Chatter Culled on the Spot, or, Visiting the New Selznick Studio
Rita Jolivet in "Lest We Forget"
Reasoning that I would get to 175th Street eventually if I rode far enough, I took a surface-car on one of the avenues and kep on going until I reached 80th Street. Then, thinking that the conductor looked half-way human, I grasped my little slip of paper and one of the door-handles to steady myself and asked, "Do you go to 175th Street?"
He looked at me as if I were daffy, then muttered, "Take the Bumb-Spark Express."
I gasped like a fish and looked generally unintelligent.
"The elevated just one block over on Third Avenue," he elucidated, and stopped the car.
Up to the elevated ticket-man I trudged and said, "I want to go to 175th Street."
He handed me a ticket in return for my precious nickel and muttered, "Bumb-Spark Express."
"Oh, yes," says I, and goes out on the platform.
After I had watched three trains go by, I decided to inquire once more.
Can I get a Bumb-Spark Express here?" I soberly asked a young ticket-taker.
He grinned all over his face. "Where do you want to go?"
He grinned more than ever. "You want to go take the Bronx Park Express," he shouted in my ear. "Oh!" I said, and roared.
Catching the next train, I traveled for a t least three-quarters of an hour and finally landed in Bronx Park.
I won't bore you by telling you weird it was asking the Bronx-Parkers where 807 East 175th Street was, but at last, very disheveled, I landed at the white marble palace of my desires and entered tremblingly.
"I want to interview Constance Talmadge," I said to Mr. Curtis. (I found out that was his name after I had talked to him an hour.) He is the jovial gentleman who guards the entrance to the white-marble steps that lead to the inner sanctum.
"Why, Miss Talmadge isn't here; she has gone to Niagara Falls to do 'The Honeymooners,'" he said.
"Well," I said, "what Big Star is here?"
"Sit down," he said. "I'll see if any one is in yet."
After sundry waits at the telephone, he drew up a chair beside me.
"I'm getting hold of some one for you," he said. "Tiresome trip out here, isn't it?"
I laughed. A young girl blew in at the door and asked: "Mr North in?"
"Yes, go right up," said Mr. Curtis, and whispered to me: "Another aspirant for fame." Under her arm I had already noticed that she carried a book of Maeterlinck plays.
A young lady entered, said "Good-morning," and went upstairs.
"That is Petrova's secretary," said my friend. "Petrova won't be here until eleven. You know, somehow or other, she has the saddest face."
I said I had noticed a wistful expression in some of her pictures.
"Yes," he said, "I dont think I ever saw or heard her laugh."
"But now, there's Rita Jolivet; she's just finishing up her picture, 'Lest We Forget,' based on the sinking of the Lusitania. She's a raving beauty.
Honestly, the prettiest thing I ever saw. You know she's really the Countess De Cippico, and that reminds me of the funniest experience.
"One morning a very tall man entered carrying a large box. 'I want to take this to Miss Jolivet,' he said.
"I was very busy and ordered, 'Take it to the side entrance.'
"'Would you mind telling me where?' he said, deliberately and slowly, still holding the rather heavy box.
"'All parcels are delivered at the side entrance,' I snapped. "'You dont understand,' he said; 'I am De Cippico.'
"'Well, I can't help that,' I said impatiently. 'Take it to the rear.'
"'You dont understand,' he reiterated. 'I am De Cippico, Miss Jolivet's husband.'
"'Oh!' I gasped, and said, 'Would you mind writing it down for me. I will never make the same mistake again.'
"He did. Here it is."
Mr. Curtis reached into his desk and showed me a slip of paper with a great, sprawling "De Cippico" scrawled on it.
"Later," he continued, "I found out that he was a real, honest-to-goodness count.
"But that's nothing to the uproar that went on when Fatty Arbuckle was here. It's just comedy with them all the time. If they were going on location they would always slide down the stairs, never walk. One day there was the wildest outcry upstairs. We all rushed up and everybody was shouting, 'St. John's fallen out of the window!' When we got there we discovered that he was hanging from a cornice three stories up and laughing his head off at our anxiety. It's just natural with them; they pull off stunts like that all the time just for their own amusement.
A middle-aged man, marvelously tailored, entered the studio door at that moment. In one hand he carried a suitcase very much worn.
"Tell Mr. Kirkwood Mr. Craven is here," he commanded.
"Mr. Kirkwood is busy getting ready to go out on location," said Mr. Curtis.
"This is Craven, Craven! Did you hear? Go tell Mr. Kirkwood I am here. He expected me at ten, but I really couldn't get here at that hour."
"Well, you might go up and see Mr. North," suggested my friend, and saved the day.
Then a couple of "Passing Show" girls entered, and they also were sent up to Mr. North. Under their arms they carried their photographs.
They were followed by an old man who smiled jovially and said "Good-morning."
"I never did find out his name," said Mr. Curtis, "but he came here one day and asked me for an engagement. I felt sorry for him and sent him up to Mr. North, who just happened to need his type. Afterwards the old fellow came down to me.
"'God is good, God is good,' he kept repeating. Then he turned to me and said, 'You know something just told me to come to the studio today. God is good!'
"He's been working here ever since."
The telephone rang.
"I'm sending you up to interview Florence Reed. Good luck to you," smiled Mr. Curtis.
Then he turned me over to the tender mercies of Miss Reed's maid.
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