The Girls He Cant Leave Behind Him

Years ago I came across a very funny article by a writer called Bill Majeski.

The following are some extracts :

” Battling a fresh wave of dizziness, I swung my coupe past the parking lot attendant who resembled Dick Foran and stopped in front of a shingle that read, ‘Dr. Ned Armstrong – Ailments cure, past and present – Late night viewers our speciality.’

The waiting room was packed with men and women idly flipping through copies of Modern Screen with Olivia de Havilland on the cover. The slim receptionist noticed my tenseness,manifested by involuntary facial twitches, and hurried over. ‘We’ll take you next,sir,’ she said throatily. ‘The doctor will find out what makes you tic.’

‘Anyone ever tell you that you look like Gale Sondergaard?’ She nodded and bit her lip.

‘Come in,’said Dr. Armstrong,Jean Hersholt without a pipe.

‘Doc,I’m in big trouble. I think it’s my nostalgia.’

‘Yes, there’s a lot of that going around. Hours watching old movies on the late shows. ….a general feeling of being out of place in today’s entertainment picture.

I nodded. He smiled and buzzed for his nurse who was tall and blonde. ‘There’s Veda Ann Borg,’I said quickly.

‘Easy,son’ he cautioned, ‘Now I want to give  you the Cinematic Appreciation Test.’ He pulled the blinds and the nurse held a card over one of my eyes. ‘Call them off if you recognise them.’

‘Evelyn Ankers,’ I said as the first picture flashed on the tiny screen. ‘Joe Sawyer, William Tracy, Jane Frazee, Osa Massen, Chick Chandler. Why, I saw him just the other night on the 3.50 show.’

 

Evelyn Ankers

Chick Chandler

The lights came up and he gestured me to a stool and told me to cross my legs. He approached me with a rubber hammer.

‘This is the Monogram Reflex Test,’ he said, tapping my knees. ‘I’ll mention a name. and just say whatever pops into your mind. Ready? Elisha Cook Jr.’ – ‘Elevator operator.’  ‘Thelma Todd.‘ – ‘Big….blonde…gun moll..Marx Bros foil.’

Elisha Cook Jr

‘I remember Eduardo Ciannelli, Heather Angel, Guinn’Big Boy’ Williams eating jellybeans, Douglas Dumbrille. (Operator. I must get through to the governor, it’s a matter of life and death!’)

I jumped to my feet and snapped off a smart salute and began singing ‘Shipmates stand together…’  ‘Dick Powell!,’ shouted the nurse……

The nurse was trying to wipe a tear from her eyes without my seeing her. ‘Why,nurse,’I said, ‘I’ve never seen you without your glasses. Why, you’re not Veda Ann Borg. You’re June Preisser.’

June Preisser

 

Suddenly Dr. Armstrong leaped to his feet – he was Nat Pendleton now – ‘Listen,you,’he snapped, ‘you’re living in a dream world. Sit down. I’m going to give it to you straight, so listen and listen good.’

‘That’s John Wayne,’I said. He glared at me. ‘You’re suffering from malignant movie memorabilia, a cinematic carcinoma that keeps you glued to your set rehashing the past. You’re inches away from being committed to the Old Movie Viewer’s Home. Get yourself some real screen memories. Kick your set in the cathode tube.Become a new person. It’s kill or cure. Go and heal thyself’, he said, opening the door and shoving me towards Times Square.

 

I wandered dazedly,coat collar pulled high, into the Midtown Ecstasy Theater and sat down for a triple feature – Hot House Horticulturist, Semi-Clothed and Naughty and Call me Reprehensible but Raunchy.

Trembling and bathed in cold sweat, I left the theatre and returned to the doctor’s office. He smiled as he  gestured to the couch. ‘Now tell me your thoughts.’

Well,’ I began, ‘I see Mickey Rooney ditching Ann Rutherford and sloping off with a plain brown, unmarked raincoat. And there’s Penny Singleton putting ground glass in Arthur Lake’s sweat-shirt and running off with Sabu. And now Fay Wray and King Kong go to the  Masters-Johnson clinic to work out their difficulties.’

Ann Rutherford, Mickey Rooney

I exhaled. My fever broke. The doctor clamped a paternal hand on my shoulder. He erased the GP rating next to my name and stamped a big X.

With jaunty step I walked out into the twilight, somehow a dirtier,filthier, tawdrier….healthier, better man – a Now person at last. ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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