365 Nights in Hollywood: The Most Passionate…

Jimmy Starr began his career in Hollywood in the 1920s, writing the intertitles for silent shorts for producers such as Mack Sennett, the Christie Film Company, and Educational Films Corporation, among others. He also toiled as a gossip and film columnist for the Los Angeles Record in the 1920s and from 1930-1962 for the L.A. Herald-Express.
Starr was also a published author. In the 1940s, he penned a trio of mystery novels, the best known of which, The Corpse Came C.O.D., was made into a movie.
In 1926, Starr authored 365 Nights in Hollywood, a collection of short stories about Hollywood. It was published in a limited edition of 1000, each one signed and numbered by the author, by the David Graham Fischer Corporation, which seems to have been a very small (possibly even a vanity) press.
Here’s “The Most Passionate…” from that 1926 collection.

THE MOST PASSIONATE . . .

 
 
The blue smoke hung low in the large club room. The radio was tuned in softly. A beautiful melody was being rendered on the violin.
Two men sat in massive over-stuffed chairs. Both were silent. Both were smoking.
They were literary men. They were discussing women. (Men do.)
One man was heavy-set and smiling. He wrote humorous stories for a living. The other was thin and sad-looking. He wrote anything that happened to come into his mind, and the public cried for more.
They were talking of the most passionate women in the cinema colony. She was well worth discussing. Everyone talked of her, and everyone had a different story. She was like that.
“Her present husband and I were very good pals at one time,” said the sad-faced man. “We used to run around together, before he married her.”
“I knew him, too,” murmured the other.
“Well, one night up at their house, we all got drunk. He got me in a corner and told me a story.”
The other man was listening intently.
“The next day, after I had sobered up, I wrote the story as he had told it to me, using, of course, fictitious names. I have often intended to sell it to some magazine, but I can’t make up mind to it.”
“I should like to read it.”
“Okay. Come on over to the house and I’ll get it for you,” he said, rising slowly from his chair.
 

.  .  .

 
Paula Monroe was the most passionate woman in Hollywood!
There was no doubt about that. She admitted it. For once her press agent had told the truth. If Hollywood had not talked about her and the world had not listened, where would she be today?
She wouldn’t be, that’s all.
Only a few months had passed since she had been entirely unknown. Now she was a star,—a real exponent of the flickering drama. She had her cars, her maids, her bank accounts and her lovers!
Ah, her lovers! If it had not been for them!
Even now she was not satisfied. (A woman seldom is.) Paula was a passionate woman—and more than that!
(For she had to get along in the Movies!)

As she sat in her dressing room, waiting the call to appear on the set, she had been reflecting. Memory is the greatest diary a woman can keep—and the only safe and sane one.
Paula thought of her role in her second starring production. This story had been written especially for her, and a famous leading man had been imported from the Great White Way. His name was Howard Broox, the greatest matinee idol in the world. And now he was playing opposite her! She sat gazing into the brightly-lighted mirror. Her eyes were purple—deep, mysterious purple pools. She had a tiny sensuous mouth which invited a caress. Her not too small nose was expertly moulded into her round face. Her hair was a shiny black and arranged in bewitching ringlets.
Yes, Paula was beautiful. She was delicious. One admirer had said: “You look good enough to eat.” She had replied: “Yes, I’m very hungry, where shall we go?”
But that had been some months back, when times had been rather hard. Work was scarce then and Paula had lived by her wits. It was different now. There is no detour to Easy Street.
Paula had accidentally met a press agent who had fallen violently in love with her—just as many others had done. He had claimed that she was the most passionate woman on earth. (That had been start.)
(She had to get along in the movies.)
She had used her brains and capitalized on his remark. He was now receiving two hundred and fifty dollars a week to make good his statement. He had said she was the most passionate, and it was up to him to make the world believe it. If the world could be made to believe it, then she would be one of the greatest box-office attractions in the industry.
“On the set, Miss Monroe!” she heard the assistant director call.
Paula hurriedly applied the finishing touches to her makeup. She stood before the full-length mirror and gazed critically at her reflection. Her black clinging gown had been designed especially for her by Clique, the greatest designer of gowns in the business. It was a sleeveless creation, drawn tightly about her, displaying her beautiful shape to advantage.
The fact that it took an hour to sew the gown on bothered Paula little. It was the studio’s time, not hers. She carefully picked her way down the gangway between the many dressing rooms. Her maid followed, carrying a patent leather make-up case.
As Paula reached the door of the large enclosed stage, where the blue-green lights flickered, Howard Broox sauntered into view. Evidently he had been awaiting her entrance.
“Ah, good morning, fair movie queen,” he said in a pleasant voice, with a mock bow.
Paula returned his greeting with a like courtesy.
He held the door for her and they entered the massive stage. The director and his staff were waiting. Paula loved to keep men waiting. She claimed they appreciated her more. Perhaps they did.
The bright sun-arcs were switched on and Howard dabbed his nose with a large powder puff. They were to begin at once. The scene was a typical movie vamp parlor—a room with high ceilings in black and gold and with mirror-like floors. Large, fluffy pillows adorned the floor around the soft divans and chairs. A seductive den, if ever there was one.
Paula liked it. This was her atmosphere. She would lie upon the downy lounges and lure her victims. Once in her clutches there was no escape. Brutally she would dissect their tortured souls. She would sap their strength. She was a human vulture seeking their wealth and happiness.
Having ruined a half dozen or so, she would give a fiendish laugh, push them aside and call for more.
Yes, with apologies for improving upon Ethel Barrymore‘s lines, she was certainly all the hell there was; there wasn’t any more!
(FOR SHE HAD TO GET ALONG IN THE MOVIES.)
Paula was in her place upon the divan in the center of the large room. Incense burners constructed to imitate those of Pharoah’s day sent forth their alluring aromas. Paula was toying with a lighted cigarette.
“That’s a good position, Paula, hold it!” cried the director. “Now, Broox, you enter from the left, stop half way and gaze around, then you see Paula. Rush over to her, and kneel down by the divan. Let’s go through it once.”
The cameramen were getting their focus while Paula and Howard went through the action.
“That was O. K.,” de Masson stated when they had finished.
George de Masson had become famous as a successful director of the so-called sensational type of motion picture. He seemed gifted with a subtle touch, which was not equaled by any other.
Before Paula had been a star, de Masson had expressed a desire to direct her. He claimed that he could work wonders with her, and now that the opportunity had presented itself, he was living up to his promise.
“All ready now,” he cried, seating himself in a canvas chair by the cameras, “we’ll take it now. Repeat that action. The rehearsal was perfect. Come on, Howard, get over the idea that you’re mad about her.”
“I am,” calmly stated Howard with a sly smile.
All through the scene Paula was thinking of Howard’s words. Had he really meant them, or was he joking? She wondered. . . .
FOR SHE HAD TO
GET ALONG IN
THE MOVIES
Maybe he was worth inviting up to her house some evening. She loved men who in turn loved her—passionately!
Of course, he was supposed to be the greatest lover on stage or screen. Perhaps there was meaning in what he had said!
In their next scene he clutched her in his arms and caressed her passionately. She was to lie there, quite immune to his ardent affections. The part called for him slowly to fan the smouldering embers of her love for him.
“That’s fine! Great!” cried de Masson at the completion of the scene. “You two are wonderful!”
“What do you want—a free lunch for that?” asked Howard, laughingly.
Paula giggled, but it was only an outward giggle. She had meant that scene. It was one she would not soon forget. The expression in Howard’s brown eyes was a thrilling memory. He had been serious, too. She knew. But he would not admit it. (That is like a man, but it doesn’t fool the woman.)
During the remainder of the day, the scenes were of little consequence. There were close-ups of Paula and Howard and the long shots contained little action. Paula found herself rather tired and bored.
At four-thirty she began to yawn. De Masson saw.
“Paula, you can run home. There is really nothing more for you today. I’ll finish the rest of the scenes without you.”
She was grateful, for she was very weary. She wanted to be alone to think. That scene in the morning had remained in her thoughts the entire day. As she passed Howard, she surprised herself by saying:
“Won’t you come up to the house this evening and entertain me?”
He was surprised at her sudden request and he replied in a slightly confused manner:
“Thank you, I shall be delighted. About eight-thirty?”
She nodded sweetly, leaving him the memory of her voice and alluring expression in her eyes.
It was Howard’s turn to wonder.
Half an hour after she had departed from the studio, Paula was splashing gaily about in her sunken tab. Her bathroom was in lavender. There seemed to be a sweet scent about even the color.
She lay in the fragrant water with her curly head upon the silk-covered rest. And her thoughts turned to Howard. Strange that he remained unmarried. She would ask him why when he came that evening.
Perhaps she would marry him. Paula always had her own way. No, she wouldn’t marry him, she decided. Husbands were a nuisance. One has them every night—if they are good husbands—and he would undoubtedly be a good husband.
Paula wanted a lover when she wanted one, and could not bear the sight of a man when she was not in the mood. Perhaps she could make some arrangement with Howard. . . .
(Years ago women had “affairs” with men. Now the modern method is—“arrangements!”)
Eight-thirty found Paula lounging again in her own drawing room. A room in excellent taste, on which much time and money had been spent to gain the proper atmosphere for a woman of Paula’s type. And the result had been satisfying. It was typically Paula.
She was wearing something white and loose and very fluffy. She was reading Epigrams on Men in a hand-tooled leather volume.
(FOR SHE HAD TO GET ALONG IN THE MOVIES.)
The maid answered the door. Howard Broox came in, bowing. Paula smiled appreciatively to herself at his complacent manner.
He kissed her hand, muttering a few words to acknowledge her greeting. She made a motion of invitation and he seated himself on the pillowed lounge beside her. “You are more beautiful even than I thought—in the evening,” he said.
She smiled, “And you, Howard, are very handsome.”
He laughed, a bit confusedly.
Then there were silence.
(Both were wondering what to do next.)
“Did you work very hard?” asked Paula finally.
“No, not very, until about six, I guess.”
She tried again:
“Do you like it out here?”
He nodded.
“Do you like working—with me?” Paula persisted.
He had a famous smile and he used it now:
“Better than anyone I’ve ever worked with, Paula.”
She refused to believe him.
“But it is true,” he declared. “Paula dear, I’m afraid that I’m falling in love with you.”
“Why be afraid?” she asked coyly.
“Because I know what it means,” he answered simply.
“Ah, I have been talked about—even in New York.”
Howard laughed. “Yes, you are a very much talked of person—even in New York. In fact, the whole world raves over you. And you see, I am only one man who is held spell-bound in your clutches.”
Paula considered for some moments before speaking.
“So you really think I have clutches?”
His arm was about her now and he was leaning slightly against her. Paula loved it. He had a thrilling way with him.
“You are reputed to be the most passionate woman in Hollywood, yet you seem quite indifferent to me. Why?”
“Are you not the greatest lover of stage and screen?” she asked, almost sternly.
“Yes, I admit it.”
“Well, you haven’t worked any wonders with me.”
Paula quirked her lips to keep from laughing outright at his perplexity.
“But I love you!” he fairly shouted.
Paula laughed gayly. Calming down, she recited something she had memorized from Elizabeth Browning:
 
“If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only. Don’t say
‘I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’—“
 
“I don’t care a damn about sonnets,” he interrupted before she could start on the next verse. “I want to talk of love.”
“We don’t seem to be getting along very nicely.”
“Perhaps I had better go?” There was an anxious gleam in Howard’s eyes.
“Perhaps,” Paula said calmly.
He got to his feet and so did she. Suddenly he held her and pressed her close. And kissed her long upon the mouth. When he had finished, Paula was panting for breath. He had held her so tight, so close, he made love so wonderfully, so passionately!
She clung to him. Howard breathed deeply of the luring perfume she wore. He felt the warmth of her body through her thin gown. She was wonderful!
Not a word had been spoken. They stood there for moments clinging to each other—swaying. Howard was kissing her again. It was wonderful!
“Howard, dear,” she panted, “promise me you’ll never leave me.”
“Darling, you know I couldn’t leave you.”
“I didn’t know, but don’t—ever. Oh, kiss me again like that.”
 

.  .  .

 
In the morning they arrived late at the studio.
He had ordered his things sent to the new address.
The most passionate woman in Hollywood would be talked of again. But she was happy—and after all is said and done that is all that really matters—in a woman’s life, and besides,
THEY HAD TO GET ALONG
IN THE MOVIES!
 
 
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