HELLO AMERICA!─If you’ve grown up being on a stage or waiting for a voice to yell out, “LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION on a film set, it becomes a natural part of who you are as an existing human being. One quickly becomes an eager member of the club of actors who struggle earnestly to bring truth to whatever character they feel lucky to be assigned to artistically bring to life with complete truth that is if the talent is there.
When first meeting Bette Davis at age 19, she told me while we sat in her home behind the Beverly Hills Hotel in one of the spacious rooms that easily could have been featured as a bar of a film set. When I was shown to the room by her sister and instructed to any comfortable seat, immediately, there was a positive connection. After all, I had worshiped this lady since the age of 12, when seeing her in the film “The Corn Is Green.”
Even though, I was still a struggling student at USC’s Theatre Department, as well as concentrating on music at the university, I managed to convince the publisher of the Los Angeles Eagle to allow me to write an entertainment column for the paper. Mrs. Pat Alexander studied me for a time after discussing with me about my life on the East coast, involving the radio and television shows on which I had appeared with the likes of the iconic bandleader Paul Whiteman, performing on the same bill with the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Shore, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
After several published columns, she laughed one day after reading one and said, “Boy, I think you’re crazy, but you do have something special. I know whether to label it balls or nerve, however, you’re good!”
That is all I needed to hear, I immediately researched other papers and magazines because I needed the money to take extra classes, as well as private singing and acting classes at the Ebony Theatre owned by actor-comedian Nick Stewart and his wife, Edna, he was also known as “Lightnin” on the weekly “AMOS ‘n’ ANDY” TV show. As a result, I was receiving support and encouragement from all sides. As a result, when the Santa Monica Outlook asked if I might be able to get an interview with Bette Davis, I, of course, told them that I could.
When hearing that James Cagney CAGNEY was receiving an industry tribute at the Directors Guild on Sunset Boulevard, I managed to get my name on the list because I knew Miss Davis would be there. The rest is history, she resisted interviews previously, but I convinced her how important it was for me to have one with her, she studied me for a quick moment and consented. I was one lucky guy, that’s for sure!
Before leaving the interview with her, I asked why she consented to do the interview when it was known she had turned so many others down? She looked at me, offering a big Davis laugh and said, “My dear boy, I simply felt you had done your homework and INDEED you had!”