Your Hit Parade, 1937
In all the long list of stars of stage, screen, radio and opera who have expressed their preference for Luckies, there is no name more distinguished than that of the gentleman we are privileged to introduce to you this evening – Mr. Leslie Howard!
The brilliant English actor, noted for his portrayals in such outstanding productions as “Berkeley Square”, “Petrified Forest”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet”, will soon be seen in a vehicle of a different sort, Warner Brothers hilarious farce, “It’s Love I’m After”. We take you now to California to hear Leslie Howard!
Switch: New York to Los Angeles
Mr. Howard: Hello there! What are we going to talk about?
Announcer: We hoped you’d have some ideas on that subject, Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard: Did you really? Well, let me see.. when I was on the radio with Eddie Cantor I said something about three pairs of rubbers. It was a gag, and very funny, too. I wish I could remember the rest of it.
Announcer: That isn’t exactly the type of material we use on “Your Hit Parade”, Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard: You see, the whole point of the thing was that “three pairs of rubbers” wasn’t the right answer at all. (Laughs) Very funny. If I could only remember what it was that Eddie said first…
Announcer: Suppose you tell us instead how you came to be an actor, Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard: How I came to be an actor? Well, I blame that on circumstances. When I was a young fellow in London just before the War, I was working in a bank, and running a dramatic club on the side. I suppose you’d call it a Little Theatre over here. I was tremendously interested in dramatics… but not in the acting end of it… in the writing and direction. However, every once in a while, when I couldn’t find the right person to fill a role, I’d have to jump in and play the part myself, even though I’d be frightened half out of my wits. Then when the War came along I received a commission in the cavalry, and served three years. I was invalided out of service before the War ended, and since I’d been married while I was in the Army, I needed a job rather badly. There was a great demand for actors in London at the time… and, well, I’ve been an actor ever since, Heaven help me.
Announcer: You aren’t trying to suggest that you don’t enjoy being an actor, Mr. Howard?
Mr. Howard: No, I suppose I do, really. It’s great fun most of the time. For example, my current picture…
Announcer: The title is “He Wouldn’t Get Married”, isn’t it?
Mr. Howard: That was the title before we started. Now Warners have changed it to “It’s Love I’m After”.
Announcer: Didn’t I hear that it’s a comedy? That’s rather a different sort of picture for you, Mr. Howard.
Mr. Howard: Farce would better describe it. And it is a change of pace for me. You see, I’ve been so very solemn recently, playing such roles as “Romeo” on the screen and “Hamlet” on the stage. In this I’m a bit gay, a jolly sort. The fellow is an actor and it’s rather fun doing him. I used to be able to get laughs. It will be nice to see if I get them again.
Announcer: You used to be a comedian?
Mr. Howard. Certainly. My first parts in America were comedies — “Her Cardboard Lover” and that sort of things. But the memory of the public is very short. People forget so quickly. I’ve appeared in role after role where I’ve suffered and died. Even my friends have been affected by my professional solemnity. I’ve noticed them regarding me with amazement when I laugh.
Announcer: That’s an interesting observation, Mr. Howard. Then an actor’s roles do affect his private life?
Mr. Howard: They affect the opinions others hold on him. That’s easy to understand. Naturally people think of an actor in terms of the characters he portrays, rather than as the type of chap he really is. Of course, I am aware that many actors often vigorously declare to their press agents that “they live their parts”. But, personally, I’m always suspicious of their ability when they stress this too strongly.
Announcer: I gather that you’re not a believer in the realist school.
Mr. Howard: I don’t understand the term as applied to acting. If there were complete realism in the theatre, it would cease to be theatre. For example, an actor is called upon by his part to fall down dead on the stage. Now no one can expect an actor to know how it feels to be dead. All he can do is to close his eyes and lie still, hoping a fly will not land on his nose and make him sneeze.
Announcer: Let’s go back to the subject of the film comedy you are now playing, Mr. Howard. You said that your friends had much to do with your decision to play this farce.
Mr. Howard: Yes, I think the one who had most to do with it is my daughter Leslie. I began to notice that she was evincing a marked lack of interest in my work. She didn’t care much about seeing the pictures I appeared in. Finally I said to her, “Look here, have you gone off me?” Her reply brought me up short. She said, “I don’t care to see you die again”. I got to thinking that there’s a lot in that. Children are very keen. They lead the popular vote in what people like. Here am I regarded as a solemn tragic fellow. It was time I changed.
Announcer: This daughter of yours sounds like an usual child. Did you say her name is Leslie– the same as yours?
Mr. Howard: Yes, the same. You see, it’s an old family name. She’s a very positive individual. I’ll never forget the first time she came to visit me in a motion picture studio. She walked in unannounced as we were rehearsing a love scene. She watched for only a moment. Then she uttered her now famous comment, “Amazing business”, she said. And turning on her heel, walked out. It was years before we could get her to come near a studio again.
Announcer: You have a son, too, haven’t you, Mr. Howard?
Mr. Howard: Yes, indeed. Ronald is still in school in England. He’s cramming for examinations since he was ploughed in math. From his letters to the Indispensable, he’s a bit lonesome.
Announcer: You’re using some English slang that needs explaining, Mr. Howard. I understand that cramming means studying hard, and I gather that ploughed might mean that Ronald didn’t pass in mathematics. But I’m puzzled about the Indispensable.
Mr. Howard: Sorry. I should have said Mrs. Howard. The Indispensable is our nickname for her. We all have nicknames, you know, in our family. Leslie is “Doodie”, Ronald is “Winkie”, and Mrs. Howard is simply The Indispensable.
Announcer: For reasons, of course.
Mr. Howard: Of course, I could spend hours giving you good and valid reasons and not cover half the ground. She sees to our comfort, keeps us fit and happy. And by the way, it should interest you that one of her functions as the Indispensable is to make sure that I have plenty of cigarettes on hand at all times. She buys them, several cantons at a time, and puts them everywhere in the house. It’s just a part of her astounding efficiency.
Announcer: When you say cigarettes, what brand are you talking about?
Mr. Howard: Well, what’s your guess?
Announcer: I hope Luckies.
Mr. Howard: Luckies it is.
Announcer: Very good, Mr. Howard. And now, since you’ve mentioned Luckies, will you tell us exactly what you think about them?
Mr Howard: You really want to hear?
Mr. Howard: You’re willing to chance what my opinion might be?
Announcer: I’ll take a chance.
Mr. Howard: (laughing) Well, you’re running no risk at all, because, frankly, I like Luckies very much indeed. You see, Luckies were one of the first friends I made in America, and like all good friends, they’ve stood the test of time. It was really a revelation to me to learn that there was a cigarette I could enjoy without risking throat irritation. You see, working the way I do, on everything from Shakespearian tragedy to radio comedy — by the way, did I mention the gag I pulled about the three pairs of rubbers?
Announcer: Yes, Mr. Howard, you did.
Mr. Howard: So I did. But at any rate, my work does demand a good deal of my vocal chords, and yet Luckies always keep on good terms with my throat. That’s why I’ve taken to recommending them to my friends too. For it seems only simple logic to me that a cigarette that is safe for a person who places an unusual strain on this throat, should be safe for anyone.
Announcer: Well, thank you, Leslie Howard. We have enjoyed your informal visit with us this evening. This is “Your Hit Parade” any time you wish to call again.
Mr. Howard: If you’ll allow me to come again, I promise to remember the rest of that gag about the three pairs of rubbers. It was really excruciating. Good night, ladies and gentlemen.