Sunday, June 5, 2011

Autobiography Pt. 40

       The early 1980s, I guess. What happened was I started traveling to the San Diego Con with Julius Schwartz. We would travel to Los Angeles, go see the Kirby’s and have dinner with them, and the next day I would drive them to San Diego; I got to be their chauffeur for about seven years. It was a real honor and pleasure. I always brought old time jazz tapes, and both of the Kirby’s and Schwartz love old music. I'd hear Kirby in the back seat saying, "Gee, I haven't heard that song in years."
       Julie and I were at the L. Ron Hubbard offices many years
ago. Lots of Hubbard's letters and notes were blown up to giant size
and pasted to the walls.
As the Editor-in-chief and I moved down the hall, we realized that
we'd lost Julie. We went back around the corner to find him looking
at one of the letters, rubbing his chin. "This says 'it's' and it
should be 'its'"
I answered "Julie, stop proofreading the wallpaper and let's go!"
for Greg

JULIUS SCHWARTZ:  You see, we were exactly the opposite.  We couldn’t dare put it in New York or Chicago, because people who lived in New York would say,  “What’s so funny about New York?”  or something like that.  So I made a conscious effort--that was the reason.  When Jerry Siegel came up with Metropolis, we knew it was New York.  We understand with Gotham City--to call it New York--nothing is going on like that--

SL:  You see, you’re more logical.  It never occurred to me that people would say that.

JS:  You ignored all that.

SL:  But look, take something like Sherlock Holmes.  Baker Street, in London--nobody said,  “I’m English, there’s no Sherlock Holmes.”

JS:  But those were words.  In comics you have pictures, so it becomes different.

JULIE SCHWARTZ:  I wrote three stories:  one of the GREEN LANTERNs, one of the FOLEY OF THE FIGHTING FIRST [?], and one--ah, I don’t know which story it is, but it’s in the Big All-American Comic Book.  I think it’s Johnny Thunder, but I looked at it, I just don’t recall it.

GT: But what was the Foley story?  What was it about, do you remember?

JS:  It was the guy who was the, uh--

GT:  I know, but what was the story you wrote?

JS:  Oh, I have no idea.

GT:  Do you remember who drew it?  Was it Kubert?

JS:  For some reason I think it was Carmine, but I may be wrong.  Who did FOLEY OF THE FIGHTING FIRST?  Was that [unintelligible]?

GT:  A couple of guys, but Kubert did a few really fine issues.  “Return of Pecos Bill” and one where Foley turns into an Indian.

[Short gap]

JS:  Because the big one he would be interested in that he’s never seen are my leaping Supermen [?].  I don’t know if you know, but they threw a little party, so to speak, in the old conference room--

GT:  Yeah.  Nobody invited me.

JS:  I don’t think--were you working for us then?

GT:  Sure.

JS:  Well, anyway...and I got a call from Ray Bradbury, I got a call from Archie--ah, uh, not Archie, Alan Moore, and I got a telegram from Harlan Ellison.  And I read the telegram and it doesn’t say,  “Signed, Harlan Ellison.”  It’s got a picture of Robin handing me the telegram.  Boy, he’s never seen that [unintelligible].


JS:  You’d probably be interested in that yourself.  You never saw my Superman Show?

GT:  Yeah.

JS:  Oh, you have?

GT:   You did it in Detroit.  I taped it in Detroit.

JS:  I know, you told me that, I have no recollection--all I have is the vague feeling is I did no panels in Detroit because there was no place to do it, or something.  I just don’t recall.  You had me scheduled for some kind of panel, and I know I did no talking panel.  You say I did the Superman Slideshow, and you taped it?

GT:  Uh-hmm.  Videotaped it.

JS:  I certainly would like to see it. 

GT:  As I recall, the lighting was pretty low, so it didn’t, you know, but your voice is fine.

JS:  In my case, you know, when you do a slide show you’re in the dark!

GT:  Right.

JS:  And the camera focuses on, uh, the screen...

GT:  (Long yawn)  You should set you up with a tour, a three-camera thing, and just photograph you doing the show.

JS:  I don’t know if this is what you mean--a guy taped the show, then we went to my hotel room and I put the slides on the wall.  And he did the slides, and he interspersed them with the talk.

GT:  Right.  That’s the way to do it.

JS:  And I don’t know what happened to that video.  Must be with my daughter.

GT:  Lent it to somebody, I’m sure.

JS:  Then I did a tape in Chicago that other people did.  I think I talked for about twenty minutes on that.  You know that tape?  Truman is on it, and other people...

GT:  Uh-uh.


GT:  You see, I don’t believe that story about the grey-skinned Hulk.


JS:  ...and I get to the elevator with my wife, and there’s Donald Wollheim with Elsie.  I had never met his wife, so I said,  “Hi, Donald, I want you to meet my wife Jean.”  He says,  “I want you to meet my wife Elsie.”  Now, I tell you that part as a beginning to something else.  I’m Guest of Honor at PulpCon--do you know what PulpCon is, my sweet?


JS:  PulpCon.  It’s a convention for people into pulp magazines.  I was Guest of Honor;  the year before was Robert Bloch.  I figured,  “It’s good enough for Robert, it’s good enough for me.  So Rusty, Rusty Hevlin says,  “Did you like the convention?”  and I said,  “Very much.”  He says,  “Well, would you like to come back next year?”  I said,  “I don’t suppose you can pay my expenses...”  He says,  “No, I can’t.”  I said,  “Tell you the truth, I really enjoyed it, I’ll probably come back.”
     So I call him up and say,  “When’s the convention?”  He says so-and-so.  I said,  “Okay, I’m going to get my tickets.  Will you meet me at the airport when I get there?”  “Absolutely, when are you coming in?”  I said,  “Friday, one o’clock.”  He says,  “Good, that saves me a trip.”  I said,  “What do you mean?”  He said,  “Donald Wollheim and his wife are coming in at the same time.”  I said,  “That’s great.  Do NOT tell them I’m on the plane.”
     So I get to the airport early, and I know Donald will be traipsing in with his wife Elsie, who’s about this high.  And I’m sitting there and I see them so I put the Times in front of my face, and he walks right past me.  I say, [roars]  “Hi, Donald!”  He stops.  “Oh--Julie!  What are you doing here?”  I said,  “I’m going to PulpCon.”  He says,  “So am I!”  I say,  “Donald, sit down--we’ve got another half hour before the gate’s open.”  So for a half hour we’re reminiscing like mad--usually I have that tape recorder--

GT:  Yeah, I wish!

JS:  Finally, Elsie, who was sitting behind Donald, said,  “Please stop!  I can’t stand this anymore!”  And she’s looking at me and she says,  “Who are you?”  I said,  “Elsie, don’t you remember in 1953 in Philadelphia, I got into the elevator and was properly introduced?[?]”  She says,  “I guess I’ve forgot--”  I said,  “Come on, it’s only 35 years ago!”  So I wrote a piece about that, and it was published in some fan magazine.

GT:  Funny story.

JS:   Huh?

GT:  Funny story. 

JS:  It is a funny story?

GT:  Yeah.

JS:  I wanna tell that story.

GT:  That’s a good--

JS:  Oh, here’s another--this will kill ya, this one’ll kill ya!  This is at the WorldCon in Brighton, England, where Heidi [?] and so on...and to get into the hotel, you have to go through a revolving door.  Donald by this time, who’s not dead--I don’t know whether you know he died--

GT:  --Recently.

JS:  --during the World Fantasy Convention in November.  So he’s already showing pains, he’s walking around with a stick like this--he’s a year older than I am--

GT:  Yeah, he really aged badly.

JS:  And he’s walking like this, and he’s going through, like,  “Goddamn revolving door!!”  I said,  “Donald, how ya doin’?”  He said,  “Let me tell you.  I wished I believed in Scientology--I wouldn’t have to go around with this cane!”  [JS and GT laugh]  You get it, don’t you?  With Scientology, you cure yourself!


JS:  Think I can tell that story?

GT:  Yeah, that’s a funny one.

JS:  Now--the other Donald Wollheim story.  This is 1935,  Charlie Hornig [?] and I--Charlie was the editor of WONDER STORIES, and I was his best friend--we were holding a meeting for the Science Fiction League in a public school.  I was addressing the thing, the door slams open and a couple of hoods come in and they did the equivalent of  “Nobody move!” [unintelligible whispered bit]  Then in the door comes Donald Wollheim and he makes a long speech bawling out Charlie Hornig for working for Gernsback,  “Gernsback is a crook, he published one of my stories and I never got paid for it, and I want you guys, the fellows who are in the Science Fiction League to write letters of protest,”  and so on.  Well, I thought--when I say hoods it’s like the Dead End Kids, I thought they were going to beat--I didn’t know what they were.  But there was Donald Wollheim.

GT:  So what happened?

JS:  Nothing!  Fortunately because he was there to--he wanted to make sure none of us would leave, he wanted to have an audience.

GT:  And when it was over...?

JS:  And when it was over...

GT:  You all looked out the window and the guys were still out front.

JS:  Have I told you this story?  I don’t remember, who told you this?

GT:  Charlie Hornig!  [Laughter]  The janitor came in and he said,  “You boys come this way”--

JS:   And he let us out the side--

GT:  --and you guys ran like mad to the subway!

JS:  I figured they were going to beat us up.

GT:  That’s a funny story.  Tell that first.

JS:  My first out-of-town convention was 1937.  Wollheim was there, but we didn’t talk.  He was a--know what a left-winger is?

GIRL:  [Silence]

JS:  A left-winger?

GIRL:  [More silence]

GT:  It’s politics.

JS:  A left-winger is like a Communist--

GIRL:  Oh, so you mean like a right-wing politics and left-wing--

JS:  Yes!

GIRL:  All right.

JS:  Yeah, he was left-wing and I was right-wing.  We wouldn’t associate.  He wanted everyone to join the Communist Party, and science fiction should have the one-world Russia and [unt] stuff.  So I would not associate with him. 

GT:  Crazy.

JS:  So we were sort of enemies, but that just had nothing to do with it.  I was very jealous of him because I considered him a rich fellow.  We were all poor--this was the profession.  His father was a doctor, a dentist, maybe, I don’t know, and I always felt that he had money that none of us did.

GT:  Well, the Commies were usually affluent in that period.

JS:  Now what did I do when I went to college and my mother gave me--let’s see--ten cents for coffee, ten cents for a sandwich, ten cents for something else, I guess a beverage or--well, I always saved that extra dime.  That extra dime I always saved up until I had a quarter plus a dime.  I would use that and got to the Paramount or the Strand before one o’clock to watch the big bands.  Do you know what big bands are?

GIRL:  Um-hmm.

JS:  Really?  Good for you!  But for a quarter, before one o’clock, you go into the movies, like the Paramount Theater or the Strand--

GT:  What year is this?

JS:  My college days, I suppose ‘33, ‘34...

GT:  There were some good bands.

JS:  Yeah, there were good bands.  The first big band I was familiar with that I heard was Glenn Bray, who I never heard before--

GT:  From the Casa Loma.

JS:  Yeah!  I thought it was really wonderful, Glenn Bray and his Casa Loma Orchestra--Glenn Bray was not the leader of the band, did you know that?

GT:  Yeah, you’ve told me this before.

JS:  He was [unt] in the band [unt] the saxophone , but it was a corporation.  He was like president of this corporation--Glenn Bray and his Casa Loma Band.  They had Kenny--Kenny--Kenny--

GT:  Kenny Baker.

JS:  Kenny Who?

GT:  Baker.

JS:  No, no, Kenny--Pee Wee Hunt, and Kenny Something-or-other--Sargent!  Kenny Sargent.  1933, huh eh?  How many--fifty-seven years ago?  But then I never liked Benny Goodman originally because I couldn’t follow [unt].  I always preferred Artie Shaw.  I tell ya, the first time I saw Artie Shaw at the Strand Theater, I almost went crazy.  The Strand Theater was where he was playing--hey!  Is this all on tape--?

GT:  Every bit.  Ha ha ha.

JS:  So anyway.  Jimmy Dorsey is playing there, and he introduces a young singer named Helen O’Connell, who must have been about 17 or 18 years old, and she was a knockout!  She still is a knockout with me years later.  She sang a song called [starts to sing] “All of me, why not--”  [Laughs]  [unt] but not me, I’m shy.  But I’ll never forget that.  I also Milton Berle quite a bit.  I saw, oh, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby--Bing was a drunk on that occasion, that’s too bad.  Loews State had more Vaudeville rather than stage shows.  Vaudeville--they had like live [or five] acts.  But the Strand, the Paramount, oh, uh, the Capitol Theater also had big bands.  I saw [unt] there.  I would try to work it--sometimes if you’re lucky, the first thing they would show is the band, and then the movie, you see, and then I was staying to watch the band again, because they’d play differently or, uh, numbers--maybe in the first show, they did, like, something happens, or something else is going on.  We tried to hope that the stage show would come on first.  You know he [unt] Frank Sinatra there.  With Benny Goodman?

GT:  Uh, what?

JS:  When Benny Goodman was playing at the Paramount, he was told a singer would be joining the act, so to speak, and--[unt]--the whole point is, she said the famous line.  They used to come up from below, and at that point, I think Frank Sinatra must have been coming on stage, and Benny had not yet reached the level, and he heard this SCREECH and [unt] and the famous line was,  “What the hell is that?”  [Laughs]  Get it?

GT: Yeah, that sounds familiar...

JS: You know where you heard that?  PBS did--Benny Goodman’s last thing he made for PBS for a fund-raising thing, and he had that pickup band, and they had a lot of good music?

GT:  Yeah, I think I saw him do that--he told that story.

JS:  Frank Sinatra came out and told that story.  Now that’s on a record, on a big album.  I told you this.  Now who did the liner notes?

GT:  Uh...his name was Schwartz.

JS:  [Laughs]  No, no, who wrote the liner notes for Benny Goodman--Harlan Ellison!

GT:  Is that true?

JS:  I have the record.  I’ll let you have it if you want.

GT:  Well, I’d like to look at it.

JS:  He had some good numbers.  He had a pretty good band.

GT:  Goodman?

JS: Yeah.  It was a pick-up--I mean, there was no ‘Goodman Band’ at this--

GT:  Oh, you mean at this--

JS:  This is six months before he died!

GT:  Oh, a final performance.

JS:  Yeah!  No one knew it, of course.  But he was in great shape.

GT:  I saw him at Carnegie Hall when they did the anniversary in 1979.

JS:  I’d have loved to have seen that.  What’s the famous thing where they show you part of the routine with “Sing, Sing, Sing”--what do they always show you?

GT:  Probably Lionel Hampton doing something easy[?]--

JS:  No, no, no, it’s not even part of the band.  They splash[?] in on some well-to-do people sitting up front, and they’re all going like--we’re showing society people [unt] Carnegie Hall never had anything like this [?], and they’re all keeping time with the--you never saw that?

GT:  No, I never saw it.

JS:  They did that thing in The Benny Goodman Story, with Steve Allen--?  They show that same thing.

GT:  That rings a note, sure.  But I’ve never seen the films of that actual performance.

JS:  There are only parts of it.  The one they used to show is the, uh, the “Sing, Sing, Sing”--

GT:  That’s a recording, a stereo recording by accident.

JS:  Oh, really?

GT:  They set up two microphones just in case one went wrong, or just to see which had the better sound, and Goodman threw them into his closet and forgot about them.  And years later, like 1969, they found them.  “Oh, that’s just two different tracks of--”

JS:  They had the ability to--

GT:  Well, it was just two separate recorders running on two separate mikes--

JS:  And it did well?

GT:  It was the perfect stereo combination.  So that concert--

JS:  Well, what are the films I’ve seen?  Who did the films?

GT:  I don’t know.  They were probably taken by an interested party.

JS:  Why didn’t they film the whole concert?  That would be a great--

GT:  Oh, yeah, yeah, I’m sure they did.

JS:  Well, I would buy that on videotape.

GT:  Yeah, no kidding!  That’s a great album.

JS:  So, uh, his piano player had a job to do right after the concert, and he did this routine with Eddie Condon, kind of [unt] the group--Teagarden Vaudeville Orchestra [?]--and they didn’t have a name for it.  So one was a jump tune [?] and one was a [unt], so because the piano player had just come over from Carnegie Hall, they called it Carnegie Drag and Carnegie Jump.  And who was that piano player?

GT:  Teddy Wilson?

JS:  [unt] Carnegie Hall [unt] --married to a pretty good singer.

GT:  Phil Harris.

JS:  Who is  [Laughs]  The greatest of all singers...

GT:  I’m stumped--Frances Langford, of course.

JS:  No, the other one, next to Frances Langford.  We both love her.

GT:  I don’t know, you’ve stumped me again, Julie.

JS:  I’m her biggest fan in the Bronx and New York.

GT:  Oh, Lee Wiley[?].  Well, who’s Lee Wiley’s husband?

JS:  You don’t know?

GT:  Tell me!

JS:  Jess Stacy[?]!

GT:  Oh, of course.

JS:  You’d better to go to sleep [unt]

GT:  But I’ve heard a lot of Jess Stacy.

JS:  [unt] he was pretty good [unt].  You like Joe Sullivan?

GT:  It was fun to talk jazz with Howard.

JS:  Howard who?

GT:  Chaykin!

JS:  Oh!

GT:  How many Howards do--

JS:  Oh, Howie!  You call him Howard--to me, he’s Howie Chaykin.

GT:  He’s always been Howard to me, and always will be.

JS:  Howie to me, he’ll always--

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