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Critical Moments

July 17, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Westport, Conn., the home of many writers, actors and other forms of literati who can pay the rent and the meat bills, has of course a summer playhouse. It is called, not too brightly but sensibly, The Westport Country Playhouse, and from a correspondent in that nearly snooty community comes the following report of what transpired in said playhouse last week:

“A crowded and enthusiastic first night audience greeted Sam Jaffe Monday night at the West-port Country Playhouse, when he appeared in the role of Herschkowitz in the English world premiere of ‘The Bride of Torozko,’ a Hungarian comedy drama adapted by Ruth Langner, sister-in-law of Lawrence Langner, director of the Playhouse.

“Jean Arthur played the role of the bride, Klari, who, after varying vicissitudes as a Catholic, a Jewess and then a Protestant, finally marries.

“The play contains a racial appeal, a plea for Jewry at its best. The second act shows Herschkowitz, the kindly old innkeeper, teaching Klari Jewish rituals and rites after he has taken the little foundling into his home. An error of the recorder makes the Catholic Klari a Jewess, and she is about to be adopted by the wife of her supposed father, his illegitimate child, however, when the recorder right about faces and reveals that he has again made a mistake, that Klari is neither Catholic nor Jewish, but the foundling daughter of a Protestant couple.

“Jaffe is superb in the role, humorous, and as appealing as he was in ‘Grand Hotel’ and in George Jessel’s ‘The Jazz Singer.’ Jessel, with his wife, Miss Talmadge, was at the Playhouse last week to watch the latest effort of his protege, Jaffe, for it was Jessel who found Sam on Second avenue and transplanted him to Broadway.”


It was with some glee that I read an announcement sent out by Fox Films which conveyed the information that Shirley Temple, Hollywood’s latest child star, will play opposite Will Rogers in a picture yet untitled and now in the throes of production. I say “with some glee” because this little actress will steal, with no trouble at all, the acting honors away from the gum-chewing, snivelling ex-cowhand. By the way, Shirley Temple’s latest picture, “Baby, Take a Bow,” is now in its third week at the Roxy Theatre.


W. C. Fields, whose next picture will be called “The Old Fashioned Way,” was caught or forced into a reminiscent mood by the press department of Paramount Pictures.

The antics of Fields in dodging sheriffs, room rent and tomatoes in his next picture, once was no comedy. Fields recalls the nineties when his company was trouping New York “tank towns.” In those dark days he was a juggling and pantomime artist.

“In Jamestown,” he said, “I rented a sleigh. The owner tried to hold me up for harness repair costs after the horse had run away and sent the sheriff after me to collect $2.50. I refused to pay and he tried to bluff me by claiming he had a court order for my arrest. One of the boys finally managed to grab the paper he had been waving under our noses. It was only a John Doe warrant.

“The sheriff and his partner were going to beat me up—and vice versa. In those days everybody punched everybody else on the nose at slightest provocation. But a couple of husky acrobats rushed up to join the fight and hostilities promptly ceased.

“The old boy shook his fist and threatened he’d ‘get me for this.’ I knew his racket and that he would be back with a good warrant so I hid in the coal tender of a train. It pulled out just in time.”

On many occasions drain pipes were the means of ducking unpaid hotel bills, the Paramount star explained. Each member of the company took his turn in sliding from his room to the ground, the next man tossing his luggage down.

“Yes, I’ve been through it all, even to dodging over-ripe tomatoes,” he remarked. “The audience’s aim was remarkable.”

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