, performed (splendidly, I must say!). Then, things became, shall we say, interesting.
After Grace finished, Jack proposed a toast to his favorite 'kraut', Kaiser Wilhelm, which did not, as you may guess, please Erich. Then Flynn, who'd been quiet all evening, began making passes at Jean. Bill Powell was, understandably, upset, and Flynn offered to settle things 'outside'. Despite my efforts to diffuse the situation, Flynn was adamant; knowing the young man had a reputation as an amateur boxer, I feared for Bill's safety...but Erich took up Flynn's challenge, and the pair squared off in the garden...and Erich decked Flynn, with one punch! (It turns out he is a superb boxer!)
Bill Fields emerged from the kitchen with Benita's pears, and juggled them for several minutes...until, attempting to both drink and juggle, the pears smashed her prize vase!
Erich and Denise had to leave, as he had an early call; I believe he had an excellent time, despite the misadventures!
Bill Powell and Jean left, and Errol turned his attentions first to Grace, and then Sarah...who, obviously starstruck by the handsome Tasmanian, left with him (David Niven called to say he drove Sarah home, this morning, from his and Errol's beach house).
Fields apologized, and offered Benita any spittoon in his mansion(!), then left, driven home by Freddie (who Jack had begun to harangue) and Grace.
Jack was becoming somewhat incoherent, and was clearly in no shape to drive, so Benita put him up in the guest cottage, for the night...
Everything seemed fine...until this morning, when Benita and I awoke, to find Clementine between us! The monkey apparently has a crush on me, something Benita does NOT find amusing!
We planned to return the monkey to Jack, in the guest cottage, but he'd already left; as soon as I finish writing, I shall return his Simian companion to Jack's home!
Truly a memorable evening!
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!