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Showers . . . Followed By A Wedding—Mary Lou Van Ness

One of the loveliest showers in Hollywood, this spring, was given by Diana Lynn and Lizabeth Scott for their good friend and secretary Mary Lou Van Ness. Mary Lou has a Hollywood dream job. She’s secretary to all the stars at Paramount—they call her “Miss Indispensable.”

Her office, a dressing-room apartment just like a star’s, is situated between the dressing rooms of Bing Crosby and Betty Hutton. One of Mary Lou’s duties is to know, at all times, exactly where every actor on the lot can be located. She must know, too, when they have wardrobe fittings, any changes that have been made in their scripts, when their next picture starts, their anniversaries, the audience reaction at a sneak preview . . . she even shops for the stars.

Nine years, now, she’s had this post which she created for herself when she went to the studio head, Harry Ginsberg, and convinced him that there was a desperate need for just such a position.

Mary Lou, although she’s always liked and been interested in motion picture people, has always said, “I will never marry an actor. It would be like taking my typewriter home at night.”

However, last autumn when Mary Lou was on vacation and, in blue jeans and without make-up, painting her fence, a tall, dark and handsome man came along and said, “What are you doing?”

“Painting my fence, of course, silly!”

She was doing a rather sloppy job of it, so Tall-Dark-and-Handsome said, “Let me show you how.” When they stopped for a cooling drink, he said his name was Lee Fredericks. No, she said, she wasn’t married, and what did he do? Well, Lee said he was an actor just fresh out in Hollywood from the New York stage and great things were probably going to happen to him. When Mary Lou didn’t spark at that, Lee quietly said, “What’s wrong with that?”

“It’s just that you’re an actor and I’m on my vacation,” Mary Lou said.

They went together for seven months. Just before they were married, Lee finished his first picture (not at Paramount) starring in “The Sun Sets at Dawn,” which has a cast of New York stage actors, all new to Hollywood. His next picture is “Prowl Car” with Edmond O’Brien.

Diana’s and Lizabeth’s shower for Mary Lou was held in the evening (nearly all the guests being working girls), at Diana’s new Canyon home. The studio workers and stars had just the sort of fun you have when a popular girl in your crowd gets married. The shower presents were a mixture of glamorous and practical ones. The Alan Ladds (Sue couldn’t be there) sent a beautiful dressing gown, Olga San Juan (Mrs. Edmond O’Brien) gave Mary Lou a carving set and steak knives, Wanda Hendrix’s gift was a silver ice bucket (Wanda also gave her a beautiful antique chair for a wedding present). Corinne Calvet’s gift was a set of beautifully embroidered sheets and pillowcases, and Lizabeth had searched until she found a lovely seascape in an antique frame, which was one of the shower highlights. Diana gave Mary Lou two lovely sets of pink sheets and pillowcases, and there were scores of other lovely things.

The wedding presents which came later were also a young bride’s dream gifts. Bing Crosby sent the couple a television set, and Bob and Dolores Hope turned over their home in Palm Springs to the newlyweds for their honeymoon. If Bing Crosby’s son had been marrying Bob Hope’s daughter, there couldn’t have been more excitement. The wardrobe department helped Mary Lou with her trousseau and Nellie Manley, head of the hair-dressing department, did Mary Lou’s hair. Other gifts included an electric mixer from Betty Hutton, a silver Lazy Susan from Jerry Lewis, an electric table broiler from John Lund, and many others.

Diana and Liz didn’t want the gifts to steal the whole show at their shower, so they prepared a buffet supper table that was beautiful and imaginative. It was decorated with tall, white taper candles, red tulips and heather, and as a centerpiece they spent hours making a miniature stage set with an actor and actress going through a scene, and a tiny bride in all her finery, looking through the window. There was also a beautiful bride-to-be cake, trays of divine sandwiches, and a huge bowl of champagne punch on the table.

The sandwiches were: Nut bread with cream cheese; chicken salad on white bread; cucumber open face sandwiches on whole wheat; egg salad; chopped black olives with pimiento.


Combine 1 cup chopped chicken meat, ¼ cup finely chopped celery, 1 tsp. lemon juice, ½ tsp. coarse ground pepper, ½ tsp. salt, dash of cayenne, and 4 tbsp. mayonnaise. Spread on buttered white bread. Cut in 2squares. Garnish with parsley.


Pare and slice cucumbers 1-inch thick. Hollow out and drain. Mix equal amounts of chopped watercress and sharp yellow cheese spread. Fill cucumber ‘boats and sprinkle with paprika. Place on whole wheat bread cut with round cookie cutter.


Hardcook 5 eggs. Shell and chop. Add ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley, ½ tsp. dry mustard, 1 tsp. onion juice. Mix well. Make sandwiches using slices of buttered whole wheat bread. Cut in finger strips.


Combine 1 small can chopped black olives and I pimiento, finely chopped with enough mayonnaise to make a spread. Make sandwiches of white bread. Cut in circles with cookie cutter.


(Makes 20 Servings)

Cut in very thin slices:

2 cans (No. 1 tall) peach halves

Add: 1 cup brandy

Cover. Let stand overnight. When ready to serve fill a clean wide-mouthed quart jar with cracked ice. Turn upside down in punch bowl. This keeps punch cold without diluting it.

Pour around it:

3 bottles very cold champagne

1 bottle very cold white wine

Add: 1 (10% oz.) jar maraschino cherries with juice

Brandy-soaked peaches

Float orange blossoms on top, and you have a nectar for the gods.


(Makes 2 loaves)

Sift, then measure:

1½ cups flour

Sift again with:

5 teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons salt

1/3 cup sugar


1½ cups whole wheat flour

¾ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup cut-up dates or raisins

½ cup dark molasses

1¼ cups milk

2 tablespoons melted shortening

Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture. Stir enough to blend thoroughly. Do not heat. Turn into greased loaf pan or 2 well-greased (No. 1 or No. 2) tall cans. Bake in a moderate oven (350° F.) 45 minutes. When cool, slice thin for sandwiches.


If your mixing equipment is large enough, make double this recipe. Or have a friend bring bowls and pans, mix one recipe each, but bake them together.

Sift, then measure:

2½ cups cake flour

Sift again with:

3½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sugar

Place in mixing bowl:

½ cup shortening

Stir just to soften. Add dry ingredients.


1 cup milk

1½ teaspoons vanilla

1½ teaspoon almond extract

Add ¾ cup to flour and shortening. Stir until all flour is dampened. Then beat 300 strokes. Add remaining milk.


4 egg whites

Add, a small amount at a time:

1/3 cup sugar

Beat after each addition. Continue beating until mixture stands in soft peaks. Add to batter. Beat 150 strokes. Pour in two 9 layers and bake in a moderate oven (350° F.) 30 to 35 minutes.

Or make double this recipe and bake in 3 well-greased 8 square pans, 35 to 45 minutes or until firm. Turn out. Place side by side on cardboard covered with lace-paper doilies. Frost between and on top with Butter Cream Frosting.


Beat. with a wooden spoon until fluffy:

½ cup butter or margarine


1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Add to butter gradually, beating well afte each addition.


few grains salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla


5 tablespoons cream

Add gradually, beating well after each addition. Add just enough cream to give a good spreading consistency. Frost tops and sides of two 9 layers. Double recipe if large cake is to be frosted and decorated. Frost cake. Stiffen remaining frosting with more sugar and tint. Put through pastry tube to decorate.

‘When the day of the wedding finally came, every Paramount star who was not) working attended the ceremony at the) St. Charles Catholic Church in North Hollywood and the reception that followed.

Everyone agreed—it couldn’t have happened to a nicer secretary.

(Liz Scott and Diana Lynn are in Hal Wallis’s “Paid in Full,” Wanda Hendrix in) “Capt. Carey, U.S.A.,” Corinne Calvet in “My Friend Irma Goes West.”) 





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