Welcome to Vintage Paparazzi.

Sounds Off With Sydney Skolsky


“How do you feel about an actress punching a columnist when he writes something about her she doesn’t like?”

This is the question that was put to me and a TV panel by the moderator, Dennis James. Of course, I answered that I didn’t feel good about it and I didn’t think actresses should go around punching columnists. I sure don’t want to be socked! Who does? Even prizefighters try to avoid being hit when they are in the ring.

I was the only columnist on that TV panel of fifteen, and twelve out of the fifteen (including me) voted that an actress shouldn’t punch a columnist. I carefully looked over the three who had voted Yes, but I couldn’t figure out their angle. The whole question had come up because a few months ago, Shirley MacLaine had entered the office of columnist Mike Connolly, asked to see him, and after the customary “Hello,” let go with a roundhouse right. It landed solidly on Mike’s face, and Shirley took off with the speed of a jet, not waiting to see if Mike was floored, or giving him the opportunity to counter-attack if he so desired. All Shirley wanted was to punch Mike. Mission accomplished, she left.

Later, after the television program, I gave much thought to this question, and had many more answers. For example, I’d much rather be punched by an actress than an actor. I’d rather be punched by Elizabeth Taylor than Richard Burton; by Joanne Woodward than Paul Newman; by Sandra Dee than Robert Mitchum.

I have gotten along fine with Shirley MacLaine. In fact, she is one of my favorites. The only physical contact we’ve had was kissing each other, politely, when we meet. I look upon this as one of the great pleasures of meeting Shirley. I recalled when she had visited me at my office at Schwab’s, watched a little television with me and then gave me a piggy-back ride as we descended the flight of stairs which leads from my office to the store proper. A piggyback ride! I’m not very heavy, despite the fact I’m always trying to take off weight. Say, Shirley MacLaine must be strong! She must pack a good wallop. I wouldn’t want to be hit by her, especially when she’s angry.

Then I tried to remember if I ever had been punched by an actress for something I had written while covering the Hollywood Beat. I could only recall the other side of the coin; when I was on the other side of the street. I didn’t exactly hit another columnist, a lady, but I did put my anger into motion.

It happened during 1940. I was out of work, after working a year for Hearst. Louella Parsons had said something very mean about me to William Randolph. I had been out of work for a few months and was burning about Louella. I didn’t have a column then, and in this respect I was like Shirley MacLaine.

One night I entered Chasen’s, alone. Louella was in a booth with Margaret Ettinger and the late and fine magazine writer, Alva Johnston. They both invited me to sit with them in their booth. They were unaware that I was burning about Louella. I refused their kind invitation a few times. But they were insistent, and instead of making a federal case out of the past incident, I joined their booth. I found myself sitting next to Louella.

For many minutes I pretended Louella wasn’t present and spoke past her to Margaret and Alva. However, it is difficult to ignore both Louella and my remembrance of things past. Then Louella, trying to be nice, I presume, made a casual remark to the effect that I wasn’t a bad fellow, after all. This did it. I felt more angry than a Shirley MacLaine. I wanted to throw a roundhouse right at her, but I realized this would make the situation worse. I couldn’t hit her in a restaurant filled with names from her column. So I leaned over and bit her on her arm—the right arm, the fleshy upper section. Louella gave a meek ouch. Margaret and Alva thought it was a gag. But I had given vent to my emotions, as the saying goes, and since then Louella and I have been cordial friends, and I started doing a column again.

But this was one time I was on the other side of the street, the side without a column in which to answer anything written or said.

Again, I tried to recall if I had been punched—or even slapped—while conducting a column.

Then I remembered.

It was during the late ’40’s. I had a column again. I was walking in the backyard and then the driveway to the curbstone of my house—lapping up all the sunshine and fresh air—when, suddenly out of nowhere, a gun was poked into my stomach. A female voice said, “You’ve got to stop writing jokes about him.” I managed to look up and see. It was Frances Goldwyn. She still held the gun and continued to speak. “Sam didn’t sleep at all last night. You’ve got to stop writing those jokes about him.” She meant it.

Since then, Frances and I are friendly whenever we chance to meet, and I don’t believe Sam takes those Goldwyn jokes too seriously, regardless of who writes them. I’ll say this, though: whenever anyone talks about Hollywood marriages and defies me to name one that has lasted not only for many years, but one in which the wife is genuinely in love and will go to any length to protect her husband, I have a truthful answer. I name the Goldwyns.

And I know what I’m talking about!

The other week I went out to 20th Century-Fox. Shirley MacLaine, with about twenty chorus girls and boys, was rehearsing a dance number for “What A Way To Go!” Shirley wore rehearsal clothes, and I couldn’t avoid seeing and admiring her legs and thighs. Shapely and sexy. As good, if not better, than any of the chorus girls. What stems!

When there was a break (intermission), Shirley walked over to the sidelines to greet me. I kissed her on the cheek. We chatted about various subjects for about fifteen or twenty minutes. I noticed Shirley’s hands, arms and shoulders. Shirley is really built. She’s solid.

Now Shirley returned to work. And this solid all-woman was graceful and speedy. She moved about fast and in the proper rhythm as she rehearsed the dance number.

Shirley MacLaine can do most anything, I thought as I watched her. She can play a comedy role or a dramatic part or sing or dance or throw a punch!

In fact, as I continued to watch Shirley dance around, I thought to myself that she could take on Sonny Liston and last longer than Floyd Patterson.

That’s for sure, mister! 





No Comments
Leave a Comment

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger