Thursday, June 21, 2012

Go Ask Mary: the world's dirtiest diary

I don't what this is, must be flu or something, but it is evil.

I hardly ever get sick, and only got really sick on the plane home from San Francisco as it began to land (which takes about 35 minutes or so, during which someone took a drill-bit to each ear and cranked). None of the "methods" to clear my head worked, and I was in excruciating pain, like an icy wind whistling against your face when you have a bad tooth. When we landed, it did not go away, my ears never did "pop", and the next day, Oh Gawd.

I'm having trouble typing this and making about 150 errors per line, but I need some sort of distraction from this rotting feeling in the bones. So I will obsess about something else, something completely unrelated: Mary Astor's Diary.

You've heard about this? No? The first time I heard about it, I swear it was in one of David Niven's memoirs. He wrote three of them, and I have two  and I cannot find the reference to this ANYWHERE. I was sure it was in the first one, The Moon's a Balloon, then even more sure it was in the second one (which I ordered used from Amazon for one cent, smelling like a rotten pumpkin with the glue all cracked). Nothing! Then why did I remember specific lines like:

Mary Astor , a glamorous star from the 1940s, "looked like a beautiful and highly shockable nun," but "by her own admission she was at her best in bed". The book then quotes the diary she kept of her steamy affair with playwright George S. Kaufman, one of the Gonkers I wrote about in my post about Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley (which see):

This diary created some sort of hoo-ha in the '40s, I think over a child custody case with her husband. (Need I say both she and George were married, but not to each other?) But do you think I can find it? Do you think I can quote that salacious material (now considered bogus, but wouldn't any lawyer say that?) which graced the pages of one of Niven's not-very-salacious books?

He wrote a third book that's described as a novel, and I'm so obsessed by this topic now that I spent another cent (yes, you CAN get books for one cent from Amazon, though no one believes me) to get a copy. If it's not in there, then I don't know how I could have remembered such specific things.  I can still find bits of the dirty diary here and there, but not the really good parts.  I had a book somewhere called Hollywood Babylon, but can't find it either. Perhaps during my last book-purge for painting, I chucked it out, ashamed of the sleazy peep-show side of me that makes my life worth living.

Maybe I missed it in the first two memoirs. I don't know. I  flipped through each book, skimmed every page. Most of the first book, The Moon's a Balloon, a huge bestseller, is mostly a dull account of his military service during World War II. It's sanitized, not mentioning his second wife's alcoholism or the fact that their courtship lasted six weeks, not ten days.

Maybe it's being sick and this bone-rotting ache and the sneezing and horrible hacking cough - I cannot believe how red the back of my throat is - but I feel like I HAVE to track down this third Niven book . Fiction or not, it may well expand on my knowledge, like George S. Kaufman expanding on (in?) the highly-shockable Mary.

(Note. This is the only excerpt I have been able to find, but I KNOW it is not complete. I won't tell you the other parts unless and until I can find that David Niven book. This is from Hollywood Babbling On or something like that. Except for that one f-bomb, it strikes me as pretty mild by today's standards.)

Mary Astor's Diary: 1936

"His first initial is G, and I fell like a ton of bricks. I met him Friday. Saturday he called for me at the Ambassador and we went to the Casino for lunch and had a very gay time! Monday—we ducked out of the boring party. It was very hot so we got a cab and drove around the park a few times and the park was, well, the park, and he held my hand and said he’d like to kiss me but didn’t.

Tuesday night we had a dinner at ‘21’ and on the way to see Run Little Chillun he did kiss me—and I don’t think either of us remember much what the show was about. We played kneesies during the first two acts, my hand wasn’t in my own lap during the third. It’s been years since I’ve felt up a man in public, but I just got carried away.

Afterwards we had a drink someplace and then went to a little flat in 73rd Street where we could be alone, and it was all very thrilling and beautiful. Once George lays down his glasses, he is quite a different man. His powers of recuperation are amazing, and we made love all night long. It all worked perfectly, and we shared our fourth climax at dawn. I didn’t see much of anybody else the rest of the time—we saw every show in town, had grand fun together and went frequently to 73rd Street where he fucked the living daylights out of me."

Excerpts published in Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, from the diary of actress Mary Astor, whose affair with the playwright and critic George S. Kaufman was exposed during her 1936 custody battle. She claimed the snippets leaked to the tabloids were inaccurate. We’ll never know: A judge in 1952 had it burned.


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look


  1. David Niven really did have a horrible dirty little mind.

  2. What? Not a delightfully dirty mind?

  3. I always thought he was a bit of a weasel. Maybe that moustache. If you're going to have a moustache, HAVE a moustache. Don't go around like Hitler or Tennessee Ernie Ford.

  4. That's called The Pencil-thin Moustache of the Inveterate Rapscallion.

  5. Bring on the empty horses, page 191