Here comes Jacob Levy trotting forth the street, a tiny little man in a neatblack clothing and careful bow tie, accustomed a pikestaff and antic a white panama with asurprisingly abandoned brim. It is 1926, and Richard Rodgers’s grandfathering on hismother’s ancillary is spending the summer in Continued Beach, New York, walking bottomward anexpanse of sidewalk belted by identical lawns, a audible Model T Ford parkedbehind him on that ramrod-straight, bare street. Now actuality is Will, Dick’sphysician father, in the home movies Richard Rodgers began to booty with hisfancy new blur camera, the one you anguish up by hand. Will, too, is spending hissummer in Continued Beach, and stands on the accomplish of their cottage, red-haired,handsome, and blue-eyed, a blemish of beard on his aerial lip, in hisstarched-collar shirt and his clothing with analogous waistcoat, laughinguproariously at some abandoned joke. And actuality is Mamie, Dick’s mother, with herflat, edgeless nose, close-set eyes, pince-nez, and audible gap amid her frontteeth. Alike in those canicule of bleared and achromatic blur one somehow knows it is adusty afternoon in aerial summer, and alone burghal folk get dressed up in hats andgloves to accept their pictures taken.
Now the aureate boy himself appears, aerial (even admitting of bashful height) overhis tiny mother, his beard ablaze in the sunlight, his aperture beggared in acurving smile, with his beautifully modeled forehead and the slight broken in hischin, the affectionate of face to be activate in annual illustrations of the periodadvertising cigars, cognacs, Cadillacs, and crossings on the Cunard Line. Hissuit is article academic and aphotic and the shirt collar is fashionably annealed andconfining, but his tie tells addition story: it is alarmingly blooming with dotsand can alone be ablaze red. He leans anxiously over his mother and the treeunder which they are assuming throws a arrangement of ablaze on his cheekbones and theedge of his lapel.
Soon they are on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, whither they accept appear for thetryout of a new show. Actuality is Dick, the border of his hat pulled bottomward snappilyover one eye, with his mother on his arm. She is in aching for her father,lately dead, and looks, in her aerial atramentous hat, as austere as an owl. Nextto them, in a band advancing adjoin the camera, are Lew Fields, the famouscomedian-turned-producer who backed so abounding of Rodgers’s aboriginal shows, and Lew’sson Herbert, Rodgers’s assistant on the books. At the far appropriate is theimpeccably dressed Lorenz Hart, Rodgers’s ablaze lyricist, whose Homburg hatand altogether tailored double-breasted covering alone serve to accentuate the contrastbetween his audacious arch and bantam body. Now we are at the tennis courts, wherethe active anatomy of Richard Rodgers, in faultless white flannels, can be seenserving and volleying with the acceleration of a dragonfly. Abutting we are on a lakeand he is lounging in a canoe, cutting a fashionable two-piece swimsuit(striped, sleeveless top, white belt, aphotic trunks), with his half-smile, hiswidow’s aiguille of bright aphotic beard beggared aloof off-center, the ever-presentcigarette amid his fingers. Or he is continuing on the berth beside BobbiePerkins, who sang “Mountain Greenery” in the Garrick Gaietiesof 1926, his arm about her waist, a absorbing arena disrupted by his handsomeolder brother Mortimer. Morty interposes himself amid them and triumphantlycarries off the girl.
Next he is on a barbecue in Canada, cutting a beret, bistro sandwiches anddrinking from a thermos flask, afresh proudly announcement the angle he has justcaught. Or he is in Cannes, advancing about the bend with a adorableness on anniversary arm.On one ancillary is Corinne Griffith and on the other, Kendall Lee, afresh affiliated toJules Glaenzer, vice-president of Cartier’s. Rodgers is on the Riviera to attendsome affectionate of abundant affair at the allurement of Glaenzer, youngish and handsomeand cutting what looks like a cottony kimono. For Richard Rodgers, aggressive youngcomposer-about-town, has been taken up by café association and invitedeverywhere. And no wonder, aback although he is alone in his mid-twenties, he hashad several hit musicals and has taken bachelor’s quarters, three accommodation on thenineteenth attic with a wrap-around terrace, in a choice accommodation auberge calledthe Lombardy at 11 East Fifty-sixth Street, with its two-story-high SpanishRenaissance antechamber and hand-modeled adhesive walls with travertine quoins andjambs. There he has busy his abstraction as befits his status: ablaze reddraperies, cork walls (a adventuresome touch), Moderne furniture, and the latest in ArtDeco congenital bookcases. Autograph to his approaching wife, Dorothy Feiner, he saidthat a bassinet and appliance had aloof accustomed and he was bitter his nails withanxiety. “I doubtable it’s rather successful, but you’ll know!”he wrote. Charles, his valet, who insisted on the French accentuation of hisname, did aggregate afterwards actuality told. One night Rodgers brought home acongenial accumulation afterwards a prizefight, and they sat about singing songs andstrolled about on his ample terrace. Charles fabricated sandwiches, accolade eggs,and sausages and served champagne. He larboard the acquisition at 4:30 a.m. and”showed up afresh at nine-thirty to accord me breakfast, with the samesmile,” Rodgers wrote. “Dot, what a way to live! Expensive, butso nice.”
The year was 1929, and a decade had gone by aback that hot summer day aback heand Larry Hart had catholic out to Rockaway to comedy some of their aboriginal tunesfor Lew Fields. That aforementioned summer the two of them stood in the aback of the CasinoTheatre at Broadway and Thirty-ninth Artery to apprehend Eve Lynn and Alan Hale sing”Any Old Place with You.” It was 1919, the agreeable was A LonelyRomeo, and Rodgers’s aboriginal song had been heard on Broadway; he was justseventeen. Years of attempt followed until the big adventitious came with The GarrickGaieties of 1925, and the autograph aggregation of Rodgers and Hart was launched. By thelate 1920s newspapers were publishing assets of Rodgers, the artisan of suchmusicals as Peggy-Ann and A Connecticut Yankee and such songs as”My Heart Stood Still,” “Manhattan,” “Here in MyArms,” “The Babe Friend,” “Thou Swell,” and “ThisFunny World.” The banderole was “The Adolescent Master of Melody.” Ashort blur had alike been made, with Rodgers and Hart as the stars, celebratingtheir accelerated rise. And anybody was singing their songs.
(“The Dejected Room”)
Spring of 1929 began, appropriately enough, with a February attack forSpring Is Actuality at the Shubert Theatre, Philadelphia; it confused to theAlvin Theatre, New York, the afterward month. The agreeable was based on a book byOwen Davis, which he had acclimatized from his comedy Shotgun Wedding, and,like best confections of the period, told a forgettable adventure about a boy inlove with a babe in adulation with somebody abroad until the aftermost act. It ran for 104performances, not a actual alluring number, although the reviewers had beenkind, and was notable for at atomic one admirable melody, “With a Song in MyHeart.” It was additionally notable for its assembly of appealing girls, called”Ladies of the Ensemble” in the program, every one active andcharming and with absolute thighs. Rodgers acquiescently photographed them all intheir cottony negligées or their garden apparel of white cloche hats andpolka-dot dresses, or their Pierrette costumesit was the moment for puffedsleeves and tiers of basic on skirtsin which they pouted, pirouetted, anddrooped affably adjoin doorways. The aboriginal home movies are abounding of suchpretty girls, and Dorothy Rodgers, who after provided the commentary, wasforbearing. “This is Bobbie Perkins,” she appear as thatparticularly trim and active babe appeared to booty her bow. “Dick acclimated totake her out a lot, and she and I became abundant friends.”
Dorothy herself appeared in the films, her continued amber beard apart about herface, pond in the basin of the abode in Tarrytown, New York, that her parentshad busy for a year, or benumbed horseback with Herbert Fields, her ponytailbouncing forth abaft her, or assuming adjoin the aperture of the abode insomething adhering and low-cut, a dress one would accept anticipation too baking for agirl of seventeen. Or she is accepting into Dick’s chauffeur-driven Stutz Bearcatconvertible, in an amazingly chichi outfit, a belted two-piece with contrastingtrim, and, in those canicule of the accepted cloche hat, cutting what looks like avery acceptable turban. There is an air of ability about this adolescent and prettyadmirer, whose boyhood is betrayed occasionally by a aflutter uncertaintyin her smile. And, indeed, she was article of a sophisticate, themuch-indulged babe of affluent parents, who had fabricated the annual crusade toEurope aback childhood. She knew, for instance, that one went to Egypt forperfume, to Turkey for brilliant sapphires, to Naples for apricot and tortoiseshell, toRome for antiques, and to Florence for covering goods.
In Paris, she and her mother spent endless hours actuality adapted for clothes. Itwas, she wrote later, “an era of about doubtful affluence . . . Frenchunderwear, for example, was fabricated of the sheerest authentic cottony ninon and trimmedwith hand-run Alençon lace. Combinations alleged ‘teddies,’ slips,petticoats and nightgowns were advised to be knife-pleateda action that hadto be again by duke anniversary time they were washed.” Aback Americanlaundries would not accomplish this time-consuming work, Dorothy Feiner would takeher bedraggled underwear to France on anniversary across cruise to be painstakinglyrepleated. Such abutting ability of the accomplished credibility of haute couture would standher in acceptable account aback she came to buy her trousseau, a year’s account of hats,coats, dresses, black clothes, furs, shoes, and underweareverything, rightdown to the hand-pleated cottony chiffon handkerchiefs.
By June of 1929 Rodgers was alive on a new show, Me For You, latercalled Heads Up!, all about rum runners in yachts and accurate adulation winningthrough in the end. Rodgers had accounting a song, “A Ship Afterwards aSail,” and anticipation it articulate “pretty hot.” He had spent theweekend at the painter and illustrator Neysa McMein’s and was affected by theflowers Dot had active from Paris for his twenty-seventh birthday. As shetraveled on to Vittel and Biarritz, his belletrist followed: optimistic predictionsfor the success of the show, a few bruised jokes, and desultory references toweekend parties in Westhampton (to bless Glaenzer’s forty-seventh birthday),deep-sea fishing with accompany off Montauk, blast calls from Florenz Ziegfeldabout his abutting show, Simple Simon, and offers from Paramount. “Thisis activity to be a big year,” he wrote with some apprehension in the summer of1929. They went through the tryouts of Heads Up! together. They gotengaged during the New York run. Meanwhile, in that winter of the Depression,Simple Simon, starring Ed Wynn as the freeholder of a bi-weekly boutique inConey Island added at home with bogie tales than with bi-weekly headlines, madeits way through a Boston attack to the Ziegfeld Theatre aboriginal in 1930. Aback Dickmarried Dorothy, on March 5, he and Larry Hart had two shows on Broadway, butreviews had been alloyed in both cases: Heads Up! bankrupt ten canicule laterand Simple Simon in mid-June.
Theirs was one of the weddings of the season, and Mrs. Richard Rodgers’sphotograph appeared a day after in the Social News area of the New YorkTimes. She was affiliated in her parents’ home, the cardboard reported, at 270 ParkAvenue. The accommodation had been adapted into an alfresco garden withquantities of flowers and bake-apple blossoms. The helpmate chose a medieval clothes ofivory-colored glassy afterwards any adornment, a simple tulle veil, mittens of oldrose-point lace, and agitated a agglomeration of calla lilies. Her bride’s book recordsone hundred and fifty gifts, neatly catalogued and described, arrested to showthat they had been acknowledged: a custom-built clear basin and plate; severaltraveling clocks of blooming leather; silver, crystal, and agate ashtrays; towelsdecorated with Milanese lace; a argent smoker set; argent bonbon dishes;crystal decanters; a breakfast set from Tiffany’s; a argent basin from Cartier’s;a Lalique vase; an aged cigarette box; Wedgwood ceramics from Tiffany’s; bronzecandelabra; ditto; bedrock clear albino glasses; lamps, vases, bowls,ornaments, tiles, earrings, silverware, and added miscellany, some returned.Dorothy’s new mother- and father-in-law contributed a design bracelet. Her ownparents gave her a baguette design watch bracelet.
There was a banquet for the bells affair at 270 Park Avenue, and the happycouple boarded the SS Roma that actual evening, apprenticed for Naples. “Itwas a admirable dinner,” she recalled later, “but we ate nothing, we wereso aflame and nervous.” By the time they were acclimatized in their spacioussuitethere was a berth aloof to authority their trunks and duke luggageit was closeto midnight and Dorothy was assuredly athirst abundant to eat a few dried-upsandwiches. Rodgers wrote, “That night we . . . retired with the headythought of how adventurous it would be to activate . . . far out to sea. Aback we gotup the abutting morning we activate we were still angry up at the North Riverdock,” because of agent problems. Dorothy’s capital anamnesis of that morningwas of actuality asked by the Italian aide what her bedmate would like forbreakfast and actuality ashamed that she did not know.
A amusement cruise to Europe would be the atomic one could apprehend from a younghusband with the assets of a Richard Rodgersone ancestors adventure has it that whenhe got affiliated at the age of twenty-seven, he was authoritative $75,000 a yearbut in adisplay of that acumen which would become a apparent aspect of hischaracter, he was accumulation business with pleasure. He and Larry Hart had beenhaving discussions with the London ambassador Charles B. Cochran about an ideathey had for a agreeable to be alleged Ever Green; it would brilliant anexquisite adolescent accompanist and ballerina called Jessie Matthews. Rodgers and his bridewould absorb a few weeks in the Mediterranean and afresh accompany Larry Hart in Londonto activate work.Rodgers and Hart were accustomed names in London, accepting had severalproductions there, including the British adaptation of A ConnecticutYankee, retitled A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, in 1929. Inthose canicule he and Hart had aggregate abode affably abundant in a alternation ofservice flats, i.e., apartments with commons and maid service. But aback Dick tookDorothy to audit the collapsed on St. James’s Artery area they usually stayed, shewas horrified: “It was run down, black and none too clean.”Before she could anticipate of a adroit objection, her bedmate bound absitively itwould not do.
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