Monday, February 25, 2019

At home with the unhappy bride

Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis at HOME 

(transcript of article)

Intimate glimpse of the Lloyds at their new and ornamental home which Harold built especially for Mildred, his bride

by Grace Kingsley

I was dashed up to the house in Annie.

If there is anything I do love, it is being dashed up.

Annie is short for anniversary, She is a new sport model roadster given by Harold Lloyd to his bride, Mildred, three months from the day they were married. They give each other presents every month, and call the day their "anniversary". Next anniversary, Harold is to give Mildred a solid gold vanity case.

"What do you give Harold?" I asked Mildred, after I was inside the house, and everything was explained to me.

"Oh, things I want for the house!" explained Mildred with her airy little laugh.

Mildred is looking lovely these days - a fit gem for that beautiful big house of theirs - built for Mildred especially, and according to the plans she selected. So if the sideboard and the closets aren't just right, she has no one to blame but herself.

It is a very big house for such a little girl - but bright, high, airy, luxurious without being heavy is the way - and so homey, somehow!

If there are any such things as human vibrations, they surely exist in this love nest. You feel just that sort of exhilaration suitable to a honeymoon house, the moment you enter the place.

Mildred welcomed me. Harold is a hard-working husband, and hadn't come home yet.

"Why, Harold gets up at five in the morning, and doesn't get home until six at night!" exclaimed Mildred.

"And are artists really temperamental to live with?" I asked.

Mildred looked awfully earnest - for her.

"Oh, nobody can know how untemperamental and kind and thoughtful Harold is who hasn't lived with him," she answered fervently.

But with all her happiness - Mildred wants to go back to the films.

"I see all the other girls getting ahead," she said, "and I want to, too, I'm getting way behind. Don't you think that if a woman has ever used her brains and her talents, it is hard to give up her work?" she asked wistfully. I agreed with her, even though way down deep in my heart, I felt just a wee bit of sympathy, too, with Harold in his desire that Mildred should be content as a housewife.

"You see, Harold tries to tempt me with boxes of candy," laughed Mildred, "but I've gone on my diet," she added resolutely, "just a lamb chop and a bit of pineapple three times a day. Oh, I can't look a little lamb in the face these days, and I begin to pine the moment I look at a pineapple. I'm taking more slimming baths, too."

"And Harold is going to give his consent to you going into pictures?" I asked.

"Yes! I don't know what happened to Harold. I think somebody must have been talking to him. Maybe it was Douglas Fairbanks. Anyway, Harold came home one day and said he wouldn't stand in my way - that in after years I might blame him if he hadn't given me my chance. 'Dearie,'  he said, 'I don't want you to feel, when we get older, that I have stood in your way.' That was awfully nice of him, wasn't it?"

Still, it would appear that while Harold is quite in sympathy in general with Mildred's film aspirations, when any particular offer comes it is wrong, in one way or another. So I have my suspicions - just suspicions, mind you - that Harold is playing a very canny game - telling Mildred she may return to the screen, but sort of waiting until he can take her to Europe and get her mind off her career.

But goodness knows, I wouldn't crimp his game for anything!

They are going ahead, Harold and Mildred, next April, you know. It is all quite thoroughly settled about that. They are going merely to Europe however, and are reserving Asia and  Africa for a later date.

It was just as Mildred was telling me all about it, that Harold came in after his day's work.

Mildred is still a new enough bride to fling herself into her husband's arms when he comes home at night, and Harold is a (end of page).

BLOGGER'S NOTES.  When I first saw this page from a 1923 magazine story about Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis, blissfully cohabiting in their new "honeymoon" home, I thought: OK then, can I blow it up? Will this flyspeck type yield anything useful? Meaning: if I enlarged it enough, could I get a transcript? Turned out I could (though it took forever, and I had to guess at some words).

At first it just seemed like the normal Hollywood promotional piece, the two newlyweds settling into their elegant-but-"homey" new home - but then I thought, wait. Mildred was being portrayed as some sort of featherbrained, breathless little girl, with some truly insulting phrases being used to describe her: "Mildred looked awfully earnest - for her." "It is a very big house for such a little girl." "So if the sideboards and closets aren't just right, she has no one to blame but herself." And as for the two "lovebirds", Harold, as it turns out, isn't even home. He gets up for work at 5:00 a.m., then disappears until he comes home at 6:00 p.m. (presumably to have his dinner). In this story he's a no-show, a non-entity, though Mildred refers to him constantly.

While assuring us all that Mildred is perfectly happy in her new home, the writer of the piece reveals something kind of heartbreaking: Mildred says she misses being in films, is afraid she's falling behind, and wants to ask Harold for permission to jump back in. Harold has sneakily appeared to give his consent (which, of course, she needs to do anything at all), all the while planning to whisk her off to Europe to take her mind off the whole thing.

And that's not counting the boxes of candy he plies her with to ruin her actress's figure. But the truly ridiculous line in this phony-baloney puff piece is her "diet" of lamb with pineapple. "Oh, I can't look a little lamb in the face these days, and I begin to pine the moment I look at a pineapple."

OH. . . COME. . . ON.

This is not a real interview. This person, this "Grace Kingsley", has never been anywhere near the huge, pretentious, elegantly excessive sprawl known as Greenacres (and you'll notice Kingsley never even mentions it by name, or gives more than the sketchiest of generic descriptions). 

The only part that seems to ring true is the saddest part: "Don't you think that if a woman has ever used her brains and her talents, it is hard to give up her work?" The interviewer ponders what she has said. "I agreed with her, even though way down deep in my heart, I felt just a wee bit of sympathy, too, with Harold in his desire that Mildred should be content as a housewife."

Should. Content. Housewife. 

Worst of all is that Mildred is given absolutely no credit for the amazing career she built for herself pre-Harold. Her well-established performing talent and luminous camera presence explain why he purposely approached her to be his next leading lady. That sort of stellar opportunity doesn't come along unless you are well prepared for it.

After I had transcribed this, the whole thing began to clang.  "Grace Kingsley" could be anyone, because I do not believe for one minute that he or she ever TALKED to Mildred Davis (whom no one ever called Mildred - she was always Mid or Molly). This person, whom I suspect was male, never took the trouble to drive up that monstrous hill to Greenacres, but just cobbled together bits of information from "sources" such as rumor, hearsay and other magazines. Photos of the couple at Greenacres were ubiquitous. As for Mildred's "contentment" and willingness to give up a brilliant film career, all that was soon to be taken out of her hands. In their innermost circle, it was known that the two "had to get married": Harold had knocked up his co-star and was required to marry her to save face.  Mostly his.

I don't know what to say about all this, and I don't want to say anything at all about the worst of it. Just that the truth seems to be too harsh for fans to take, then as now. Who was there to blow the whistle on Grace Kingsley? He or she was just doing his/her job. For all I know, this person DID go to Greenacres and hear Mildred prattle on about a little lamb. But somehow, the whole thing just seems too contrived to be believable.