Well, as most of you are aware, Johnny's 'get-together' at Bistro Gardens, last night, was actually a surprise party for Laine, to celebrate her new and improved Classic Hollywood Myspace site!
Johnny filled me in, when Benita and I arrived...Bing and he had quietly passed the word throughout Hollywood that a little affair was planned; nothing very elaborate, just a bit of "music and merriment, a cornucopia of exuberant escapades", as Bing put it (he does have a way with words!). Knowing my aversion to large parties, I had to be "hoodwinked" to get us here!
Benita found it all terribly amusing, and eventually, I found that I was actually enjoying myself, immensely. Laine is loved by everybody, and an A-list of movie stars were in attendance; Spencer Tracy actually came with Katharine Hepburn (a press 'blackout' of the event was arranged by Howard Hughes), and Clark Gable and Carole Lombard rode in with them; Bill Powell and Jean Harlow arrived right behind the foursome. Alice Faye came alone ("Phil's at Jack Benny's, keeping him there!" she laughed). Jimmy Stewart and Hank Fonda disagreed on attire, so Jimmy wore a tux, as did Fred Astaire (escorting Ginger Rogers, naturally!) Gary Cooper and Duke Wayne, just back from a hunting trip with Pappy Ford and Ernest Hemingway, each bragged of their successes; Marie Wilson was simply starstruck!
Cary Grant escorted not one, or two, but three ladies, Irene Dunne, Jean Arthur, and Grace Moore, and I don't think Irene liked the arrangement! To show you just HOW popular Laine is, Bing was actually able to convince Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck to actually appear at the SAME event...they weren't exactly cordial with one another, but Benita lined them up side-by-side for the group picture, anyway (have I mentioned my wife's wicked sense of humor?)
Rita Hayworth had two dashing 'dates', Errol Flynn and Ty Power (and wore her 'Gilda' dress); Bogie and Betty barely found a babysitter in time, and Bogie refused to 'dress up' ("This isn't a funeral!"). Greg Peck was subbing for Vincent Minnelli (who's in France shooting some film with Kirk Douglas), and he brought a very exuberant Judy Garland.
Even Garbo attended...and Jack Barrymore swooped on her, and gave her a very "Grand Hotel"-style kiss, before he even said hello!
Almost as impressive as the guests in attendance were the telegrams that had been sent by those unable to attend; Myrna Loy and Freddy March are on location, as are Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake; Bob Mitchum sent one from JAIL (he apparently has been found in possession of Marijuana); Ava Gardner is in Spain with Frank Sinatra; Deborah Kerr and Greer Garson are in England; Sarah is on vacation in Thailand (I suspect, actually doing research for Dick Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein);
Vincent Price is in Mexico, buying Aztec art with Orson Welles; Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Jeanne Crain are shooting films in New York...the list goes on and on...but EVERYBODY sent Laine a wire!
I asked Bing where Bob Hope was...He laughed, and said he was entertaining troops with Dinah Shore, Danny Kaye, and the Andrews Sisters, "...God knows where!"
So everyone was in place when June Allyson and Dick Powell brought Laine in, with the promise of "a quiet night out". I wish those of you who couldn't attend might have seen her face, when she saw all of us! I've NEVER seen a look of so much surprise and joy!
Following a delicious dinner, the evening's entertainment was unforgettable...Bing and Johnny sang first, and even coaxed Laine to the stage to join them in "Accentuate the Positive"; then Judy sang "You Made Me Love You", with Xavier Cugat and his orchestra; the sound was soon augmented by Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Harry James, Gene Krupa, and Louis Armstrong, who then did a duet with Bing ("The Birth of the Blues"), that had everyone on their feet, applauding. Alice sang "Who's Sorry Now", Dick sang "The Lullaby of Broadway", then Fred and Ginger did a romantic dance to "April in Paris"; Grace sang "Summertime", Irene sang "This Love of Mine", then joined Bing for "True Love". Even Jimmy Stewart was coaxed into playing the accordian (he isn't bad!)
Benita got everyone together for a 'group shot', and Laine concluded the evening's festivities by singing "God Bless America", which got another standing ovation!
It was truly an evening to cherish!
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!