December 15, 1945 p. 26
THIS IS THE MORNING after the night of the New York Newspaper Guild Page One Ball which was held at Madison Square Garden last Thursday night, and if I had to stand up to write this column, the chances are it wouldn't get done on account of because my puppies refuse to carry the body after [sic] serving so faithfully the twenty-five mile stretch back stage last night. Luckily were you who could sit, watch the show and think what a huge place Madison Square Garden is; but take it from me, you will never know how really vast is the place until you pound its concrete floors all night as I did while serving as a member of the Guild reception committee for award winners and entertainers.
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BACKSTAGE AT THE GARDEN is different from a theatre backstage in so far as the stage door and dressing rooms are far removed from each other, which caused any number of headaches to those of us who were trying to coordinate one of the grandest shows New York has seen. And then there was a little matter of air rehearsals. If you have never tried to round up and hold in one spot such stars as Laurette Taylor, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Dean Dixon, etc., then you have no idea of the kind of disappearing act they can do. We had just about three minutes before going on the air with Laurette Taylor, one of the first scheduled to receive an award. Miss Taylor was no where to be found; so after searching each dressing room on the long corridor. [sic] she was finally discovered in the last, calmly discussing world affairs with a young chap. There was no less trouble getting instructions to the Mayor on his portion of the broadcast. He insisted on sitting in his box watching the show until it was time for him to go on and the radio announcers and technicians knowing how "The Little Flower" can get wound up once he gets started, were [sic] plenty worried about holding him to the allotted three minutes.
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JANE FROMAN, that beautiful and gallant young woman who also received an award for her contributions to the war effort, was by far the most interesting and charming person of all the perfectly well folks backstage. Still on crutches due to serious injuries sustained in a clipper crash while entertaining the armed services overseas, Jane smilingly accepted all of the little annoyances which invariably occur backstage at such an affair. While waiting to make her appearance, she asked to be seated with the casualty vets who were honored guests of the Guild. Watching the expressions on the faces of these boys who were on hospital beds with rollers, you got the feeling that just the presence of this brave girl who had been wounded fighting for the same cause they'd fought for, gave them something in common and a new courage to tackle the life facing them. When she sang George Gershwin's "Embraceable You," it was for them and they knew it.
I dare say these boys and many of them are just boys, had a far better time than the normal healthy folks who packed the Garden. There was one little sailor who could not have been more than twenty, with an arm and leg in a cast. He was in a wheel chair; but do you think that stopped him from getting stinko? It did not. He had Jane and his beer and was very happy about it all even if he did have difficulty in getting to the gent's room.
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THE GUEST LOUNGE backstage, which was set up with a buffet table with a variety of good things to eat and a bar serving equally good liquor, was constantly filled with the distinguished Award Winners and entertainers. It was not an easy job to keep the various stragglers that always manage to get backstage at these affairs, out. Guarding the door was a Garden doorman and unless you had on a committee button or was okeyed by a committee member, the entrance was barred to you. One of the funniest and most embarrassing incidents which happened in this connection was when Earl (NY Post) Wilson was barred because he was not identified.
Earl, who had been out on the stage practically all evening working, came to the Lounge to pick up his B W (beautiful wife) but was told from the inside by the doorman that he could not come in unless he was identified. Earl told him who he was, which meant absolutely nothing to the doorman. This made the Post's best 'ribber', pretty sore and by the time I got to the scene of confusion, Earl was ready to kick the darn door in but instead, asked me to tell the doorman who he was, which of course I did. The guy on the door with a surly look let him in but little Earl was plenty burnt.
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WHEN THE LONG ALL-STAR SHOW was over, Duke Ellington played a short dance set with Eddie Condon (he really enjoyed the giggle water) taking over the bandstand for the balance of the evening.
Those who received awards from the Fourth Estate for outstanding contributions in the last year were: Arnaud d'Usseau and James Gow, authors of Deep Are The Roots, Laurrette Taylor, star of Glass Managerie, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Frank Kingdon, radio commentator; Fibber McGee and Molly, Ingrid Bergman, Jane Froman, Joe Davidson, sculptor and chairman of the Independent Citizens Committee of Arts, Science and Professions; Joe E. Lewis, Comedian, On The Town; Joes McCarthy for Yank Magazine; Bing Crosby, Gene Kelley, movies; Frank Capra, movie producer and director; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; Norman Corwin, radio; Irving Berlin, Dean Dixon, Eddie Condon and General Dwight Eisenhower. Most of the winners were on hand to receive their honors.
All in all, the sixth annual New York Newspaper Page One Award Ball was a huge success. We made money with which which to carry on our work in the labor field and everybody had a good time. We'll do the same thing next year and we of the newspaper game hope it will not be necessary to give so many awards to people for fighting discrimination for we are confident that by that time we will know better than we do today, that discrimination and bigotry destroy rather than build.