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Wallace Beery v. The Bellhop

A couple of weeks earlier I’d gotten this great job as a bellhop at one of the finest hotels in Pasadena. I loved coming to work in a clean uniform and not having to work outside getting hot and dirty with a bunch of grubby men. In the hotel all the guests looked important, and lots of the women were beautiful. I was really excited the 1916 night Wallace Beery and Gloria Swanson checked in. I’d recently seen them in The Broken Pledge. She was very beautiful and only about my age, seventeen. Wallace Beery was much older and not very good looking but was bossy and I hustled when he told me to take the suitcases to their suite which was next to the suite of Gloria Swanson’s mother, who smiled as she told me Beery had just married her daughter and she would someday be as big a star as her new husband. I thought she’d be even bigger.

Down in the lobby we all talked about the beautiful Gloria Swanson. One of the maids said she was crazy to marry a guy who looked like Wallace Beery. I agreed. He looked like a bum. She should’ve married a young guy who looked like me. I wasn’t an actor or anything but definitely looked better than Beery. I pictured myself punching him. I would have but knew Gloria wouldn’t like it and I’d lose my job. I never said anything about that. I just stood in the lobby, talking to other employees about Gloria Swanson and Wallace Beery in the suite upstairs.

A couple of hours later a lady came rushing down in her pajamas and said, “Quick, you must help. The man in 231’s killing his wife.”

The night manager said he’d look into it but I grabbed the key and ran upstairs to their suite and heard, “God, stop it, please, you’re hurting me. I can’t stand it. Please, stop. Will you listen. This is killing me. Get off.”

I banged the door and said, “Miss Swanson, are you all right.”

“Get the hell outta here,” Beery shouted.

“Help me…”

I shoved the key in and unlocked the door and ran in to see Wallace Beery and his ugly naked ass pointed at the ceiling and the rest of him pinning Miss Swanson to the bed where she flailed arms and kicked her legs around Beery’s ugly body, trying to get away.

“Get off her right now,” I said.

“Get outta here before I kill you.”

I ran to the bed and grabbed his arm with both my hands and pulled him onto the floor, and stood staring at the beautiful Miss Swanson. Her legs were bloody but I think she may have been the most beautiful young woman in the world and she was looking at me and I couldn’t stop looking at her until Wallace Beery socked me in the jaw. I staggered and almost fell but was still thinking pretty well and put up my hands and moved in, throwing a few jabs that missed but made Beery back up, and he looked pretty worried as I stepped in and threw a roundhouse right that hit him on jaw, and he dropped his hands and I threw another right to his head and another and he doubled over and I left hooked the back of his neck and he went down and I stepped back and kicked him in the gut.

The night manager and other employees were standing at the door, and the manager said, “Don’t worry, Miss Swanson, we’ll call the police.”

Miss Swanson had the sheets pulled up to her chin when her mother pushed in and said, “Absolutely no publicity must come from this. Wallace and Gloria just had a little honeymoon spat. Gloria, you can sleep with me tonight. Will you all please leave?”

We walked out, looking back at them. They left real early in the morning and must have used the rear exit because none of us saw them. I wrote Miss Swanson several letters in care of her studio but she never responded. I got married in a few years, anyway, and eventually quit yearning since she kept getting married and divorced and having more affairs than the newspapers could keep track of. That was a very different Gloria Swanson than the beautiful girl who stayed in our hotel.

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