Tyrone, Annabella Affair Brings Storms
High-handed Movie Moguls Nearly Wreck "Liliom"
WESTPORT, Conn. The tempests whipped up here by first the promise and later the fulfillment of Tyrone Power's and Annabella's appearance in a revival of "Liliom", are just another example of the frightful headaches sometimes visited upon those engaged in the precarious theatrical world.
This is what happened. Mr. Power and his enchanting wife were so eager to try a fling on the legitimate boards that money was of almost not consequence. And John C. Wilson and Lawrence Languor, the proprietors, so to speak, of the Country Playhouse, were able to engage their services for what the boys out in Hollywood would probably describe as a bar of music.
Twentieth Century Fox, who occasionally enjoy a dash of prestige, gave their royal consent, verbal only, however, and in due time the announcement was given out to the press, tickets were put on sale and the rustic foyer of the charming little Westport Playhouse looked like a bank run.
Ordered to Drop Everything
Then just like that in the middle of a Saturday night dress rehearsal, Tyrone Power was called to the telephone, ordered to drop everything and return to the coast at once.
The Messrs. Wilson and Langner, as you may well imagine, went into a tailspin and for more than a few hours the long distance wires were on fire.
The fact that Mr. Power had signed an Equity contract was a small matter to Darryl Zanuck and the brass hats of his organization. They had and investment to consider, too, and the fate of a little rural barn in the throes of semi-professional theatricals was of small consequence on their majestic scheme of things.
But Jack Wilson is no stranger to the ways of Hollywood, nor is his beautiful wife, the erstwhile Natalie Palie, who only a few years back was promised all the gold in Beverly Hills if she would only put her name on one of those contracts; and before they had finished speaking their peace, Mr. Zanuck & Co., had listened to quite an earful.
Furthermore, taking no chanced Wilson & Co. Had a warrant issued for both Annabella's and Tyrone Power's arrest if either of them stepped out of the commonwealth of Connecticut.
As you can readily see, things came to an impasse. And out in Hollywood the producers, executives, directors and assistant directors et cetera, decided it would be best to soften their voices, and cease threatening to sue Power for coming east on the basis of Zanuck's verbal assurance.
Theirs was also the next move, which assumed its shape with the arrival of a legal advisor from Manhattan.
And when he took a look at the lovely little theater rising out of a lush green meadow beside a swift brook; saw all the healthy, suntanned youngsters painting scenery, and
was informed the weeks' losses would only be in the vicinity of $5,000, he turned on Tyrone Power and spouted, "Well, we�ve had a lot of queer ducks on the lot out there but you take all the prizes!"
If the bill had been for $50,000 and the theater had been in a back alley and inhabited by a collection of slugs, the man might have understood the situation or even respected it; but this futile dallying about with art on the cheap was beyond his comprehension.
But that Equity contract was still n the closet so was the warrant and consequently there was much hand shaking and talk of amicable arrangement.
Dickered for Settlement
This was the arrangement, Tyrone Power was to open on Monday evening, according to Schedule, and play through Tuesday night, then fly to Hollywood for the retakes and then back to Westport to conclude his engagement. Twentieth Century Fox was to pay all the losses incurred during the layoff.
I wold also like to add that while all this dickering was gong on the studio house organ rolled off the presses, hysterical with its praise for Mr. Zanuck and his passionate insistence in helping the "dying theater" by sending it his greatest star.
Well it is all over now. Power is back in Westport and the town is his. He also brought along a birthday present for Jack Wilson and I wish I could describe it here.
I also wish I could pass on a good many other details and pretty phrases that were bandied about during the crisis, but a form of censorship unfortunately, still exists in the land.
As I have reported before on the night Jack and Natalie Wilson helped me to force my way through the multitudes gathering around the stage door, the entire company was packing for the trek to West Point the following day.
Both Mr. Power and his wife were pretty tired and Annabelle [sic] was a touch frantic about a lace evening dress that she had somehow misplaced and had wanted to wear at West Point reception.
But they were both more than willing to talk about the joys of acting on the stage and, as Power pointed out, having the opportunity of giving a fully conceived, continued performance within the confines of one evening.
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