Chapter 12

Chapter 12
Soaring Career and Love Blooms

Once Upon a Honeymoon November 2, 1942 Hollywood Premiere
November 12, 1942 New York City Premiere
November 27, 1942 USA

Ginger portrays an ex-burlesque queen by the name of Katie O’Hara.  Ginger’s theme song was appropriately the risqué Strip Polka.  Ginger dyed her locks “Ginger” blonde.  Ginger transforms herself into a la-de-dah society snob by the name of Katherine Butt-Smith and goes to Europe.  She seizes a Baron whose family is all deceased and rich to boot.  Katie marries the Baron and becomes Baroness Von Luber.  Unbeknownst to the Baroness is the fact her husband Baron Franz Von Luber (Walter Slezak) is in league with the Nazis.  Where does Cary come in you may ask?  Cary is a foreign correspondent by the name of Patrick ‘Pat’ O’Toole.  He spends his time wooing Katherine and trying to find out what the Baron is planning.
The programs distributed for the world premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York City listed Ginger’s name first.  This was one of the first films to use the word Jewish and their plight in Europe.  The question of top billing was resolved with having half the prints with Cary’s name first while, the remaining prints billed Ginger’s name first.  I have seen ads and lobby cards both ways but when viewing the film on TCM they use the print with Cary’s name first along with the recent DVD rerelease of the film.  I am the proud owner of a lobby card from the film that lists Ginger’s name first.
This film is in the vein of a black comedy drama.  There are some lighthearted scenes but the film deals with the heavy subjects of Jewish concentration camps and the Nazis steamrolling through Europe.  Ginger and Cary play their roles extremely well as does Walter Slezak.  Walter's daughter Erika Slezak is a familiar face on the long running soap One Life to Live as Victoria Lord.  The comedic relief is needed or the darkness of the film would be overwhelming.
Ginger and Cary’s chemistry blend well on the screen.  I am an active participant in their desire for each other and their dilemma over Ginger’s marriage to Walter.  Their love for one another is deep and caring as Ginger sacrifices it by leaving Cary in order to defeat a greater evil.  People from diverse lifestyles made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their lives, well being, and home life for the defeat of a menacing evil sweeping the world at this time.  This generation gave up so much for the betterment of the world.  Today it seems as if we have forgotten how to sacrifice for others and think only of ourselves but then you hear of special people reaching out and helping their fellow man. 
       The haughty Katherine Butt-Smith is expecting a woman’s tailor to take her measurements for her trousseau when Pat O’Toole shows up.  He enters Miss Butt-Smith’s room imitating the expected fitter.  One of the most erotic and sensual scenes put on film follows as Ginger looks up and sees Cary while he looks back at her taking in every tempting inch of her.  There is an allure between them.  Ginger’s beauty and sexuality radiates through her eyes and body language as she rises up off the settee and moves towards Pat.  After this sensual moment has passed, he proceeds to get Miss Butt-Smith’s measurements.  Both Ginger and Cary play the scene perfectly in a very serious but humorous manner.
Once the subterfuge is up Katherine takes Pat into her boudoir to figure out what the good Mr. O’Toole foreign correspondent is going to do now that he has her measurements.  Pat confesses that he was trying to obtain facts and not figures.  Pat tries to figure out what kind of woman she is and what she knows about her future husband's ties with the Nazis.  Pat is intrigued by this enigma in the persona of Katherine Butt-Smith but he sees a hint of a girl he saw in a just off Broadway show doing a little strip tease.  The dignified Miss Butt-Smith, from a supposed high-toned Philadelphia family, denies it but Pat is not so sure.
Katherine appears not to care about the present turmoil raging in Europe.  When Pat goes to leave, he stops her for just one last look.  Pat looks deeply into Katherine’s eyes and declares, “I want to always remember you just the way you look tonight.”  Katherine turns with a look of confusion towards to the window behind her and turns back to Pat.  Pat quickly amends his comment saying, “Today” as it is daylight.  This statement of undying love is a reference to the song Fred sang to Ginger in Swing Time.
Katherine becomes the Baroness and Pat follows them through Europe while the Baron and Baroness celebrate their honeymoon.  It seems wherever they go Hitler follows and conquers the country.  Pat runs into the Baroness in Warsaw.  They lunch together in the hotel’s restaurant.  Pat tricks the Baroness into thinking that Vodka is the word for water in Polish.  She drinks several with a jigger of brandy.  Pat finds himself a little inebriated and the Baroness gives credit to her sobriety to learning about her husband’s activities.  Katherine returns to her husband a little leery of his political dealings and more aware of Europe’s devastating condition.
The Baron is arrested for suspicion only, Katherine remains as her jewels are locked in the hotel safe, and she cannot get to them.  Warsaw falls to the Nazis and Pat comes by to see how the Baroness is fairing.  She can hardly keep her hands off him, as she is very glad to see him.  She has her jewels and Pat what more does a woman need.
While Pat gets a much-needed rest, the Baroness assists Anna Beckstein, her maid, leave Warsaw with her daughter and son.  The Baroness’s true affection for this woman and her children and their dangerous circumstance brings out the real Katie as she fixes her passport so they can flee to somewhere safe.  Where would that be in war torn Europe?  Katherine now has Anna’s passport.
 The Baroness realizes she is in love with Pat and cannot abide the Baron’s dealings with the Nazis.  She becomes Katie O’Hara, leaves with Pat for his hotel, as the Baron has been released from jail, and is on his way up to his room and his wife.  When Pat and Katie reach his hotel, they find it in ruins.  They meet with Pat’s superior in order to verify the Baroness’s death so they can leave without the Baron none the wiser.  Katie loves her jewelry and is hesitant to give any of it up for identification.  She would rather give up an initialed handkerchief.  Pat takes her purse from her, rummages through it, finds a diamond bracelet, and turns it over to his superior for proof of the Baroness’s death because she would never part with it if she had a breath of life in her.  This is a amusing and lighthearted scene.
The Nazis show up and the couple find themselves interred at a local camp because Katherine has a Jewish passport.  This is very tense as they spend the night among the Jews who are incarcerated and have no hope of escape.  The American consul intercedes and they are released.  Their romance flourishes as they cross Europe heading to Paris.
Upon arriving in Paris, the consul sends them to a photographer, Gaston LeBlanc, for passport photos.  After Pat’s picture is taken, he leaves Katie there, as he wants to go shopping.  Katie finds out Gaston is a double agent and asks her to return to her husband and spy for them.  The allies desperately need to know what the Baron and his associates are planning.  Pat returns with new clothes for Katie and himself.  Her clothes are a better fit than his are.  Katie changes her clothes radiating happiness and love.
Katie and Pat find themselves on the rooftop of a café in Paris.  They begin supposing about their life in America together after Katie goes to Reno for a divorce.  My heart swells as this moment in time stands still as they kiss and rejoice in moment.  Katie tries to tell Pat of her plans but he does not want to ruin the spell of intoxicating love and romance.  Katie reads a poem Pat has written for her.  My eyes well-up with tears as I begin to cry.  His tenderness and feelings for her are manifested in the simple words of his heart.  Nothing can spoil this moment not even the rain.  They kiss again and Katie pulls Pat’s face close to hers because she knows this moment might have to last her a lifetime.  She does not want reality to invade the moment as they continue supposing.
The next morning Pat finds Katie missing and tries to locate her.  Pat finds himself at an outside café.  He runs into the Baron in his Nazi uniform.  The Baron informs him of his wife’s miraculous return to him.  The Baron offers Pat a radio job before he departs.  Gaston, in a Nazi uniform, turns to Pat and they leave the café together.  Pat is furious that Gaston has turned Katie into Mata O’Hara.  Katie’s life is in danger so Pat agrees to broadcast for the Baron so he can rescue Katie.
Katie brings film to Gaston to develop hoping it will have the information the allies need.  The film has the Nazi’s secret code.  Gaston forwards the information and Katie is free to return to Pat.  The SS enter the shop, kill Gaston, and take Katherine to her husband.  She is put under house arrest as the Baron has a meeting in his honor to attend.  Anna enters Katherine’s room and starts to sweep the carpet.  She had noticed Katherine enter the hotel with the officers.  Katherine asks her to come into her huge walk-in closet to help her change her clothes.  Out comes Katherine in Anna’s clothes and leaves the room using the carpet sweeper to hide her face.  Katie goes to the radio studio and Pat.
Katie and Pat are on an ocean liner home when Pat leaves her on deck for a moment because the purser needs him.  Katie goes up a deck and finds the Baron.  There is a struggle and the Baron looses.  In Katie’s mind it was either him or her and it had to be him.  When Katie tries to tell Pat, what has happened makes me smile and then when Pat tries to tell the captain about the Baron falling overboard makes me chuckle.  You need to see it.  The dialogue and actions are expertly delivered and acted by Ginger and Cary.  The filmed ended on a humorous note considering its serious theme. 
I have photos of Ginger in a strapless high-busted satin dress encrusted with jewels attending a party with Nazi uniformed soldiers.  This dress is one of the most elegant dresses Ginger wears in any of her films.  I have an 11x14 picture of Ginger in this dress on my wall.  The scenes with her in this dress were cut from the final print, as she never wears the dress in the film.  There is another photo of Ginger either just hanging up the phone or getting ready to pick up the receiver when a German soldier is entering her room.   I wonder if this was how Katie was intended to pass on information  about the German's plans to Gaston and  was then  caught by the German soldier after delivering the information via the phone.   Is there any missing film out there somewhere?  Actors never know what the released film will be like.
      During filming, Cary becomes a citizen of the United States and weds Barbara Hutton the Woolworth’s heiress.  Barbara was dubbed the original “Poor Little Rich Girl”.
      Ginger is criticized by her critics of changing from the fun-loving woman she once was and being indifferent while high-hatting those around her.  Ginger does not deny that she has changed because time and experience change us all.  Ginger’s time is very limited as she rushes from film to film at a breakneck speed.  She would love to ditch a rehearsal or fitting and throw aside that script she needs to memorize and not spend the needed time to develop her character and join in with a groups of extras having a good time in a corner but she would be negligent in her duty to herself and the studio if she did.
      One girl who had worked with Ginger in her early years in Hollywood says Ginger does not have time for anyone anymore and has loss her sense of humor.  Ginger’s rebuttal was an invitation to the girl to come by some morning before she has her hair done and they can talk and have some good laughs.  Now, that would be around six thirty in the morning.  Needless, to say the girl did not show up.  Ginger believes, “Losing your sense of humor isn’t developing; it’s shriveling.  One thing I’ll never lose is my love of a good laugh.  Because laughing isn’t only the world’s best medicine; it’s the most democratic thing to do.  If you can laugh, you can take it.”  After Ginger died, Crystal Bernard reminisced about a time when she called Ginger to complain about a day on the set of Wings that had not gone well.  Ginger told her to “Let it pass, and enjoy it the best you can.”  This is Ginger’s positive attitude and belief in life.  She never let the failures and disappoints in her life get her down.  When the day was done, she put the day away and looked forward to the next day with a smile and the fortitude to push onward and upward.
      Ginger would love to play a set of tennis on a public court like she used to, but the fact remains that she would be recognized and mobbed.  The crowd that would gather would hinder Ginger and anyone else who wanted to get a game in.  It is not that she has changed but circumstances have and she built a tennis court at her home so that she could still enjoy playing the game.  Circumstances change what you can do and when you can do it.  As one ages you do not run to tell everyone who your latest beau is or how you have fallen deeply in love.  You have matured and learned that even though you feel these things just as deeply you do not wear them on your sleeve.  Ginger felt that the heart was off limits and who could blame her.  Even in her biography, Ginger does not go into every facet of her intimate relationships with the men in her life.  I for one was glad that she did not.
      In between pictures, Ginger helps Uncle Sam by promoting the sale of War Bonds and Stamps.  On one of these bond trips Ginger meets a young private by the name of John Calvin Briggs Jr. and they are both love-struck with each other.
Ginger walked onto the set of Lady in the Dark to the tune of Here Comes the Bride on January 15, 1943, to announce her impending marriage to Private John Calvin Briggs Jr. to everyone’s surprise.  It seems they met in September 1942 while Ginger was on the last leg of a bond-selling tour in San Diego.  Ginger went out to dinner with some friends and was asked if Jack could come along.  Ginger agreed.  Jack had been the first of Hollywood actors to enlist in the Marines.  He worked for RKO studios and was an extra on Tom, Dick, and Harry, but they did not meet until last September.  Jack swept Ginger off her feet.  “He’s everything I’ve ever dreamed about-companionable, intelligent, a grand sense of humor, and a six-foot, two inch, brown-haired, brown-eyed American,” says Ginger.  She continues to extol the virtues of her husband by saying, “I love Jack because he likes exactly the same things I do.  He has the most wonderful sense of humor.  He knows about Hollywood and the demands of an acting career.  I do not believe I could have married any man who did not understand that.  He likes sports, and I do, too.  He loves to dance, and I do, too.  Music is important to him and to me.  Really, we have everything in common.  In other words, I love him.”
      Ginger and Jack were married on January 16, 1943, in the First Methodist Church in Pasadena, California, by Rev. Albert Edward Day who did not recognized the famous bride.  Ginger was married under her legal name, Virginia Katherine McMath.  Eddie Rubin, Ginger’s longtime friend and her go-between on any sort of public relations was a witness along with the minister’s wife.  Ginger was given four days off from Lady in the Dark for an abbreviated honeymoon before Jack’s short leave was up.
      Ginger had met Jack’s mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Katz previously and was seen attending the same New Year’s Eve party.  Jack was going to take Ginger but could not get away from the base.  Mrs. Katz was happy about the marriage and stated, “The marriage was not a surprise, as it had been planned for quite a little while.  I think Ginger is a sweet girl and old enough to know her own mind.  The kids are in love, and I’m all for it.”
Ginger was on the last leg of an exhausting cross-country bond-selling tour, which ended in San Diego.  Jack spent the day running interference for Ginger and then attending a dinner later that evening with generals and colonels.  Ginger was immediately taken with this young man besides she thought he was cute.  Unbeknownst to Ginger, Jack had admired her from afar when he was employed at her studio before he joined the Marines.  Ginger returned home and wrote the young private a letter of thanks with an invite to give her a ring if he ever found himself in Hollywood.  She included her highly guarded private phone number.  The next weekend Jack had leave, took Ginger out to the Mocambo, and dined with Don Loper.  Jack came to Hollywood, spent his Christmas furlough with Ginger, and decided to drive to Santa Monica for a marriage license on December 27, 1942.  Not knowing if Jack would have a leave before going overseas everything was put on hold.  Ginger and Jack celebrated their engagement quietly at her home.  Ginger’s mother, Lela and Jack’s mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Katz, along with Eddie Rubin, and Don Loper celebrated with them.  Then the Gods shone on them and Jack was given a four-day leave starting on January 16, 1943.  Thus, the happy couple ran off like many lovers who felt pressed by the war to be married and enjoy the blissful fleeting moments of being in love and sharing that love with the one you love.  They returned to Los Angeles for a wedding breakfast with Jack’s parents.
Jack goes back to the base after a brief four-day honeymoon and Ginger goes back to the studio to finish her film.  Ginger dances and sings again.  I wish they would have left in all of the songs and dances she filmed.  Ginger films singing My Ship but it is cut from the film but when she broadcasts Lady in the Dark for Lux Radio she sings the song exceptionally well and was a highlight. Ginger performs a quick Charleston with Rand Brooks when she relives an incident from her youth.  Lady in the Dark is shelved for a year and is not released until 1944.
Ginger and Jack found an estate in La Jolla loaned to them by a friend so she can be near him.  Jack can come home every evening and spend all day Sunday.  Now, that Ginger is in between films, she spends her days reading, sketching, and sun bathing.  She spends her evenings with Jack at their home with an occasional weekend in Hollywood until filming starts for Tender Comrade.

Tender Comrade December 29, 1943 Los Angeles Premiere
June 1, 1944 New York City

This is one movie I am glad I viewed before I read about all the controversy that surrounded this film during the communist witch-hunts of the 1950s.  I found the film overwhelmingly patriot showing the struggles of the women left behind to carry on while their husbands, fathers, and sons went to war to fight for a better life for them and their children steeped in freedom and democracy.  It is unfortunate that the word comrade became associated with communism.  The title of the movie is based on the Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem entitled My Wife.  The stanza used in the film is:

 Teacher, Tender Comrade, Wife,
      A fellow-farer true through life,
  Heart-whole and soul-free    
The August Father
 Gave to me.

Ginger attended a meeting with producer David Hempstead and Robert Ryan.  After meeting Robert Ryan, she writes on a piece of foolscap, “I think this is the guy,” and signs her name and passes it to David.  This piece of paper is a prized possession of Robert Ryan’s.  It was an endorsement from his favorite actress, Ginger Rogers, that he was her choice to play her husband Christopher Latham Jones.  Robert Ryan never dreamed that he would ever perform in one of Ginger's pictures let alone be her love interest and share seventeen love scenes with her.  This film turned out to be Robert Ryan’s big break in films.  He acknowledged Ginger’s role in giving him the opportunity to co-star with her.  Ginger had worried about their height differences but the attraction and apparent chemistry between them was so overpowering that I hardly noticed it.  I was so involved in their life story that I only noticed it at the train station where you see them standing facing each other waiting for the train to arrive.  By showing, their differences in height heightened the poignancy of their parting and the unknown future that lies before them.  This scene is intense as you realize the possibility of Jo and Chris never seeing each other again but hoping for the day he will returned to her.  This scene must have been reminiscent of Ginger’s own parting with her husband Jack as she kisses Robert goodbye with what is to be their last embrace.
The love story of Jo and Chris is the story of every war couple.  It is presented in flashbacks showing their love, romance, marriage, and the life they had and hoped for in the future with each other and their son.  Jo is getting ready for bed in her small apartment when she hears a knock on her door.  To her complete elation, it is her husband Chris.   He has a short leave before shipping out overseas.  Their rapturous reunion is very tender and loving with heavy tones of foreboding.  When Jo takes Chris to the train station and they say their goodbyes is touching and heartbreaking.  It sets the overshadowing mood of the movie.  Jo keeps the stiff upper lip until Chris boards the train and it starts to leave the station.  She breaks down and weeps uncontrollably.  An older woman comes over to her, lends Jo a shoulder to lean on, and understands the turmoil as she has also said goodbye to love ones.  Mrs. Henderson (Jane Darnwell) just puts her arm around Jo as they sit and simply says, “My name is Mrs. Henderson.”
Jo works at the Douglas Aircraft factory with Barbara (Ruth Hussey), Helen (Patricia Collinge), and Doris (Kim Hunter).  They decide to pool their money and find a house to rent.  They conclude working and keeping up a house is beyond them so they hire a housekeeper Manya (Mady Christians).
The women come from different backgrounds and have various marital stories to tell but it is Jo and Chris’s love story that takes front and center.  It is told lovingly but you fear the worst and hope for the best.
When Jo finds herself pregnant, I am delighted for her and Chris.  Christopher Latham Jones, Jr. is born and Jo begins to tell him about his father and what a great person he is.  As time passes, everyone receives letters from their loved ones but Jo and that ominous feeling starts to creep in upon you again.
Doris’s husband comes home on leave and the house is in turmoil as everyone wants to cook their husband’s favorite dish for the young couple.  It is as if they are cooking for their own husband and celebrating as if it was their husband there when all Doris and her husband want is some alone time.  Towards the end of the meal, the doorbell rings and Jo goes to answer it.  When the telegram is delivered to her, my heart sinks, as I know what it will say.  My heart starts to race with the foreboding of doom.  Maybe he will only be hurt and is in a hospital but at least he will be alive.  Jo knows the contents as she sees that it is for her.  She goes to her son sleeping upstairs.  She opens it and reads it as the anguish of its message is seen in Jo’s expression.  She wakes her son and tells him of his father’s ultimate sacrifice.  This scene is emotionally draining as father and son will never meet.  Chris’s son will only know his father through the memories of his mother.  Jo continues to tell him about his father with some dialogue from his father put in. 
Jo tearfully tells her son to “Remember him son. Remember your father as long as you live.  He was a fine man Chris-boy.  He never made speeches but he went out and died so you could have a better break when you grow up than he ever had.  Not the same break but a better one because he did a lot of thinking about you in his own way.  Never forget it little guy, never forget it… He didn’t leave you any money.  He didn’t have time Chris-boy… He only left you the best world a boy could ever grow up in.  He bought it for you with his life.  That’s your heritage.  A personal gift to you from your dad.  And one more thing, as long as you live don’t let anybody ever say he died for nothing because if you let them say it you let them call your dad a fool.  You let them say he died without knowing what it was all about… He died for a good thing little guy and if you ever betray it, if you ever let it slip away from you, if you ever let anyone talk you out of it, or swindle you out of it, or fight you out of it, you might as well be dead too.  So, hang onto it sweet.  Clutch onto it with those tiny little fingers.  Grab onto it Chris-boy.  Grab it right out of your father’s hands and hold it hard.  Hold it proud.”  Jo kisses her son and puts him back in his bassinet and starts to go downstairs when she begins to cry and turns to go back to her room when she say to herself, “No matter how tough things are, no matter how bad they seem, think of him.  You’ll come through.  Come on Jo, head up; take it on the chin like a good guy, like a soldier’s wife should.”  Jo turns and walks down the stairs and out of frame and I am choked up and blubbering as tears stream down my cheeks.
Some critics feel that Ginger’s interpretation of Jo the “Chin-Up Girl!” deserves an Oscar nomination and possibly another win for this dynamic actress.  Jo’s speech to her young son Chris-boy speaks to the heart of every American then as it does now.
I might not agree with the conflicts and wars I find my country involved in but I do not diminish the sacrifice and devotion of our armed forces who have answered the unselfish call to serve our country and its citizens.  Anyone who would be so callus and mean spirited to disrupt the funeral services of our gallant soldiers need to be reminded of the sacrifices of those who have died physically and mentally so that we can enjoy the freedoms of living in a free society.  My patriotic soul beams with pride when I watch this film.  The ultimate sacrifice of one’s life for others needs to be esteemed and not be minimized or trivialized.

Lady in the Dark February 9, 1944 Hollywood, California
                    February 10, 1944 USA
                    February 22, 1944 New York City, New York.

      Don Loper was enticed to come to Hollywood in order to dance with his good friend Ginger Rogers in a dream sequence in Lady in the Dark.  Don and Ginger had met in New York when she was in Top Speed.  Don wanted to dance with Ginger but did not get the opportunity because his uncle had bank rolled the production and felt the stage was not the place for his nephew.  Therefore, Ginger and Don decided to become very good friends.  Don went on to make a name for himself as a dancer, designer, director, and producer while Ginger went on to make a name for herself as actress and dancer extraordinaire.  Metro offered Don a contract as the studio’s designer after Adrian left to go into business for himself but the bright lights of Hollywood did not tempt Don.  It was not until Paramount approached him about singing and dancing with Ginger that he jumped the next train west.  Ginger and Don greeted each other with hugs and kisses amongst darlings for each other.  Hollywood was abuzz with the new Rogers romance which Ginger and Don laughed about later because Jack was Ginger’s intended at the time.  Don and Ginger danced and sang to Suddenly Its Spring.  In the final print, they only danced in a very exotic dreamy mist.  It was ever so romantic.
      Ginger attends the Los Angeles premiere with her agent Leland Hayward and his wife actress Margaret (Maggie) Sullavan.  Good friend William Powell and wife Diana Lewis are among the guests invited to the gathering.  Lady in the Dark is a resounding success with the critics, personally, and financially.  The after premiere party was at the Mocambo where Ginger continued to receive congratulatory wishes from stars like Irene Dunne.  Ginger dances a few steps with Leland Hayward.  I only have a poor video copy of the movie.  This would be a good candidate for release on DVD.  Ginger does a credible job as the woman who is afraid to show her feminine side.  She has built up walls around her because of disappointments and rejections from men in her life.  Liza’s career is her whole life as the men in her life have hurt her deeply.
Eliza Elliot is the editor in chief of the fashion magazine Allure.  She dresses in tailored suits, lives, and breathes her work.  Eliza’s control of her emotions is starting to crumble so she seeks help from her physician.  Eliza suffers from depression, panic, and feels afraid but of what she does not know.  Dr. Carlton refers her to Doctor Alexander Brooks (Barry Sullivan), a psychoanalyst.  She is deeply offended by the suggestion that she is being tortured mentally and there is not a medical cure for what ails her.
When she returns home later that evening, Kendall Nesbitt (Warner Baxter) is waiting for her.  Kendall owns the magazine and is deeply in love with Eliza as she is with him so she thinks.  They have been together for quite awhile but the obstacle in their way of marrying is Kendall’s wife, as she will not grant him a divorce.   A haunting song from her past keeps permeating her subconscious and she begins to hum it when frustrated.  Kendall asks her what is bothering her and she is taken aback.  Kendall tells her that whenever she is worried or unsettled she begins to hum that song.  Eliza reflects as she had not consciously notice that to be true and cannot place the tune.
Later that evening Eliza feels as if her world is spinning out of control and agrees to see Dr. Brooks.   When Eliza sees Dr. Brooks, she tells him of her insecurities.  Eliza speaks of the song she knew as a child as it haunts her and was in her dream.  She sees a beautiful blue dress that she desperately wanted to possess.  Blue is a color she detests but she found herself wearing it.  She wants to be accepted as a woman but finds herself hiding behind her façade as a businesswoman.  She always wanted to make something of herself, put her womanly self away, and hide it deep inside of herself.  Eliza could never compete with her mother’s beauty and Barbara in high school.  The men in her life have rejected her as a woman so she finds acceptance in her career.
At work, Charley Johnson (Ray Milland) wants to change the theme of the traditional layout of their Easter edition to one around a circus.  Eliza dislikes Johnson’s impudence but realizes he is the best advertising man in the business or else she would have given him his walking papers a long time ago.  Charley is tired of being second banana and wants Eliza’s job.  Eliza is appealing to him at first glance but he cannot help but needling her in order to break her down after all how dare she try to compete in a man’s world.
Eliza’s dreams are journeys into the surreal.  We are privy to Eliza’s subconscious through lavishly photographed dreams, which are costumed to the hilt.  One dream finds her back in high school and she kicks up her heels again with Ben (Rand Brooks).   The dance is too short and unsatisfying.   Ginger, Fred, and their exquisite duets have spoiled me.  Ginger’s dance with Don Loper is at least satisfying in a dreamy romantic way as they frolic in the mist in full frame from head to toe.  Because of Eliza’s indecision, she finds herself in a circus with Easter eggs and bunny rabbits.  Eliza is on trial for not being able to make up her mind.  Eliza justifies her indecision by singing about a woman who always made up her mind to devastating consequences, Jenny.  Ginger wears a stunning sequin mink outfit.  The number is the highlight of the film.
Dr. Brooks advises Eliza with some balderdash about needing to be dominated by a man.  She does not always need to be in control and dominating everyone around her.  Randy Curtis plays all of these very strong and domineering men on the screen.  Can he be the answer to what ails her?  NO!  He is just like Kendall.  They need someone to manage their lives and take care of them.  They wanted a mother not a wife.
Eliza has come to realize that she can stand on her own two feet and be the woman she knows she can be.  She dresses more womanly and decides to offer Charley a partnership in the running of the magazine.  They start to collaborate on the new issue with a circus theme.  Eliza looks up into Charley’s eyes and he into hers when a spark is flared.  Charley takes Eliza into his arms.  They kiss and embrace one another.  Eliza and Charley have become equal partners in business and in love.
Private John Fransworth is the recipient of a dream every GI would want.  Life magazine makes it a reality by asking Ginger Rogers to host a party for the lucky guy at her Beverly Hills home.  She invites a few starlets, Lynee Baggett, Lynn Bari, Barbara Hale (Della Street of Perry Mason fame), Gloria DeHaven, Jinx Falkenburg, Dolores Moran, and Chili Williams to help with the fun.  The lucky private was home on leave after serving three years in the Pacific.  He is recovering from a bout with malaria.  They played games, swam, sang, danced, and made ice cream sodas.  Jinx was the lucky woman who left with the private as the others waved goodbye.
Ginger purchased a ranch consisting of more than a thousand acres in the Rogue River Valley in Oregon for a getaway and as an investment a few years ago.  This is a place where Ginger can just be herself and renew her soul.  Look visits Ginger at her ranch and surprises everyone with the fact that Ginger is a hands on owner.  She runs the ranch with a partner on a profit sharing basis.  There are pictures of Ginger as she curries a prize Hereford bull and feeding her chickens and turkeys.  When I saw the pictures of her cultivating the corn and pulling a canvas dam out of a canal in order to irrigate an oat field it brought back memories of my own early married life.  I grew up in San Francisco and spent my early-married life helping my husband on the family’s dairy farm.  It was a hard life but I enjoyed it.  Ginger’s dairy supplies the nearby army camp with its milk.  I am the proud owner of one of those very special milk bottles.
Ginger is fortunate that when she has a yen to go fishing and camping she does not have to go any farther than her own backyard.  She packs the horses with supplies and sets out for an adventure.  After a four-hour ride, she fishes for dinner in the Rogue River, which flows, through her property.  She cooks her 16-inch trout and some flapjacks for the evening meal and then snuggles up in a sleeping bag.  Ginger has an unquenchable taste for living life to its fullest.
 The author states, ‘“She can ride, swim, shoot, play tennis, fish, and farm with surprising skill.  As one admiring colleague once phrased it: “Ginger has an extraordinary talent of being able to make of herself anything she chooses-put her in a hothouse and she is an orchid; place her in a Victory Garden and she is at once a sunflower.”’  Ginger not only personifies the average American girl on the screen but also possesses those qualities in her everyday life.  She does not take herself too seriously and is not a prima donna.  She describes her life story simply as, “I was born and I won a Charleston contest, and I was in Young Man of Manhattan and I came to Hollywood.  I am still here and so what!”  To me as a fan it is a big deal because Ginger has bought me so much happiness through her films.   By your example, I am able to live each day the best way I can and then move on.
Penny Pascoe, Ginger’s secretary, spent the two-month getaway with Ginger as a friend more than an employer employee relationship.  Penny has been Ginger’s secretary for the last three years and is a personal friend of Ginger’s not just her secretary.  Ginger and Penny spent their time riding, collecting eggs, gardening, and topped it off with long walks while enjoying the quiet of the out of doors.  Ginger was enthusiastic to be able to fish again, an activity she enjoys almost as much as she enjoys tennis.  Tennis is her real passion.  Ginger “not only goes for the authentic fishing outfit, with hip-boots and all kinds of flies, but she angles with dexterity of an expert.”
Once Ginger and Penny returned to Hollywood, Penny announced her impending marriage.  Ginger arranged for the wedding to take place at her home and was matron of honor.  Ginger is sharing her Beverly Hills home with a wife of a fellow Marine friend of Jack’s.  Ginger goes about in her own way helping by giving of herself.  Whenever time permits, she goes on bond selling tours and visits convalescent hospitals.  Ginger goes from ward to ward visiting with patients and writing letters for them when asked.  Ginger spends her evenings quietly writing Jack and reading.  Such is the glamorous life of a movie star.

I’ll Be Seeing You December 1944 Los Angeles, California
   April 5, 1945 New York City

This will always be my number one film because it was the first one I saw of Ginger’s and its effect on my life.  This is why I do not consider Ginger’s influence on the cinematic world should be relegated to her films with Astaire.  Ginger was so much more than a dancer and a singer.  Ginger represents the American woman and her dreams for herself.  She portrays the struggles of strong women trying to make their way in the world while coping with the uncertainties of romance and love.  She went about her business of working and perfecting every challenge thrown at her in a world of men and came out on top.  She fought for equality in pay among the female and male actors and was one of the first members of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.
      It was not until 2004 when I ran across I’ll Be Seeing You listed on an internet video store that I became aware of Ginger again.  The picture on the cover and the synopsis sounded like the movie I had been looking for all these years.  When I viewed the movie, I realized that the actress I had been seeking was Ginger Rogers.  Could it be the same actress who had danced with Fred Astaire?  I immediately started my unquenchable quest for her movies, her autobiography, memorabilia, and any information about this magnificent person.
      Soon I immersed myself in her films and pleasantly found an actress worth her salt in gold.  I decided to write a remembrance of Ginger’s life from the viewpoint of a prosaic fan when I realized she would be turning 100 years old within a year.  I have found a woman who was always true to herself.  She stood firm, proud in her strong religious beliefs and her love for her mother, and family.  She fought to be recognized as an individual but realized she would always be linked with Fred, which is not a bad thing, but she was so much more.  It is to shortchange her memory not to acknowledge and give her the credit she deserves as one of cinemas greatest actresses.
     Alyce Canfield interviewed Ginger on the set of I’ll Be Seeing You.  She refutes the statement that Ginger is unwilling to give interviews by stating, “The truth of the matter is that if Ginger can help anyone by speaking on a worthwhile subject, she will be interviewed.  But she doesn’t care to have people pry into her private life.”  The article is titled Ginger Rogers’ Do’s and Dont’s.  Aside from the excellent advice, Ginger gives in how to prepare yourself for a career in films or any job you should choose, Alyce watched the scene where Ginger tells Shirley Temple why she is serving a sentence for manslaughter.  Alyce came away convinced what a great actress Ginger really is as she held the attention of everyone on the set with her gripping portrayal.  “I watched this scene and then reflected how hard it is to pass on to others the makings of stardom.  For Ginger possesses many things of which she may not be aware…Not only were there tears in her eyes but in her voice…In this scene, not only were her voice tense, her whole body was tense.  Her throat was tense.  There was a suspense in her revelation of how she had come to commit murder, that was intangible.  It was something she made you feel as intensely as she did.”  That is Ginger’s indescribable talent; she makes you feel what her character feels with deep unshakable emotion.

“Week-End at the Waldorf” October 4, 1945 New York City
                      October 17, 1945 Los Angeles, California

      This film is a loose reworking of Garbo’s Grand Hotel.  Ginger and Walter Pigeon even refer to it in the film and there are distinctive similarities.  I am not a big Van Johnson fan even though Ginger thought a lot of his ability and wished they could have had a scene together.  They do pass each other on the stairs as the scene transitions from Ginger to Van.  Lana Turner is not much more than window dressing in this film.  I am glad that Ginger and Walter Pigeon take up most of the screen time.  I usually just watch their scenes and skip the rest of the film.  It would have been nice to see them in another film.  I liked them as an unlikely couple as they mesh well on film.  Walter is mostly associated with Greer Garson as they made eight films together.
      Irene Malvern (Ginger) finds her life as a movie star living in a gilded cage boring and stagnant.  She goes from one film to another with one face on and then another but never really living for herself.  She is in New York City for the premiere of her latest film and then off to the salt mines once again after attending her childhood friend Doctor Robert Campbell’s wedding.  War correspondent, Chip Collyer (Walter Pidgeon) is in town for a short rest before going overseas again.  These two unlikely people meet and the sparks begin to fly.
      Miss Malvern’s personal assistant Anna (Rosemary DeCamp) begs her to speak with her boyfriend.  He desperately needs money in addition to having talked Anna into giving him Irene’s key so he can steal her jewels.  Irene is his favorite movie star but he also wants her jewels.  Irene tells Anna to give her young man the key and she will know within five minutes after meeting him if he is worth saving.  Irene dresses and waits for the thief to make his appearance.
      Chip is being annoyed by a cub reporter Oliver (Keenan Wynn) who wants to get the load down on Martin X. Edley (Edward Arnold).  Mr. Edley is a shady promoter who is trying to cut an oil deal with the Bey of the Aribajan.  In order to show Oliver how he would gain access to the Bey’s room and learn what Edley is planning, he climbs into the housekeeper’s cart.  The hanging drapery around the cart hides him.  Before he can climb out again the housekeeper moves the cart outside of Miss Malvern’s room.  She enters Miss Malvern’s room and Chip climbs out of the cart but Mr. Edley is coming around the corner and down the hall so he ducks into Miss Malvern’s room.
      Chip tries to make a hasty retreat from Miss Malvern’s room when Irene and the house detective return from another room.  The detective leaves with Irene’s jewels for safekeeping in the hotel safe.  Chip hides behind the open door.  Irene shuts the door after the maid’s departure.  She walks over to a mirror revealing Chip in its reflection.  He tries to explain his presence but Irene mistakes him for Anna’s young man and does not believe his improbable explanation.  He asks for a match and Irene gives him her bejeweled lighter.  Chip admires it and puts it in his pocket.  Irene asks for it and with concern in her voice says, “You just can’t help taking things, can you.”  Chip protests but Irene continues to explain that Anna has told her everything.  Chip begins to retreat to the door to make his escape when Irene tells him that there is a detective just outside.  Chip decides to play the part of the thief as Irene holds a certain appeal for him.  He has worshipped her from afar on the screen.  There is an attraction between the two of them as Irene questions his reasons for becoming a thief and Chip woos her with compliments while turning the tables and questions her.
Irene tries to convince the detective to leave his station outside her door but he will not leave.  She then calls the chief of protection service to order the detective to leave but is informed; he is there to protect the Bey, also.  Chip tells Irene that he will need to sleep there.  Irene protests but finally consents to allow him to sleep on her sofa.  He humorously stacks furniture on his side of her bedroom door to keep himself from entering her boudoir as he once walked in his sleep.
Irene is awakened by a phone call from Anna.  Anna informs Irene that her young man has reformed and is with her and decided not to go to Irene’s apartment.  Irene is puzzled as to who is on her sofa and goes out to the terrace through her bedroom and around to the where Chip is sleeping and lifts his wallet and finds out that her wayward thief is really Chip Collyer the war correspondent.   Irene orders breakfast and waits for Chip to awaken.
Chip takes down the barrier in front of Irene’s door and enters her boudoir to an indifferent Irene sitting eating breakfast.  Chip wants to sit and eat but Irene arises and tells him that she is very disappointed in him.  In Hollywood when the dawn cometh, a rogue that has reformed is off proving himself to his ladylove.  Chip again tries to explain but she sends him off by stating that the detective would tip his hat and greet him by his name.  Chip explains that he would have been anyone that she wanted him to be so he could stay.  They are interrupted by the ring of the doorbell.  It is her childhood friend’s fiancée, Cynthia Drew, so Irene sends a befuddled Chip into her bedroom for his long awaited breakfast.
Irene is in town to attend Dr. Robert Campbell and Cynthia’s wedding as well as her premiere.  Cynthia is afraid that Bobby is in love with Irene and does not want to marry him if he does not love her.  In order to prove she does not love Bobby, Irene opens her bedroom door and presents her husband, Chip Collyer.  Chip is confused as he drops his toast into his cup of coffee.  After Cynthia leaves, Chip pursues Irene with a gleam in his eyes for the woman he loves.  When can he see her again?  There is no time as she has the wedding, her premiere, and then back to work.  Chip leaves with a skip in his step and the desire to see Miss Malvern before he leaves for assignment overseas on Monday.
Chip has obtained an invitation to the wedding from Oliver and is seated among the guests.  Cynthia could not help but tell her mother, Bobby, her best friend and so forth of Irene and Chip’s marriage and thus the ball was put in motion.  When Irene enters the Jade Room, Randy Morton (Robert Benchley), reporter and narrator, asks her if there is any truth to the rumor of her marriage to Chip Collyer.  She brushes him off and tells him to deny it right after the honeymoon.  Irene is escorted to her seat and she finds to her left Mr. Chip Collyer.  The wedding scenes are quite good as you see Chip pursue the notion they are legally man and wife because she introduced him as such and he is her common law husband.  He takes her hand in his, removes Irene’s glove from her left hand, and proceeds to place a cigar band on her ring finger.  Chip cleverly steals a quick kiss from his beloved.  The idea of the cigar band was Ginger’s.  It added just the right aspect to the scene to make it endearing to me.
  Irene is in a dining room with her manager Henry Burton (Leon Ames) and a publicist.  They are waiting for Irene's car to take them to her film premiere.  Irene is a bit distracted as she searches the room for any sign of Chip.  I love her white flowing gown.  Her car is announced and they leave for the premiere.  Ginger and Van Johnson pass on the stairs.
Upon her arrival, back at the Waldorf Irene begs off the after party celebration and finds her key missing as her husband has taken it.  Chip proceeds to read out of Blackstone and other law books as he pleads his case as to their marital status.  She is quickly annoyed and dismisses him from her apartment even though she is attracted by his charm and is subconsciously interested.   Chip leaves pronouncing that he will not give Mrs. Collyer a divorce.
Sunday’s paper has an article about Irene’s supposed marriage.  Irene sends her manager to Chip’s room to obtain a statement to the fact that they are not married nor have they ever been married and that they are not even pals.  When Henry gives Chip’s statement to Irene, she begins to reflect about the man who has entered her life in a most unusual way.  Henry tells Irene that there is nothing better in life than working to which she replies that there is fishing.  A reference to what Chip had suggested to Irene earlier.  Henry is puzzled, as he did not know she liked fishing which is a subtle reference to one of Ginger’s passionate pastimes when at her ranch in Oregon.
Chip tries once again to impress Irene with his sincere desire for a relationship.  He comes by her apartment to gather his lucky pipe and law books he picked up at a pawnshop.  This is the most romantic scene of the entire picture and my skin gets all goose bumpy with anticipation.  After a bit of repartee they move to the doorway to the terrace.  Irene is on one side of the doorway and Chip is at the other side of the doorway.  They face each other speaking of the implausibility of a liaison between them working.
Chips says, “Oil and water don’t mix.”  Irene repeats Chip’s statement, “Oil and water don’t mix.”  Chip takes a step towards Irene, “The law of physics.”  Irene repeats, “The law of physics.”  Chips continues to step towards Irene with, “Common sense.”  Irene repeats, “Common sense.”  Irene’s body language and voice demonstrate her desire to step off that limb and give life a chance.  Chip comes even closer, “East is East.”  Irene answers, “West is West.”  Chip pronounces as he is next to Irene, “Simple arithmetic, it doesn’t add up.”  Irene says, “It doesn’t add up.”  They embrace affectionately and kiss with deep yearning and ardor.  They spend a very blissful night together.  You really need to watch the scene it is so romantically sensual and played with expert precision by Ginger and Walter.
Irene is beside herself in the morning.  She radiates a life full of purpose and love for the unlikely man of her life, Mr. Chip Collyer.  Irene is wearing a ring on her left hand and has plans to enlarge her house in Beverly Hills with a study for Chip and she wants her next movie assignment to be in London because she had a date in London.  She is literally on the top of the world as she runs to the rooftop of the Waldorf.  Irene waves her handkerchief to her knight as he flies over the hotel.  Chip takes out a cigarette and lights it with the jeweled lighter of his ladylove, Irene.  The Baron got his necklace after all.
     Ginger attends a party given by the Jack Bennys at their home on Roxbury Drive.  On a very rare evening out Ginger arrives at the affair with another woman.  Ginger is very much in the control of herself as she gets into the spirit of the event until she sees an acquaintance she knows with her son a young officer home on leave.   Ginger’s “face aglow with tenderness and emotion.  “Oh, honey, are you happy!  Don’t I wish I had mine here tonight!”  And with that one touch of sentiment, Ginger closed the door on the emotion she had briefly shown…But the emotion had registered for the one or two people who had observed it, and on the woman to whom the comment had been made.”  Ginger puts up those walls around her personal self and puts forth that public facade as she continues to enjoy the party full of gaiety.  On the rare occasion, when she is willing to talk about her feelings concerning her husband being overseas she says simply, “I guess the one thing common to all of us who have loved ones in the service is hope and prayer.  There used to be an adage, ‘While men fight, women wait and weep.’  In this war it’s, ‘While men fight, women work and pray.’  Intensive work, intensive prayers are great sustaining forces.”  Ginger retrieves back into herself again and returns to her home where she plays a record repeatedly.   It is from a show Jack Benny did in the South Pacific and the master of ceremonies was Sergeant Jack Briggs.
       Ginger records Alice in Wonderland for Disney.  She sounds just like a young Alice and I enjoy listening to it.  I have many of Ginger’s appearances on various radio shows and listen to them often.  There is something about her voice and genuineness that I enjoy hearing.  Ginger donates the money she is paid to various charities.
During the filming of Heartbeat Ginger receives a long awaited phone call from Jack.  He is on his way home.  She meets him in San Francisco and they stop off in Hollywood before leaving for their ranch.  Jack has a thirty-day leave and they are in heaven.  Ginger has arranged for the film to be shot around her while she spends some must needed time with her husband.  Ginger is happily living her life as Mrs. Jack Briggs.

Heartbeat May 10, 1946 New York City, New York
        This film is a wonderfully amusing lighthearted romantic comedy as Ginger again takes on the persona of a minor.  Ginger easily passes for a nineteen or twenty year old.  In the film, she states her age as eighteen.  I was unaware of her true age when I first viewed the film and I bought into the fact of her being a minor because she again puts in a credible performance.  Her deportment and voice were that of a very young woman.  You need to take note that at this time you were a minor until you were twenty-one.
      Arlette Lafron (Ginger) has run away from reform school and goes to a professional school providing preparatory courses for employment for those looking to start a new life.  Instead, she finds herself among a modern day school of pickpockets lead by Professor Aristide (Basil Rathbone) who reminds one of Fagin from Oliver Twist.  To me Basil Rathbone will forever be Sherlock Holmes. 
Arlette is the star pupil but she is apprehensive about actually being able to steal anything.  She has made friends with another refuge from society looking for a start on a new life, Yves Cadubert.  Yves tells Arlette about a white marriage.  You would be married and never see the groom again.  It would be a marriage in name only.  Once she was married, the authorities could not send her back to the reform school but the marriage would cost three thousand francs.  For that, Arlette feels she can steal so she can be honest and free to start a new life.
      It is a rainy day and Arlette sees her pigeon.  A very distinguish looking man (Adolphe Menjou) with a pearl stickpin.  She follows him onto a bus.  She is pushed by someone and swings over in front of this gentleman and then back again.  The gentleman is minus his stickpin.  Arlette fleas the bus and goes into a theater.  The gentleman confronts her and demands his stickpin.  The man turns out to be an Ambassador and takes Arlette to the embassy instead of the local jail.  The Ambassador has a task for Arlette to perform for him and then he will let her go and not turn her over to the authorities.
      The Ambassor’s friend Baron Ferdinand Dvarak is pulled into the deception.  The Ambassador has recruited Arlette to pretend to be the Baron’s niece who is visiting Paris from Geneva.  The Baron takes Arlette to the Embassy ball where she is to retrieve a pocket watch from a young diplomat Pierre de Roche (Jean-Pierre Aumont).  The Ambassador is suspicious of his wife and thinks they are having an affair.  Arlette finds herself dancing with the charming young man who plays the knight in shining armor to this innocent young woma.
Arlette retrieves the pocket watch for the Ambassor and opens it while she waits nervously for the the Ambassador.  She sees the picture of the Ambassador's wife and removes it.  The Ambassador is elated when he finds his wife’s picture is missing from inside the watch.  Now, Arlette needs to put it back and protests because they never taught her that.  The Baron dismisses her and she goes to leave when Pierre comes to her rescue and insists on taking her home.  Pierre not only provides Arlette with her first dance at her first ball but also her first kiss.  Pierre is losing interest in the Ambassador’s wife and finds Arlette an enchanting creature.  Pierre arranges for a white marriage with a deadbeat acquaintance, Roland for Arlette.  This way she will be gone and out of his sight.  However, does he really want her to leave his life? 
You really need to watch the movie because my narrative does not do it any justice as the dialogue and interaction between Ginger and Pierre is sweet, engaging, and delightful.  Ginger falls for Pierre first and has enough sense not to go through with the marriage that will end all of her troubles because she loves the diplomat.  Pierre comes around in the end and finds this enchanting young woman a jewel to be treasured and they emerge from a cathedral happily married.  The Ambassador and his wife follow them and appear to have found a new lease on their own marriage.
Picture Parade gives Heartbeat the rating of AAA½ as “Sophisticated and subtle, this Cinderella production…Romantic fluff beautifully done.”  I watch this movie purely for its entertainment value because I am an incurable romantic.
      I love Magnificent Doll because not only Ginger’s portrayal is magnificent but I love history, also.  Now, when you watch a biopic you need to realize that not everything in it is going to be the truth.  So sit back, enjoy, and do not be too critical. This film gives me a slight understanding of the struggle our nation faced as it resisted the temptation to go back to being governed by the royals, aristocrats, or tyrants and not by the people.  The speech Ginger gives at the end of the movie in defense of our judicial system and the rule of law is bravura.  We need to remember to live by the laws of this land or we will certainly loose that precious freedom Americans have fought and are fighting for.  Ginger is superlative as the Magnificent Dolley Payne Todd Madison.  David Niven lost his wife to an accident shortly before filming started.  Despite David’s depressed state, he puts in an exceptional performance as the dastardly Aaron Burr.  Burgess Meredith as James Madison again wins Ginger’s hand but this time from the debonair David Niven.
      After watching Ginger’s Dolley Madison I began my search to find out about this fascinating woman and bought Cokie Roberts book Ladies of Liberty.  Dolley’s first marriage was in 1790 to a Quaker lawyer John Todd.  They had two children.  John Todd and their newborn son William Temple Todd died as the result of the yellow fever outbreak of 1793 in Philadelphia.  Mrs. Todd’s mother ran a boarding house for prominent men of which one was the aspiring Aaron Burr.  Dolley was acquainted with Aaron Burr but I have not found any mention of a romance between them.  Aaron Burr introduced the young widow to James Madison at his bequest.  Dolley had papers drawn up naming Aaron guardian over her young son’s affairs before marrying James Madison.  Madison was seventeen years older than Dolley and a confirmed bachelor until he fell under the charms of the good-looking young widow Todd.  James adopted Dolley’s son John Payne Todd after they married.  John was a habitual gambler and was the reason for his mother’s near poverty at the time of her death.
James Madison was Secretary of State during Thomas Jefferson’s administration.  Jefferson was a widower and Dolley took upon herself the duties of First Lady at his behest for many social functions.  She was a celebrated Washington hostess and was known for her fashion sense.   Dolley’s trademark was her turban hats usually topped with feathers and was photograph wearing them.  Ginger had an affinity with feathers and flowers and wore them often.  Dolley’s parties were the social center of the city and were known for the political discussions taking place.  Dolley used these opportunities to gather facts and friends for her husband’s benefit.  Dolley’s political acumen was a valuable asset to James Madison.  Dolley was the quintessential Washington Hostess being able to put together political deals while gathering the dealmakers at her exquisite parties.  Dolley was a people person as she was genial to all.  Both her husband’s friends and foes were under her spell because of her unassuming dignity, eloquence, and her fun loving demeanor.  In the election of 1800, Jefferson and Burr both tied with 73 electoral votes each.  The decision for who would be the next President was put in the hands of the House of Representatives.  It was common knowledge that Jefferson was the intended President with Burr as the Vice President but Burr wanted the Presidency.  It is a mystery as to why he did not go to Washington and campaign for the needed votes for him to obtain the Presidency.  Dolley was asked by Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia Alston to intercede in her father’s trial for treason.  It does not appear that Dolley addressed this request in any way.  Aaron Burr will forever be known as the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel when Burr felt his honor had been maligned.  Dolley retrieves the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and the Declaration of Independence as she flees the White House during the War of 1812.  Ginger’s portrayal of the vivacious Dolley Madison gives life to this magnificently strong and intelligent woman.

Magnificent Doll November 1946
                             December 8, 1946 New York City, New York

     The film begins with the return of John Payne from the Revolutionary War to his home in Virginia.  He has under gone a religious conversion to the Quaker faith and promised Friend Todd that his daughter would marry his son.  The Paynes move to Philadelphia and Dolley is married to John Todd.  Dolley feels cheated out of the opportunity of finding love and marrying because she is in love.  Dolley grows to love Mr. Todd in her own way but refuses to tell him she loves him.  He gives her a beautiful necklace to prove his love and devotion to her even though it is against his faith.  They have a son and still Dolley refuses to tell Mr. Todd of her love for him because she feels as if she has been mated like the beast in the fields and was ordered to be Mr. Todd’s wife.  Mr. Todd predicts that Dolley will one day come running to tell him that she loves him.
      Then yellow fever strikes Philadelphia and takes the lives of Dolley's father and young son.  They are forced to leave and on their way out of the city, John goes back to Philadelphia to help others evacuate Philadelphia.  Dolley and her mother wait in a camp outside of the city for John to return to them.  Dolley is brought the news of Mr. Todd being stricken with the fever.  She runs to him through the forest in the desperate need to find him alive so she can tell him of her love for him.  When she finds him at the bridge she falls to the ground.  She lovingly holds him as she caresses his face in desperation declaring her undying love for him.  When Dolley realizes he is gone from this life she embraces him and begins to cry as she laments not telling him of her love for him before it was too late.  Dolley asks for his forgiveness and realizes that she had been willful and not wise in her first marriage and had many regrets.  She would not make the same mistake again, as she will be deeply in love with the man she would marry next.
      Dolley and her mother decide to rent out rooms in their home.  Aaron Burr is the first applicant and takes it upon himself to find other lodgers.  There is an immediate attraction between Dolley and Aaron.  A romance begins to bud between them.  They go riding and when they return James Madison sees Dolley and he is instantly smitten with her.  James follows them and knocks on the door so Aaron can properly introduce them.  The last lodger has not arrived as of yet and James is able to fine lodging at the establishment.  After all, he is a fellow Virginian.
      James spends his evenings admiring Dolley from afar while she continues going out with Aaron.  Aaron is besotted with desire for Dolley but his political views make her apprehensive. Dolley gives ones of her famous dinner parties for James.  Dolley works her legendary charm, suave, and political expertise on the politicians gathered.  It is a smashing success and Dolley begins to look at James with different eyes as she likes his ideals but still has feelings for Aaron lingering close to her heart.  Aaron’s political views start to frighten Dolley as he talks of overthrowing the country and becoming its ruler with Dolley at his side.
      Dolley goes to the see James and asks him about the fate of this country.  She wonders if it is true that this is the first country to ever win its freedom and is ruled by the people and the chances of it succeeding.  James explains to Dolley the meaning of freedom and the reasons why the people fought for this idea of freedom.  Dolley realizes that James is the man she loves.  He is everything she has ever wanted.  James is a man with whom she can fully share her life and dreams.  The respect and love Dolley and James had for each other is manifested by Ginger and Burgess and is felt by me.
Dolley goes to Aaron and asks him not to go to Washington and plead his case to the House members in order to obtain the Presidency.  Because of his love for her, Aaron does as she asks and Jefferson becomes President and Aaron is regulated to the office of Vice President.  James and Dolley find themselves in Washington with Dolley as the official hostess and James as Secretary of State.  The white gown embroidered with precious gems Dolley wears as hostess is so beautiful it takes your breath away as you sigh at the charming Mrs. Madison.  Ginger is elegantly stunning in the dress.
Aaron kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel and starts to put his plans in motion to overthrow the government and have himself declared ruler.  Government troops come and arrest Aaron for treason.  While waiting for his trial Aaron sends word to Dolley to come to him because of what he once meant to her.  Dolley asks James if she should go and if she did, would it hurt him politically.  He leaves the matter in her hands to decide for herself.  Dolley burns the letter and goes to Aaron for she fears that he will be found guilty of treason for which the punishment is hanging.   Dolley sees Aaron but his arrogance and determination to bring about the downfall of the government is repugnant to her so she leaves to await the verdict in her carriage.
Aaron leaves to meet the angry crowd willing to take the law in their own hands and hang him because the courts have failed them.  When Dolley stands up for him, she is accused of bringing orders from Washington to the court to free Aaron because she is the wife of the Secretary of State.   Dolley stands and forcefully extols her case in defense of the court’s decision.  She elegantly describes what is at stake for this fledgling country if they hang Aaron.  Ginger nails the speech and gives one reason for reflection as to the virtues of our court system and the rule of law.
“If you follow that man and hang Aaron Burr you will put an end to freedom here today…If you hang Aaron Burr in the defiance of your laws, you will right here prove those laws worthless and meaningless and you fought for the blessed freedom to make those laws…When you made those laws, you agreed to live by them and obey them.  If they are not strong, enough to protect you strengthen them in orderly processes but never take them in your own hands in mobs like this.  This is not freedom…Freedom is something you live, under law.  Your law says a man may be tried and judged by other men like himself according to the laws they have made together and if that man is found innocent by the law he shall be held innocent by the people…Aaron Burr has already been tried, sir.  This is your trial, your testing time and the whole world is watching you here today.  Are you going to tell the watching world by an act of violence in disobedience to your laws that you are a people too weak to rule yourselves under law?  That you need the despotic hand of a tyrant an emperor to rule you by force and fear.  Had Aaron Burr succeeded in his plan he would have abolished your laws, your courts, and your rights and you want to hang him for that.  Yet here you are abolishing them all yourselves.   Oh, my countrymen, Aaron Burr is not the first to challenge your freedoms and he will not be the last…You and I must live the example of a free people.  We must prove to any man or set of men who believe themselves cunning enough to destroy our freedom. With clean hands and united hearts we are able to deal with traitors as a people under law with order.” 
Dolley asks the people to turn their backs to Aaron Burr as he passes through the crowd into the oblivion he has chosen for himself.  Aaron walks to Dolley and he looks up into her eyes.  She lowers her eyes and turns her back on him.  Aaron bows and turns away from her and walks away a broken man.  James has arrived and goes to Dolley and she states emphatically that she loves him.  They embrace and kiss.
Ginger is inspirational in her delivery and manner.  If Oscars were awarded on the merits of a particular scene this scene would be the one.  Ginger’s performance as Dolley is truly magnificent.  It has become one of my favorites and I would love to have it on DVD.
       Look magazine goes along with Ginger and Jack back to Quakerstreet, New York as Ginger meets her extended in-laws.  Jack’s grandparents are celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary.  Jack shows his wife around the town and nearby Schenectady where he once worked.  There is plenty of singing and dancing as the Briggs’ families celebrate together.  Ginger dances with Jack’s grandfather, John Calvin Briggs, who is in his eighties, while a family member plays the piano.  Ginger holds her namesake, Virginia Lawton for her christening in the parlor.  Virginia is the daughter of Jack’s sister Martha and Elwood Lawton.  On the day of the celebration, Ginger cuts and serves the anniversary cake to guests.  The consensus is that “She’s so ordinary.  And so nice."
      Ginger and Jack are happily married and are enjoying being in love.  This appears to be the real thing.  In what little spare time Ginger has, she sculpts a bust of Jack.  They bought a double-decker trailer to take on location for It Had to be You.  Ginger uses the trailer as her dressing room and living quarters.  I have seen pictures of this enormous trailer.  It looked like a small apartment with all the trimmings.  The Briggs’s are excellent tennis players and golf quite often but Ginger’s real passion appears to be fishing the Rogue River.
Ginger and Jack take a 175-mile canoe trip down the Rogue River.  They camped and fished along the way.  Jack invited a friend bringing the party number to five.  There are two experienced guides and Ginger is the only woman.  Ginger never one to shrink from a challenge studies the guides’ every move in how they maneuvered the canoe down the river.  She asks the guide if she could help ferry the canoe over the rapids and if there was a mishap not to worry, she is a strong swimmer.  Protocol demands when traveling over portions of the river where the rocky channel waters churns into a spinning maelstrom the passengers are put ashore to walk along the shoreline.  Jack protests his wife’s wishes but the guide is aware of Ginger’s attentiveness and agrees to let her help.  Jack finds out once again that he is not married to any ordinary woman but one of remarkable skill and courage.
After two days of not even a nibble on her line, Ginger pulled in a 28-pound steelhead trout.  It sets a record in Oregon.  I do not know how long she held the record but in 1970 someone caught one weighing over 35 pounds.  Ginger and Jack try to get to their ranch in Oregon two to three times a year.
      Screen Guide visits Oregon and catches Ginger working and relaxing on her ranch.  Ginger has a nice gun collection but only shoots at targets and does not hunt.  She reads farm and livestock journals because she takes farming seriously.   There is a picture of Ginger putting on the electric milker on one of her cows.  The scene rekindles memories of when my husband and I milked our cows.  Ginger looks very comfortable and at ease.  There is also a picture of her climbing up the side of her silo.
      Ginger agrees to do an outdoor photo shoot for a national magazine.  The photographer takes Ginger to a skeet shooting range and hands her a rifle.  He asks if she can handle the rifle in a manner that looked natural.  Apparently, he had never seen Carefree where she handles a rifle quite well.  Ginger acquiesces and proceeds to shoot twenty-four of the twenty-five clay pigeons.  The photographer stammers that it was just luck and challenges Ginger to repeat the feat.  Ginger did not repeat the feat but she did shoot twenty-three of the next twenty-five clay pigeons sent her way.  Ginger is Hollywood’s own Annie Oakley.

It had to be you December 7, 1947 New York City, New York

       It had to be you with Cornel Wilde is another film favorite.  Spring Byington plays her mother while George Chandler has a bit part on a bus.  This is a lighthearted farcical comedy. Victoria (Ginger) is a woman who just cannot go through with three marriage proposals and walks away from the grooms at the altar.  Upon becoming engaged the fourth time she goes away to make up her mind.  On her return trip to New York, via the train, she dreams of marrying Oliver H. P. Harrington III when Cornel Wilde in the guise of an Indian jumps out of her dream and invades her life. 
Ginger shows her adeptness at playing a woman who has to explain the appearance of a figment of her imagination and all she has to do is get him off her mind and poof he will disappear.  While viewing home movies with her fiancé and his family she realizes that the Indian of her dreams is really a young boy whom she had fallen in love with as a young girl.  Victoria sets out to find this man.
The love of her youth turns out to be a fireman by the name of Johnny Blaine.  He had walked away from three brides when it came down to the wire himself.  It just did not seem right.  She chases and he resists.  In the end after misunderstandings, he rescues Victoria from Oliver and goes off into the sunset on the fire engine of their dreams.  This movie shows Victoria having many of the same interests and hobbies as Ginger.  Highlighted is Ginger’s love for sculpting, tennis, baseball, bowling, and fishing.   This might be the original Runaway Bride.
Ginger and Jack announce that they are going to try their hand at producing films and radio with her as the star.  Ginger has an infectious voice and I derive enormous enjoyment just listening to her speak.  I have seen publicity photos of Ginger from their project Wild Calendar but it was not to be.  Fredda Dudley remarks that, “People who have known Ginger both in work and play, insist that she is one of the most even-tempered beings in the world.  Apparently the only thing that infuriates her is the sight of someone sloughing off a responsibility, or doing a lackadaisical job, or scorning his daily work.”  The lack of follow through on Jack’s part with their plans probably had a lot to do with Ginger’s disenchantment with him and eventually leading to their parting.
Ginger’s road to happiness has always been through work whether she is relaxing or working.  Ginger is continually pushing herself artistically, intellectually, and physically.  Ginger states, “To accomplish something brings a greater sense of joy to me than anything else.”
Ginger proudly displays two gold medals mounted on velvet in her studio.  “One announced her the Charleston Champ of Texas, 1925, and spelled her name “Jinger”.  The other, dated 1933, proclaimed Ginger semi-finalist in the women’s ping-pong championships.”  Ginger lost to Alice Marble who was the World’s number one American tennis player winning 18 Grand Slam championships between 1936 and 1940.
Hedda Hopper visits Ginger after completing Barkleys before she leaves for her beloved ranch.  Ginger who always greets her guests herself meets Hedda at the front door.  Ginger tells Hedda that she looks for the day when she can say good-bye to Hollywood and stay in Oregon on her ranch once it begins to make a viable living for her.  Jack comes in and bids a fond farewell to his lovely wife as he heads to the ranch.  Jack manages the running of the ranch and puts in long hours.  Ginger “does all the ranch laundry on a beat-up old washing machine.  She cooks the meals and washes the dishes…She chases around in faded Levis, plaid shirts, tennis sneakers and pigtails, rambling all over the 640 acres.  She perches on corral rails at stock auctions all over the county.  She’s yanked her share of scrappy steelhead out of the Rogue and shot its dangerous rapids twice in a bobbing boat.  But she’s never shot anything else-not even the fat pheasants which swarm in her fields.”   Ginger will leave soon for the ranch so she can be with Jack and enjoy the ranching life she takes so much pleasure in.
Look travels to the Rogue River and does a photo shoot of Ginger’s fishing trip with friends.  Along for the fun are Jack, Gale Storm, Teresa Wright and husband Niven Busch, the Lee Bowmans, Ann Miller, the Robert Prestons, and John Howard.  The men out fished the women.  When Jack hauled in an impressive catch, his wife rewarded him with an embrace and kiss.  Teresa Wright was able to hook a fish but it wiggled out of Ginger’s hands.  Gale Storm was more into laying out and taking in some rays than she was in fishing.  Ginger was able to haul in a steelhead trout for herself.  Riding horseback over Table Rock Estates came in a close second to the fishing.  Ginger and Jack seem to be very happy but in July, Ginger sues for divorce.
 A very tender moment was missed when Ginger and Fred did not dance to They Can’t Take That Away From Me in Shall We Dance but it was set right in Barkleys of Broadway.  From the first moment Ginger and Fred appear on film, they spin their magical web around you once again.  It is as if they had never parted.  The ten year respite is dissolved as if it never happened and the most attractive, appealing, and charming couple of the silver screen are together again. The chemistry, elegance, grace, and timing are all there for me to enjoy again in Technicolor.
     The magic is still there.  While dancing to They Can't Take That Away From Me, Fred and Ginger find it hard to hide their joy in dancing together again as they smile at each other during different parts of the dance as it is suppose to be very solemn and retrospective of their partnership.  It is beautifully executed by the greatest dancing duo of all time.  Barkleys is Ginger and Fred’s swan song and cements their partnership for the Ages.  Barkleys is a financial and critical success.  Ginger presents Fred with an honorary Academy Award for “his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures” via a cable hook up as Fred is in New York.
Ginger's grandfather visits her on the set and dances a few steps with her.
Ginger reprises her role as Dinah Barkley on the Lux Radio Theatre on January 1, 1951, with George Murphy as Josh Barkley.   Does anyone have a copy of the radio show?  I have not run across it in my search for Ginger’s radio performances.
Barkleys is Ginger and Fred’s touching and poignant farewell to each other and their adoring fans.  In later years, Fred acknowledges Ginger’s contribution to the partnership was an essential one helping their rise to superstardom.  He states his other partners just looked wrong with him.  Ginger and Fred have “IT” in the Clara Bow sense.  “IT” is indescribable but “IT” is a superlative manifestation.  Ginger and Fred will live on forever as I continue to travel along with them as they struggle to make sense of love and romance.  I rejoice in their joy of finding each other by the end of the journey when they acknowledge they are destined to be together eternally.
Ginger was not the genius behind the creation of the dance that was all Fred and Hermes Pan but her knowledge and experience as a dancer and actress permitted her to move along with Fred and react to him.  If it had not been for Ginger’s mastery as an actress and dancer there might not have been a Fred Astaire. After the disaster Damsel in Distress, Hollywood wondered if Ginger could save Fred’s career, which of course was premature and ridiculous.  Fred never found another dancing partner as attune to his style and could bring the best out of him as a duo.  As a solo dancer, he was tops but with Ginger he was transcendent.  Fred told a newspaper reporter after filming Rio “Ginger has the strength, the physical grit, the willingness, diligence, and perseverance to be one of the greatest female dancers of all time.”
      After Fred stopped dancing, he gains a new appreciation of Ginger and her contribution to his career along with the importance of her dresses to the dances.  Fred did realize Ginger’s place as the one partner that complimented him the best.  Ginger and Fred will be intertwined forever in my memory and on film dancing eternally among the stars throughout the universe.  And as they say, “The rest is HISTORY!

The Barkleys of Broadway May 4, 1949 New York City, New York

I cringe with disappointment as the film opens.  Ginger and Fred’s opening dance Swing Trot is hidden behind the opening credits.  Whose lame brain idea was that?  Their dance is one of many highlights of the film. Their charm, chemistry, and grace were there again for me to inhale and enjoy. Their other numbers in the movie were just as endearing as they were a decade earlier.  I especially enjoy watching them dance to the song They Can’t Take that Away From Me for it evokes so much emotion, not only for the plot line but also for what they mean to me in the previous nine movies they made together.  I love her dress!  Bouncin’ the Blues, My One and Only Highland Fling, and You’d Be Hard to Replace are pieces of art to be relished along with this film of a married Broadway couple struggling with their love for each other and their artistic self-worth.  It is poetry in motion when they are reunited in Manhattan Downbeat at the end of the film.
      If only, there had not been a war.  Jack came back a changed man.  You cannot expect anyone who experiences the horrors of war not to be changed.  It is too bad Ginger and Jack could not have worked out their differences.  Jack complains that he is tired of only being known as Ginger Rogers's husband.  This was Ginger’s last chance at a truly loving relationship with a man who loved her deeply and she him.   When I read her book, I was deeply saddened when they divorce in September of 1949.