Writers in Hollywood, Faulkner, Huxley, Odets…and Grandma (a repost from 2012)

The day after Christmas, early 1930s: William Faulkner (yes, he was married and significantly older) pictured with Meta Carpenter Wilde (secretary to Howard Hawks and later a Script Supervisor). Meta Carpenter Wilde wrote a book in 1976 about her eighteen year relationship – “A Loving Gentleman” – with the storied author. A very interesting look at Hollywood’s golden era from an insider’s perspective.

My latter day wonder at the honors paid to Hawks was as nothing compared to my shock on reading not too long ago that his films not only celebrated the friendship of strong, physical men, but that in most of his work there was the archetypal Hawks heroine – Jean Arthur in all her variations, incapable of guile or artifice where her man was concerned, straight-shooting, accommodating, undemanding, sweetheart and pal in one. Clearly, Howard Hawks knew far more about his blond secretary and her relationship with William Faulkner than I had deduced from his uninquisitive manner and masklike face. I made no pretense to having served as the model for the classic Hawks heroine, comfort and joy of the noble Hawks hero. The coincidence of timing and likeness, however, cannot entirely be ignored…

Aldous and Laura Huxley in the 1950’s — reportedly a very happy couple.

The fabulous Luise Rainer after her second Oscar win with her husband at that time, Clifford Odets. Okay, okay, it’s my blog and I get to say what I want to… Luise Rainer, a wonderful person, and still delightful at 102… Clifford Odets, well — I know my Grandmother once hosted a dinner for him and according to family lore… maybe a genius, but certainly not very nice.

21 Comments »

  1. I read “A Loving Gentleman” by Meta Carpenter Wilde in 1977 and was so taken by the story I wrote a fan letter to Ms. Wilde. A year later, I visited my parents after my honeymoon and my mother said, “You have a letter upstairs on your bed.” She meant she’d put it in my childhood room, and the letter was from Meta Carpenter Wilde. I never expected a response — Ms. Wilde wrote a lovely letter, and she mentions Mr. Hawks. You can see the letter in this blog post — if you click on the image of it, the letter will zoom to readable print. http://thelongestchapter.com/2009/08/26/a-loving-gentleman-meta-carpenter-wilde/

    Thanks for publishing this great photo.

    • Her career was rather amazing, spanning from “The Maltese Falcon” to “Prizzi’s Honor”. (Script Supervisors hold one of the most demanding jobs on set.) She was a beloved and respected member of the film community and from the letter of encouragement she sent I can see why. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is marvellous. Meta Carpenter Wilde sounds a fascinating woman (and “Jean Arthur in all her variations…”, who doesn’t like that?), and, oh, that photograph is swooningly lovely; the setting, the lady (I love her clothes and hair), the pose, and the intimations of feeling. Divine.
    The photo of the Huxleys is sweet, too.
    Glad to hear that Ms Rainer is still around and still fabulous, but… Odets, not such a “Golden Boy”, eh? Tsk. 😉

  3. Dearest V
    I adore that photograph of The Huxleys: so imperiously out of place!
    Do tell more of your family lore of that dinner won’t you?
    Oh, yes and ain’t teamgloria just terrific!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  4. still so Tickled Pink by this!

    you’re the first person to actually call us “A writer in Hollywood”

    *blush*

    guess we are.

    blimey.

    now that’s delicious.

  5. Better stimulating than “nice.” Too many boring nice people get a free pass for never offending anyone. Odets wrote some of the best dialogue of any film with Deadline at Dawn and Sweet Smell of Success. Hats off.

    • Good point, Guenther! You are absolutely right. It’s hard not to mix up the art with the artist’s personality, I do it all the time, and I shouldn’t. Sweet Smell of Success is a classic, and now that you’ve alerted me to Deadline at Dawn I have to see it. Thanks for stopping by, V

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