Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

By Jeffrey Spivak | Go to book overview

9
Art and Audacity

Buzz requested a respite. He hadn’t taken a real vacation in years. He wedged in his weddings and his honeymoons whenever there was a free day or two in his schedule. His work on Girl Crazy ended far too precipitously, and his marriage was no longer tenable, so Buzz found himself with enough free time for a holiday. Louis B. Mayer, knowing full well the histrionics that had occurred between Arthur Freed, Roger Edens, and Buzz, gave him a month off. He decided to take an ambitious cross-country automobile trip with Mother. They would wind up in New York, see old friends and colleagues, and take in a Broadway show or two. Buzz might even do a little unpaid scouting for the next Berkeley girl.

Buzz and Mother rode in a limousine chaperoned by a man identified as “Gene.” They wheeled through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as Gertrude took in the sights from the right side of the backseat. In Oklahoma, a deep dip in the road caused the vehicle to bounce severely, forcing Gertrude off her seat and onto the limo’s hard floor. She was in pain, and her son brought her to the closest Oklahoma hospital he could find. Gertrude had torn the ligaments in one leg and needed a week’s hospitalization. Buzz was fraught with anxiety and need. He called Etta Judd and asked his kindly friend to come to the hospital and assist him with his mother, and she did so without a qualm. Though the automobile part of the trip was now canceled (Buzz asked Gene to return to Los Angeles), they planned to travel to New York by train. Gertrude looked at real estate advertisements during her convalescence. With her spendthrift son’s future in mind, she found a house in Oklahoma City and a cattle ranch in Shawnee on the market for a steal. Before Buzz and Gertrude boarded a train to points east, he had purchased the properties in his mother’s name per her request. The ride to New York could not have been comfortable for Gertrude. She was carried onto the train

-198-

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Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Screen Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - Actress and Son 4
  • 2 - In Formation 20
  • 3 - The Show Fixer 27
  • 4 - A Cyclopean Vision 48
  • 5 - The Cinematerpsichorean 66
  • 6 - The Cancerous Tire 123
  • 7 - Post-Traumatic Inspiration 143
  • 8 - Buzz’s Babes 164
  • 9 - Art and Audacity 198
  • 10 - The Stage Debacle 211
  • 11 - Inconsolable 218
  • 12 - One Last at Bat 225
  • 13 - Jumping, Tapping, Diving 235
  • 14 - Out of Sight 257
  • 15 - The Ringmaster 262
  • 16 - Remember My Forgotten Director 266
  • 17 - The Figurehead 272
  • 18 - The Palmy Days 292
  • Epilogue 296
  • On Busby Berkeley’s Memoirs 300
  • Appendix- The Works of Busby Berkeley 303
  • Notes 327
  • Index 353
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