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Thread: Mamie Van Doren's essay on penises

  1. #1
    Gold Member lucianodel's Avatar
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    Jan 2010

    Default Mamie Van Doren's essay on penises

    The Great Debate
    (Is Bigger Better?
    Or Is More than a Handful a Waste?)by
    Mamie Van Doren

    In my autobiography,"Playing the Field," I was one of the first to discuss the penis size of the men I knew. Because of that, the book caused quite a stir in its day. (I'll be re-issuing "Playing the Field" in a new, expanded Collector's Edition in 1999.) Talk show hosts, especially men, were very intimidated by a woman who frankly evaluated men the way men had evaluated women over the years—by inches. (How many times have we heard, "...And the new Miss America's measurements are 36-24-36...") I'm very happy that Steve Sullivan asked me to do this little color commentary for Glamour Girls: Then and Now, allowing me to sound off about every girl's favorite subject.I don't pretend to speak for all women. Judging from the other ladies' responses to the survey, we all differ greatly in our opinions, requirements, and desires. Diversity is everything, loves. What follows are the opinions of one woman who has, let's say, seen a few. Penis size has been, for me, one of those things that, um, comes and goes. There have been times in my life when bigger was better, and there have been times when less was more. I think that may be hard to understand if you're not vagina-equipped. Suffice to say that, over time, my tastes changed, sometimes leaning toward a lover who was not King Kong, and other times revisiting that Big Banana.This is stuff that girls really talk about, fellas. And when they do—look out! Your date last night is probably giving her friends a shrewd evaluation of your firmness, angle, size, and shape (more about that in a minute). Most likely she'll have a critique of your ability to make her come, your willingness to do so, your imagination in achieving it, and the duration of your enthusiasm for the task.
    Now...shape. I can't recall seeing any studies on this subject, but as a girl with any experience at all will tell you, there are some weird curves and contours behind those zippers out there. And some of them, no matter how suave and sexy the operator is, just don't fit that well. Okay, here's the long and short of it. Size is important, but we're talking about sex here, not calling up roto-rooter. There is such a thing as pleasure. And while a big dick can be really fun, it's not always a ticket to paradise for me. Not always.I dated a guy for some time who was really huge—we're talking major kielbasa here—a highly sexed Latin who, as luck would have it, had lots of money to go along with a really enormous penis. For a while, it was like having a new yacht or a fast car, and it was fun to take it out for a spin whenever I got a chance. But after the initial novelty wore off, it became sort of an ordeal, jousting with a dick, so to speak. He acted like he had to defeat me with the thing each time we had sex. Before long, I became bored with his game of let-me-amaze-you-with-my-wang. If anything else went wrong in the relationship (and, believe me, things started going wrong in a big hurry—he was possessive and jealous!), he assumed that he could fix it with that big tool.
    In the Survey, I said that 7 1/2 inches was the ideal size for me. What, you may ask, is the basis for such a specific measurement? It is a complicated equation, to be sure—part astrology, part East Indian Kamasutra, and part old-fashioned carpenter's tape measure. And experience. It's the Scientific Method: experimentation. Go figure. It's the right size.
    Since a lot of guys are reading this, pay close attention. If you have a BIG one, you may have quite an asset. And if you have a small one, it probably works about as well as any of them. But neither of you is necessarily toting a passport into the famous fucker hall of fame in your shorts. You still have to pay attention to the little things—attitude, humor, creativity. Guys packing the really heavy artillery may not be as creative in their love-making as some of the smaller caliber men. Often they don't need to be.
    Small guys tend to be more creative, but not always. And sometimes it's so little there's just nothing you can do. I went for an evening with a really famous muscle man (he was Mr. Universe and you'd know his name, believe me! Never mind the year.) He was very full of himself and his minor acting career, but I brought him back to my hotel room after dinner anyway and we got down to it. We necked hot and heavy, and undressed each other. I marveled at his gorgeous body as I peeled away his clothes. Until, that is, the bikini underwear came off and revealed what must have been THE WORLD'S SMALLEST PENIS! It was difficult not to laugh because it looked like a toy—just like a big one, only really teeny-tiny. I developed a headache and he had to leave, un-consummated. That's not something that's happened to me often, but, with this guy, it was his bearing of wise ass and micro phallus that put me off. You see, some small guys have an attitude too. They're cruising, cocky (so to speak), and always hitting on the next girl they see to prove that they're adequate.
    Over the past few years, there's been a lot of talk about Presidential cocksmanship. Gennifer Flowers held press conferences during the first Clinton term to say that the President was not hung much better than average. I'm reminded of a quote of Truman Capote's from "Capote: A Biography" by Gerald Clarke. Truman had stayed at Gloria Guinesses' house in Palm Beach, which shared a private beach with the nearby Kennedy compound. From the window of his guest cottage, Truman had watched Jack, Bobby, and Ted swimming nude in the surf at various times, and was later quoted as saying, "...I don't understand why everyone said the Kennedys were so sexy. I know a lot about cocks—I've seen an awful lot of them—and if you put all the Kennedys together you wouldn't have one good one." Truman must have been looking through his binoculars. Maybe it was the cold Atlantic water.
    Rock Hudson, who I recently wrote about in Bedtime Stories had a very respectably sized one. On the night I describe, Rock proved to my satisfaction that he was at least bisexual. Steve McQueen was also spectacularly outfitted, and my adventures with him and LSD are featured in a Bedtime Stories piece as well.
    My old friend, the late Forrest Tucker was rumored to have one of the biggest cocks in Hollywood. He was a tall, good-looking guy with blond hair and a great tan even in his mid-sixties, and it wouldn't have been surprising. Forrest and I were in a show back in the mid-1980's, and after a performance one night we took a limo to a Polynesian restaurant for drinks and dinner. On the ride to the restaurant, I asked him if all the rumors were true and he told me the following story.
    Forrest and another actor were drinking at Slapsy Maxy's, a famous Hollywood watering hole back in the 1940's owned by the prizefighter, Slapsy Maxy Rosenblum. On this evening everyone got pretty well oiled and there was considerable bragging about sexual exploits. It finally got down to the size of their penises. The argument got more and more serious, and by closing time, money started getting thrown on the bar and a sizable bet was made. Slapsy rummaged around under the bar and came up with a ruler, and the contestants unzipped to settle the matter then and there.
    "I pulled mine out, Mamie," Forrest told me while the limo driver strained to hear from the front seat, Aand it was between eleven and twelve. I thought I had the bet won! Then this guy who could not have been more than five feet three or four hauled his out..."
    He paused for effect. "And? And?" I asked.
    "And it hung over the end!"
    "Who was it, Forrest?" I asked.
    He grinned. "Never underestimate those short guys. It was George Raft."
    Like Kurt Vonnegut said in Breakfast of Champions, you never know who's going to get one. So it goes. No one gets to choose their penis size. If you did, I'm sure all of you would choose a big one. But its an unfair world and in the process of being born, all you guys get to play in the penis lottery. Afterward, you spend the rest of your lives playing with the penis lottery. We girls are lucky because we get to watch and reap the benefits. So take my advice and make the best of what ever tool size you got. How? By tuning in to your partner's needs and giving up some dedicated, honest love-making. What else can you do?
    The Penis Master Debate Revisited

    There has been a god awful controversy since I wrote about penis size. This is a throbbing issue among men as well as women. After printing my preference for certain, um, dimensions, I have had communiqués from disgruntled guys who fall short and fellows who, well, exceed expectations.From a German fan....
    "...I am 28 centimeters and I would like to take care of you all night long..."
    My husband whips out his handy metric conversion tool, plays with it a moment, and says, "Jesus, that's nearly eleven inches."
    "Tempting," I say. "Maybe he'll send just his penis over." "Just have him leave it on the doorstep."
    I get pictures of guys with their dicks in their hands and captions that read, "Mamie, this could all be yours." Guys jerking off in the glare of the flash. What are they thinking? I always wonder who took the pictures.
    Small guys write complaining that they're missing the boat. Not so. There's only a certain amount of pounding a girl can take from one of those anacondas. Ask Pam Anderson. No matter what a guy's size, there's a girl somewhere that will make a good fit. Truly.
    Big dicks get a lot of good press. Small ones get a lot of jokes. The same with breasts. And you can be sure that a guy with a whale-sized wang has some of the same problems as a girl with large hooters. Care and maintenance can be a drag. You can't jog, or sit down, or wear normal clothes. Oh, sure, there's always that moment of truth when you slip a hand down some guy's pants and a big, big smile spreads across your face. Just remember that day after day, year after year, he's got to carry it around and pee out of it and buy that special pouch underwear.
    Small guys, please don't come crying to me. It is not the end of the world. You've probably compensated beautifully by developing a great sense of humor or becoming a smooth lambada dancer or a skillful bridge player. Or maybe you've trained your tongue to do things not even imagined by the guys with the maxi-salamis.
    For that sacrifice, you boys who can get a dime out of a coke bottle with only your tongue, my pants are off to you.

  2. #2
    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Middle America


    ^^Now this is gossip I like to read!!
    RELIGION: Treat it like it's your genitalia. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Aug 2008


    She's nearly 90 and is still doing that sex kitten thing, which is amazing. She's clearly had plastic surgery, but she still looks human.
    "But I am very poorly today & very stupid & I hate everybody & everything." -- Charles Darwin

  4. #4
    Gold Member lucianodel's Avatar
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    Jan 2010


    I've been reading her archived website, she is definitely the one who leaves no secrets. Her Vietnam diaries are extremely sad and funny at times (when she's of service and allows a soldier to touch her breasts)...

    And her first fiance was a boxer, she was 18, he was 36 years older...

    More on sex...

    Nicky Hilton
    A recent email from a fan started me thinking about Nicky Hilton again. Sometime ago I had put a story about Nicky on the back burner. Now's the time to heat it up and let it simmer. I had written about Nicky--son of the legendary Conrad Hilton, heir to the Hilton hotel empire, and brother of Barron (who is chairman of the board of Hilton Hotels today)--in my book "Playing the Field" back in 1986. Unfortunately, the editorial concerns of my publisher, Putnam, caused me to shorten some parts of the story and omit others. Now, through the magic of the World Wide Web, where no editor can tell me what to write, the whole story.
    My first date with Nicky Hilton was arranged by the Universal publicity department chief, Al Horowitz. Al asked me to attend the premiere of "The Glenn Miller Story" but I didn't have a date. At my suggestion he called Nicky. Elizabeth Taylor had just divorced Nicky after a brief marriage and very public divorce. In a few minutes Al called back to say the date was on. My first response to just about any event is to go buy a dress. This time I picked out a strapless, slinky Ceil Chapman gown all beaded in white. I had just finished my second movie at Universal--"Yankee Pasha" with Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming--and was still getting established as a "star." Since this was my first premiere, I wanted the studio to know what a glamorous, valuable asset they had in me.
    The night sky above the Pantages theater was sliced with bright klieg lights when Nicky and I arrived for the premier. Fans crowded the sidewalks on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard, straining against the police barricades. They cheered "May--mee! May-mee!" as we walked, waving back to them, up the red carpet and into the theater. Nicky was very poised as we ran the gauntlet past the noisy fans. He waved back to the throng, but he was modest enough to let me take center stage.
    The Pantages, grand and brightly lit inside, was a roller coaster time machine ride for me. This lobby, all glittering chandeliers and movie stars now, was where I had stood not so very long ago, dressed in my little usherette's uniform and pillbox hat, showing people the way to their seats with my flashlight. It was my first job. I lied about my age because I was 14 and too young to work. Somehow they believed me, and, for a while, I got to watch every movie over and over, hiding sometimes in the shadowy alcoves of the beautifully ornate theater to avoid the customers and watch the show.
    Now, the show was me and all the rest of the movie people here to celebrate the opening of the "The Glenn Miller Story." Jimmy Stewart and June Allison--the stars of the movie--made their grand entrance and everyone began moving towards their seats. When our usherette showed us to ours, Nicky and I exchanged disbelieving looks. The seats were a half dozen rows from the screen, reminding me in no uncertain terms that I was still low on the totem pole of stars at Universal Studios.
    "Looks like maybe you said yes to the wrong starlet, Nicky," I said dejectedly.
    Nicky took my hand and squeezed it. "I'll be damned if that's so. We're going to enjoy ourselves in spite of these seats."
    He put his arm around me and said," Hell, Mamie! You're with a Hilton!"
    And we did. Nicky was the perfect date for such a gala evening. He took me home and kissed me good night.
    I came down with a terrible cold the next day from sitting in those drafty seats in that bare dress, but the studio publicity department was happy. Pictures of Nicky and me were in all the papers.
    We began seeing each other regularly after that. We went to the most exciting places in Hollywood. We often had dinner at Romanoff's, invariably greeted at the door by "Prince" Mike Romanoff himself and shown to the best table. Or we might eat at Chasen's where, on our way to Nicky's favorite table, it was not unusual to stop at Gary Cooper's table, chat with Betty Grable, or exchange greetings with Marilyn Monroe and her friend Sydney Skolsky, the Hollywood columnist.
    Nicky was a fun companion, but I quickly discovered that he drank to much. Once seated at one of his favorite star studded watering holes, he would order a drink and begin his metamorphosis. In reality he was a shy man who drank to overcome it. After he'd had a few he became happy and sociable--a marked contrast to his bashful, almost diffident attitude when he was sober.
    Here's a surprise. In the beginning of our relationship, Nicky and I did not have sex. It was pre-pill America, and there was always the risk of getting pregnant. And I didn't want to give in to his advances too quickly. It seemed to intrigue Nicky that I had not instantly fallen prey to the famed playboy Hilton charm. Before long he began acting more serious about me. That was when he took me home to meet Conrad.
    Nicky decided to take me to his father's Bel Air mansion for dinner. It was an impressive estate with giant iron gates and a long, winding driveway to the front of an ornate house the size of a Hilton hotel.
    Conrad was divorced from Nicky's mother and lived alone, attended by a house full of servants. An imposing figure of a man, broad shouldered and still tall though in his seventies, he made Nicky look small and weak. In fact, I could see in no time how thoroughly dominated Nicky was by his father.
    Throughout the evening, Conrad made a point of ignoring me. We toured the house and grounds, but it was as though I wasn't there. Nicky spoke to me in asides. Conrad showed Nicky the newly remodeled pool house and encouraged him to come back and live there. Nicky was noncomittal, aware, I believe, that living there would put him even more under his father's control.
    The three of us sat at an enormous table in the formal dining room--Conrad at one end, Nicky at the other, and me in the middle. Conrad talked to Nicky, Nicky talked to Conrad, and Nicky talked to me. When I spoke to Conrad, he answered through Nicky. It was as though we were speaking different languages and Nicky was our interpreter. Conrad belched loudly during the meal, punctuating his dialogues with Nicky with a loud, "Burrp!" As the servants cleared the table and brought glasses of port, Conrad tilted slightly in his elegant chair and from the depths of the upholstery came a deep, rumbling fart. I'm sure my mouth dropped open, but neither Hilton paid any attention. A relaxed, satisfied look came over Conrad's face. Nicky nonchalantly lit an expensive Havana cigar.
    I continued to date Nicky after that bizarre dinner, but I realized that any serious romance between us was hopeless. Conrad would always dominate his oldest son, while Nicky would always be in the double bind of wanting to prove himself and knowing he could never succeed. Besides, our lives and attitudes were oceans apart. I had gown up around too many hardworking people. My father was still getting up early and coming home late five and six days a week from his job as a heavy equipment mechanic. I was doing everything I could to make something of myself in the movie business. Nicky, in contrast, had no real job. He slept until noon, put in occasional token appearances at the Hilton corporate office, and bought a new Cadillac at least once a year. Most of his life consisted of going out every night and drinking; going to Las Vegas, gambling and drinking; going to Europe, gambling and drinking. But I continued to see him because it was, after all, fun. Until the low point came.
    Nicky and I double dated with a girlfriend of mine named Jill and an oil man named Tex who was a friend of Nicky's. We went to a party where the two men drank heavily all evening. When we left the party, Nicky suggested we all go to another party. That "party" turned out to be at Tex's apartment and there were only the four of us. Tex hustled Jill off to the bedroom and Nicky began drunkenly wrestling me onto the couch, clumsily trying to fuck me. When I struggled to get free, he tore my dress. I gave him a hard knee in the balls and stormed out of the apartment, angry and in tears, headed for Sunset Boulevard to catch a taxi. When Nicky came running frantically after me, we had a scene in the middle of the street. Lights began coming on in the neighborhood and he tried to quiet me. He apologized profusely and I ripped into him. "Nicky, you're a very spoiled man. You're so selfish you don't ignore how people feel, you're unconscious of it." I pulled at the top of my torn dress. "All this tough guy and fake party stuff doesn't make it with me. Understand?"
    He nodded contritely. "I'll buy you a new dress."
    By then, Jill was in hysterics inside the apartment. She refused to be driven home in the same car with Tex. When she quieted down, Tex stayed in the apartment while Nicky drove Jill and me home.
    The following day Nicky sent flowers and called me on the phone. When he tried to placate me, I cut him short. "I'm sure your father must have said something to you like, 'Son, you don't have to marry her to go to bed with her.' And I'll tell you something, Nicky, he's right. Only not for the reasons he thinks. I just don't see any reason why a woman shouldn't have the same rights as a man when it comes to playing the field. I like you or I wouldn't have continued seeing you after the premiere. We've had a lot of fun. We could have a lot more and let the marriage part of it take care of itself. But I'm not going to be strong-armed into bed or marriage or anything else by force or the Hilton fortune."
    Rather than go back under his father's thumb and move into the Bel Air mansion's pool house, Nicky moved into a new apartment a few weeks later. When he called and asked if we could start over, I was busy shooting "Francis Joins the WACS." When I found time to go see his new apartment, I was shocked, though Nicky was very proud of it. The decorator must have put everything in it he couldn't sell anywhere else. It was so full of 1950's gauche furnishings that you could barely find a place to sit down. And the colors were so bright it gave you a headache. Nicky's pride and joy was an enormous black-and-white television set (color was still a couple of years away) in his bedroom. We would spend hours lying in bed watching television instead of going out. On one such night we finally had sex. After sipping champagne, Nicky turned off the bedside lamp and we made love in the flickering bluish light of the TV set. From that night on we fucked often--as often as Nicky's drinking would allow. Like many heavy drinkers, he often lacked the ability to perform.
    As my career occupied more and more of my time, we eventually drifted apart. Nicky came to Las Vegas to see my show in 1957 at the Riviera. We spoke briefly back stage, but it was the distant conversation of former lovers who were now friends. We shot craps for awhile and Nicky appear to be nearly sober. The last time I saw Nicky was in 1962 at Hollywood Park race track. I was to make an appearance in the winner's circle after a race that was dedicated to me. Driving into the track I saw Nicky in the car next to me. We waved and smiled.
    In 1986 Putnam edited a line in my book to read: "Nicky was generously equipped as a lover." Today I would write instead that he had a large cock--and I would add that he was curiously unskilled in using it. Nicky was a man with little self-confidence and self-esteem. Having been the eldest son of such a remarkably successful father, he was doomed to live out his short life in Conrad's shadow. But he was likable, handsome, and, when sober, fun to be around.
    In an odd postscript to the story, my path crossed Conrad Hilton's in the Philippines in 1968. I had gone to Vietnam that year to entertain the troops and make a tour of the Far East. My plane landed at Ton Sun Nhut airfield just as the Tet offensive was getting underway. The vietcong launched an attack on the airfield, and, within minutes, my plane took off again bound for the Philippines, loaded with refugees. I was scheduled to play the Nile Club in Manilla, so that was as good a destination as any. Staying in the brand new Manilla Hilton Hotel (so new that you could hear hammers pounding throughout the day), I was having breakfast one morning when Conrad Hilton himself strode into the dining room. By then he must have been in his eighties, but he was still the same imposing figure. He sat at a table in front of me where he was beset by a gaggle of chattering young Philippino girls. Occasionally, he smiled over at me in invitation to come say hello.
    Nicky had been Conrad's favorite. He was closer to him than Barron, I believe, and had great plans for him. But Nicky was not strong. Certainly it broke Conrad's heart to know how weak Nicky was, and he did the best he could to shape his son. But all of Conrad's control was not enough. Conrad's heart would be broken again by Nicky's untimely death.
    I had just had a taste of war. I was working hard, as I always had, to make a living. And my heart had been broken by many things too. I finished my breakfast and walked out of the dining room without speaking to Conrad.

    Jeff Chandler
    Better than B
    I am amazed that Jeff Chandler is still the most underrated leading man of the Hollywood big studio era. The star of nearly 50 movies in his short life, Jeff acted opposite some of Hollywood's most famous leading ladies. He had an Oscar nomination for his role as Cochise in "Broken Arrow." Jeff was one of Universal Studio's biggest box office stars, yet he is often referred to today as a "B" movie actor. If you look at any of his nearly 50 movies, you have to wonder why.
    Jeff's path crossed mine in 1954 when I was cast as the slave girl Lilith in "Yankee Pasha." It was my second starring vehicle since my name had been changed from Joan Olander to Mamie Van Doren. (Everyone's name got changed when they came to Universal. Jeff's real name was Ira Grossel.) In a storm of excitement the year before, I had been "discovered" in a play at Ben Bard's theater in Hollywood and cast as a night club singer in "Forbidden" starring Tony Curtis and Joanne Dru, then offered a contract at Universal. Mine was the beginning of a standard career path for contract players in the big, well oiled movie machine that Universal was in those days. When scripts came along that you fit into--or maybe you didn't quite fit into--you went to work.
    Two other girls were up for the role of Lilith. One was sexy Mari Blanchard, who was an established player at Uni. The three of us tested for the role with Jeff, but he liked me the best and insisted that I play the role. The character of Lilith is a silly, pretty little chatterbox of a slave girl who is given to Jeff as a gift by the sultan, played by Lee J. Cobb. And what slave girl wouldn't have loved to be a gift to Jeff Chandler? With that big square jaw and broad shoulders, salt-and-pepper hair, what's not to love? Of course, Lilith embraces the idea with enthusiasm, putting her in jealous opposition to Rhonda Fleming's character, Roxanna, and the two have a cat fight over Jeff. (During that fight, Rhonda got into the role a bit too much and slugged me in the jaw!)
    Jeff was one of the nicest stars I ever worked with. Having seen him in so many exciting movies when I was growing up, the thought of being in the same movie with him was a real thrill. Strangely enough, Jeff in person was, well, not that much of a turn on for me. Don't get me wrong, he was every bit a movie star. But he was also a sort of fuss-budget who was curiously vulnerable.
    Now it's time to weigh in with my feelings about Esther William's autobiography. In it she writes some very unflattering things about Jeff, not the least of which is her description of coming home unexpectedly to find him dolled up in a flowered dress. I know, I know. You can't ever know what goes on in other people's bedrooms. And I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with cross dressing. God knows, women have been doing it for years. Men are just catching up. But what Esther said just sounded so...nasty. Like she was getting even for something. Not long ago I had an email from a fan who said that scene in Esther's book was nearly identical to a scene in the movie "Ed Wood." Now there's a coincidence.
    Here are some of my memories of Jeff. He was very nice to a young, inexperienced actress who was just learning the ropes of the Hollywood studio system, one of the most competitive, brutal, cruel, narrow-minded, and rewarding industries known to man or woman. He was helpful and wise and funny.
    I have written elsewhere about the infamous Universal bullet bra. It was a device designed to side step the Hayes office censors. (Yes, this was the 1950's, so often fondly remembered by so many, a time during which the movie studios timidly self censored themselves lest the powerful McCarthyites and their ilk do it for them.) The first time I wore the Bullet Bra was for Yankee Pasha. Jeff said, "Good God, Mamie! Is that all you?"
    The pressure was on Jeff for "Yankee Pasha." It was Universal's first movie in the expensive Cinemascope process, and, as one of the studio's most bankable stars, Jeff carried a huge responsibility for the movie to make money. William Goetz, the head of Universal, had told Jeff to knock off twenty pounds for "Yankee Pasha." He turned to me one day during filming and asked, "You don't think it makes my cheekbones stand out too much?"
    "Jeff, you've got the greatest cheekbones in Hollywood," I answered. "Why not show them?"
    Jeff had spent much of his career at Uni playing in costume dramas and Indian pictures. He fancied himself as a song-and-dance man, and very much wanted a shot at a musical. He took voice lessons and eventually opened in Las Vegas with a pretty good act. I had a front table opening night, and Jeff had a respectable voice and great arrangements, all of them done by an assistant musical arranger at Universal named Henry Mancini.
    The movie Jeff made after "Yankee Pasha" was a sword-and-shield picture called "Sign of the Pagan" which costarred Jack Palance. You can read elsewhere in these Bedtime Stories about how Jack turned my head.
    When Jeff finally dug in his heels and refused to do anymore Indian roles, the studio whined and cajoled, but Jeff got his way. The part of Son of Cochise went to Rock Hudson. . . who hated it.
    Jeff died at age 42, the victim of a botched operation on his back for a slipped disc. The surgeon nicked an artery and Jeff bled to death on the operating table. Like all those who die young, what he would have become as he continued to mature in Hollywood remains a mystery. Compared to some, Jeff had a less flamboyant dark side, and because of it, was less interesting. James Dean and Marilyn get their pictures on tee shirts, and are the subject of many stories, true and not. But Jeff was a better actor than he is given credit for by critics and cineastes, and he was a better person than his ex-lover Esther makes him out to be.

    Tom Jones: It's Not UnusualI was listening to Howard Stern one morning earlier this year when I caught an interview he did with Cassandra Petersen, aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Howard was pumping Cassandra, as he does all his guests, for intimate details of celebrities she had slept with when she mentioned an affair she'd had with Tom Jones. Howard pressed for details and she said that Tom was huge--that she could barely walk when they were done.
    Not long after that, Mary Wilson of the original Supremes was Howard's guest, and said in passing that she too had boinked Tom. When Howard quoted Cassandra that Tom was huge, Mary remarked, "That girl's lyin'."
    This brought to mind the different views of President Bill Clinton's penis expressed by Gennifer Flowers (kind of small) and Monica Lewinsky (really big). I suppose that one girl's Louisville slugger is another girl's fly swatter, but the facts are the facts and tape measures don't lie. I can't speak for the Presidential pecker, but I am prepared to reveal the answer to the Tom Jones conundrum.
    Some of you may not remember when Tom Jones hit the U.S. record charts. From the early 1960's Tom Jones, who was born in Wales, began making records in Britain. When I met him in 1965 he had two hits on U.S. charts: It's Not Unusual and What's New Pussycat? His onstage act was regarded as wildly sexual because of his gyrations, much like Elvis a decade or so before, and because of the obvious bulge in his pants. He was banned from television in England and looked at suspiciously by the networks in the states.
    I was working at the Latin Quarter in New York when Tom called and asked if I'd like to go out. It was the perfect combination: the sexy blonde who was too hot for tv and the sexy Welshman who was too. I said yes. I began to think about that bulge. It spoke volumes to me (as I'm sure it did to his other female fans) of the treasures that must lie beneath.
    We had a pleasant dinner somewhere and went back to my place. We made out for a while. When the time seemed right we made ready to fuck. Tom took that bulge into the bathroom to get undressed, but when he came out it was gone! Tom was not sporting a slugger, alas, but a rather unimpressive swatter. I didn't whip out a tape measure, but it must have been four or so. I made the best of it that I could. We did the nasty and parted company.
    If you've read my article in Glamour Girls: Then and Now on penis size, you know that I have a certain ideal when it comes to a man's most intimate of areas. I don't like HUGE, but I do like size. Tom and I went out once more, and I didn't turn him down at the end of the evening, but all in all, it fell short.
    And so the winner is Mary Wilson with the correct answer: it wasn't that big. And Elvira? I like to think she was being kind, or telling Howard what he wanted to hear.
    It was most certainly not unusual. Mamie doesn't lie, kids.

    Jack Palance
    The Conquering Hun

    Not long ago I saw Bob Costas being interviewed on TV, and he was asked who his most difficult interviewee was. His answer was Jack Palance. Costas had done a one-on-one interview with Palance, and throughout the interview Jack answered only in monosyllables. His reply to questions was invariably, "Yes" and "No" without further elaboration. This is hell for an interviewer. If your subject doesn't expand on his answers to your questions, even short six-minute segments can seem like a lifetime. Through his considerable skills as an interviewer, however, Costas sweated through it.When the cameras were off and Costas was breathing a sigh of relief, Palance turned to him and said, "You know, once I was driving with Marilyn Monroe in my convertible and we had a flat tire in a driving rainstorm."
    In consternation, Costas said, "Why didn't you tell me that story in the interview? What happened?"
    "I got out to change the tire as quickly as I could, and everyone stopped to help me."
    I blinked at the TV screen. Convertible? Driving rain? The memories came flooding back.
    The year was 1953. Two costume dramas were filming at the same time, both starring Jeff Chandler. One was titled "Sign of the Pagan," and it also starred Jack Palance as Attila the Hun. Jack already had a reputation as a competent movie "heavy," and he had just the kind of dark, bad-boy good looks that appealed to an innocent-looking little blonde starlet whose hormones were working overtime. The other movie was "Yankee Pasha" which would co-star Rhonda Fleming and me opposite Jeff Chandler.
    While in the makeup department in the early mornings having my own makeup done, I quickly located Jack Palance's chair. I found reasons to wander by in my costume as Lilith the harem girl while Jack was having his barbarian makeup applied. He was sexy in that Fu Manchu mustache and heavy fur costume! Without too much difficulty I managed to make myself noticed by the conquering Hun. One day as I passed his makeup chair, his makeup man handed me a note, which read: "What is your phone number, harem girl?"
    I quickly scribbled my number on it and handed it back. How could I say no?
    The fact is that I should have said just that. Jack was married with two children. For me-an up-and-coming starlet at a major studio-an affair with him was courting disaster. Any hint that I was seeing a married man would have caused a scandal. Given that the bitch-goddess of Hollywood columnists, Louella Parsons, had conceived a powerful hate for me because my manager, songwriter Jimmy McHugh, was her boyfriend, it was a terrible risk. One whif of that sort of scandal and Louella would be on me like a hyena on a crippled antelope. Or, the most vicious of the tinsel town scandal mags, "Hollywood Confidential," would have relished printing a story like that. In any case, my career would have been short-lived. I should have backed away. But I didn't. I felt lucky.
    Jack took me to dinner at a nice restaurant in Studio City near Universal Studios. After dinner we sat at the piano bar and had drinks while the piano player ran through his repertoire. Jack fancied himself as a romantic and a poet, and he loved to play the sensitive, artistic side of his personality against his tough-guy image. He asked the piano player for some moody background music and launched into a recital of Annabelle Lee. His voice was very soft, barely more than a whisper. It was hard to believe that this was the barbarian I had seen at the studio that day. He finished the poem and looked at me. As I looked back at him, I knew that I would sleep with him. The big question was where?
    Here's a little history lesson. In 1953, America-even Hollywood-was a much different place than it is today. A man and a woman could not easily register in a motel unless they actually had a marriage license. I didn't even have a fake wedding ring. And Jack Palance was much better known than I was at that time. He would have been recognized in a second, and many fans would have recognized that I was not his wife.
    We left the restaurant and went dancing at a large dance hall not far away. After dancing for a while we went to Jack's car, parked in a far, dark corner of the parking lot. Rain had begun to fall and the weather had turned cold. Whatever cold I felt from the weather outside was burned out by the heat I felt from passion inside. We plunged into each other's arms and began necking furiously. We slipped out of as many clothes as we needed to and fucked on the front seat. Thank God bucket seats had not yet become standard equipment in American cars!
    Though Jack is a big man, he handled me gently, like I was a china doll. He kissed fabulously. As we made love, he was tender and strong at all the right times. I watched the raindrops trickle down the windshield as we climaxed together.
    Jack and I dated one more time. I've forgotten now where we went, but I'm sure we ended up in the front seat of that convertible again, cramped between the arm rests on the doors like a couple of teenagers.
    When "Sign of the Pagan" was completed, Jack went on to another picture somewhere else. I finished "Yankee Pasha" and did the same. We both understood that what we had was a one- or two-night stand.
    Our paths crossed again in 1970 when I was in Madrid doing a Spaghetti Western. Jack called my hotel and said he was in town working on a movie too. He asked if I would like to go the flea market. I was working 20-hour days on my picture and was exhausted. When I told him I couldn't make it he seemed upset. We never spoke again.
    Jack became a special kind of sex symbol in his own right. Remember his one armed pushups on the stage of the Academy Awards? He has done numerous commercials, but the most memorable for me is the Mennen Skin Bracer ad. After splashing on some Skin Bracer, Jack smiles wickedly into the camera, feeling assured at being clean shaven and smelling so good.
    "Confidence!" he rasps, appearing to have swallowed the nearest canary. "It's sexy, don't you think?"
    Yep. Still is. Jack, I'd still go for a ride in your convertible-rain or shine.

    Bedtime Stories Acrhive

    Sharing Steve

    When I was very young, growing up in South Dakota, some of the first words I learned to say were, "Come up and see me some time." By the time I was in grammar school, the regular family thing when company came was: Hey, Joanie! Come in here and show us your Mae West imitation!
    I'd put my hand on my hip and vamp around a moment before delivering the line over my shoulder. Come up and see me some time.
    By the time I moved with my parents to Los Angeles during WWII, I already had my sights set on being a movie star as glamorous as Mae West. We had barely unpacked from the long trip to California before my mother spotted an article in the newspaper about a gala party and one of Hollywood's most glamorous nightclubs, the Mocambo. Right after dinner we drove over and joined the crowd waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars as they entered the club.
    Clutching a brand-new autograph book, I squeezed my way to the front of the closely packed crowd behind the barricades. My eyes popped as the stars climbed smiling and waving out of their cars and into the bright lights, past the cheering gauntlet of fans.
    Bette Davis hurried in, so small she looked like a young girl.
    A collective sigh escaped the crowd as a giant Packard limousine pulled to the curb and disgorged the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Mae West.
    Clad in a black gown with silver sequins that appeared to have been sprayed on, and with her blonde hair encircling her hair like a halo, she was escorted by an entourage of half a dozen tanned and well-built young men.
    I wanted desperately to ask for her autograph. "Go on, Jo, ask her," my mother urged, reading my mind.
    "But what if she says no?" I asked in a quavering voice.
    A strange woman nearby spoke up. "Go on, honey. She won't say no to someone as cute as you are."
    I looked from the woman's eyes to my mother's. She nodded.
    My knees shook as I slipped under the barricade and solemnly held out my autograph book and pen. "May I have your autograph, Miss West?"
    She stopped and looked down at me. Her eyes were clear, crystalline blue. Her smile was like a bank of lights.
    "Sure, sugar. What's you name?"
    "Joanie…" I managed to say through a dry throat.
    She made flourish and I heard the pen scratching on the paper. "There you go, Joanie," she said with that unmistakably throaty voice as she handed back my autograph book. She swept past with her entourage trailing in her wake.
    I looked at what she had written. "Best of luck to Joanie, a very pretty girl." I stood in the walkway looking after her until my mother pulled me back behind the barrier.
    That night before I drifted off to sleep with my autograph book tucked safely under my pillow I had definitely made up my mind. I would be a glamorous movie star just like Mae West-or nothing.
    Fast forward a couple of decades.
    I teamed up with producer/director/writer Albert Zugsmith to do a string of pictures for MGM. Among them was "The Beat Generation" in which I starred opposite a burly, rough-hewn hunk named Steve Cochran. Steve and I had a steamy on-screen chemistry that was equally matched by our off-screen chemistry.
    I was recently legally separated from bandleader Ray Anthony, and on the prowl for someone to match my raging hormones. Ray had a small role in the movie, which had been arranged before we were estranged. Steve and I launched into an affair that had the cast and crew of "Beat Generation" whispering behind their hands. No sooner would we finish a scene than we would disappear into my dressing room for a quick fuck while they set up the next shot.
    (Ray got the surprise of his life snooping around my dressing room one afternoon. When he opened the door without knocking, he found me sitting astride Steve having sex in a chair. Location never mattered much to me. If I had the urge to do someone in an elevator or a taxi or the swimming pool, that's where it happened.)
    Steve and I had dated for a short time when I found out that he was also seeing Mae West on a regular basis. Steve had been a young actor in one of Mae's Broadway shows when she "discovered" him. (Mae always had a yen for younger men. Of course, I did too.) At first he told me that they were working on a script together, but as time went on, it became clear to me that there was a good bit of other work going on too. Steve finally admitted that he and Mae had been lovers for some time.
    It has never been my style to share a lover. If someone isn't willing to be with me exclusively, I feel they should move on. But I made an exception in this case. It was, after all, Mae West.
    Hey, Joanie! Come in here and show us your Mae West imitation.
    Come up and see me some time.
    Steve explained that whenever he was called to service Mae, he had to show up with a recent (and negative) test for venereal disease. Mae always liked a man who was dark and dangerous-looking, and equipped with a large cock. Steve fit the bill perfectly.
    There was no question of romantic love with Steve. Our attraction was purely physical. So, I asked myself, do you really mind?
    The answer, of course, was no. If I ever would have participated in a menage a trois, it would have been with Steve and Mae. I was never asked.
    Mae West was the founder of the franchise. All of us who aspire to the mantle of "sex symbol" or "glamour girl" build on the foundations that Mae laid down. At a time in our history when a glimpse of a woman's ankle was thought of as maddeningly erotic, Mae was arrested for indecent behavior in a Broadway show that she wrote and produced. When the scripts she received from the studios were not up to her standards, Mae wrote her own. And at the time when she was of an age that most women sought out the rocking chair and knitting needle, Mae was strutting her stuff in Las Vegas and recording rock and roll records.
    You go girl!
    Mae has always held a special place in my heart. I was told that, of the Three M's, Mae liked Mamie the best. And she was kind enough in later years to give me cart blanche to use a song of hers in my night club act. When her long life was finally over, she had accumulated more myths, rumors, and legends than any three Hollywood stars. She lives on in our hearts and on our late movies. When I see one, I am always struck by how good, smart, and ahead of her time Mae West was. I like to think that Mae is smiling down on the rest of us carrying on in short skirts, plunging necklines, and thong bikinis. And I like to think that she is waiting for the rest of us.
    Come up and see me some time.

    Almost Love Me Tender

    There is no place like Las Vegas. It is the locus of the collective American Fantasy. It is the beginning and end of people's dreams. It is a separate dimension where time is endless, and where games and greed, shows and sex are its chief commodity. The heat in summer, the cold in winter, the glitter and sleaziness of it in all weather combine to make it a world like no other. It is the Middle-Earth of sin. I love it.

    I starred in the Latin Quarter Revue there one summer. In New York, the nightclub known as the Latin Quarter had long been world-renowned for great entertainment. Now the Las Vegas version of the Latin Quarter Review was also a hit. For me, it marked the beginning of a long and successful association with Lou Walters (papa of ABC's Barbara). I was booked for a four-week run in the show so I brought my son, Perry, and his nurse to stay with me in my suite. My husband, bandleader Ray Anthony, stayed in L.A. during the week to work on his Plymouth-sponsored television show, and returned to Vegas to spend the weekends with Perry and me.

    But, as always in Las Vegas, temptation is never far away. You may try to hide from it, but it can find you the way a drop of water finds the leak in your roof. One Thursday afternoon the phone rang, and there was a familiar deep Southern drawl. Temptation was about to make a puddle on my floor.

    "Hi, Mamie. This is Elvis Presley."
    Elvis Presley! I remembered the first time I'd seen Elvis on television. He was making an appearance on The Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey Show. We had a big color television (one of the first color sets around-Ray was a fanatic for new electronic toys) and I flipped when I saw Elvis. I was like one of the teenagers squirming and screaming in the audience as he gyrated and crooned his songs. I loved his voice and the way he looked. Ray, one of the last of the big band orchestra leaders, was becoming increasingly bitter about the growing popularity of rock 'n roll music. He stamped angrily out of the room as I squealed over Elvis. (Another time Ray and I were meeting in New York during a hiatus in our work schedules. I took a suite at the Hampshire House, expecting Ray on a midday plane the next day. Someone had given me a poster of Elvis and, thinking that he was the hottest thing I'd ever seen, I pinned it up over the bed before going to sleep that night. Ray caught an earlier plane, however, and came in the next morning while I was still sleeping. When he saw the poster over the bed, he went through the roof and made me take it down.) To me, Elvis was magic. I'd imitated him in "Untamed Youth," wiggling my hips as I sang Eddie Cochran's songs. In fact, my imitation had been so good that the movie and I drew heavy fire from the movie censors. They refused to give the film their seal of approval. (Time has healed the wound. "Untamed Youth" is now firmly entrenched as a cult classic.)

    "Well," I said, pulling myself together, "this is a surprise."

    "How're you doin', Mamie? I understand your show is great."

    "Thanks, Elvis, I'm fine. The show's a lot of fun."

    "I'd like to come see you tonight. But I'd like to be sort of incognito, okay?"

    "I'd love to have you as my guest. I'll reserve a table for you, okay?"

    "Yeah, but tell 'em it's for Mr. Smith. I don't want anyone to know it's me. I'll call you after the show, Mamie. 'Bye."
    I hung up the phone, the blood racing in my temples. Zowie! Elvis was coming to see my show! The little girl from Rowena, South Dakota had arrived.

    That night, Elvis and two other men came to the show. He arrived after the showroom had darkened, and left a few minutes before the end. Backstage, I hadn't even had a chance to get out of my gown before I heard a knock at my dressing-room door.

    "It's Elvis," the voice on the other side said. I let Elvis in while his friends waited in the hallway. Elvis was young and virile and handsome. He exuded a sort of barely-reined-in energy that immediately overheated the room, making the walls close in and the air seem thick. He wore dark pants and shirt and a dove-gray sport jacket. When I saw him in "Love Me Tender" his hair was dark blonde. Now his hair was dyed black, slicked back in a pompadour with a few locks hanging over his brow. I could have sworn I saw a hint of dark mascara on his lashes, but who cared? It was Elvis. On him it looked great. His eyes were a penetrating blue, and I was stunned by their power.

    "Great show, Mamie!" he said.

    "Thanks. I'm glad you could come."

    "Oh, I wouldn't have missed you. I saw "Untamed Youth" in Memphis and I loved it. You don't happen to have a picture you could autograph for me, do you?"

    Here was Elvis, the hottest new singer in the country, and he wanted my picture.

    "I copied your wiggle in that movie," I said as I gave him a photograph of myself.

    "Yeah? I like your wiggle better. Listen, Mamie, are you free to go with me and my friends to have a couple of drinks?"

    "I've got another show to do."

    "What about after your second show? We'll come back and get you. We'll do this town up right."

    I thought about it for all of an instant. It has never been my style to cheat on a husband. If I want to go out with someone, I'll come straight out with it and let the chips fall where they may. But Ray was in Los Angeles. How could I tell him? And he wouldn't be in until tomorrow night. And, after all, this was Elvis.


    In addition to his outward charisma, there was something shy and countrified about Elvis that was very charming and appealing. Something he knew how to use. He smiled as he turned the knob.
    "See you later."

    When Elvis opened the door, pushing and shoving people spilled into the room. The hallway outside my dressing room had quickly become a mob scene as word spread that Elvis was backstage. His friends grabbed him and formed a flying wedge to get him through the crowd.

    Elvis was alone when he picked me up after the show. Even though it was after midnight, heat radiated up from the pavement as if from an open oven as we got into his big white Cadillac. We drove with the windows down and the wind blew our hair around like blasts from the front door of Hell.

    Our first stop was the Frontier Hotel, where Elvis had worked a few months before. He insisted we stop at the long bank of dollar slot machines. With a flourish he produced a one-hundred-dollar bill and came back from the cashier's cage cradling a bucket of silver dollars in the crook of his arm.

    "When I was growing up, my whole family could've lived for a month on half this much money. Now I can afford to throw it away." He gestured toward the line of one-armed bandits.

    "C'mon, Mamie."

    We ran through the two-month's worth of silver dollars in a few minutes, laughing and whooping like a couple of kids. Elvis suggested we go see Louis Prima and Keely Smith, who were headlining at the Sahara. Afterward, we went upstairs to the Starlight Room on the roof of the Desert Inn, where we sat in a cozy corner booth and had drinks.

    Driving around later, I slipped across the Cadillac's broad front seat and into the crook of his arm. "Mamie, can I ask you something…personal?"


    "That dress you had on tonight-were you wearing anything under it?"

    I smiled demurely. "No."

    He hit the steering wheel with the heel of his hand. "I knew you weren't wearing anything under that! Damn, but you looked great up there, Mamie." He pulled me closer and added, "And you look even better here at close range."

    I had the designer Norman Norrell make copies of some of Marlene Dietrich's sensational gowns in nude-colored see-through soufflé chiffon with strategically placed beads. I was backlit on stage to make the effect of being nearly naked complete. Effect, Hell! I was.

    As Elvis barreled the Caddy through the late night traffic, the conversation turned to the movies. His ambition to become a good actor was evident in his almost child-like fascination with the business.

    "I fell in love with you when I saw you in "The All American" with Tony Curtis," he said. I just can't believe you're here with me now. Tell me, what was Tony like? He's my favorite actor. Him and James Dean."

    "Tony's a great guy. He helped me get my contract at Universal. And he's sexy. Not as sexy as present company, of course," I said, "but a very sexy guy. James Dean I met once and I went for a motorcycle ride with him." (Coming soon to the next Bedtime Story!)

    We pulled into the parking lot at the Riviera and stopped in a pool of darkness off to one side of the entrance.

    "Mamie, would you like to come back to my hotel?"

    I thought about Perry upstairs with his nurse, and Ray back in L.A.
    "No, I'd better not."

    Elvis kissed me softly but insistently. A world-class kiss. He French kissed me deeply and I responded passionately to him, barely able to hold myself back.

    "Are you sure you don't want to go back to my place?" Elvis asked with a chuckle when our lips parted.

    We necked some more. I had never been kissed with such ardor and emotion before. His hands caressed my breasts and my nipples stood out hard. My passions were about to boil over as I groped for his growing erection. I took a deep breath and pushed him gently back. "I'd better not."

    We took some deep breaths of the hot night air and straightened our clothing.

    "Whew! I've sure enjoyed the evening, Mamie. I'd like to come see your show again tomorrow night and bring some friends along. Maybe we can all go out on the town again."

    Ray was coming from L.A., but I didn't say anything.

    Who knows? I thought, maybe I can get away.

    "That sounds like fun," I said, feeling a twinge of guilt.

    We were both a little tipsy and having a great time. I was not willing to go to bed with him, but we were enjoying each other's company too much to say goodnight. As we looked through the car's windshield at the desert night, Elvis began to softly hum the melody to "Love Me Tender." We ended the night singing it together. I got into bed as the sun was coming up over the desert.

    As I pulled the drapes to block out the early morning light, I told myself halfheartedly that I was a married woman and a mother. Certainly Elvis must have known that. But there was a part of me (a warm, throbbing, unfulfilled part, for sure!) that cursed me for not succumbing to Elvis' magnetic sexuality.

    The next evening, Ray was in town, though he didn't attend the show that night. Just before I went onstage one of the showgirls ran up to me breathlessly and said: "Mamie, Elvis is in the audience again!"

    I only had time to say, "Oh, shit!" before the orchestra started playing my intro music. I walked on stage and saw Elvis with at least fifteen others at a long table next to the stage. For a moment, I completely forgot the lyrics to my opening number, "'Deed I Do." I just stood there trying to smile until the words came back to me, and the band and I caught up with each other.

    During my act the showroom was a madhouse. People in the audience constantly got up while I was singing and snapped pictures of Elvis.

    Throughout the show, Elvis' eyes seemed to send an unmistakable message to me. He came backstage again after the show and invited me to join him for drinks. I didn't want to say no, but I had not figured out what to tell Ray. I told Elvis I had to go upstairs and change.

    Ray was watching television up in the suite. I peeled out of my sweaty gown and began to freshen up. Before I had a chance to say anything to Ray, the phone rang.

    "Mamie, it's Elvis. We're all waiting for you downstairs."

    "Oh, yes," I said, trying to hide who it was from Ray.

    "Are you coming down or what?"

    "Yes, yes. I am."

    Ray asked, "Who's that?"

    "Oh, it's just a friend," I said, covering the mouthpiece. "We were going to go out for a little while."

    Ray looked at me suspiciously. "A friend? Who?" Ray grabbed the telephone out of my hand and barked into the receiver, "Who is this?" The color drained out of his face. "Elvis who?" he croaked. He listened a moment more and slammed the phone down. "Elvis Presley said he and his friends are waiting for you downstairs. What's this all about?"

    "I was going to tell you. Elvis and some of his friends invited me out to have a drink."

    Ray looked at me in astonishment. "Are you out of your mind? Mamie, you're a married woman. You've got a child right there in the other room. How can you go out with another man?"

    "We weren't going out exactly, Ray"

    "Then just what exactly were you going to do?"

    "Have a couple drinks. We might go see Louie Prima and Keely Smith at the Desert Inn-." I stopped myself just in time from saying "again."

    Ray shook his head in disbelief. He walked over to the couch and sat in front of the television. "Mamie, you go on if you want. But I promise you that if you do, I will not be here when you get back." He turned and looked over the back of the couch at me.

    I hung my head. Of course I knew that going out with Elvis was not exactly proper behavior. But most of the female half of America would've died for the chance. Elvis had the kind of magnetism that could derail a marriage. I tried to explain it to Ray. I think he understood at least a little.

    What Ray did not understand, and what I was only beginning to understand myself was that I had to have my own life, my own career. I wasn't able to be a supporting player in a script designed by and for Ray Anthony or any other man. I had to be free to live my own life, without answering to someone all the time.

    But on that night, I did not go downstairs to meet Elvis. I opted to maintain a stable married life on Ray's terms-for a while. For the time being, the field I was playing in had another set of ground rules. But I couldn't resist one parting shot.

    "Of course, if Marilyn called and asked you to come downstairs for a drink…would you go?"

    He began nervously twisting a button on his shirt.

    Fast forward to February 1971. I was invited to Las Vegas to do the Merv Griffin show, which then originated from Caesar's Palace. Elvis was opening at the International Hilton Hotel, and got a message to me at Caesar's inviting me to see his show that night. It was a gala event because Elvis was making his comeback after years of relative obscurity during the Sixties music revolution. Sonny Bono was in the audience that night too. During the show, Elvis introduced Sonny and me, and the follow-spot illuminated each of us in turn. I blew kisses to the crowd. Sonny waved a cap he was wearing. (This was in the days when people still dressed up to go out in Las Vegas. Sonny looked like he should have been selling newspapers on the corner.) Not yet the grotesquely bloated Elvis of his final comeback, it was still not the Elvis of old onstage, but his performance retained the spine-tingling energy of the early rock and roll days. His show left me with the impression that Elvis had matured as a man and a performer-an impression that was confirmed when I saw him backstage afterward.

    Sonny and I arrived backstage at almost at the same time, and we were ushered into the bar of Elvis' star-sized dressing room. Elvis came in a few moments later, a large towel wrapped around his neck.

    His familiar crooked smile was unchanged, but he was thin and pale, and there was world-weary look in his eyes as he embraced me warmly. We exchanged pecks on the cheek, and he turned to Sonny who he greeted cordially. When he tried to introduce me, Sonny turned away sullenly. At that point in the Seventies, Sonny and Cher were wildly popular and just beginning their television career. But it appeared that Sonny was in an angry snit because Elvis had greeted me first. Sonny stayed only a few moments before ducking out the door.

    Elvis excused himself and went into the other room to change. His father, Vernon, who traveled with him in the capacity of manager and confidant, showed me to a chair. While we waited for Elvis to return, Vernon and I talked about his son's comeback and career. When I complimented Elvis' show, a smile crinkled across Vernon's face. "That's mighty good to hear, Mamie. Elvis is real proud of his new show and he'd like to know how much you liked it."

    When Elvis came back into the room clad in a thick terrycloth robe, he held me at arm's length. "Mamie," he said, "you're just as pretty as ever."

    "You're looking good yourself, Elvis," I replied. "Your show was fabulous. I can't thank you enough for inviting me."

    "Thanks for coming, Mamie," he said, the exhaustion clearly etched on his face. We chatted a few minutes more before Elvis finally said, "I'd like to talk some more, Mamie, but I've got to lie down and rest before the next show. I've had a touch of the flu..."

    We embraced again, kissed lightly on the lips, and I left. Elvis couldn't have been sweeter to me. By then I was no longer under the tyranny of my marriage to Ray Anthony, but Elvis' path and mine had diverged, and there was no question of any personal involvement. We were on different roads to different places, though I like to think that he may have looked back fondly on that night as I did, as a pleasant interlude that might have taken us both to a better place.

    I left Las Vegas the next day. Back in L.A. I sent him a telegram thanking him for the evening. Looking back on the events now, it is tempting to say that the "flu" Elvis was suffering from that night may have come from the hard drugs he was just beginning to use. But he was still powerfully attractive offstage as well as on. But there was an undercurrent of sadness about him that had not been there before, and I sensed Elvis' internal struggle with forces beyond his control.

    Burt Reynolds, Briefly

    Around 1972 I was in New York to do the Tonight Show when I received a call in my room at the Pierre Hotel that had a familiar voice on the other end: Burt Reynolds. (Burt and I had a mutual friend, James Hampton, who had worked with me in a stage production of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" in Chicago. Jim told me then that Burt wanted to meet me, and I told Jim that I would like that.)
    Burt was at the height of that phase in his career. Like a lot of us, Burt's career went through stages during which he was associated with a certain public image. At this time, Burt was the dashing tough-guy leading man, the diamond in the rough sort of anti-hero hero that the cinema rediscovered in the early 1970's. Burt had also just broken new ground by appearing as a nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan and that had piqued my interest.
    After chitchatting on the phone a while, Burt asked if I'd like to come to the set of "Shamus," the movie he was shooting over in Brooklyn with Diane Cannon. He was shooting a stunt scene early the next afternoon in which he was supposed to dive though a window. "After that, I don't have any shots for the rest of the day, so we could have an early dinner and do whatever else strikes our fancy," Burt told me. I said it sounded like fun, and he said he would send a car the following morning.
    At the movie set the next day, Burt and I said a quick hello before an assistant director showed me to a seat where I would have a good view of Burt's stunt shot. Someone brought me a cup of tea and I settled into a canvas chair to wait for the excitement.
    There was a great deal of fussing about setting up Burt's stunt. And even if it looked to me like a rather minor stunt, the Star was doing his own stunt, something that has always sent a tickle up the spines of movie audiences. Burt had begun his movie career as a stuntman, so presumably he knew what he was doing. There was a final check of camera angles, sound, and a check to make sure that the ambulance crew and doctor were standing close by.
    The assistant director called for quiet and the camera rolled. The set hushed and the director called, "Action!"
    Burt took a running start and launched himself through the glassed upper half of a door. He crashed through on the side facing the camera, did a quick little roll when he hit the ground, and bounced up onto his feet.
    The set broke into applause and cheers. Burt smoothed his hair and grinned at everyone. He came over to my chair.
    "What did you think, Mamie?" he asked
    "Terrific, Burt. Wonderful."
    "Exciting, huh?"
    My mind flashed quickly back to the fresh memories of Vietnam. That had been exciting. This was make-believe-a stunt on a movie set-but I agreed that it was exciting anyway.
    "Right," Burt said. "I'll go get changed and we'll go to dinner."
    We ate at a dark little Italian place with checkered tablecloths and sauces that made everything taste the same. Burt was an extremely funny date, always wisecracking and joking. But as the champagne we were drinking took effect, he waxed romantic.
    "Mamie," he said shining his bedroom eyes on me full force, "you're an Aquarian, right?" I nodded. "Ah, Aquarians. I'm an Aquarian too, you know."
    "Oh, yes." He smiled a wise, understanding smile. "I know exactly what you want, Mamie. I know exactly how to please you."
    "You do?"
    It was his turn to nod. "You know, Mamie, you get the feel sometimes when it's the start of something."
    "How's that, Burt?"
    "Just the feel. This is the beginning of a relationship, a great love affair that will last and last, don't you think?"
    "Last and last? You really think so?"
    "One of the great ones. No doubt about it. It's something that happens only a few times in a person's life. There's no question that this is one of them."
    Well, I told myself, you wanted to go out with Burt Reynolds. Your head is swimming with champagne of questionable vintage, and it's so damn dark in here that you can't see across the room, and it's not often lately that you've been quite so deep in such oozy bullshit, but, what the hell, Mamie, how bad could it be? This is Burt Reynolds, star of stage, screen, TV, and minor stunts. Why not live it up a little?
    Burt suggested that we go to Candice Bergen's apartment where he was staying while working in New York. Burt's driver dropped us at the Park Avenue address, Burt still cracking jokes a mile a minute. We held hands as we made our way to the apartment, laughing merrily at Burt's jokes. Burt was laughing harder that I.
    "I tell you, Mamie," he said huskily as he opened the door, "this is the start of something big."
    I was too tipsy to remember my own advice about guys with the biggest hype being the guys who deliver the least.
    "I hope you're right, Burt," I slurred. "Champagne always makes me so… so… amorous."
    "I'm glad we had that extra bottle. Did I ever tell you, Mamie, that I consider myself the male Mamie Van Doren?"
    I recall trying very hard to focus at that point. "No, you never told me that."
    He proceeded to give me a list of reasons why he thought of himself as the male me. It is certainly the most unusual statement that has ever been made to me before I went to bed with someone.
    As we undressed there was a windstorm of clothing flying through the air. We didn't speak-there was only the sound of our breathing as we revealed ourselves to each other. A few caresses and Burt and I were between the sheets doing the pony ride.
    I was just getting into the spirit of the moment when Burt began to thrash wildly. His voice cracked and he moaned, "Ohhhh! Ohhh! Judy! Juuudddy! He collapsed and that was it. Fade to black.
    We, I thought, could this be the American heartthrob? Mr. Cool? What happened to the burning, thrusting, penetrating desired of something big? And what the hell was "Judy" doing there? I realized that he must have been calling out the name of his former wife, Judy Carne of "Laugh-In" fame.
    "Burt?" I whispered. "Burt? Are you there?"
    The sound of soft snoring echoed through the apartment. I suddenly felt very clearheaded and sober, brought abruptly to my senses by that coldest of showers-corked-up, unsatisfied passion.
    I hopped out of bed, dressed, and caught a cab back to the Pierre.
    My brief romance with Burt-the start of something big-was like to passing through a major city and eating in only one restaurant-and a fast food restaurant at that.
    Not long after that I was asked in an interview about Burt's nude layout in Cosmopolitan, with a hat discreetly covering his crotch, I could only laugh. "That was an exaggeration," I said. "A cigar would have covered it nicely."
    To be fair, Burt Reynolds is an excellent actor, notwithstanding his "Smokey and the Bandit" movies and other forgetables. Last year his performance in "Boogie Nights" was as fine a piece of work as I've seen on the screen in a long time. A role suited perfectly for a particular actor. On Oscar night I think Burt believed that he was going to get a Best Actor statue for his role as a porno director with a conscience. And it's a tribute to Burt's acting ability that when the choice was read and it wasn't him, he acted like it didn't matter.

    Sex, Drugs, and Steve McQueen

    The rockingest place on the Hollywood nightscape of the 1960's was the Whiskey à Go-Go, a smallish nightclub on the corner of Sunset and Doheney. The Whiskey was the epicenter of Rock and Roll music during the sixties, hosting such seminal acts as the Doors, the Yardbirds, the Turtles, and the Mamas and the Papas. It was the place for everyone who was hip or wanted to be. They came for the rock and roll, for the drugs, and for the sex-not necessarily in that order. It was my favorite hangout. I had my special table, right at the edge of the dance floor-the perfect spot to check out the action-because it was always alive with loud music and writhing, dancing bodies.

    One night I was there with my best friend and hairdresser, Don Morand, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I found myself looking up into a familiar set of icy blue eyes.

    "Hi, Mamie," said Steve McQueen with that familiar smile.
    "Wanna dance?" he shouted over the music.

    I had turned down several men already that evening, but I slid my chair back and stood up. "You're on."

    After Steve and I danced several fast songs, we made our way back to my table. Don, who is the soul of discretion, sensed the sexual energy radiating between Steve and me, and excused himself.

    "Mamie," Steve said as we finished our drinks, "are you sure you don't want to go somewhere else?"

    I knew he was married, but it was night at the Whiskey. And, hell, it was the SiXties. "My house."

    I climbed Sunset Plaza Drive in my white Jaguar while Steve followed in his Ferrari. I thought about how handsome he was and what a racy, adventurous façade he projected. I was excited to find out what was behind that devil-may-care attitude of the public Steve McQueen, even if it took breaking my unwritten rule against dating married men.

    At my house, with the living room's sliding glass doors open to the cool night breeze, Steve and I sipped beers and watched the lights shimmering in the city below. We spoke little. Our communication was on a more primitive level. I circled his neck with my arm and we held each other. We kissed and I felt his passion growing.

    Suddenly I heard a sound that made me push away from his embrace.

    "Perry," I whispered. I left Steve standing in the darkened living room and went down the hall to where my son slept. Perry had recently begun having nightmares.

    I put my hand on his forehead. "Shhh, sweetheart," I said. "It's okay." Perry mumbled something, turned over, and dove deeply back into sleep.

    When I returned to the living room and Steve, my passion had cooled. I got Steve another beer, and he slipped an arm around my waist. "Now, where were we?"

    "Steve, can't we talk a little first?"

    "Talk? About what?"

    "I hardly know you. And you're a married man."

    "I'm also very attracted to you. Let's talk in the bedroom."

    I led him down the long hallway to my bedroom. Steve sat next to me on the bed as I tried to start a conversation.

    "C'mon, Mamie," Steve murmured gently. He pushed me onto the bed and rolled on top of me. He began kissing and caressing me in earnest.

    I pushed him away and sat up. "Steve, I'm not ready to make love yet." I looked him in the eye. "You and I are so much alike. We see something we want and go after it. But after we get it, we lose interest in what we wanted so much. I don't want that to happen to us."

    Steve took a long drink of his beer. "I guess you're right, Mamie. But I don't think that'll happen to us.

    "That sounds suspiciously like a line, Mr. McQueen."

    "Yeah, well, maybe it is." There was a twinkle in his eye as he finished his beer. "I've wanted to sleep with you since I saw you with Ray Anthony at the Sands Hotel. I want to now. So why don't we do it and see what happens afterwards, okay?" He put his hand on my breast and kissed me hard.

    I stood up and kissed him lightly on the lips. "There'll be other nights, Steve."

    "Will I see you again, Mamie?"

    "Give me a call sometime and we'll see."

    Two days later the telephone rang. Steve invited me to the Whiskey that evening. I said yes. I repeat: it was the Sixties.

    After a few dances at the Go-Go, Steve suggested we make the scene at a party in Benedict Canyon. As we pulled into the driveway, I recognized it as the home of famed hairdresser, Jay Sebring. (Sebring would later die tragically in another house in the Hollywood Hills at the hands of the Manson family, a victim of the Tate-LaBianca murders.) Sebring had bought the hulking old-style Tudor mansion that had belonged to Paul Bern and Jean Harlow-the house where Paul Bern had shot himself soon after his marriage to the 1930's sex goddess.

    The party was in full swing. People were splashing in the pool and wandering around the house drinking and smoking pot. We got drinks and schmoozed for a while.

    "Mamie," Steve said, digging in his pocket, "I've got some of the finest Sandoz sunshine acid here. Let's drop a tab or two."

    I had heard about LSD from friends, and I was afraid of it. When I told Steve, he laughed. "No bad trips on this shit. It's not made in somebody's garage. This stuff's pharmaceutical. It's the best. It makes sex a totally new experience."

    He put the pale yellow tablet in my hand. He took one himself, washing it down with a beer. I took the other one with a swallow of wine.

    For a while I didn't feel anything. We talked standing where we were. Feeling amorous, we walked down the hall to a nearby bedroom, elegantly furnished with a large bed. In one corner of the room was a full-length mirror.

    "You know whose room this was?" Steve asked.

    There was a persistent buzzing sound in my ears, not unpleasant, but a strangely comforting sound. Steve's voice sounded muffled and far away. "No."

    "It was Paul Bern's and Jean Harlow's. This is the room they were in when she found out her husband was impotent."

    Steve took me in his arms and kissed my neck and face. I could feel the sizable hardness of him against my leg.

    "At least it's not something in the room," I said, responding to him.

    I saw a flash of red light, like a skyrocket across the room. Another and another. "I'm seeing all these colors. What is it?"

    "The acid. Don't worry," Steve reassured me, "just let yourself go."

    We undressed each other slowly and lay on the big canopied bed where Paul Bern had revealed his hopeless secret.

    I could feel the crinkle and crush of the bedspread beneath us as we began making love, creating our own frantic rhythms. Through the haze of the acid, I could hear music in the house, the guitars mimicking the beat of our bodies. My own voice, as I cried out, sounded like someone else's. I was a marionette speaking in another language.

    I am your dancing Mamie doll. Dancing. I am your you me you you me me.

    When it was over, I could see everything around me with extraordinary clarity. Steve was asleep next to me. I could see every object in the room outlined like mountains against a sunrise.

    I propped myself on one elbow and looked at the full-length mirror across the room. The eerie image of Paul Bern, middle aged and nude except for a sequined mask over his eyes, materialized. He stepped out of the mirror and I saw he was carrying a gun. He smiled in my direction, put the gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. His head exploded in a shower of multi-colored confetti, which rained down over Steve and me. I sat up and screamed. Steve jumped up and grabbed me by the shoulders.

    "It's okay, Mamie! Just hold on!"

    I could hear and see Steve, but I remained in the grip of my powerful hallucination. Paul Bern's body twitched at the foot of the bed, while confetti poured out of his head like the stuffing out of a scarecrow.

    I looked into the mirror again and saw the figure of Jean Harlow smiling back at me. She stepped out of the mirror over the mess made by Paul Bern. She looked from Steve to me.

    "Mamie, we're all the same. The blondes the brunettes, the redheads in this town. We're like horses running back into a burning barn. We'll burnup, but we can't stop ourselves. You can come over now with me if you want."

    "No! Get away!"

    "Mamie!" Steve said, shaking me. "Take it easy!"

    "Leave me alone!" I grabbed a vase from the bedside table and threw it into the mirror, shattering it. "Look, dammit!" I screamed at Steve. "There's blood and a body! Can't you see it?"

    He rolled out of bed and kicked the body in front of the mirror. It dissolved into a pile of clothing.

    It took me weeks to get over the macabre images of that night at Jay Sebring's. Not long afterward, Steve and I stopped seeing each other. Our purely sexual attraction began to wane, though he was a man of great charisma and imagination who was wonderful in bed. But in the end, my dislike of drugs won out over passion. I was not comfortable with the experience of my faculties being out of control, and I always feared a return of those bizarre hallucinations. I again adopted my rule to avoid romantic entanglements with married men. Mostly I stuck to it.

    The excitement of the Whiskey à Go-Go continued to exert a gravitational pull on me that year and the next. It was an era that I thought would never end. I prayed that it would, because it was at the same time exhilarating and terrifying. When it did end, I was still going so fast, I barely noticed.

    Sweet Dreams, Marilyn


    Mamie Van Doren

    In the summer of 1962, I was staying at the Salisbury Hotel in New York while doing the musical Wildcat at the Meadowbrook Theater in New Jersey. Every mid-afternoon, before a limo drove me to the theater, it was my habit to have an early dinner, take a nap, and put on most of my makeup before the car arrived. Often I ate at the Russian Tea Room across 57th Street from the Salisbury. The maître d' was nice enough to serve me in the hours between lunch and dinner when the kitchen was usually closed.

    One rainy afternoon I was eating at my usual table in the back of the Tea Room, near the kitchen. It was a quiet and secluded spot, and the stragglers from lunch didn't notice me in dark glasses and no makeup, with a scarf tied around my head. My waiter quietly approached the table.
    "Miss Van Doren," he said, "I thought you might like to know, we're serving Miss Marilyn Monroe up at the front table."

    I turned and saw a stringy-haired blonde sitting alone—like me, wearing sunglasses and a scarf, and sans makeup. Her face had a hint of puffiness beneath the glasses, but her cheeks were gaunt and her mouth slack and weary.

    I got up and crossed the room.

    "Hi, Marilyn," I said quietly, easing into the seat opposite her. She looked at me uncertainly.

    "Oh, please...I don't feel like...Oh! Is it...Mamie? Hi!"

    I reached across the table and we clasped hands. "Did you get the statue?" I asked. I had been in Italy filming The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina three years before, and made a side trip at Marilyn's request to the Italian Film Festival in Taormina, Sicily to accept her David Award for The Prince and the Showgirl, the Italian equivalent of the Oscar. (I've always felt that she should have at least had an Academy Award nomination for Bus Stop.)

    Left to right: me, Anna Magnani, Gina
    Lollobrigida, and Elsa Martinelli

    She blinked behind the dark glasses and smiled. "Yes...yes, I did. Thanks for accepting the award for me. It was the one award I wanted to pick up myself, and I was too busy." There was a rueful tone in her voice and she knocked back the vodka-rocks she had sitting in front of her. She motioned to the waiter for another. "I guess I've got plenty of time now. You heard, I suppose?"

    Marilyn had been fired in May by 20th Century Fox while filming Something's Got to Give, and the publicity had been huge and embarrassing for her. There were rumors that she had become increasingly hard to work with. She was often late getting to the set or absent with mysterious illnesses. That she was addicted to alcohol and drugs was given credence by displays of temperament that came all too frequently, exposing the raw emotional strata of Marilyn's psyche. It was becoming obvious that Marilyn was unraveling, and the Hollywood vultures were beginning to circle.

    "Yes, I heard."

    She took a long swallow of a fresh drink.

    "Well," she said, her lower lip quivering, "there'll be other movies." There was an almost childish challenge in her voice, as if daring me to say there wouldn't.

    My heart went out to her. There was a kind of helplessness that Marilyn displayed to the outside world that made it like watching an animal suffer. As the Sixties got into full swing, the popularity of the blonde sex goddesses of the screen as we had known them was waning. What did I have to look forward to? At least she was still getting movie roles. I was seven years younger and I was painfully aware that there hadn't been other movies for me in quite a while.

    Is it happening to all of us? I thought.

    "Always other movies around the corner," I agreed as cheerfully as I could. Then, as an afterthought, I said: "If not a movie, there are theaters and nightclubs. That's what I've been doing."

    "That's something I couldn't do, Mamie. It'd scare the shit out of me."

    "It did scare the shit out of me. I used to spend an hour on the toilet before a show."

    "I'd die if I had to do that, I guess."

    "I've got a mouth other than my own to feed. That's why I do it."

    Her face really brightened and suddenly she appeared to take an interest. "Your son! Oh, I'm sorry, what's his name?"


    "Perry! Yes, I remember seeing his picture in the paper when he was born. How old is he, Mamie?"

    "He just turned six in March. Growing like the dickens."

    "I envy you so having a child. Who looks after him while you're gone? A nurse? It must break your heart to leave him behind."

    "I need to work, so what can I do?"

    Marilyn nodded and looked lost in her own thoughts for a moment. When she spoke again, it sounded like an utterance in a church. "I would love to have a child. I'm trying to adopt, you know. But all the agencies look at Well, these men in blue suits say, oh so very logically: ‘What kind of a life would that be for a child? Marriages, divorces, the men in your life, Miss Monroe...' I don't know what to say to them, Mamie."

    My son was still suffering through the aftermath of my divorce from his father, Ray Anthony. The disapproval of the "suits" at Perry's private schools and the like over my lifestyle was still in the future. I didn't have any suggestions for her. Marilyn had been recently divorced from playwright Arthur Miller. They had split up after he had met a still photographer on the set of The Misfits. The wounds were still fresh.

    "No divorce is easy. You can agree to disagree all you want, but in the end each one hurts the other. Usually on purpose. There were times when I wanted to die, Mamie. The pain was so bad."

    The Hollywood rumor mill had been very specific about Marilyn's replacement for Arthur Miller. She was, it was said over business lunches and at cocktail parties, in love with a Kennedy. There was talk about assignations with Jack and even sex in the White House. And when, after he had tired of Marilyn, rumor had it that Jack had handed her down to his industrious younger brother, Robert, like an old suit that no longer fit but was good enough for the next in line to use.

    Was she here to try and cultivate that love affair? Was she dreaming of the second Kennedy's White House while waiting to lure Bobby away from his wife and sizable pack of children?

    She downed her third drink. The ice cubes clinked and she set the glass aside. She slipped off her sunglasses and looked at me hard. There might have been hundreds of stories flashing behind her eyes. When she spoke at last, it was a tipsy slur.

    "Do your best, Mamie, not to fall in love with anybody in government. Because after they fuck you—they fuck you."

    There was a violent thunderstorm underway when I hurried out of the Russian Tea Room a little while later. The hard rain pounded on the pavement of 57th Street and steamed into the late afternoon air as I dreaded the long drive I would have to make to New Jersey.

    My last sight of Marilyn had been of her at that lonely table, staring back at the white table cloth and three empty glasses, a fourth vodka-rocks waiting to blot out her private horrors.

    In August she was dead.

    My close friend, the late Sam Yorty, former mayor of Los Angeles, had told me many stories over the years about the affairs of Marilyn and her Kennedys. After Marilyn's death, Sam told me of the wiretap tapes and other surveillance done by the Los Angeles Police Department showing that Marilyn not only had a phone conversation with Bobby the night of her death, but a visit from him. With Sam's death a short time ago, I feel released from his request for secrecy to tell some of what he said about the days when the King of Camelot and the Heir Apparent were frolicked in Hollywood. There'll be a new Bedtime Story soon, featuring my close friend and almost lover, flamboyant Mayor Sam, in which I'll tell some of it. The re-issue of Playing the Field in a new Collector's Edition next year will have more details as well.

    Rock Hudson: My First Studio Date

    © Copyright Mamie Van Doren

    First-date jitters. Who hasn't been there? Add the following to all that sweaty, frightened wondering about saying and doing the right thing: imagine that you have just been given a big contract at one of the most respected movie studios in the world; that you have been given a new name; that everyone is comparing you to
    the hottest sex symbol of the day, saying that you are the answer to him or her; and that you have a date with the studio's biggest star.
    That was my dilemma on the night of the 1953 Golden Globe Awards. I had signed a 7-year contract with Universal Studios; my name had been changed from Joan Lucille Olander to Mamie Van Doren; I was being told that I was the answer to Marilyn Monroe; and my escort for that memorable evening for a studio-arranged date was none other than the dashing Rock Hudson.
    Oh, there were rumors about Rock even then. Some of the other actresses under contract had told me that on a date with Rock, I would be as safe as though I was in my mother's arms. It was, in fact, a publicity stunt on the part of the studio to get Rock out on the town with the newest sexy starlet in their stable. Of course, everyone in Hollywood knew about the rumors that Rock was gay. That practically no one outside of Hollywood knew about it attested to the fact that these events occurred, dear reader, in that innocent, pre-Clinton and, yes, even pre-Nixon time when a celebrity's peccadillos could still get a free ride.
    (Well, almost free. Not too long after I came to Universal, Confidential Magazine—the ancestor of today's tabloids—had latched on to the Rock Hudson story and was ready to publish it. Universal's executives first looked at Rock's substantial box office, then began to look around for a fall guy. They found Rory Calhoun. Universal coughed up to Confidential the story of how Rory had done some jail time for a minor offense. Confidential printed it, Rory's career was history, and Rock was saved.)
    I was still living at my parents' house in the San Fernando Valley. I had all the comforts of home, and I was around the corner from the Universal lot. I was ready when the doorbell rang at eight, done up in a prom-queen gown that the studio's Wardrobe Department had created for the occasion. It had a strapless, beaded bodice and layer after layer of crinolines under the skirt. Not my style—then or now—but I was young and wanted to make nice with my new bosses, so I wore it. It wasn't quite awful, at least.
    The Golden Globe Awards were held at the Crystal Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel—a smallish venue by today's G.G. standards, but elegant and impressive enough for a young girl from Rowena, South Dakota.
    Rock and I sat at a table with Joan Crawford and her date. Joan was pounding down the booze with a vengeance, eyeing me from time to time the way a barracuda eyes a crippled grouper. I was a young, newly-minted starlet. She was the old guard, holding desperately to the last remnants of what then was glamour. She snubbed me totally except to loudly proclaim that I must have diligently fucked my way to the threshold of stardom where I then stood.
    Rock, experienced and confident in his own right, did his best to deflect the hurtful barbs she threw my way, but it was a devastating experience. My mother's favorite actress had been Joan Crawford. She had named me for her. Embarrassed and wounded by her sharp, drunken tongue, I squirmed uncomfortably in my crinolines.
    At one point in the evening, Marilyn went on stage in a gold lamé gown to accept the Golden Globe for Best Newcomer. There was chemistry between us across the room, and we watched each other distantly. We knew each other by sight from Blue Book Agency modeling jobs and parties around town. And from a time when we had met at 20th Century Fox.
    Later we ran into each other in the Ladies Room. By that point, Marilyn was a little tipsy when she smiled at me in recognition.
    "I told you you'd make it somewhere." She was referring to an occasion when I had screen tested at 20th Century Fox while Marilyn watched the screen test from the shadows of the sound stage. She had said those words to me in the parking lot afterwards. When I didn't get a contract there I had thought for a while that Marilyn was responsible for it. Finally, I realized that 20th had little use for two blonde, sexy actresses.
    Our makeup repaired, we made ready to leave the Ladies Room. "Welcome aboard, Mamie Van Doren," she said to our reflections in the mirror.
    "Thanks, Norma Jean," I said.
    "Norma Jean isn't here anymore. Joan won't be after a while either. You'll see. This is what we are now."
    She was right. Joanie Olander was gone. Mamie Van Doren would be my life from now on.
    When the evening was over, Rock took me home to my parents' little ranch house. We sat in the car talking for a while, then went inside for coffee. My parents were asleep, and we tiptoed into the kitchen. I put the coffee on and went to the cupboard to get cups and saucers. When I reached up, I felt Rock's hands on my bare shoulders. He gently turned me and kissed me on the mouth. Surprise, surprise! It was a deep and searching kiss. He pressed his body against me and I could feel his erection. This was certainly not what I expected, but it was far from unwelcome!
    We necked, panting heavily, and sank to the kitchen floor. I helped Rock unzip his fly, only to discover that it was no pebble he was hiding in there. Zowie! Rock was sporting a boulder! He rolled on top of me, but found himself engulfed in a cloud of crinoline. "Jesus," he muttered, trying to push some of the petticoats aside.
    Every time I moved my back against the cold linoleum, the beads popped off my dress and rolled across the floor. The sound of rolling beads was punctuated by the plunk-plop of the coffee percolator and our muffled voices giving directions.
    "I ... just let me..."
    "No...not there..."
    I tried to guide him inside me but couldn't reach him through the forest of underskirts. We slid on Mother's waxed linoleum, struggling for traction and handholds.
    "Mamie...I'm...ah-umph, ah-umphin..."
    "What did you say?"
    Rock let out a long sigh and his weight collapsed on top of me. "I said, I'm coming," he groaned softly.
    We got up and repaired the damage as best we could. It's hard to wipe anything off of crinolines.
    We had coffee and made a date for lunch the next day on the set of the movie Rock was shooting called Gun Fury. As he was leaving, Rock gave me a sheepish look. "I hope I didn't ruin your dress."
    "No, no. It's the studio's dress anyway. They're probably used to this sort of thing."
    Before I left for the studio the next day, my mother let me have it about the night before.
    "The throw rug was pushed into the corner and the coffee pot was on all night. It's a wonder it didn't burn up."
    "And what's the studio going to say about your dress?"
    I studied my orange juice intently.
    "What about it?"
    "The beads, Jo. It must not have a bead left on it. When I came out into the kitchen this morning to fix your father's breakfast, I nearly fell and broke my neck on all those little beads rolling round on the floor."
    I took the dress back to the Wardrobe Department and hurried out before they could look at it. For all I know it's still hanging there in some dusty corner, un-dry cleaned forty-plus years later, mute and crusty testimony to Rock Hudson's at least occasional bisexuality.
    Rock, if you're somewhere out there in cyberspace...I still love you!
    Coming next: my last meeting with Marilyn Monroe just weeks before her death.

    Sex, Power, and the Oval Office

    © Copyright Mamie Van Doren
    August 1998

    Men in power—movie moguls, businessmen, or politicians—possess inordinately sized, uh, sex drives and egos. Events in Washington this summer make that obvious. But does the current administration have a lock on the use of power to try and get a little? Revisit an experience of mine from a different era.

    In the spring of 1973, I accepted an invitation to a White House party for German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The invitation was payback for my help in the 1972 campaign, when Buzz Aldrin (another Bedtime Story?) and I had made appearances in Dallas and raised $6 million or so for CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President. (Nixon also had a soft spot for me. He had sent me a picture in thanks for my trip to Vietnam. I sent one to him in return which, I was told, he kept in the bottom drawer of his desk in the Oval Office.) But this story is not about Richard Nixon.

    It was standard-issue as White House dinner parties go: cocktails, seven-course dinner, reception to meet the President and First Lady and the guest of honor, and finally entertainment—this evening, the Carpenters.

    When we were seated for dinner, I discovered that I was the "date" of none other than the President's National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger. Henry was then enjoying quite a reputation as a ladies' man. He had asked me out the year before, using a West Coast CREEP as his go between, but I had declined because I was working. Now, with Henry's charming smile saying that he had bagged me, I settled back to enjoy the evening.

    During the President's opening remarks, I felt someone touch my leg under the table. The touch became a slow, rhythmic rubbing. I glanced at Henry who was watching the President with rapt attention.

    Henry Kissinger was then, believe it or not, a very attractive figure. Charismatic and intensely focused, he possessed a charming deep voice spiced with an air of the Rhineland.

    "You know, you are even more attractive in person than you are on the screen," he said during dinner. "Often ladies on the screen are a disappointment in person, but not you." Off to a nice start.After dinner and meeting the President, we went to the East Room to see the Carpenters perform. (Richard Carpenter, in a recent E! special on his sister Karen, is heard to say in a film made of the White House performance that night, "Who's the blonde chick with Henry Kissinger?" Well, it's me!) Midway through the gooey strains of "We've Only Just Begun," Henry whispered in my ear, "Would you like a tour of the White house?"

    When the Carpenters were finished, Henry guided me through the hallways, pointing out historical sights in the White House. We ended our tour in the Oval Office. Henry pulled the ropes aside that kept tourists from entering. The room was impressive but smaller than I had imagined. This was where the President ran the country.

    I sat in the President's chair. I spun the chair around—Oval office-Kissinger-Rose Garden-Oval Office again. Jesus, I thought, the famous and powerful butts that have occupied this seat!

    "Would you like to come to my place, Mamie? I have a wonderful collection of Chinese art." Okay, a girl's moment of truth. Collection of etchings or Chinese art, it means one thing: wanna do the pony ride at my house? Was this man with so many responsibilities really going to put the make on me? Curious, I said yes.

    The ride to his Georgetown digs was complete with a big government Chrysler, a huge government driver and an enormous Secret Service man. Conversation turned to the Russians with whom he was then negotiating the SALT treaty. He laughed heartily. "The Russians believe I am a sex maniac. Every time I visit the Soviet Union they have two or three husky Russian girls waiting for me when I get off the plane." I gave him a look. "Mamie, we must all serve our country in whatever way we can."

    Inside Henry's house, there was little furniture and one lonely Chinese vase. "It was given to me by the Premier, Cho En Lai. I forgot that the rest has not been unpacked. Excuse me a moment," he said dramatically, "I must call the President."

    He dialed a number and motioned for me to make myself at home. "Mr. President," he began deferentially, "I believe the party was a success. Yes. I'm sure Chancellor Brandt was very impressed...."

    I wandered into a bedroom that would've made a military barracks look luxurious. It occurred to me that, at nearly one a.m., it was late even for Henry Kissinger to be calling the President. For all I knew, he had called Dial-a-Prayer.

    After Henry concluded his call, he followed me into the bedroom. I sat on the bed while we talked some more. After a while, it seemed like time to go. When I got up, Henry pushed me gently back onto the bed. I managed to get up and sidestep him, but he took me by the arms and pinned me against the wall.

    "Mamie, you don't need to go already, do you?" So, okay. The man steering the Paris Peace Talks and the SALT talks really did want to get laid. But I had no intention of being another notch on his ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile.)

    "Well, I really should," I said. "It's been a long trip for me and I really need to get a good night's sleep to be at my best."

    He looked at me shrewdly. "Mamie, you are a very smart woman. It is something I didn't expect, but it is pleasantly surprising. I'll see you back to your hotel." And he did!
    This tale points out that most men in power will use and use and use. This is what power is about, folks. Doing what you want to do. But as comedian Brother Dave Gardner used to say: "Happiness isn't gettin' what you want; it's wantin' what you get." Certainly today's Prez is not happy. He got what he wanted—but didn't want what he later got.

    How many secretaries and Congressional Pages, male as well as female, have found early Christmas gifts in their stockings this summer to ensure their silence? And how many Congressmen, Senators, (Democratic andRepublican) and other high officials in The District just can't wait for this whole Monica thing to, er, blow over.

    Let's hope that when women get our chance at the Presidency in the new millennium, we'll get to get some back. Wouldn't it be fun to imagine a Ms. President targeting a young intern? (Let's say male, for the sake of conversation, but in a world where Howard Stern gets a CBS show, why not a lesbian President?) Madam President finally corners the youngster in the Oval Office and has her presidential way with him—or her. Or, how about Ms. President deplaning in some foreign capital (in this fantasy the First Gentleman has stayed behind to christen a new submarine), and being greeted by a phalanx of well-oiled muscle men a la Mae West?

    Wouldn't that be a panic, girls?
    Coming soon! The story of my own stained dress, which resulted from a studio date with...Rock Hudson!
    Last edited by lucianodel; July 10th, 2019 at 10:48 AM. Reason: more sex

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