Cinema: Thorpe v. Astor

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In rebuttal. Dr. Thorpe's attorneys wheeled into action the most formidable instrument for destroying a film character by sexual innuendo that California had seen since the 1922 "Fatty" Arbuckle case. Dr. Thorpe, after the divorce, had apparently stolen a two-volume diary kept by his exwife. Its revelations, doled out day by day from his attorney's office, were as purple as the ink they were written in. "Why the hell I keep writing things down in this book I don't know," began the first instalment of what the tabloid Press promptly labeled "The Misstep Diary." "It seems to help for some reason. Then, too, Baby Marylyn some day would like to know what sort of a person her mother was and maybe she will be consoled when she makes mistakes and gets into jams to know that mother was a champion at making mistakes. I blush a little (very little) at the idea of her reading some of the stuff in this book. I have been and am such a fool." When Dr. Thorpe's Iawyers mentioned the name of John Barrymore, whom they proposed to question in connection with "statements in Miss Astor's diary," that life-worn old actor immediately reported sick in a Culver City sanitarium. However, no screen lover but a sad-eyed dramatist was cast as Miss Astor's No. 1 partner-in-sin. Browsing through Miss Astor's diary, the doctor's lawyers said they found that she had recorded experiencing a "thrilling ecstasy" in the company of George S. Kaufman (Merrily We Roll Along, Once in a Lifetime). "He fits me perfectly," stated Miss Astor, recalling, "many exquisite moments . . . twenty—count them, diary, twenty. . . . I don't see how he does it... he is perfect." In October 1935, Actress Astor admitted on the stand, she had telephoned Mr. Kaufman, whom she had not met, from a Manhattan saloon, asked him if he would care to make her acquaintance. He would and did, the upshot being that playwright and actress spent ten days together in a "snug and delightfully cozy" Manhattan apartment. Miss Astor wrote in her diary that she asked Mr. Kaufman: "How is it that you don't tell me you love me?" The worldly, 47-year-old dramatist, according to the Astor diary, replied, "Well, I'll tell you; I am not going to say I love you because I don't. I was through with love long ago."

Subpoenaed last week as he stepped from the yacht of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Producer Irving Thalberg, Playwright Kaufman made no formal comment to the Press, but was reported by friends to have torn his hair and cried "I'm being crucified —crucified!" When he failed to appear as the subpoena directed, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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