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Once again, the Post-Dispatch is offering buyouts. A few have refused such as vet reporter Bob Kelly. Wonder what the paper’s franchise Bill McClellan will do since it’s been rumored he’d like to retire in the summer. . .Here is a photo of a guy resembling the late Spence Jackson sent to the Vital Voice columnist Chris Andoe. The photo was included on the Scruff app on which gay people can connect with others. Jackson, as you know, took his life about a month after his boss, State Auditor Thomas Schweich, died from a self-inflicted gunshot. The Vital Voice is a publication serving the LGBT community. The Jackson lookalike remains active on the app. . .Our town will be snubbed in favor of Kansas City for The Rolling Stones summer tour. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and company will hit the stage of KC’s Arrowhead Stadium on June 27.
The icy winter came to a close, spring has sprung, the Cardinals will be coming home to win another pennant, restaurateurs even see people smiling while asked to wait for a table, newsies ask, “Why the hell was that German pilot allowed to fly?’, Opera Theater of St. Louis – the best gland opera in the world give or take a hundred – bows on May 2, much chatter about Willie’s Best – Willie Nelson’s shops that sell marijuana and about the new android keyboard for “people who’re too lazy to type” and finally, the social season of fundraisers is in full swing.
“Missed the Saturday dance. Heard they crowded the floor” – ah Duke Ellington’s fine tune. The St. Louis Crisis Nursery tuned up Saturday night with its ‘”Razzle Dazzle Ball” at the Sheraton West Port Hotel, where 600 guests bellied up $300,000 via auction/dinner. Hot items in the silent auction: Garth Brooks-signed guitar; $10k sable/mink. The Centene-sponsored event drew: Pamela and Thompson Coburn’s Bill Kuehling; Karen Evans; Stephanie Hall; KMOV’s news anchors Andre Hepkins and Emily Rau; Don and Debbie Fitzgerald; Norma Mcgehee; Ginny Lubby; Mary Powers; Larry and Janet Conners and the Nursery’s ceo DiAnn Mueller. Honorees: Don Fitzgerald, man of the year; Kara and Mike Gatto, couple of the year; Cynthia Doria, woman of the year and Shop ‘n Save, distinguished corporate citizen. The crowd partied until the sounds of cymbals beckoned them to dinner.
On this day In 1955, the late screen legend Joan Crawford became involved with Pepsi-Cola as a result of her marriage to the company’s CEO, Alfred Steele. A few years later, I became involved with her as a junior publicist for Columbia Pictures that took me on a tour with her and her entourage. There were many more encounters to come. There were tours across the country including stays at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, the Fountainbleau in Miami Beach and at our town’s Chase-Park Plaza.
We launched our first tour from her townhouse on NYC’s Sutton Place. She reluctantly consented to on-stage appearances before her films’ openings, which were followed by audience Q&A’s. I learned very early that film stars are accustomed to be in a studio sans audience and they usually cringed when doing live appearances before crowds. Crawford was a prime example. She traveled with a personal publicist, Dorothy Gardner, hairstylist, seamstress and Steele’s valet – all of whom provided a support system.
TO SAY SHE WAS SEXUALLY PROLIFIC would be an understatement as evidenced in our town. She arrived at Union Station (she deplored flying) and suddenly KMOX-TV’s Curt Ray appeared. He excused himself and bolted toward her private car. He returned 40 minutes later from the train in a mad embrace with the star. At one point, she confided about her amorous adventures with Clark Gable.
In every city, she alighted from her suite, quickly sanitized the telephone mouthpieces and wiped clean the light bulbs. At one stop, she angrily yelled, “Where’s the vodka?” – her drink of choice. (She could gulp vodka straight-up in the early mornings.) There were press luncheons in every city at which she wide-smiled and walked up to each writer with, “Hello, I’m Joan Crawford.” She demurred when asked about her days at Stephens College in Columbia. When a reporter asked her about one of her ex-husbands, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., she cringed. (Years later, I worked with Fairbanks when he appeared in a Muny production and was amazed at his acquired Brit accent since he was born and raised in L.A.) He held an attache so close you might’ve thought it was a presidential black box. (It was filled with porn.)
IN LATER YEARS as a columnist, I interviewed Caesar Romero while he was on tour to tout a cable network. Asked if he believed some of the harsh rehash in the tell-all book, “Mommie Dearest,” authored by one of Crawford’s adopted children, Christina, Romero smiled and confirmed that when he once called on Crawford, he noticed a child bound in bed. Romero was known in Hollywood as a “walker,” defined in those days as a gay person who was used to walk stars on dates.
JOAN CRAWFORD and I remained in touch through her performance in the movie, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Asked about her co-star Bette Davis, she uttered under her breath, “That bitch!”
IN THE 1960′s, I was employed by Paramount Pictures in Gotham and worked the world premiere of the movie, “Becket.” We wanted a star-filled event and got it. Crawford arrived with producer William Castle and she went somewhat unnoticed. Cuddled in a corner of the lobby at the DeMille Theater were silent screen superstars/sisters Lillian and Dorothy Gish. The Gishes appeared frightened at the teeming crowds. One of them asked me to hail a taxi for them. They also went unnoticed.
LIKE CRAWFORD’S FILM TITLE, “AUTUMN LEAVES,” how deciduous fame is.
IF YOU DARE TO TALK ABOUT THE PAST and it was great, you’d think of Dentyne and Black Jack chewing gums, Slenderella, Racing Derby at Westlake Park, the venerable Moll’s and Fred Rapp grocery stores, the Winter Garden, TV’s “64 Dollar Question,” Johnny Molina’s on north Grand, Edmond’s in south city, Holloway House and Branding Iron cafeterias in Clayton and stock car racing at Walsh Stadium.
THE GRAND, GARRICK AND WORLD THEATERS presented X-rated fare. Sportscribes Bob Burnes, Bob Broeg, Harry “Slug” Mittauer, Rich Koster and Neal Russo had overwhelming readership. There was a running feud between Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. of the P-D and KMOX’s Robert Hyland over the station’s criticism of the Serra Sculpture. Howard Baer, who spearheaded the Zoo Museum Tax Dist., was dismayed over Pulitzer’s $1,000 contribution. Olivia Skinner, Virginia Irwin, Beulah Schacht, Herb Monk, Mary Kimbrough, Florence Shinkle, Sally Bixby Defty, Shirley Althoff, Jack Rice, Dickson Terry and critic Myles Standish were platinum wordsmiths.
Evelyn West at clubs all over, Marie Velasco at the Victorian Club, Davie Bold at the Claridge, Roberta Sherwood at the Town & Country and Johnny Perkins at the Palladium on the east side were the must-see entertainers.
YOUR DOCTOR probably had an office in one of these buildings: Humboldt; Missouri Theater; Lister; University Club; Arcade; Holland or Paul Brown. Sassiety stalwarts were: Mimi Medart; Luella Sayman; Anne Desloge; Sunie Cabanne; Jeannette Rand and Rosalie Ewing.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS when background was never discussed, it was reflected.
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