I found a note among my scruffily unassorted papers that reads:
"A life well-lived, with all its pain, loneliness, silences when you would have noise, and noise when you would have silence." I don't know if I wrote-- and thought-- that, or had heard it and it and wrote it down because it touched me. This has been the most introspective winter of my life-- not that I meant it to be so, but the weather has kept me inside both my apartment and myself, and though the act of just being alive seems a positive one, I don't like having nothing to show for it.
This is intensified by the fact that City Center is having one of its mini-revivals, "THE MOST HAPPY FELLA." When I was 20, and in Hollywood trying to be discovered as a songwriter, which I very much was, there was an agent at MCA named Bobby Helfer, a genuinely kind man, a cousin of Elmer Bernstein, the top of the music-for-film chain, who really liked my songs but said he couldn't try to sell me because he couldn't ask enough money for me, whereas he could get many times the amount for Les Baxter, a hottie in the then marketplace. But in the end he said "The hell with it, I'm going to do it anyway." So he set me up with an audition with Frank Loesser.
Frank listened and said "Kid, you're the biggest talent since me." Pretty thrilling words, even without music. He then courted me, minimally as I recall, but it was enough, and he took me to bed, in my furnished apartment on N. Havenhurst. Understand, those of you with a today mentality, that women, or more accurately, girls of that era did not do that, especially the good ones, which I more than
more than was. But I was in love with Tony Perkins, who was the bright, clever, handsome young star of his day, and we had fun, and he loved my songs, and I didn't know who he really wanted was Tab Hunter. So here I was with this great songwriter, and when we were finished making love, such as it was, he got up and went to my electric piano and played me the new song from his new show "MOST HAPPY FELLA." It was called "Warm all Over" and I can still see him sitting there, naked, the crack of his bare butt on that grayish white bench, singing it badly but with great heart which I don't think he really had one of but could put into a song.
But I believe I told him it was wonderful, because I don't know what else I could possibly have said, except "I hope you love me a little," as all of us girls wanted to feel in those days, which I can't believe were as long ago as they are. And when it was over, he said "Write me a musical, kid."
So of course I did. It took me about three weeks-- I was very fast then, and, of course, thought I was in love. Tony, who had never discussed or even hinted at his homosexuality, and surely didn't want me, was still pissed that I had been with Frank, and said, in one of his few bitchy moments--he was strangely kind to me-- "Did you think you would get more gifted through injection?" But he admired the songs, so I sent them off to Frank, and waited to hear.
And waited and waited. Finally I called him. "Great kid, Great," he said. And I said "Well?" And he said "Let me think about it."
A while later, having taken another gulp of heart, I called Frank again, and asked what was happening with my musical. And he said "Moss and I are doing a show we're working on in Boston, and I've used a couple of your songs."
I said "What about money?"
And he said "Write your family."
The show Moss(I assume Hart) and he were working on never came to New York. But I did see Frank one more time. He was standing on a street corner, and a few feet away from him was Jo Sullivan, whom he had married, after his divorce from Lynn, who was known in show business as "The Evil of Two Loessers." He saw me and whispered "Don't say anything," which I assume was because he didn't want her to know we had been together or just maybe was because he didn't want me to say anything about anything, which I haven't till now, all renewed and reminded because I am going to see his show this afternoon.
There were many other young writers that I know he used, though perhaps not so thoroughly or in the same way. But the music remains, and the lyrics, which were pretty clever, as clever as I wasn't personally.
Bobby Helfer, the dear agent who unexpectedly supported me, committed suicide shortly after that, on his 42nd birthday, by taking 42 pills. There are worse things, obviously, than not having someone honor your music.
Then yesterday I went to see THE MOST HAPPY FELLA, and there is no doubt it is a work of genius. Frank, which I believe I can call him, having been intimate except on any meaningful level, wanted so much to be a true musician, that even though he could hardly play the piano, made it into a just-about-opera, and it IS wonderful. Though what it really is is a number of sensational songs, about 22, connected by a few recitatives that I suppose sound operatic. But it is a Great Great show, and I forgive him for being less than a Great Guy.
You can't have everything.