Janet Hardy in Radio City
Ruthe S. Wheeler
Janet Hardy in Radio City
JANET GETS THE LEAD
Janet Hardy stirred sleepily as the alarm clock sounded its lusty summons and it was only after a real effort that she managed to reach out and shut off the insistent clock.
It was so early that shadows of the night still lurked in the corners and Janet squinted at the clock through sleep-clogged eyes. It was four-forty a.m.
Sitting up in bed she looked across the room where Helen Thorne was deep in sleep, oblivious to the strident summons of the alarm which had echoed through their bedroom.
Janet, now thoroughly awake, tossed her pillow at the slumbering Helen. She scored a perfect hit and Helen, sputtering and wondering what it was all about, popped up in bed.
“Come on, sleepy head. It’s time to be up and dressing if we’re going to get to the studio in time for that six o’clock call,” warned Janet.
“I’ll beat you to the shower,” promised Helen. She jumped out of bed and grabbed the dressing gown on a nearby chair. There was a rush of feet padding down the hall and Helen made good her promise, reaching the shower room two jumps ahead of Janet.
Fifteen minutes later, after brisk showers and thorough towelings, they were dressed. From the kitchen had come waftings of delicious bacon and eggs and they knew that George, the colored cook, was getting breakfast.
When they reached the dining room they were surprised to find Helen’s father there, a morning paper propped in front of him.
Henry Thorne, world famous as the star director of motion pictures for the Ace Motion Picture Corp., looked up.
“An early call?” he asked.
“Billy Fenstow is starting to shoot his new western, ‘Water Hole,’ and we don’t want to be late the first morning,” explained Helen, slipping into her chair while Janet sat down opposite her. George, smiling a greeting, brought in a large platter of bacon and eggs. Then there were tall glasses of cold milk and thin, deliciously buttered toast.
“I didn’t think you’d be up so early, Dad,” said Helen, between mouthfuls of bacon.
“Guess I went to bed too early,” smiled her father. “I’ve been awake an hour.”
“You were all tired out after finishing ‘Kings of the Air,’” went on Helen and her father nodded his agreement.
Janet, on the other side of the table, said nothing, but thought a great deal. She had never quite gotten over the thrill of coming to Hollywood and the manner in which it had been accomplished. It seemed too much like a dream and at times she went around pinching herself to make sure she wasn’t asleep.
Classmates back in the medium-sized city of Clarion in the middle west, Janet and Helen had been fast friends and their families had been neighbors for years. Then Henry Thorne had made a success as a director of motion pictures, but Helen and Mrs. Thorne had remained in the family home in Clarion. Back for Helen’s graduation, he had been impressed by the acting ability of Janet and Helen, as well as their charm, and their graduation presents had been round trip airplane tickets from Clarion to Hollywood. Mrs. Thorne had come along to chaperon the party and they had taken a comfortable, rambling bungalow on a side street in Hollywood where they could be assured of privacy.
Janet could recall so vividly their first day. Pictures, interviews, attendance at a premiere in gowns designed by the famous designer who created all of the gowns for the stars of the Ace company. Then a chance to work in a western in the production unit headed by rotund little Billy Fenstow and after that small parts in “Kings of the Air,” which Henry Thorne had directed as one of the outstanding pictures on his company’s production program.
“What are you mooning about?” asked Helen, for Janet, her mind running back over the events of the last crowded weeks, had ceased eating.
Janet flushed. “Just thinking of all the wonderful things that have happened since we graduated.”
“I hope you won’t remember the unpleasant ones you experienced while we were making ‘Kings of the Air,’” said Helen’s father. He was well-built, with a touch of grey hair at his temples and a smile that inspired confidence and an almost instant feeling of friendliness.
“I was pretty scared at the time,” confessed Janet, “but now that the picture’s safely completed, it’s all over.”
“What do you think about ‘Kings’?” Helen asked her father.
He leaned back in his chair and Janet thought she saw a touch of weariness in his face.
“I don’t know,” he said softly. “It should be a good picture, but whether it will be a great picture is something else again. We can only wait until it’s out of the cutting room.”
Janet, although in a comparatively minor rôle, had been a key figure in the making of “Kings of the Air,” for a rival company, attempting to hinder the progress of the picture, had hired an actress in the company, blonde Bertie Jackson, and two renegade airmen, to make every effort to slow up production. Janet had been kidnaped and held prisoner overnight while the ghost town, where the company was located, was burned and a big set on the desert bombed. But the resourcefulness of Curt Newsom, cowboy star who had a rôle in the picture, had helped expose the sabotage and Janet had been speedily released. As a result she had been promoted to Bertie Jackson’s rôle and had handled it like a veteran trouper.
Just then George, the cook, looked in to see if more bacon and eggs were needed, and Helen’s mother, in a dressing gown, joined them.
“Someone should have called me,” she said.
“But you don’t have to report on the lot and we do,” Helen reminded her mother.
It was 5:30 o’clock when they finished breakfast.
“I’ll drive you over to the lot,” said Henry Thorne. “Mother, you dress while I’m away and we’ll take a long drive into the mountains and stop someplace for lunch. We’ll sort of have a day’s vacation for ourselves.”
Then they were away, speeding toward the studio in an open car. It was a glorious morning and the cool air was invigorating. Later in the day it would be uncomfortably hot.
Billy Fenstow, director of western pictures, was on stage nine, well to the back of the Ace lot.
There were few around the rambling studio at that hour, for production was past its peak and only two or three of the huge sound stages would be in use that day.
The director, who had only a fringe of hair around his shining pate, greeted them cordially.
“Have you read over the script of ‘Water Hole’?” he asked.
Janet nodded. “I like it better than ‘Broad Valley,’” she smiled.
Billy Fenstow fairly beamed. “Good. I wrote it myself. The other was only partly mine.”
Helen laughed and turned to Janet. “What are you trying to do, compliment Mr. Fenstow so he’ll give you the leading rôle?”
It was the director’s turn to chuckle. “She doesn’t have to,” he said. “Janet is playing opposite Curt Newsom in the lead right now.”
SHOOTING ON LOCATION
Janet stared hard at the chubby director. It was hard to believe that Billy Fenstow would joke with her now. That would be too cruel.
“Don’t you believe me, Janet?” he asked.
“It can’t be possible,” she murmured. “Why, I’m an unknown. You wouldn’t put me into the leading rôle.”
Just then Curt Newsom, the western star arrived.