Hollywood Hollywood

Hollywood Hollywood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The diary my mother never wrote is from what I read in the  FBI surveillance reports,  newspaper articles and what my father told me.  My mother’s emotion’s and thoughts erupt from years of research, intuition and imagination.  When I was eleven she gave me a diary. I’ve been writing ever since. I wanted my daughter or son to understand who I was, in case I died young like her. Instead I became dedicated to writing not childbearing.

I think every mother should keep a diary for her children.

Manhattan, December 1944

I am dancing at the Copacabana Night club for the next few weeks. This tiny smoky club is filled with many interesting people. It’s different from any modeling job.

I’m tired after working all day and night, and then taking the train back home to West Orange. Some of the girls are staying at the Barbizon Hotel, so I may also if it’s not too expensive.

Last night, a group of men were seated in the front row. I didn’t know who they were, but this one stared at me all through the show. He sent a bouquet of long-stemmed roses backstage and asked me to meet him for a drink.

When I declined, he was very insistent, and so persuasive I gave in. Later on, I found out he was seated with Frank Costello, the gangster. His name is Allen, and he asked me to dine with him the following night. I hesitated again, and I’m not sure why. He made me laugh and entertained everyone at the table.

January 1944

A talent agent from Hollywood came to the Copa to see all of us dance. Mum is so excited she is already telling everyone in town, I hate when she does this.

Allen called and I agreed to dine with him. We went to El Morocco. He knows so many people. He says he’s in the film business, but there’s talk amongst the girls that he’s a gangster.

March 1944

I’m going to Hollywood for an audition. Swifty Lazar, the one that came to the Copa to see our show, said MGM is signing musical actors. They liked my photos. Allen lives in Hollywood, and is handling all the details. He’s become very interested in my career. It’s all so sudden. There isn’t time to think.

April 1944

I spent a week in Hollywood. Allen drove me all over the city, took me to Santa Monica to see the ocean, to the nightclubs on Sunset Boulevard, and Beverly Hills.

It’s like a dream. I love the city, and MGM has offered me a contract. Again, Allen is helping me make decisions and understand the film business. I don’t know what he does, but he carries a lot of cash. He gets very disturbed when I question him. I met his friend Benjamin Siegel. They are both so handsome and get anything they want.

Summer 1944

We are moving out to California next month. Allen found an apartment in Beverly Hills for us, near where sister Pat can go to High School. She’s so excited. One of the models told me Ben Siegel is a gangster. I wish Allen would open up to me more.

When we moved, our new apartment was on a beautiful street. The apartment is smaller than home, and Mum misses her garden, but she seems happy. She found a Church she likes. She is going to learn to drive.

I have already learned to drive and am saving for a car. Allen knows someone who sells cars, and said he can get me a very good deal. Sometimes, I don’t hear from him for a week, and then he shows up on the studio set with presents.

Allen, Ben and George Raft were arrested for bookmaking. George called and said it wasn’t like the papers wrote, and that Allen would call me when he could.

I’m not to discuss this with anyone. I hid the paper from Mum.

George took me out to dinner. He wants me to be in a movie with him called Nocturne. He’s very fond of Allen and said not to believe what I read in the papers.

Next week we begin filming “Ziegfeld Follies.” Fred Astaire is magnificent to watch. Life is spinning. There is no time to read, or even think. Everyone in Hollywood wants to be a star. I still daydream of going to college one day.

November 1944

I am in love with Allen. There is no turning back. He is Jewish, and his family lives in Winnipeg, Canada. He won’t talk of them, but said he loved his mother.

I wonder so often about his life, but I cannot ask questions. Maybe one day he’ll trust me more. He’s suspicious of everyone. He said he’s going to marry me when his life settles down.




Sometimes a blank piece of paper is the only way to begin, as it is today. December is a blank canvass, I look out the window and there are only stark undressed tree trunks, and tiny snow rocks on the front lawn.  The sky is pale winter blue and the temperature is ten degrees.  December is the month that reminds me most of Casey, a woman that threw the dice all her life. She gambled on her dreams.

Casey never told me much about herself.  She lived in the present moment, and considered her past a private matter.  Once I learned of her struggles as a young woman and the life she’d chosen, she became more real than when I’d known her.  During the years we were friends, she handed out selected stories, abruptly, with final endings. Being the inquisitive character, the shallowness of her stories bated me.  I had to pry the truth out from other people who had known her, and from government documents.

Casey’s first gamble was at sixteen years old. She sent in a photograph of herself for the Redbook Magazine modeling contest. If she’d won, the Powers Modeling Agency in New York City would grant her an audition as a model.  Casey was living in East Orange, New Jersey with her mother and sister. Her father had died suddenly, leaving the family without a financier.  Her mother was lost without her husband, and unsuited to join the workplace.  Casey didn’t tell her mother about the contest, until she received the letter of congratulations.

John Robert Powers met Casey in his office on East 56th Street and signed her on as a Powers Girl. She was stunning to look at, she photographed like a movie-star, and she was modest.  John Powers did not look for aggressive, pouty lipped, fearlessness.    The Powers Girls were captioned, Long Stemmed American Beauties because they were wholesome, beautiful, tasteful, courteous, and virtuous. They were so far from the runway models of today it is almost a reversal of style.  The models of the thirties were ordained to set the highest example of a classic good breeding, and education. John not only schooled them in fashion, and individual taste, he instructed them in moral integrity, independence, and patriotism for their country.  So Casey went to school at John Robert Powers and became one of the top ten models in the country.

She was a blue black haired Irish beauty, with emerald green eyes and perfect teeth. She stood only 5’ 7” but in those days that was fairly standard. When I knew her, she was still thin and beautiful but she did not fuss about herself, or spend a lot of time at her vanity.  As a Powers model Casey had a long line of gentlemen callers. Powers Girls were invited to all the nightclub and dinner show openings, the sporting events, community galas and fund-raisers.  Social engagements were part of her job. Casey was not a woman of idle chat, in fact a lot of people thought of her as restrained and unfriendly, maybe even snobbish. I think it was more secrecy.  People were always prying into her life, because it looked glamorous.  But there was another side to that glamour she didn’t want to put a mirror to.

One evening Casey had a dancing engagement at the Copacabana nightclub in New York City. She was on stage with some other dancers when a certain gentlemen noticed her.  The next chapter of Casey’s life began that night.  At twenty- two years old, she fell in love with a man thirteen years older, of the Jewish faith, and who lived in Hollywood.   Casey never told me that she fell in love with a gangster.    I do know once she felt love for this man, it could not be reversed. The consequences of her love forced her to change, to adapt to a new kind of life, and different people.

She did not bury or give back her love after she learned what he did for a living.  She asked him to reform his criminal activities and he agreed, if only she would marry him.  We all know at twenty-two a woman believes she can change a man, and a man lets her think she can.  Without that dream, many lovers would not have found their mates.

Casey did marry her love, and spent her life trying to keep her husband on the track of honesty.  I met her husband just after he tried to reform, and was beaten down by his past mistakes.   I called him Daddy.


The throw of the dice this week lands on redefining one kind of relationship for another. It’s also called the breakup.  The words are familiar to most of us.  How we get there is unfamiliar. The exact path each of us takes towards intimacy, and then away from it, is custom-made. 

What brings two strangers together at 25 years old is attic material at 55.  The physical appearance and satisfaction meanders over the dips and dives.  All the quarrels, hardships, and difficult compromises are either dropped, or repeated without sustained anger and outrage. The arguments begin and end within 24 hours. There is a journey between a couple and neither one knows the final destination. For some it is an 8 week affair, others an eternal matrimony, and then there are couples who must battle the journey all the way.  For some unknown reason, two people love unevenly. With every other aspect of life in perfect order, the scenery, replenishment of necessities, even absence of tragic disorder, this couple will never find peace. They are unmatched where it counts the most. They are staring at opposite corners, refreshed by different tastes, and feel almost nothing that the other person feels, with the exception of the feeling they have of comfort and trust. After 25 years, you know where the rumbles and ridges are, and you know how to handle them.

You even get accustomed to the battles, and what defenses you can use. The drama though draining has a certain appeal, in that it is familiar. When the truth rises above the camouflage, you cannot mop it off.  It interferes with the loveliness of a yellowed summer moon, or a morning so beautiful that you want to hold it in your hand.  It is like walking with lead in your shoes, and you freeze the lightness in your heart. With this burden, you cannot balance all the other misadventures in life.

When I was 29, my wings had just been released.  I was alone, without any family around me, and I took the least familiar flight, and moved from my home in Los Angeles to Del Mar.  It is beyond the mist of golden memories, it truly was the most unforgettable 6 months of my life.  I had to rebuild everything from scratch, and in the process, I was building myself, step by step. That kind of work is irreplaceable, even the most adventurous of travel does not compare to rebuilding your life.

Now, is not much different from back in 1983, only I am not alone.  I feel the same yearning for self-discovery. A breakup does not erode the love, companionship and trust of a 25-year friendship.  With all those foundations in mint condition, you should be able to take on the new journey you have missed.

But! It is delayed for the reason that attachment is beyond emotional; it affects financial, social, and business survival. One by one solutions can be created.  Sometime circumstances of life create them for you.  Whenever I am stagnate, and unable to make a move, I have to think of my mother’s life.