If Not for Joe Kennedy?

26 May

Questions are raised by the extract below from “Gloria Swanson: Ready for Her Closeup” regarding a possible affair between Lili and the Marquis Henri de la Felaise (James Henry Le Bailly de La Falaise, Marquis de La Coudraye) Gloria Swanson’s husband:…

Reports are that the Marquis was homesick for France and may have been looking for a French speaking mistress and wife. Perhaps that’s why he was interested in Lili. After a few years, he did divorce Gloria and immediately marry (his mistress) Constance Bennett, who, having lived in Paris many years, was fluent in French and all things French. He was quite famous in France, a WWI hero and heir to the Hennessey Brandy fortune.

Photo of Kennedy with the Marquis at Biarritz, France:…

So, was it Joe Kennedy who induced Lili to work in Hollywood?

If so, should Joe Kennedy receive any credit for paving the way for Errol to become a Hollywood star, albeit indirectly and unwittingly?

Adding to the intrigue is that Joe Kennedy may have employed Lili in Palm Beach (she lived a very short walking distance from the Kennedy Compound) to care for Lt. JFK after he was injured on PT 109. It would not be a bit surprising to me if Joe tried to get a touch or two of nursing himself from Lili. (I’d be surprised if he had not. Lili was quite a money-hunter, schemer and temptress, and JP could brag that he had Errol Flynn’s girl working under him.

Here’s a photo of WWII Nurse-in-Training Damita, with Myrna Loy:

— Gentleman Tim


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  1. Karl

    May 26, 2018 at 10:39 am

    As always, Tabloid Tim, your nose for news (especially the uniquely original and cutting edge kind) leaves this one reader, anyway, with mouth agape and having to keep re-gapping my mental sparkplugs!

    Here’s a review of the book you reference above (… ) and a most PERCEPTIVE (and complementary, of Gloria and others) comment by one of its readers:

    “Just a note about what some of the stars of Swanson’s era seem to have had in spades. You can call it “presence,” but it relied on finely-honed skills.

    Back in the ’70s the play “Butterflies Are Free” had a long Broadway run, and deep into the run I caught it with Swanson playing the over-protective mother of a blind young man. I sat in the front of the mezzanine. Swanson floated. I could hear every word she said. She moved like a gazelle. She didn’t move at all without a point, and when she did, you never quite knew how she got from one spot on stage to another, but suddenly she was right where the moment demanded she be, and every word she spoke rang like a bell, every gesture revealed character.

    It seems that something in the movie business of the silent era and the ’30s and ’40s — watchful directors? nuanced writing? — taught these women to move and speak with telling, unemphatic grace. I had a similar experience seeing Claudette Colbert onstage opposite Rex Harrison in “The Fisher King”. Colbert moved and spoke exquisitely, just as Swanson did. Ingrid Bergman did the same thing in O’Neill’s “More Stately Mansions.” From what I read in the reviews, many of today’s movie actresses simply can’t muster these kinds of artful yet artless skills when they take to the stage.”

    PS Interesting to note- I saw the play (Butterfies Are Free) back in the 70’s. The story netted “the mother” (Eileen Heckert), not only a Tony for “Best Supporting Actress in a Featured Role”, but also an Oscar (in the film version) for the Best Supporting Actress prize.

    Gloria was listed as a “replacement” in the role for it’s run. And she did but a VERY few Broadway plays.

    Still, she wanted to be in it.

    In other words, it was a CHOICE role (even as a sub), and Gloria KNEW it… she just didn’t choose business partners (and lovers?) so well.

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