Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
DRW50

Valiant Lady

Recommended Posts

to talk to you like that. It's just that I got so mad at that Diane today and when I saw you...the show and everyone in it are so real to me..." she trailed off.

Leila smiled. "I know. To me, too. And Diane is a problem. But I think I understand her. She'll be all right, you'll see. All she needs is the love and security of a good man...And now, I must get upstairs to my baby."

Reflecting as she tucked her sixteen-month old daughter, Juliet Sara, in bed for a nap, Leila thought. And that is the answer. Not only for Diane Emerson, but for any woman. A good man and this.

For Leila Martin, who portrays Diane Emerson in Valiant Lady, feels that way about her life. True values and balance came with marriage and motherhood. Before that, Leila's life was a one-way street - an exciting and fascinating one, but limited. Show business.

"It isn't that now I'm less serious about my career," Leila explains in her quiet, serious way. "I'm just as intense about my work, but less tense about it. I love to act, and I hope I'm giving viewers some enjoyment. And because I'm happy continuing with my career, I feel I'm a better wife and mother than I would be if I gave it up and was miserable. But, at the same time, my husband and baby have given me roots I needed. I feel more secure and have a better perspective on life in general."

In private life, Leila is the wife of Leonard Green, a theatrical agent, who heads Mercury Artists Corporation. The Greens and their toddler live in a modern apartment on East 54th Street, selected so that they can get back to their child from their professional duties in a few minutes.

However, Leila feels their convenient apartment is somewhat temporary. "By the time Juliet is old enough to enter school," she said, enthusiasm lighting up her solemn dark eyes, "both Len and I want to be settled in a nice spacious home, complete with back and front yards, way out in Connecticut somewhere. We want her to have as much community life as possible."

Meantime, Leila sees her daily routine as being similar to that of the average working mother. "Since I have to be at the studio for rehearsal at eight in the morning, Juliet and I get up at six-thirty. We have breakfast together, and what a time we have over her cereal! I'm usually back in time for her nap. I get a lot done then - like studying my script for the next day, attending to household duties and preparing for dinner. When Len gets home, we play with Juliet or read nursery rhymes to her before tucking her in for the night. Then Len cues me with my script and we watch television. We find that we don't go out as much as we did before Juliet. We do go to the theater about once a week, and occasionally we entertain."

About the upbringing of her child, Leila feels that Juliet should be permitted freedom of expression, but - "you can't go just by the book. Already, I can see that Juliet is an individual in her own right. Within reason, I try to respect her likes and dislikes."

Yet Leila admits it would be a matter of concern to her if Juliet were inclined toward an early theatrical career. "I very definitely would want her to finish college before committing herself to a career," she says slowly. "I think it's important to understand yourself and the world around you, before you get involved in something so all-absorbing as show business is, particularly."

Leila's career had its start as a brother-sister dancing-singing act with her older brother, Buddy. The act was designed and finished by Leila's parents, Irma and Seymour Martin.

"The act was a lot of fun," Leila recalls. "Our home in Brooklyn became a happy rehearsal place. We entered in all kinds of talent shows, and won enough wrist watches to open a store! I liked performing, but I also liked playing handball with the kids in the block and enjoyed my school studies. I wasn't really serious about show business then."

This career flair for singing took a serious turn when Leila was a sophomore in high school. Her glee-club teacher made a discovery. Leila had a voice. Not just a pretty, sweet one. But a full, rich, big voice that was amazing for such a slight girl. The music teacher urged Leila to give the gift the attention it deserved. And, with an earnestness that has never left her, Leila began studying for a singing-acting career. She took voice lessons and enrolled in classes at Manhattan's Dramatic Workshop. To pay for her her studies, she worked after school and evenings as a stock girl in a department store and at other jobs.

It was a struggle, keeping up with her school studies, working, and doing justice to her singing and acting classes, but Leila soon learned that, compared with other personal sacrifices, the cramped schedule was inconsequential.

Just before high school graduation, Leila was filled with excitement and anticipation over the school varsity play, in which she had a good part - and also, of course, over the school prom. But the Dramatic Workshop had plans of its own. It decided to produce the musical, "Of Thee I Sing," at the President Theater, and Leila was offered the lead. She was thrilled. Her first chance to do a musical. Then she slowly realized that the performance dates conflicted with both the varsity show and the prom. It was with a new heaviness in her heart that she phoned the school director and her prom date that they would have to get replacements. There will never be another high school graduation, she thought sadly.

Leila's performance in the musical caught the interest of the producer of Crest Summer Theater (Long Beach, Long Island), who sat in the audience one night. He sought Leila backstage.

"I'm going to open the summer season with 'Lady in the Dark,'" he informed her. "How would you like to be in it? I've an Equity company and you'll get your Equity card."

"Would I like it!" exclaimed Leila. "Of course. When do rehearsals begin?" And she thought, [i[This will be perfect. It'll give me a chance to save more money for college in the fall, too.

But the tide of Leila's life had turned in another direction - toward Broadway. After "Lady in the Dark," Leila stayed on at the Crest for the next play, "Happy Journey" - her first straight acting role. Following this play, an amazing thing happened. She was offered the job as understudy to the leading feminine role in Michael Todd's Broadway production of the musical, "Peep Show." This was a tremendous opportunity for a fledgling seventeen-year-old actress. But again it meant giving up something else she wanted very much - to go to college. Perhaps after this show, she thought. But the die was cast. Broadway took to Leila and, in turn, Leila gave it her full attention.

Not only was "Peep Show" a big hit. It gave Leila the opportunity to step into the top feminine role for two periods during the run - once for eight performances, the next time, for fourteen. The critics agreed that this newcomer had a "wonderful" voice.

The show was the first of several Broadway musical hits for Leila, and each successive one brought her more recognition. Her next show, "Two on the Aisle," starring Bert Lahr, featured Leila in the singing number, "Everlasting." Next, Leila was the Bronx girl, Gussie, in "Wish You Were Here." Fellow actors nicknamed Leila "Lucky" Martin because of the way she stepped into one hit after another.

Leila, too, felt that things were going nicely. Her brother, Bud, had returned from service with the Army in Korea and he was also singing in "Wish You Were Here." She was busy and absorbed in her career.

Only during her daily subway commuting, from her home in Brooklyn, did Leila have time to gather her thoughts. Often she spent the ride reading books on every subject, in an attempt to make up a little for not going to college. At times her thoughts strayed to how she would like toe prepare for an operatic career. I can't give the time needed to study operatic arias and languages now, she'd dismiss the intermittent thought, but maybe someday. Love and marriage were far from her mind, that spring of 1953 - until she met Leonard Green.

They met at a party Leonard was hosting for his friends in the theater and in allied fields. Leila was impressed with his charm and warmth. They made a dinner date for the next night after the show and, from then on, Leonard tried to date Leila every night. Leila, to her surprise, found that she wanted to see Leonard every night, too. She had never felt that way about any man. Soon sh realized she was in love, and everything was wonderful - until serious marriage plans were discussed. Leonard felt that one career - his - was enough for a family. Leila thought his notion unfair. They separated - for a week.

In that week, Leila was miserable and faced up to important terms with herself. She realized that, first of all, she was a woman who had found love. Her career was important. But Leonard was more important.

Gathering all her courage, she phoned Leonard and quietly told him she would give up her career, if he wanted. He, too, had learned in that never-passing week that life is not made up of cut-and-dried rules. "Do anything you want," he happily assured her, "just marry me."

And it was on this happy note, with both compromising and giving in, that Leila and Leonard were married on Christmas Eve of 1953. After two weeks in Cuba, they settled in Leonard's Manhattan apartment. And Leila continued to make discoveries about herself. Sh found that she liked being a homemaker and developed an interest in home decorating and furniture. When they decided to move to another apartment, Leila enjoyed herself immensely in choosing the color scheme and selecting new bits of furniture. She also learned that cooking was fun, if at times exasperating.

Most of all, she found that being married to Leonard meant living a more balanced life. "Len insisted on days of complete relaxation whenever our schedules permitted. We went to the country on weekends, spending them playing tennis and swimming or just walking. I mingled more with people. Leonard loves to be with people. And this is good for me, since I'm inclined to want to be by myself too much."

Meanwhile, Leila's career continued to blossom. Shortly after her marriage, Leila won the feminine lead role in a new musical, "Dolly." The show played its pre-Broadway engagement in Atlanta, Georgia. Leila got good notices. The show didn't. IT never reached Broadway.

Leila felt that "Dolly" had given her the biggest thrill - and the deepest disappointment - of her career. But she didn't have time to dwell on this. She won her first daily TV role, the part of Juliet Goodwin, the singer-heroine in the daytime series, Golden Windows. For Leila, it was a first experience in daytime television and she found it much to her liking, fitting in so well with her home duties. When the series went off the air after nine months it was just as well for Leila - little Juliet was found to be well on the way. And though the very next day Leila started rehearsals for the role of Sarah Brown in the City Center revival of "Guys and Dolls," the engagement, fortunately, was for the limited run of a month.

The Greens moved to a larger apartment - their present dwelling on East 54th - and Leila again gave vent to her newly-found love of setting up a home. The apartment is an interesting mixture of antiques and moderns. Their gold modern living-room suite is set off with such items as antique Italian lamps and French desks and tables. "When it comes to accessories, we like antiques," is the way Leila puts it, "but when it comes to something that has to be used a lot, such as a sofa, we want it comfortable and modern."

With the arrival of Juliet, Leila curtailed her professional activities, in order to spend more time at home during Juliet's first year. "It was well worth the lull," she recalls. "Having a baby is probably the most wonderful experience a woman can have."

Her first return venture in the theater was the Broadway dramatic production of "The Best House in Naples" early this past season. Then, when she heard that Valiant Lady was looking for a Diane Emerson - not in the show during a one-year stay in Europe - she eagerly auditioned for it. Everyone agreed that Leila would be ideal for the role. It was a case of her growth as a person, in the last several years, paying off. For the director felt that Leila was "mature enough to see the immaturity of Diane...and had the skill to portray the role effectively."

"I also like playing Diane," Leila explains, "because a daily series gives you a chance to really develop a character. I think that's why daytime serial continue year after year. The actors really become the characters they are playing, and the viewers begin to believe in them as real people. The neighbor in my building, who was so worked up about developments in the Emerson family, is an example of what I mean."

Her husband Leonard watches Leila on the screen, but Juliet is permitted to do so only when the scene of the day is fairly quiet. I learned , the hard way, to censor the show as far as Juliet is concerned," Leila smiles. "She used to see it every day. One day, Diane was hysterical in the show. Juliet got upset and cried for an hour, calling 'Mama! Mama!'"

Leonard, too, sometimes has a difficult time remaining objective, in watching the show. For example, there was the day he invited his whole office crew to come into the office to see Leila. "That's my wife," he told everyone proudly. And, as if to mock him, the girl on the screen was soundly kissed by a man. Everyone laughed.

"I felt funny," Leonard admits. "It wasn't that I was jealous. I can't explain it - just a funny feeling. Just like when Leila was playing in "Guys and Dolls" and, in one scene, she had to be carried off in a seemingly rough way. Leila was expecting Juliet. I knew that she wasn't really being handled roughly - that the technique just made it seem that way. But, just every time I saw that scene, I felt funny and had to stifle an impulse to call out, 'Hey, stop that! She's my wife and she's pregnant.'"

Any qualms Leonard may have had about marrying an actress are now quieted by Leila's obviously serious attitude towards her marriage and home. "It's not that I have anything against actors," Leonard says in his quick way. " I love them, and they are my business. But, too often, I've seen marriages attempt to conform to the career - with disastrous results. I believe that a career should conform to marriage."

He feels that Leila is truly an artist with a magnificent voice. To this, Leila replies, "I've a wonderful husband...As for future career plans, who knows? I recently finished the first of a projected new television series called House on 89th Street, in which I act and sing with some very real puppets. And maybe, someday, I'll devote myself to opera arias, as I've always wanted to do. Who knows? All I know now is that life is very good. I'm very thankful for Leonard and Juliet - and Diane Emerson, who makes it possible for me to continue my career without disrupting too much my role as a homemaker."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a much different vibe from Len Green in this article then the one you posted in the 'Golden Windows ' thread about the couple. It's clear they both have matured over time and have moved past that young love phase into a more comfortable place. I actually thought his comments about Leila's role in 'Guys n Dolls' during her pregnancy was cute.

Diane sounds like an interesting role. For some reason, some of these serials ('Brighter Day' and 'Valiant Lady') seem so engaging despite their lack of longevity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

unhappy. I don't know a time when I wasn't happy. And I kind of liked moving around. Good training for show business, anyhow. Sometimes I lived with Mother, sometimes with Dad (James Kirkwood, star of stage and screen). Then I lived with my mother's sister for a while. For a time, I also stayed at a ranch in the San Joaquin Valley, and later went to boarding and prep school.

"In Mickey's case, it's different. He's always had a settled home, and the thought of anything happening to it disturbs him. A lot of things disturb him. He has problems. He gets all tied up in knots...Personally, I'm not like that. I kind of take things in stride. I'm pretty lucky, I guess. Money problems, career problems, sure - everybody has those. But I don't get involved in a lot of personal problems. Even my parents' divorce didn't present the usual problem. I'm fond of them both and never had occasion to take sides, because they remained good friends.

"I like playing Mickey," Jim says earnestly. "Just because I'm not too much like him doesn't mean I don't sympathize with his difficulties. I get real involved in them and kind of enjoy working them out. It's funny, too, how sometimes what happens on the show affects my real life.

"For instance, there's Mickey's relationship with Bonnie. When she first appeared as a roomer, Mickey resented her as an intruder. He didn't think his mother needed to rent rooms, so he took out his peeve on poor Bonnie. But then, as he got to know her better, he began to like her. Then he fell in love with her. Now that she's disappeared, he's determined to find her again.

"Joan Lorring was playing Bonnie then," says Jim. "Mickey's attitude certainly must have affected me. Though I had known Joan before, I grew to like her more and more. We became the best of friends and even started dating.

"Then there's the business with smoking. When I started with the show, Mickey was nineteen, a clean-cut American boy. He didn't smoke. So, pretty soon, I got out of the habit of smoking. I quit for ten months. Then, one day, there was the line in the script: 'Mickey lights a cigarette.' My mother - I mean Mickey's mother - was surprised. How was it that I was smoking, she wanted to know. I answered off-handedly that I just thought I'd try it. Since then, I've been smoking again - the real me, that is - even though the script hasn't called for Mickey to smoke again. I get mixed up, sometimes."

Jim grins at the memory, then continues more seriously. "Even though I've never had a real home, I can understand how Mickey feels about his. Lately, I've had an awful yen to have a home of my own. I don't mean an apartment like this, but a house in the country - a nice old-fashioned house that looks as though people had a good time living in it. I want a place where I can entertain my friends, have them in for dinner or for a weekend. That's my idea of fun. Guess I'll have to hire a cook, cause I'm so darn good at it, myself."

At the suggestion that he might marry a good cook, Jim smiles. "I'm not ready for that yet," he insists. "I've got to be a lot more secure than I am now. I'm doing all right. I've been pretty lucky, working regularly ever since I got out of the Coast Guard. But I want lots of money. I don't mind admitting it. It may not be everything, but it sure helps a lot."

A suspiciously dreamy look comes into Jim's candid blue eyes as he muses: "You never can tell, though. Maybe, when I have my nest, I'll want someone there to share it with me. In the meanntime, I'm hoping Mother will want to live with me. She'd make a wonderful hostess - she's such a grand person. Only I'd better hurry up and get that house, or she might get married again before I find it."

Jim still doesn't admit that perhaps he might be the one to get married first. What with his six feet of mighty handsome maleness, his amiable disposition and clean, choir-boy look - that just begs to be mothered - it would be a rare female who could resist him. That he's reached twenty-six still unshackled by bonds of matrimony is something of a miracle. (And he comes of a family that goes in for many marriages - his mother three times, his father, four...which may account for Jim's shyness about taking the plunge himself.)

Another thing is that Jim is really wrapped up in his career. That is the most important thing in his life. Romance is secondary. It's another way in which Jim differs from Mickey.

"Mickey's the kind of guy who - if he's in love with a girl - forgets about everything else. He lets his work slip, he thinks about nothing but finding Bonnie. Maybe I've never been enough in love. Anyhow, I'd never let anything interfere with my work.

"I know how it is with Mickey. He's got a single-track mind, like mine, but his concentrates on love, mine on work. When I get an idea, I've got to carry it through. I can't think about anything else, and it affects everything I do. Just as it does with Mickey, when he's trying to locate Bonnie."

It took that kind of determination for Jim to get where he is. It wasn't easy, what with being separated from his mother by illness and the financial ups and downs that occur in most theatrical families. There were times when Jim had to dig in and help, like the time on the ranch when he did chores to pay for his keep. Not that he complains about it. It's just part of life, and an experience he enjoyed. He liked the rugged outdoor life, riding six miles on horseback to and from school, milking four cows every morning before breakfast.

While he was going to high and prep school he worked in summer stock, getting the training for the only career in which he was interested. Aside from that, he had no formal dramatic instruction. But the gift he inherited from his parents was sufficient to get the parts he went after. And his father's name and renown as an actor was certainly no drawback.

Moving around so much made Jim grow up fast. Although he looks no older than the twenty-year-old Mickey, he is far more mature than even his own twenty-six-years would imply. He has a keen sense of responsibility which shows up in his protective, big-brother attitude toward his mother, and in his ability to manage his affairs in an adult manner.

"It's a nuisance to look so young," he confesses. "I don't want to get typed as a juvenile. But, when I go after an older to grow up. I'd like to play light comedy parts, such as 'The Seven Year Itch,' but, as long as I have this baby face, I haven't a chance.

"Not that I don't like working on television! It's swell. I enjoy it a lot, and getting paid regularly takes a load off your mind. When you're playing in night clubs, you're forever having to audition for a new engagement, preparing new material, spending endless hours with your agent. That's why I gave up night clubs, at least for this year. Lee and I were going great with our comedy act (Kirkwood and Goodman). We played some good spots - the Ruban Bleu in New York, the Mocambo in Hollywood, the Embassy in London, and others - but you get kind of tired of hopping around, and you don't know how long your popularity will last.

"I wanted to branch out into something more solid in the dramatic line. Besides, I want some time to work on a play I'm writing. It's based on my mother's life, sort of, and I'm having a heck of a lot of fun writing it. I like to write short stories, too. I took a course at New York University last year."

Jim says he really has no time for hobbies, what with his acting and his writing - they're actually more like hobbies than work to him. He does enjoy golf and tennis, however, but finds it a little difficult to work in any games in the city. That's something he hopes to have when he gets that house in the country - or preferably at the seashore, where he can then look forward to the time when he will be able to afford a boat.

All this sounds very serious. Actually, Jim is fun-loving, with a pixiesh sense of humor and a sure comedy gift which made critics hail the Kirkwood-Goodman team as the most promising pair of funmakers since Martin and Lewis.

"I certainly get more fun out of life than poor Mickey does," he smiles. "Will I ever forget my first and last meeting with Anthony Eden? It seems funny now, but boy, was I embarrassed when it happened! I was staying overnight on a friend's estate in Newport. I was playing in stock there, and my friend insisted I be his guest. I'd come in late and parked my car outside the guest cottage where I was to sleep. I was suddenly awakened by the sound of a very familiar horn. I jumped out of bed and, being in a strange place, couldn't find my way out. When I finally groped my way out the door, I found my car, its horn going like a banshee, surrounded by a half-dozen armed guards who were trying desperately to shut the darn thing up.

"By that time, every light in the main house was ablaze. I knew Mr. Eden was a guest there, recuperating from an operation, and what he needed was rest. I'd tried to be so quiet getting into the place, and here was that horn making like an air raid siren. I don't know if Mr. Eden was disturbed by it - you couldn't tell from his manner the next day, when I was introduced to him...but then, he's a diplomat, so I'll probably never know.

"I've had a pack of fun in my life, and mean to go on having it. For one thing, I've a lot of friends. And that's most important to me."

There's evidence of many friendships in the apartment Jim occupies while waiting to find that dream house. It is filled with photographs of faces made familiar by theatrical publicity. In the bathroom of this third-floor Greenwich Village walk-up, there's a huge framed montage of dozens on dozens of heads of people Jim counts among his friends.

But most prominently displayed are pictures of his parents in various movie and stage roles and mementos of their theatrical pasts. In a place of honor on the mantel above the fireplace is a pair of boots Jim's mother wore in one of her pictures. They are now serving as bookends.

This comfortable and amazingly neat (for bachelor quarters) apartment speaks eloquently of someone who has a rich and varied life, who has a feeling for a "home." There's nothing of that slap-dash, transient look which marks the place where a man lives alone.

It's clear that Jim is one person who should have a real home. And also obvious why he understands and can project Mickey's own fear of losing the home he loves, his fight to protect it from "invasion" by anyone who hopes to marry Helen Emerson.

That Jim can offer plans for his real-life mother simply proves how much he sympathizes with Mickey's dilemma - and how deeply he himself believes in home and marriage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Billboard Nov 19th 1955

New York Nov 12th

In the manner of many other daytime shows 'Valiant Lady'.the CBS daytime soap opera is being beefed up to increase viewing. The soaper is going with a policy of big name stars who will be integrated into the plot.

Already used on the show is Signe Hasso. To be used in future weeks are Charlton Heston and Shelley Winters. The program will integrate a fashion show that will feature Jinx Falkenberg.. In the works is a theme song 'My True Devotion'.General Mills and Toni sponsor the 12 - 12.15 stanza.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for this article and a glimpse into a show that I had heard about, but never saw. It ended when I was 16 months old. Mind you, I started watching at an early age, but at that tender age, I had other things on my mind. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This was neat.

I've never seen Marion Randolph credited as Diane Emerson before. Considering this was the second anniversary, this would place Randolph as Diane around the fall of 1955. Most of the sources list Dolores Sutton and Sue Randall playing the role in 1955.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the photograph above, I think a mistake was made with the caption.

The second person from the left IS Sue Randolph. She later played Miss Landers on Leave It to Beaver. I also saw her in a movie with Macdonald Carey and Marilyn Monroe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...