Hollywood Searching for “Greek God Type” to Play Damon Runyon

Damon Runyon

Evening News/March 16, 1928

IT APPEARS from evidence submitted to me by my West Coast operative that Monseer Lew Cody, the man with the moustachio, has commenced work at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio out in Cinemaniaville, otherwise Hollywood, on a opus that is to be called “The Man About Town.”

It is a tale of The Manly Art of Mussing Mugs. In the script, so I am advised, is a scene that calls for the appearance of one who is described as of “a Damon Runyon type.”

They may not know it out in Hollywood as yet, but here is a situation on which hinges the future welfare of the moving picture industry.

For who, or whom, as the grammatical case may be, is to portray a “Damon Runyon type” in that picture? This is a proposition that may well give those cinemaniacs pause, and plenty of pause, at that.

I have consulted my personal counsel, Judge Monroe Goldstein, and he advises me to remain clam. But in the meantime, he has a writ of habeas corpus half cocked, and is watching the situation with the eyes of a chicken hawk.

Two of my most trusted West Coast operatives, T-69, otherwise Hap O’Connor, and XX-2, who is Blubber Naughton, constantly shadowing Monseer Lew Cody, and Mal St. Clair, the direction and every move they make would be promptly reported to Judge Goldstein, if it wasn’t for the fact that Monseer Cody makes too many moves that you couldn’t report to anyone, and be considered clubby.

I AM INFORMED that when the casting office got hold of the script for “The Man About Town” and read therein the demand for “a Damon Runyon type,” it was dumbfounded, not to say flabbergasted. 

“What the so-and-so is a Damon Runyon type?” demanded some ignoramus of Mark Kelly, the Titian-haired sports editor of the Los Angeles Examiner.

“A Damon Runyon type?” repeated Mr. Kelly, thoughtfully. “Well, let me see—wasn’t there some fellow in mythology by the name of Hercules?”

“I don’t know,” said the ignoramus.

“I think there was,” said Mr. Kelly.

“Anyway, I’ll have it looked up. But come to think of it, I don’t believe Hercules was a Damon Runyon type. No, I believe not. Well, let me see now. Did you ever see Babe Ruth?”

“No,” said the ignoramus.

“Well, he isn’t a Damon Runyon type neither.  Let me see, now. Let me think. Oh, yes I remember the guy in mythology I was trying to think of.”

“What’s his name?” inquired the ignoramus.

“Adonis!” said Mr. Kelly, triumphantly.

But Judge Goldstein says he cannot consistently permit of them portraying a “Damon Runyon type” as that particular Adonis, because he didn’t wear enough clothing to make a boxing glove for a mosquito, and Judge Goldstein thinks such paucity of apparel would present me in an unseemly light.

Well, Mr. Kelly meant well, at that. Only he really was trying to think of Apollo.

THE RUMOR HAS reached our ears that Monseer Cody is to have something to say about the selection of a “Damon Runyon type,” to which Judge Goldstein is prepared to file vehement request.

It is public gossip that Monseer Cody is intensely jealous of pulchritude and his “Damon Runyon type” would probably be Ben Turpin, or Lon Chaney, made up as an armadillo. He might even select Rin-Tin-Tin, and this, of course, would be quite misleading to the vast throngs who are bound to flock to the cinema to clap eyes upon a “Damon Runyon type.”

There are only four or five men in all Hollywood qualified to fit this difficult role, and I have instructed Judge Goldstein not to compromise with Metro-Goldwyn on any one of them. I positively will not accept Charley Chaplin, however. He clowns around too much. I insist on dignity. Nor will I stand for Jackie Coogan. He is too old. Nor John Barrymore. He is too young.

My personal nominations include Roman Novarro, Gilbert Roland, John Gilbert, Gary Cooper, or Charley Rodgers. To be authentic, a “Damon Runyon type” must have plenty of that certain thing. If I could spare the time, I would hop out there and play the part myself, and probably knock ’em dead.

“OF COURSE,” Judge Goldstein advises, “these parties may be trying to pay you a compliment. I cannot determine until I see their selection. If Monseer Cody tries to depict the type himself we will at once file our writ of certiorari. There must be a limit to our patience.

“If they pick Bull Montana, we will have ground for criminal libel. You are really better looking than that. We will also object strongly to Larry Semon, and ask punitive damages if he is used. It strikes me that we have a good case no matter what they do. But you keep quiet until we see the picture. Maybe they will only use Emil Jannings.”

We have as yet received no information as to the female support, it any, planned for a “Damon Runyon type,” but Judge Goldstein is keeping cases on that proposition, also. We will not be satisfied with anyone less than Pola Negri.


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