Amazing what you can ferret out if you just keep trying. Turns out those lost excerpts from Mary Astor's infamous diary weren't in David Niven's books - any of them. There was mention of Mary being "a very busy girl indeed", but no explicit details.
I'm sick as shit today and can't sit in my office chair because it hurts my butt, can't kneel in front of my computer because it hurts my knees, can't sit up in bed to read because it hurts everything, and am too bored and uncomfortable to sleep. So I went on sniffing the ground like a jowly old bloodhound for answers.
As it turned out, what I was looking for was right under my nose. The bookcase in my office is mainly for show, with nice-looking but basically boring hardcovers that were a mistake to purchase. But in with all this bumph (perhaps buried by guilt) was THE BOOK: Hollywood Babylon (which I only bought to research a paper on Cecil B. deMille, I swear!).
OK, so Mary's little diary isn't nearly as salacious as the things we see today, but by the standards of the 1930s it's pretty hot. It even drops the f-bomb a couple of times, so be warned, if that sort of thing bothers you. Her unlikely liaison with the married playwright George S. Kaufman, who looked a bit like Kramer in hornrims, generated all sorts of sparks and steam. The story continues. . .
"One morning about 4 we had a sandwich at Reuben's, and it was just getting daylight, so we drove through the park in an open cab, and the birds started singing , and it was a cool and dewy day and it was pretty heavenly to pet and French. . . right out in the open. . .
Was any woman ever happier? It seems that George is just hard all the time. . . I don't see how he does it, he is perfect."
Such "perfection" had to be carefully hidden from her husband. But there were ways.
"Monday I went to the Beverly Wiltshire and was able to see George alone for the first time. He greeted me in pajamas, and we flew into each other's arms. He was rampant in an instant, and in a few moments it was just like old times. . . he tore out of his pajamas and I never was undressed by anyone so fast in all my life. . .
Later we went to Vendome for lunch, to a stationer's shop. . . then back to the hotel. It was raining and lovely. It was wonderful to fuck the entire sweet afternoon away. . . I left about 6 o'clock. . .
Sat around in the sun all day - lunch in the pool with Moss (presumably, playwright Moss Hart) and George and the Rogers - dinner at the Dunes - a drink in the moonlight WITHOUT Moss and Rogers. Ah, desert night - with George's body plunging into mine, naked under the stars!
(Uh, OK. Sooner or later the starlit idyll ended: the jig was up and Mary's husband threw a fit, demanding she give up George immediately. But Mary was not quite ready to surrender her sweet desert nights beside the pool.)
"For the sake of peace and respite from all this emotionalism, I told him I would do nothing at the present. My main reason for saying that is, quite honestly, I want to be able to see George for the rest of his stay here without being all upset - looking like hell. I want to have the last few times of completely enjoying him."
Completely enjoy him she did, like prime rib or a fine piece of sirloin. Why she chose such a complete doofus still remains a mystery, especially in light of the rumors that he and his wife lived chastely separate lives.
I like the chick-a-boom at the end of this story.
"Kaufman had taken a powder during the courtroom proceedings: he sat them out in New York with Hart. He dodged queries concerning the case, but once, when cornered by reporters at the stage door of the Music Box, he allowed:
"You may say I did not keep a diary."