I’ll bet you didn’t know Dusty was a cross dresser. No one did. Except me, of course, Raymond Hope. I don’t expect you’ll recognize my name. Back in the day I was what you might call a specialist in making things disappear. A studio had a problem with a star? A phone call to me and a nice retainer...the problem disappeared. Sometimes permanently. Mind, it was just a job, but I was good at it.
When Dusty Chandler showed up in my office, all I could see was one more kid on the make, willing to do anything to get a chance to grab the brass ring. They don't realize that Tinsel Town is home to a million tales...and the more grotesque the stories are the more likely they're true. Dusty was good-looking in a come-hither kind of way, which was a little unsettling. He was small, blonde and had so much overbite he could eat an apple with his mouth closed. I explained that he might make it as a Lon McCallister wannabe, but the next Gable? No way. Dusty just stared at me. Then he said, give me five minutes. He marched out of my office, his head high, toting the valise he’d carried in. Five minutes later in walks this blonde dame in a slinky dress, with long blonde hair and a whispery voice that was almost a lisp. I could tell it was Dusty because of that overbite. “You’ll be hearing more of me,” he said. “My real name is Buck Scott. When I was little and pretended I was Jane Withers, people who made fun of me called me ‘Lizabeth.’ But you, Raymond, can call me Dusty” And with that he marched out.
Six months later I read in Variety that Bogie was making a movie about a search for a buddy in the small, steaming town of Gulf City. He gets mixed up in murder and betrayal, of course, just the usual Southern stuff. But get this. His love interest is going to be a new discovery…the starlet Dusty Chandler. Jeez, didn’t he know Dusty was a guy?
Turns out nobody did, although I heard that Bogie complained that Dusty had too much fuzz on her upper lip during the kissing scenes. It bothered him, but he still told Louella that Dusty was a great smoocher.
What happened next, I can’t really say. All I know is that Dusty showed up a few months later in a panic. He was in trouble, real trouble. He’d started dating a powerful guy even I won’t name. Let’s just say he was a skinny Italian singer with mob ties. Dusty fell for him, hard, but he knew suddenly buying boxer shorts for two might not go down well. So Dusty gambled. Really gambled. He flew to Zurich and saw a specialist. Then just ten weeks after he flew back Dusty was pregnant and Frank, I mean the Italian singer, was tip toeing through the tulips. But Dusty hadn’t figured on one thing. When Dusty gave birth by way of his bottom, the surprised obstetrician couldn’t stop gossiping. Frank, of course, didn’t take well to the jokes his mob friends began telling at his expense. So now Dusty and his baby were in my office asking for disappearance advice.
Hell, I liked Dusty. He was a good kid. I arranged for a quiet retirement, financed by the studios who were scared to death the story would leak. Then I found a small, blond, husky unknown…a female, this time. The match wasn’t perfect. She had an overbite but she couldn’t manage an apple with it…maybe a small ear of corn. I set her up with the studios and gave her Dusty’s ‘female’ name to use. I guess I’m just a big guy with a soft heart. Maybe you’ve heard of her…Lizabeth Scott.
Name the noir.
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About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer (Charley2)
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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