Radio stars (June 1933)

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RADIO STARS the woman laughed and, pointing to "the little odd one," said, "I think this is the elocutionist of the family." Mother laughed, too, and said she thought Elsie was too young but she supposed the children might as well start lessons together. At this Elsie fled to privacy and wept for joy. AS the lessons progressed, with Elsie ^ keeping abreast of her sister, she be- gan to gain self-confidence, especially since Mother seemed just as proud of her as she was of Gertrude. But about this time Elsie learned to her amazement that her school chum really had been adopted and so the "odd one" began to wonder about herself again. In time, of course, she outgrew this fear of having been adopted but never did the inferiority complex entirely leave her. Gertrude grew up into a beauty and an actress, too, becoming William Hodge's leading lady. While she was in high school, Elsie came home one day with the thrilling news that she had gotten herself a job with the local stock company. Mrs. Hitz did not protest for she knew what parental objections meant, having her- self had stage aspirations as a girl. She was secretly glad to see them blossom forth in her daughters. Even Elsie's tender age was not brought forth as an argument, for Mother guessed how much this opportunity meant to the odd one. So Elsie Hitz became a professional actress at fourteen, alternating her study of algebra with the study of her lines. When she was sixteen her fam- ily moved to New York so that she might have a better chance at the career she loved. She gave excellent promise of being a fine and successful actress and she already had a speaking voice that once heard was never forgotten. The first manager she applied to in New York told her he would like to en- gage her since she seemed such a good ingenue but unfortunately she had the same coloring as the star—dark hair and eyes. They needed a blonde. "But one side of my hair is blonde," protested Elsie. The manager laughed unbelievingly and told her to come back the- next day with her hair combed on its blonde side. Elsie did and got the job! In the play she wore a little evening cap with the blond strand showing and everyone thought she was a tow-headed blonde. The hated hair had at last conquered her inferiority complex. She got good notices and all the critics remarked on her resemblance to Helen Hayes. She is about the same height and in profile die resemblance is very striking. Among the plays she appeared in are "Penrod" following Helen Hayes, "The Cat and the Canary," "The Butter and Egg Man," "The Spider" and many others. At seventeen she fell in love with Jack Welch, a young leading man. He was her first beau and she wanted to marry him but her mother insisted that she was much too young. When the play they were both appearing in reached St. Louis, however, Mrs. Hitz received the following wire: DEAR MOTHER COLD RAINY AND DULL HERE SO WE GOT MARRIED LOVE ELSIE MEEDLESS to say, they were for- given. Elsie is the only one of the five girls who hasn't gotten a divorce. She is ideally happy. Her husband gave up the stage for business and she gave it up for radio. In this way they could be together in a place of their own and in time have a youngster, Jean. At present she is a delightfully blase child, taking her mother's talents for granted. Elsie got into radio when she was sent by a theatrical manager with doz- ens of other girls to try out for "Mag- nolia" in an air production of "Show Boat" with Lionel Atwill. At the time of her marriage she began singing les- sons but many other girls sang. It was her charming speaking voice—a voice quite unlike any other auditioned, a voice full of warmth and tenderness, that got her the job. Edna Ferber, the authoress, was so pleased with Elsie's performance that she gave her an auto- graphed copy of "Showboat," telling her what a delightful Magnolia she made. After that one performance William Sweets, of National Broadcasting, sent for Elsie and she was teamed up with Ned Wever in various programs. They became the lovers of the air on "True Story," "Love Story," "Arabesque," "Rinso" and "Blue Coal" to mention but a few. As Jane on the "Rinso" program her fan mail averaged one hundred and fifty letters a week. This year the team was broken up because when the "Magic Voice" pro- gram was bought by Ex-Lax to be broadcast over Columbia, Nick Dawson was already chosen as the man and of all the dramatic actresses on the air to be considered as possessing a magic voice, only Elsie Hitz filled the bill. Hence her exclusive contract with Columbia. The "black sheep" is the only active artist out of the whole Hitz flock now and maybe her family isn't proud of her! As for the inferiority complex, the only time it rears its head is when her script calls for her to sing over the air. There are so many singers on the radio that Elsie's hands get clammy and her heart pounds like a base drum but you would never know it by her voice. Sing she does and well, too. And Beauty—Elsie is going to lay that ghost some day soon—perhaps, as rumor hath it, by means of the talkies. She still has her strand of blond hair—she would hardly part with it after it got her her start. Only recently her mother, remember- ing the "little odd one," cut a piece out of the newspaper. It said that the latest rage in Paris was for Milady to have a strand of her hair dyed a contrasting color, so even in this Elsie is a "nat- ural." No wonder she says it pays to be the "black sheep," the "little odd one." Her life has proved it. Why Al Jolson Quit performer, as the top man of that hard- boiled street called Broadway, but as the softest-hearted sentimentalist ever turned out by the school of hard knocks. His home was a rambling penthouse apartment so rich in its furnishings that it almost stifled one. He had a servant to answer every need. He shared his quarters with innumerable friends. I can hear him now, saying, "Come on home with me. We're throwing a party." But that place wasn't home. Though Al lived in a hundred dif- ferent gilded palaces, until the day he married Ruby Keeler, he never had a home. "I'm in love with my wife," he told Jimmie Cannon. And there is your answer. He was homesick. Jolson wanted to go home. (Continued from page 9) When Al married Ruby, his heart told him that in her company he would find the sweet haven that life had that far denied him. An immigrant lad struggling up the tall ladder of fame from a beginning in far-away Russia has little time for romance, or even for sentiment. To her, he gave the sort of puppy-dog devotion that we see more often in high school boys. And Ruby, loving Al rapturously, gave to him that warm understanding and sympathy that he so needed. Be- cause they were both making movies, they lived together in a Spanish house on a palm-lined lane in Hollywood. From the very first, they were child- ishly happy. IT was there that Al found his real home, the first he had ever known. It takes a smart man to realize that he has made a mistake. It takes a smarter one to correct that mistake. When Al left Hollywood for New York's broadcasting palaces, he was as brown as a berry. Yet, within a month, after wading through Manhattan's slush and suffering from sudden temperature changes, he was on his back in a hos- pital bed. And the woman whose touch he needed was three thousand miles away, held there by iron-clad clauses in her motion picture contract. That was the beginning of his home- sickness. For fifteen weeks, he stood it. For fifteen weeks, he submitted to the contract that bound him to a tempera- mental New York climate. And then he rebelled. He says it was interference . . . that meddlers tried to tell him, America's foremost individual enter- 48