Wouldja believe it? I infuriated Liz Taylor! It happened in opulent Beverly Hills in the mid-1950s, a wild encounter with glamorous movie star. Before I explain, let me tell how that shocking incident happened.
After Navy service in World War II and college, I’d just completed two more active duty Korean War years. A native of Philadelphia, I hated the lousy weather there, so I opted to find a job in sunny Southern California. I was hired by the Beverly Hills Citizen newspaper, now long gone. It was owned by Will Rogers Jr., and he was turning it from a weekly freebee to a daily afternoon subscription newspaper to be delivered by local kids.
When on active Navy duty, I’d been earning more than $200 a week, plus free food and lodging. This job paid $75, with no benefits. In addition to covering news events, one of my duties was hiring delivery boys.
The subscription cost customers $30 a month, and the kids got $10. I visited wealthy Beverly Hills families to make pitches for Junior to do after-school deliveries. After being admitted to the home, sometimes by the butler, I had to convince rich Mom and Dad that it wasn’t the money. Junior would get valuable business training for when he grew up to be a movie mogul like dear old dad.
One day, after some parent interviews, I was driving in a section of Beverly Hills where new houses were under construction. I saw one that would soon become a beautiful mansion, but so far mostly just wooden framing. Curious, I parked on the driveway and strolled through the open first level.
After a minute or two, I was startled by a very loud, shrill voice from behind me. “What the hell are you doing here?” I turned to see a small woman. She was wearing a head scarf and big dark sunglasses, but as a movie buff, I immediately recognized the Liz Taylor voice and figure. It seemed to be her reciting Maggie the Cat screeching at husband Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Remember?
When I just stood there confused, Liz took off the sunglasses and flashed those famous violet eyes at me. Another angry outburst. “What business do you have in my house, you son of a bitch?” I managed a few confused “Uhs …” and “Ohs …,” but couldn’t say anything intelligent. I tried to smile, but it made her even more furious.
“If you don’t get your sorry ass off my property right now, I’m calling the police!” she hissed. With as much dignity as I could muster, I backed away, fell over some boards, got back up and staggered down the driveway to my car.
After returning to the office, I was told she had surprised trespasser me at her soon-to-be new home with then-husband Mike Todd. He produced the original “Around the World in 80 Days” movie in 1956. He died several years later in a plane crash, and Elizabeth Taylor sailed on through her brilliant career … and another four husbands.