HOLLYWOOD – It was Edward G. Robinson on the phone.
There’d been a raffle in the staff canteen over at Warner Bros in aid of orphaned goats and he’d won two tickets to the circus. Tod Browning had offered him $20 for the pair but dear Ed was giving me first refusal.
Everyone in Tinsel Town knew of my love for the big top. My darling mother had been a bearded lady and one of my fathers had left the adoring crowds open mouthed and speechless by riding the strong man bareback. I asked Groucho Marx to come along with me even though I knew his pathological fear of clowns meant I would have to hold his hand the whole time.
But what a night! And what a show! We went backstage after to congratulate the artists who kindly presented us with a tiger. This is the circus folk’s traditional way of asking you to stop making eyes at Sandra The Sword Swallowing Sylph and kindly leave. We finally managed to lose it on the set of Bringing up Baby where I’m afraid it caused all sorts of problems for Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, and Groucho later turned the entire incident into that marvellous picture Nights at the Circus.
I spoke to my lawyer about it but was poorly advised and ended up trying to sue him for regicide.
But that’s another story…