The Show Fixer
Buzz moved in with his mother and regaled her with military anecdotes. His successes with amateur theatrics fell on disapproving ears. Gertrude had hoped her soon-to-be-mustered-out son would find a job, any job, in any field except show business. The shoe factory apprenticeship in Athol was no longer an option: Starr Lee had died, and the company had gone out of business. Buzz also had no lady love in his life, a situation that caused no consternation in Gertrude; indeed, it suited her possessiveness.
Not yet in civvies, the uniformed second lieutenant and his beaming mother strolled through the Broadway theater district, past the William Brady Playhouse on Forty-eighth Street, with Gertrude doing the regaling this time, telling of past shows and past personalities. Approaching slowly from the opposite direction, a familiar face came into view. It was John Cromwell; seven years earlier, he had made his Broadway debut in the role of John Brooke with Gertrude as Mrs. March in Little Women at the Playhouse Theatre on West Forty-eighth. He was acting and directing now, staging Broadway productions and assembling casts for out-of-town shows. John looked quizzically at the dapper soldier, and an idea sprouted. Buzz was the perfect size and age for a part he was casting. Would he be interested in trying out for it? Gertrude was aghast! “No John, I don’t want Busby going on the stage.” Buzz, displaying the same excitement that fueled his gangplank run, was captivated by the idea. He begged Mother. “Just an audition…if I’m no good, then that’s that.” She let down her guard and acquiesced. Buzz auditioned and won the role. Within forty-eight hours, he had gone from veteran, to civilian, to actor.
On August 17, 1919, a week after Buzz had returned from France, a small headline in the New York Times read “A Soldier-Made Actor.” The story was about Lt. Busby Enos, his wartime duties, and his commission at Saumur. His famous mother was mentioned, along with her