Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

Part Three: 1949 – 1959, Hollywood Studios
And Back to Hollywood:
Screen Tests with MGM and Columbia Pictures

Lorie Miles - Martini III
Martini Poster

I had become good friends with George Brand, who had been a sub-agent at William Morris when I was a client. To start with, we shared a love of martinis. In the spring of 1952, George was coming to New York for his first visit and Aria and I offered to show him the town. About a week before his arrival, Max Arnow telephoned me. He was in New York and wanted to see me.

"I want you back at Columbia [Pictures]," he said. I nodded with not much enthusiasm.

"We’re going to make a big picture. Salome, starring Rita Hayworth, and I want you to play the lead opposite her. I’m in New York to test some Broadway actors for supporting roles, but I want you to test in Hollywood where we can have the best of everything. Just keep yourself loose and when the time is right we’ll fly you out to the coast."

I said "Okay and thanks."

The day George arrived in New York, we arranged to have dinner at a nice restaurant. He and I were to meet in the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel for cocktails and Aria would join us later. Just before eight o’clock, which had given us about three hours of martinis, I was paged to the phone. "You’d better get home as soon as possible," Aria said, "you’re flying to Hollywood tonight. Make our apologies to George."

"What’s going on? Did Max call?"

"It’s much too complicated to discuss on the phone. One of the agents at MCA is telephoning here in half an hour. From the sound of your voice I’ll put a pot of coffee on." I went back to our table in the Oak Room, put some money down for the drinks and said, "George, we’ll have to put dinner on hold, looks like I’m flying out to the coast tonight."

"What’s going on?" he asked.

"I haven’t the slightest idea," I said.

Back home, during my second cup of black coffee, Aria recounted what had occurred. "At five minutes to five, Max called from California. I was to get you packed and on the American Airlines flight at midnight, seat number 23. You were flying to the coast to test with Rita Hayworth as her leading man in Salome. Five minutes after I hung up, Harry Friedman (head of the motion picture department at MCA in California) called and told me to get you packed. You’re to fly out tonight on American Airlines midnight flight, seat number 24. He’d arranged a test for a movie at MGM." I was going to be sitting next to myself!

"I told him about Max Arnow’s call, and he said to get hold of you and he’d set up a conference call, eight-thirty our time, five-thirty his, with him in California and you and Jay Cantor (in the New York office) to decide what to do."

A few minutes later, I was on the phone with Harry and Jay. Harry wanted to know what I wanted to do. I asked for suggestions. Harry said to "come out and test at MGM, it’s a leading role."

"So is Salome," I said. "Tell you what. I’ll pay my own way out, we’ll take a look at both deals and whichever is better, that studio can reimburse me for the ticket." They both agreed.

I was picked up at the airport in Los Angeles and checked into a motel on the edge of Beverly Hills where the agency had made a reservation for me. I showered and shaved after the redeye flight, then was driven to Harry’s office at MCA. He rushed out to the parking lot and said he’d give me the scoop on the way to Columbia.

Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]