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By Nancy Puckett:
Before my father met my mother, he dated Jean Harlow.
They lived a glamorous life of premieres and Hollywood parties. The extended story is even better. My father was romancing two women at the same time: one named Irene and the other film siren Jean Harlow. He liked to impress, so he bought each a Cadillac convertible. One night, the ladies were cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in their shiny, trophy cars. They passed each other. Glances were exchanged. Horns might have been honked. Jean Harlow responded by ramming her car into Irene’s. The nerve!
I remember his disfigured lip. I was just twenty years old when I met Louis Armstrong. He performed at Ole Miss, where my stepfather, Arthur Kreutz, was an artist-in-residence. My mother usually accompanied her new husband to concerts, but this time she sent me instead, possibly hoping we would find a connection. Arthur was a well-regarded composer, conductor and violinist. I knew nothing about music. My mother, a writer, didn’t either. But she managed to bluff her way into his world, writing lyrics to accompany his compositions. On this night, we drove in Arthur’s black ’39 Plymouth. I had only known him for a year. My concern was how his marriage to my mother (her third) would affect me. Already their union, which I heard about when my father showed me a clipping from the society pages of the New York Times, had uprooted me. I was working at a […]