Quote of the Day: Blackmail

No angel

*Many many people seem to be coming here for stuff on Mae West, which is nice. But I wrote a piece about her here that might be more what you’re after…

Mae West was being blackmailed. The special investigator for the Los Angeles district attorney’s office didn’t seem to be able to catch the blackmailer. One of the reasons for this was that he was the blackmailer.”

~ from Growing Up In Hollywood by Robert Parrish.

A literally incredible story from Parrish’s joyous autobio, recounting his Hollywood experiences as child player, extra, boy detective, editor and director. This chapter features not only West and the D.A.’s office, but Busby Berkeley, Al Jolson (who saves the day), and Warners’ studio cop Blaney Matthews:

“The year before he had been the chief investigator for the district attorney’s office and assigned to a drunk driving, hit-and-run manslaughter case. A famous, talented and, at that time, irreplaceable dance director [I think we know who] was the driver of the death car [I’ve always loved that expression, “death car”. It has an ominous sound, far more so than “death scooter”, for instance]. He was also in the middle of shooting one of Warner Brothers’ most expensive musicals. When the case came up, the special investigator, Blaney Matthews, said it wasn’t the dance director’s fault after all. The dance director was acquitted and went back to directing the Warner Brothers musical. Shortly after, Matthews resigned as chief investigator for the district attorney’s office and was appointed head of the Warner Brothers Studio police department. It was well known that the appointment was in recognition of the good sense and high integrity that he had shown in the matter of the dance director.”

Parrish’s (possibly tall) tale would make a great little movie, but I don’t know who would make it.

wheel of death

3 Responses to “Quote of the Day: Blackmail”

  1. Chris B Says:

    Ahh, a suit and tie?? I prefer that hockey top he wears with ANGER plastered over it. :)

  2. I saw him in a sweater with planets knitted on it. You really have to be a filmmaker/black magician to pull that look off.

    I guess the Museum of the Moving Image in London, when it closed, returned his neon violin to him. It was liberated by Anger when he was appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He wandered into the props warehouse, saw the 50 violins and said “I want!”

    The props master refused: “Kid’ll break it!” As Anger says, he probably imagined somebody would ask for the violins again and be furious if there were only 49 left. But Anger prevailed, and now that violin is the only surviving artefact from that Busby B number,

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