In my teens, I was a movie fanatic. My record was eight films in seven nights. Hollywood seemed like heaven and I never dreamt I would walk along the same sidewalks as Clark Gable or Marilyn Monroe. Come to think of it, my love affair with Hollywood started much earlier, when I was about ten years old. I remember going to the back of my local Odeon to look in their garbage bins for bits of film. Sometimes I found 36 frames of my favourite star – what a prize!
A few years later, a friend of mine moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry. Once he’d settled down, he wrote and suggested I should visit him for a couple of weeks. Heaven was waiting! Unfortunately, he had to go to Brazil on location for a new film, but I had already booked my flights. All was not lost; he knew an actress who was happy to meet me at LA airport and would find somewhere for me to stay.
As I dragged my suitcase past customs, I saw my name written on a board clutched by a raven-haired beauty. She was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen! You will probably notice as you read this book, that all the women I met were ‘the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met’. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
She drove me to her apartment in West Hollywood. When we arrived she fixed me a drink and explained that I could stay in an apartment on Sunset Boulevard which belonged to the musical director of Universal Studios. I never met him, and he was away on location, but he was happy to let a complete stranger stay in his apartment on the recommendation of a friend whom I had never met.
Americans are very generous with cars and property. A surgeon friend of mine and his wife often let me stay with them in their movie star home. They would lend me one of their cars and give me a key to the front door. This kind of generosity doesn’t happen in Europe; perhaps we are more suspicious.
Meanwhile, back in ‘Rio Rita’s’ apartment I was relaxing and enjoying my first drink in Hollywood. It was a beautifully furnished apartment with a Steinway baby grand piano in the corner, covered in photos of my hostess with various friends. As I looked closer, the friends were mostly movie stars. There was Frank Sinatra, Cyd Charisse, Jack Nicholson, and Nat King Cole was singing in the background. As evening approached, she switched on a couple of table lamps with red silk lampshades which cast a sensual soft red glow around the room.
Then she slowly rolled a cigarette. She didn’t even use a machine! I hardly ever smoke, I hate the smell of stale tobacco in a room, but sitting in this Hollywood atmosphere, it seemed the sort of thing one of my heroes would do. She showed her generosity again by offering to share it with me. Some people are just plain nice. She left the room for a few minutes while I enjoyed the cigarette. I didn’t recognise the tobacco, but it had a slight sweetness which I rather liked. It must have been quite strong because I started to feel a little light-headed. Frank and Syd seemed to be smiling at me and I’m sure Marilyn winked. Rita walked back into the room.
She must have been going to a fancy dress party because she was wearing a beautiful black silk, diaphanous kimono. I noticed her twin orbs of pleasure bursting through gossamer seams. As she sat down, she crossed her lush gams and her satin kimono fell away, revealing her silk stockings with little straps at the top to hold them up. What would these Americans think of next?
Nat King Cole was now singing in the background with a full orchestra. As Rita walked across the room towards me, I wondered if she was a good cook. She told me later that I had what some people call ‘the munchies’. She seemed a trustworthy person who made me feel very much at home. She sat on the sofa next to me and thoughtfully suggested I would be more comfortable if I removed my jacket and shoes. It seemed impossible that I had met such a kind and considerate woman only today. I felt we had known each other for years. Her pearly white teeth sparkled in the half-light as she smiled and pointed out that the English are such a formal and polite race. She leaned towards me. The delicate effluvium of her perfume filled my nostrils. She undid a couple of buttons on my shirt. It was a hot day and she was being very thoughtful.
The last thing I remember was her slim, delicate hands removing a pin from her hair and watching the dark silken strands fall graciously over her shoulders. I must have fallen asleep, because when I woke the next morning she was gone, leaving just a note on her pillow telling me how much she had enjoyed her evening. Whatever she did, I was delighted she had enjoyed herself. I got the impression of a single-minded American woman, a compelling personality governed by the maxim − “everything is possible”. If you want something, reach out and grab it. Her generosity took my breath away and pointed towards the dawn of a new tomorrow.