the rat race

31 Oct

Linc and David, this one's especially for you.– but for you other guys too.

When I was writing Googie's I left out a few things re my time at EF's house.  Mainly because they weren't that exciting, I felt, or particulary savory or enhancing of EF's image — which I refuse to soil.  Also, the book was growing longer and longer…

But for a reason I will explain later, here is a piece I will now describe.  One Sunday afternoon at the house some people we know were drinking around the pool.  Flynn, Cabot, me, my then-wife Gloria, Hedda Hopper, Bob Stack, Steve Cochran (Barbara Payton may have been there, can't remember), Raoul Walsh, I want to say that Grougho  Marks was there but I'm not certain, some starlets from Warners and UI, and others.  We were playing a game of: Why is it called the X.  One example: The Rat Race.  Errol, in his cups, said because human beings were always running around crazy, biting each other, humping (my word) each other, stealing from each other, back-biting, etc, etc.  Nothing else did it like rats so that's why life was called the Rat Race.  Stack disagreed.  Said cockroaches were far worse at it, and what's more had been around millions of years longer than rats.  He, who was pretty sauced by then, said from now on he was calling life the Roach Race.  That became a challenge for EF who promptly said let's  prove it.  Let's get some rats and cockroaches and race 'em and see who's right.  So, off we went down to the stables to find rats and roaches.  Couldn't find any of the latter but there were plenty of field rats (smaller than those huge barge rats from the Continent that came over on theMayflower!!).  Errol and Cabot set up a track on the floor of the stable where they held  cockfights.  Marked lanes (think they used boards at first which didn't work and ended up using string to keep rats in line).  Well, people started betting on the races and because of drinking things weren't as controlled as they should be.  Suddenly Hedda screamed and said she'd been bitten.  She ran out screaming and everyone waited until she was out of earshot (then howled).  They were afraid of her, and Louella, as you know,because of their columns and power to hurt careers.  Gloria finally ran after her and drove her to the emergency hospital.  After that, rat racing lost its luster, EF got bored (I swear he had attention deficit problems, not called that then). and took one or two of the starlets into the house — ho ho ho — and most of us returned to the pool.  (Another problem at end, one of the dogs got loose from  Marge at the house and came down and chased the rats — which now really went fast).  That was that.

Now, why am I shedding light on this?  Because the other day I picked up a book called Hollywood Revisited by Sheilah Graham, the other gossip columnist who lived with Scott Fitzgerald.  I disliked her, she was just as vicious as Hedda and Lolly Parsons but pretend to be peaches and cream — but as I thumbed thru the book I saw some Flynn stuff.  None of it new, but to her credit some bad, some  good, pretty fair assessments — and then lo and behold, she described “my” afternoon at the rat races!  It was then I had a flashback and realized it hadn't been Hedda Hopper but Sheilah at the house that day.  My memory had failed me.  So, since the book had been marked down to nine bucks I bought it.  The few lines are on P. 258.  (There is also that photo of EF boxing with Mushy Callahan) So I got to thinking, maybe I should share it with you guys and anyone else interested in EF.  So, there you are.  Not a Day At the Races by any means, but certainly an example of The Rat Race.  Maybe it was not Groucho but Mickey Rooney.  Who was no stranger. 

I wrote this yestrday but forgot to save it and it didn't post.  So here it is again.  Sir Ivanhoe.

— ivan6gold


Posted in Main Page


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. Anonymous

    November 1, 2008 at 5:30 am

    Sir Ivan! The mind doth play tricks – or is it because it is Holloween?
    Didn't Errol continue these races for the benefit of the kids and make up names for the rats in these races?
    It seems to me that Rory Flynn mentions them in her book “The Baron Of Mulholland” and Errol printed up racing forms, too! Yes – Page 65 of her book has a copy of Smokey Flynn's GREEN SHEET for white mice racing tips!
    And lo! An illustration on this particular brochure from February 12, 1949 – shows a cartoon mouse (looks like a rat to me) with a bow tie and on his chest – yes, – the squarish question mark!
    This brochure also contains a photo of the view from Mulholland Farm with the valley below clearly visible and on each side of the photo are two resting stone Lions facing each other like bookends…

  2. Anonymous

    November 1, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Sir Ivan (and David!),
    Thanks for this reflection – yes, Errol was certainly up to all kinds of nonsense, wasn't he? Funny stuff, that, about the mice, or rats, and cockroaches.
    I have always heard that Errol and Hedda Hopper were quite good friends, Parsons less so (have you ever heard about her notrious bladder problem? She would “anoint” chairs and couches wherever she went – just like Reni Santoni in that famous Seinfeld episode!).
    From what I've heard about Sheilah Graham, she was as big a liar as Lillian Hellman – and, sadly, over the years she did Errol's memory tremendous damage.

  3. Anonymous

    November 1, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Great story…it's so wonderful to hear your first hand accounts, Sir Ivanhoe!

  4. TJR McDowell

    August 26, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Is this Steve Hayes? Steve, great to know you’re still up and Adam. I enjoyed you Googies book very much. I wrote n directed an off Broadway play called FRINGE DEATHS recently, and Barbara Payton was featured prominently in it. It chronicles the last 48 hours of her life. Was very well received. Best, Rider McDowell….