Re: THE LIFE OF DOLORES HAYES.
The Penthouse Apartment,
30 W 70th St. N.Y., N.Y.
To Augustus Merkin, President/C.O.E., Alpha/Betta/Delta Books
I gather, from the panic in his voice, that you asked Floyd to
find out how the Dolores Hayes opus was coming along. Before you
withdraw your advance or rattle your writ, herewith preface and
specimen chapter, plus the early blurb to catch the catalogue.
This is going to be a hum-dinger, if you want my totally biassed
opinion. My bet is you’ll be making it your stack-’em-hi Big One
for the Fall. It has everything, and that’s not all.
LO AND BEHOLD!
by Dolores Hayes (with Katie Kite).
The long-awaited autobiography of one of the most enigmatic, probably
best-loved, certainly most loved stars of the modern screen:
"Marlene Dietrich without ze knotty vowels and with legs
longer and shapelier than any poppola Coppola crapola," once
gushed K.T., the witty English critic who seldom gushed twice.
Up to now, Dolores Hayes has always been extremely reticent, but
award-winning authoress and syndicated columnist Katie
Kite has succeeded in turning the key in Lady Lo’s lock. And how!
For the first time, we learn what really happened between Lo and
"Uncle Louis" in those tumultuous Hollywoo days when
she was under con trick at Metro. We hear how come she plummeted
to stardom in Hummingbird, The Musical That Never Was.
She comes clean on that mysterious first marriage to Dick Schiller,
Alaska’s pet poet who dove in and joined the whales at the false
news of Dolores’ death in childbirth. She is refreshingly explicit
on her hurricane-farce relationship with Worn Baity which blew
itself out (or did it?!) only when she married Nubar "Boom-Boom"
Gemujian, the Texan steal magnate and Olympic deckathlete. B.B.’s
broken neck, after a trampoline tussle, at the hands – four or
six, shall we ever really know? – of the Tarlo triplets left Dolores
a widow with a king’s ransom in heirloom throw-rugs alone.
Later, we travel first-class behind the scenes (and into the flies)
in swinging and roundabouting London, where Dolores inspired
Barry Quint’s quantum leap into designer legend with the See-Through
Dress That Never Was! We discover how she co-created Cunnin’,
the best-smelling perfume, and where exactly Dolores was
when slalom legend Matto Massimo went through one gate too many,
too fast at Kloucesters. Oh and mush, mush more!
Lo and Behold! is not for the blissful hypocrite. It is
a story of success and failure, of ups and downs, of loves (and
truly adorable puppy dogs) lost and found. Above all, we find
out that, even if Dolores Hayes still looks like a woman a third
her age, her one regret is that too many people called her sweetheart
and no one ever yet called her Mom and meant it.
Katie Kite’s In Person Preface
Traditional, see-through ghosts clank chains as they re-enact
the deaths of kings. I am a modern ghost who collects sexy stories
of the lives of kinks. Other ghosts walk the bloody tower, their
heads underneath their arms; Katie is happy to walk off with her
subject’s full-face profile, first taped, then typed.
I am not a ghost who hangs around in ruined choirs. I much
prefer what Dolores Hayes offered, and abundantly: superb French
Riviera hospitality topped with the crème fraîche
of total honesty! From the moment when her ornamental gates parted
inwards, at the shy whisper of my name, to disclose heavenly bushes,
plush gushes of bougainvillea ("Give me purple and
red, I told them, and to hell with taste") and a curvaceous
vista mounting, oh so sensuously, to a front door guarded with
antique Grecian pillars – from the Temple of Venus, s’il vous
plaît – I knew that Miss Dolores Hayes was going to
be one of this author’s very special people. A villa like Les
Roches Roses, if its like there be, with its God-knows-what-it-cost
graded Cararra marble terrace overlooking a Mediterranean view
which only the most blasé could overlook, provided
the idyllic setting for memorable al fresco sessions that
combined fascinating work with pure, pure one-on-one pleasure.
The public can always rely on my books to come richly truffled
with a fat sliver of photographs. Thanks to its subject’s unrivalled
albums, Lo and Behold! will in no way disappoint them. They
will not only enjoy the full-color contrast of seeing today’s
baldies and biddies when they were yesteryear’s baddies and buddies,
but they can also revel in the unpublished – blue-noses will say
unpublishable! – stills from the early, earthy, never publicly
projected Gee-Gee. Straight-laced equestrians may baulk,
but I am with Dolores: we both believe that we owe it to history
to leave the frolicking sweethearts unexpurgated. "Let the
chippies fall where they lay," as Lo put it. "After
all, check out Botticello."
Yes, Dolores has lived an art-loving and sophisticated life, but
never fear, all you who lose heart at the sight of a third syllable.
If you – like me! – tend to reach for the remote at the hint of
a foreign language, calmez-vous! My breakfast serials are
always edited to go down digestibly. Gals who live by syndication
can be relied on for an unfancy prose style.
Before I slip into the more comfortable third person, I must go
public on undying gratitude to my agent, Floyd ("I’m not
at my desk right now") Austin. Plus, where would I have been
without the literal fountain of information anent the superstar’s
Ramsdale schooldays supplied by Marguerite Byron (no relation
of the poet, she confesses, nor – alas! – of the quarterback!)?
From her Palm Beach wheelchair, Louise Windmuller (finalist at
Flashing Meadow, 1960 – oh that cruel, cruel net-cord at match
point, Louise!) found time, and neck-braced courage, to remember
Dolores the demon of the courts. She gave me her two-fisted, back-handed
view of Dolly Hayes-Robillo’s disqualification at Sydney in 1961,
which ended her tennis career in taboo-breaking words and tearful
controversy. What really happened later in the Gwen Fairplay
Memorial Locker-room Complex? Like the trouper she is, Dolores
swears that her racket flew out of her hand because of perspiration
on the handle. Would she ever have deliberately fractured Louise’s
skull in as many as two places? The overly-publicised occasion,
in Major Key, Fla. 81171, when she pushed over an umpire’s chair
was – Dolores swears again – completely inadvertent. The way she
tells it, she tripped over her opponent’s outstretched ankle as
the gals changed ends. It was a pure, pure coincidence that both
incidents involved "that prize bitch Louise Windmuller".
There are two sides to every net, remember.
Thanks are due to the Humming Bird Animal Orphanage, in Little
Zembla, Colo. 71635, whose simply outstanding benefactress Dolores
has been (up to 5% of the royalties from her best-loved
hits with the group Suck go directly to the Foundation).
Irving Flashman, the film critic who has been Philippines-based
ever since he skipped bail on that controversial statutory rape
charge (C-cupped Belle Ann looked eighteen going on thirty-five
and promised she was twice married), took me through every
single out-take in the whole of Dolores’ movie career, and assessed
her very unique achievement in pithy detail. (Irv reiterated that
circuit-Judge G. Rodias’ own personal life had a question mark
or two to contend with, stretching back to 1956.) Oleg Sherva,
John Shade Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Local Journalism
in the University of Red Rock, unzipped his unique collection
of press releases and also helped me, with rope and piton, to
surmount the pinnacle of the eponymous rock from which, by a macabre
coincidence, Dolores’ third husband, two-time studio head Harry
"Beat it" Carry, plunged to his tragic death, when –
by yet another coincidental twist of fate, of which more anon
– he was literally flattened into the macadam by the (eight) wheels
of a Get Lucky icecream truck. The usually slow driver – Jehu
Johnson, 32 – was rushing the Flavor of the Week (Macadamia Raspberry
Sensation, didn’t it have to be?) to a Get Lucky outlet right
on campus. My investigation of company records establishes that
they were short of sugar cones too, but that need not concern
us directly here.
What can I say that he does not deserve to hear about Dr B. Boyd,
who has devoted much of his life to clocking Dolores’ life, second
by second, with awesome, adulatory accuracy? The man is evidently
nuts. I have likewise benefited from reminiscences, short and
not so short, of working (and playing!) with Dolores Hayes from
fellow-stars Tony Quim, Greg "Quick" Puck, Worn Baity.
Diane Kitten, Megan Rye, Sophie Morceau, Mob Bitchum, Jilly "Hank"
Collins and Dawn Patrol; I talked, often in spectacular homes
where telephones never stopped ringing, to directors Willy "Ernst"
Bilder, Manley Dunnin, Ellen Peculiar, Jo-Ann Scheissinger and
Clove "Turkey" Dinner. To one and all, I send a big,
big thank you; their mistakes are, of course, all mine.
(Start checking on releases, clearances etc., Gusset, OK? – K.K.)
LO AND BEHOLD!
Being the Life and Times of Dolores Hayes, as told to Katie Kite.
Beginning at the beginning is not that easy, because since when
does anything start there? At what point did I truly begin to
be – or think of myself as – Dolores Hayes? Mom always called
me "Lo", unless she called me other things. I
was a pretty ordinary little girl, sometimes pretty, more often
ornery. Either way, I was being something I wasn’t really:
I was always like experimenting, from as far back as I
can remember. My life has been a search, lonelier than people
sometimes imagine, for an identity that is truly my size (my favorite
cooturiers will tell you that I still bridle at a tight sleeve).
Does that explain why my closets are full of dresses and things
I seldom wear more than once? (No, carissimo Tonino, I
am not being snitty about you!) Isn’t an actress someone who feels
happier and more comfortable being someone else? My semi-permanent,
live-in self is only Dolores Hayes until some writer dreams me
up a better part. Pencils out, scribes!
Small town life in Ramsdale, Mass., during WW2, was safe and sweet
and, to be honest, painfully painless! The only excitement was
when some kid’s dad got wounded or killed in the Pacific or someplace.
You had to be nice to them then, even to Phyllis "Crabs"
Chatfield, which stretched my patriotism gossamer thin. Then all
of a sudden, I got lucky: my dad was killed. I cried and
cried and everybody had to console me, so I acted crying some
Dad died on the selfsame beach in Italy where Miss Conti and I
made Quattro Stagioni (released States-side as Pizza
Pie), with Nessie Bedrave and Shag Daley. The place had changed
a lot since dad was pancaked by the falling flap of a landing-craft
but it was sincerely an experience to work in a dump where pop
was a hero.
To go back to my childhood, mom was devastated all one evening
by dad’s passing. Dr Noah Backoff, the incredible shrink to whom
I owe so much, has a theory that I’ve been looking for a father
ever since – someone to live up to and punish for my original
dad leaving me without anyone to rebel against. As part of one
analytic hour, Dr Backoff once read me this poem with the line
"I hate you, daddy" in it. When he wanted my free associational
reaction, I hoed and humed.
Right in after mom became a widow she had to rent rooms. That
was how come this French professor came to live with us. He called
himself Humbert Humbert: "’um-bare ‘um-bare,"
he instructed me to say if I ever went to Paris and felt like
it, which I subsequently have many times, staying in five-star
hotels. Almost right away, Le Professeur H. was crazy about
my mom; and she was crazy about him. Was I maybe a little bit
jealous? Hum was old in places, but he had major looks and he
had travelled all over France, Italy and parts of Belgium. I also
do rate chest hair, in moderation, on men.
I realise now that Humbert was certainly using me a little bit
to make a good impression on mom, but he sure did take a lot of
trouble. Candy-bars, bed-time tales, expeditions to isolated beauty
spots? All I had to do was sit in his lap and off we went. Thanks
to Hum, mom – who seriously might have been a movie star herself,
if she had had the brakes – re-discovered herself as a beloved
and a loving woman. Hum, as he asked me to call him (instead of,
as I tended to, "’daddles"!), was very courtly. Ooh
là là, did I get a heap of French from him!
En effet and on reflection, I probably owe it to him I
homed in on Les Roches Roses. His dad once owned a hotel
right along the coat from here, which is where Hum had (or very
nearly had) this first love, Annabel, that he could never, never
get out of his mind. My mom evidently reminded him of her.
At first, Mom was reluctant to undertake a second marriage, but
H.H. said it with flowers. Truth to tell, he said it with just
about tout le bazar, and finally she yielded. I used to
lean over the bannisters (one cutey-pie, bobby-soxed leg in the
air!) to spy on them as he did his Sharle Bo-yeah. What was I?
Eleven or twelve years old, but little Miss Flat-Top always imagined
that it was her at the receiving end of his Parisian parleyvoo!
Was my weaving fantasies that Hum was in love with me maybe
the start of my learning curve as an actress? 200-an-hour Dr Backoff
hints as much.
H.H. was decidedly patient – positively heroic, in retrospect!
– in pandering to my girlish dreams that it was really little
Lo he fancied. Dr Backoff, who I still visit sometimes (his professional
insurance fortunately covered him for retirement to a sanatorium
for terminally deluded witch-doctors in St Paul de Vence), vunce
suck-chested that, in my particular case, "hunger
preceded appetite". Could that be why I am permanently unsatisfied,
even when, as I do, I have everything I could possibly want? That’s
my dear friend Princess "Fruity" Boulimia’s take
on things. I can’t deny that I have had my fair share of pleasure
from unhappiness, but there could still be someone out
there that I haven’t had yet and who would possibly give me what
I really yearn for. It could always be God. On the other hand,
I go along with St Augustine and I won’t pretend I don’t: chastity
is great, but don’t rush me.
I heard about saints, and sinners, from one of my sadly deceased
friends here on the coat, the fabulous atheistic religious author,
Grimm Gryn. In spite of his success, bangers remained his favorite
dish right to the end. I am only sorry he never wrote one of his
frightening movies for me. You could always rely on him to produce
a big part for a woman. Why did he never get that Nobel?
Am I digressing? Gallon Gallon, the pro-life philosopher and rated
poker player once told me that life is a digression. Time
flies, apparently, but it flies back and forth. I wasn’t going
to the mat with him even if we did happen to be in the gymnasium
at Ramsdale U.. We had both received honoris causa degrees.
(yes, I am entitled to be called Doctor Hayes, but forget
house calls!) For reasons only loosely connected with time, I
eventually told G.G. to take a running jump, which he did, with
incredible agility for an eighty-two-year-old Limey. He vaulted
right over the horse and succeeded in remaining rigid on landing.
He told me he still felt eighteen years old. Then he died: his
pacemaker couldn’t keep up. He fell on top of me and knocked me
out, which is how we were discovered, dead and alive respectively
(luckily for me), by Dean Redkneck. It looked as though we had
been lovers, but – believe you me – rigor mortis
is no fun to live with. My life has been undeniably glamorous,
yet persistently dogged by tragedy.
My mom was killed in an accident not long after the start of what
was, I am sure, her happier marriage. She and Hum tried so, so
hard – I could hear them if I pressed my ear to my little bo-beep
wall-paper – to give me a brother or sister, but when mom was
tragically run over by Franz Franks, a local plutokraut, in his
chauffeured limo, all that came to an end with a bump.
I guess I grew up overnight. It is not easy to admit, but for
a while I dreamed that re-widowered Hum was really interested
in waiting till he could marry me. I had to insist to him
that he think of himself, but he did everything he could to keep
me feeling that I was his special girl. How shocked he would have
been if he’d known what went through my little head sometimes!
Sadly but inevitably, however, I began to feel like a butterfly
in a gilded cage and I had to spread my wings. I hope I wasn’t
ungrateful, but the bard was right, wasn’t he? Youth’s a stuff.
Mom’s death pretty well destroyed Hum’s equilibrium. He missed
his Char-Char so much that he drove me all over America looking
for a replica. Sweet old guy, he pretended that he was doing it
to widen my horizons, which he truly did. I saw and did things
with him that regular pre-teens don’t get to do until much, much
later in their lives. Eventually, burgeoning womanhood got the
better of me. Where the hormones, there moaned I (Worn’s joke)!
So Hum and I mutually agreed together I had to make the break.
He paid from his own fortune to have me privately educated, but
books were never my bag. I was already addicted to fan-zines (as
we never called them in those drear dead Eisenhower days).
I dreamed twice-nightly of being an extra who had a star or two
pinned on her door.
Amateur dramatics was a way in, I thought, and so did Dick Schiller.
That was how I came to get pregnant for the first and -as it turned
out, to my eternal regret – only time. I was sixteen years old
and by no means equipped spiritually for motherhood. That is the
reason I decided – rightly or wrongly, I agree – to give Dick
his liberty. He had made it all too clear that, although he continued
to love me, several times a day, he had married me out of duty.
That was why, when I was grieving in the hospital, I sent him
that telegram saying that I was dead, like the baby, which was
completely true in the baby’s case. I have these narrow hips,
which are great for jeans and certain couturiers, notably carissimo
Bartolomeo, but less so for motherhood. I never remotely thought
that dear Dick would write one more memorable ten line sonnet
and then plunge into the nearest fjord. Of course I still
blame myself, but at the time I was sure that he had gone cold
on me. I found out that Dick had been iced for good when I thought
I needed to divorce him before I could marry Harry Carry for the
Right after that, I started waiting table at The Enchaunted
Shunters motel, Moses, Mo. 23747, which was built in and around
an old railroad depot. The de luxe cabanas consisted of
antique pullman cars, but – as Chuck, one of the cleaner cleaners,
told me with a chuckle – you could sure pull women in them too.
One day, in my red cap and apron, I happened, entirely by chance
(or was it, after all?), to get to deliver the speciality
Chuff-Chuff breakfast – consisting of juice-of-your-choice, cereal
ditto, three eggs over easy, coffee $8.99, plus side order
of well done bacon ($1.99) – to guess who: the one and only Clare
Quilty, playwright and show-man extraordinaire. Woo woo, we went,
on our steam-puffin’ electric trolley, and where would I be today,
if I hadn’t? Once upon another time, C.Q. had come in person to
Ramsdale to see me perform in The Strange Mushroom, one
of his now classic plays. What that man didn’t do for young people!
Right there and then in the Chatter-nougat Choo Choo car – clang,
clang, clang went the bell! – C.Q. offered me a scholarship in
his secluded Film and Dramatic Arts Academy. Thanks to him, I
caught up on a lot of things I had been missing.
That led to the very last time I saw old Hum, although I never
guessed it would be. He came, with his adorable new wife, Reeta,
to see me receive the Open Rose Bowl for my graduation performance
as Alice in A Christmas Carroll. As I had feared, without
necessarily saying anything, C.Q.’s production was way, way over
most people’s heads, including Hum’s, it seems. He went what proved,
alas, to be lastingly deranged over what he took, quite unjustifiably,
to be the maestro’s liberties with March Hare. When it was all
supposedly over, he came back with a water-pistol filled with
red ink and tried to correct Mr Q. with it. They took him away
in a straight-jacket to somewhere where he was much, much happier.
He wrote what he swore was a book about his life and loves in
America but which was, I am sorry to say, so totally obscene and
untruthful (and – being written with a water-pistol – not
always legible) that Judge G. Rodias – encore lui, as they
say – ordered it available only to pathologists.* It is a sad
thing to have to say, but poor old Hum-Hum could not stand to
see me become a woman with a woman’s needs and drives. He wanted
me to stay innocent, but what is innocence?
* I have tried with might and mayhem, and even a hint of
habeas corpus, to obtain access to the one extant transcription
of Dr Humbert Humbert’s so-called "confession", but
without any avail It is rumoured that a Japanese scholar has hacked
into the archive, but Professor I. Ku answers my E-mail only with
suggestions which would take me far from my preferred field.
In spite of the terrible mess which Hum made of the synopsis-library
at C.Q. College, I visited him at least one time during his prolonged
incarceration in what he described, unjustifiably, as his "death
cell" (in fact, he had twenty-four-hour TV available and
repro Van Go on the walls until he threw it at the staff). He
had pretty well lost it by the time we saw each other. I was already
married to Boom-Boom, and had had meliorative surgery, and all
he could find to say was, "Where oh where is my little girl?"
He missed mom that much.
I sometimes wonder whether all the attention which Hum lavished
on me, before he lost his marbles, hasn’t got something to do
with my planned adoption of an Italian orphan cabin-boy, who was
literally washed up, on the beach below Les Roches Roses,
after a yachting mishap from which he was the sole survivor. Umberto
Umberto – yes, isn’t it weird how these coincidences can
haunt your life? – is the light of my life and I hope that I shall
be able to teach him something, if not all, of what H.H. taught
me all those years ago. Umberto is certainly a willing pupil and
I am going to give him all the love he is ever going to need.
Copyright © Byronic Investments 1996/1998
This story may not be archived or distributed further without
the author’s express permission. Please read the license.
This electronic version of Lo and Behold is published by The Richmond Review
by arrangement with the author and his agents, Rogers, Coleridge & White/Literary Agency.
All rights enquiries to David Miller <[email protected]>