If I Were Single in Hollywood (1933)

If I Were Single in Hollywood

by Dorothy Manners

Leslie Howard is glad he isn’t. He says that married men have all the luck in Hollywood. But if he were a bachelor, he would find some way to dodge the “typical” movie bachelor’s life!

“If I were a single man in Hollywood,” said Leslie Howard, stretching comfortably, as he humorously played with the idea of being a gay, unattached blade in these Hollywood parts (at my request), “I should be probably be the most frightened man in the world!”
With this extraordinary statement off his chest, the throughly married Mr. Howard (there is a charming Mrs. Howard and two young Howards, you know) gave himself over to a real honest-to-goodness laugh from some place around his diaphragm and settled himself even more comfortably into a large chair in his Spanish living room in Beverly Hills.
“Funny idea, this– playing with the thought of being unattached in Hollywood. The more I think of it, the more I am convinced that it would be a most frightening state unless one were a very careful bachelor!
Marriage is really a delightfully simple existence in Hollywood.” (Now, there is a statement for all local papers to copy!) “I am sure the place was originally planned for domesticity. All the comforts and joys of the town are planned exclusively for the married man! Look at the large, comfortable homes, the gardens for “puttering around” purposes, the nice cliques already established for his social life. The married man is free from gossip-columnists’ rumorings, studio romance intrigues (at least, they don’t get into print), and all the frightfully busy, planning hostesses of Hollywood. It is the married man who really enjoy what freedom and privacy there are to be enjoyed in Hollywood. They can be had, you know.
“But to be single– there is a complicated state for you! As I see it, the eligible Hollywood bachelor is completely at the mercy of all these dangers that I have just mentioned– particularly the gossip-columnists and hostesses. It is the Hollywood bachelor who has his engagement book made up weeks in advance, whether he wants it that way or not.
“There is always,” remarked Mr. Howard, who had dissolved into an open grin by this time, “an ‘extra lady guest’ to be taken care of at Hollywood dinner parties, you know. It is the Hollywood bachelor who cannot be civilly polite to a charming co-worker without being rumored engaged to her, or at least in love! In Paris I should imagine a bachelor’s existence would be very nice; in New York it has keen possibilities; but in Hollywood, that is something else again.”
Now, in my simple way, I had always supposed it would be romantic to be a bachelor in Hollywood. I should imagine it would be even more fun for a gentleman who could be so attractive to the ladies in general as the poetic-appearing Mr. Howard. Consider all the beautiful co-stars from among whom a dining and a dancing partner might be chosen. Consider Maurice Chevalier and Gary Cooper and Joel McCrea and the apparently swell existence they lead. And here– along comes Leslie Howard, who could make such an A-1 Hollywood bachelor, and is downright scared at the possibilities!
“If I played the Hollywood bachelor game the usual, accepted way, I know I should not enjoy it,” he insisted. “But if I were permitted to work it out in my own way– well, now that might prove rather interesting!

Leslie Howard

Leslie Howard

Wouldn’t Live in a House

If I were a Hollywood bachelor, I should not want to live in a house. In the first place, homes are for a wife– and children. In the second place, a house offers the possibilities of too much ‘typical bachelor’ entertaining, planned more by your friends than by yourself. Instead, I would settle in a studio apartment; and I am not even sure I would run the risk of having a kitchen!
“Another thing: I should try very hard to keep my telephone number off hostesses’ lists. Now, don’t think that I am carping about the parties given by our charming leading hostesses. As a married man, I enjoy them throughly. Mrs. Howard enjoys them. Even the children enjoy the Sunday afternoon affairs. But as a bachelor– I mean, speaking as a bachelor– I am not at all sure I would enjoy the ‘fill in’ role of the extra man.
“I should also attempt to dodge the interesting dancing rooms, as I would dodge the plague. They are too stereotyped for true romantic flavor– and I should rather like this Hollywood bachelor fellow of mine to be a romantic cuss. It would be more fun that way, as long as we are playing with the idea. I should like him to show a little more originality when he invited a lady to dine with him than just one of the usual accepted places.
“And I should be disappointed in him if he developed the habit of leaving a ‘standing order’ for flowers to be sent to his favored lady. Could anything be more unromantic than this? It is such a slip-shod way to conduct a romance; too lazy.

Would Seek Out the Bohemians

“But Hollywood has an undiscovered romantic background that could be delightful for a bachelor! I mean the gathering places of the the real Bohemians of Hollywood– not the actors and actresses, but the artists, writers, sculptors, the unpublicized refugees of the artistic world who have drifted here from all corners of the earth.
“I have been lucky in meeting some of these interesting people. I have been invited to their homes and studios, which I consider the most interesting in Hollywood. There are little out-of-the-way cafés where the people gather, where everything under the sun is discussed– except Hollywood. Funny little orchestras play gay melodies in the background; lights are soft; the food is delicious; conversation stimulating.
“The entire atmosphere is novel and different. These true Hollywood Bohemians are neither rich, nor famous; in fact, many of them do ‘extra’ work about the studios when their own work does not produce enough for the jug of wine and the loaf of bread so necessary to the life they lead. Their homes are isolated in curving roads along Hollywood hills. They are as removed from what is generally accepted to be the real Hollywood, as is Hollywood, itself, from the Bohemian quarters of Paris. If I were a Hollywood bachelor, I should choose this background.

Skeptical About Real Romance

“As for the proverbial ‘romance’ in the typical bachelor’s life, I am afraid the difficulty in my mythical case would be in choosing some charming lady who would be as interested as I in things so radically removed from ‘typical Hollywood.’ I am afraid this romantic partner would not be easy to find.
“I have a definite hunch she would not be one of the famous ladies who shared a close-up with me during the studio day. The temptation could be so strong, you know, if one were dining with a lovely co-worker to turn the evening into practical purpose by rehearsing the next day’s dialogue!
“Besides, there could never be the true romance of exploring a charming woman’s personality if she were a famous and publicized figure. A bachelor could merely read her latest publicity story and know practically everything about her, including her choice in breakfast foods and the way she applies her favorite make-up. Ant that would be most unromantic, I can assure you.
“Another thing,” grinned Mr. Howard, with a gleam in his eye, “I should never give out publicity stories about what I was doing– if I were a Hollywood bachelor! In short, I would be quite a flop as the ‘gay blade’ among the stay-up-late places!”

(Motion Picture, October 1933)