On this date in 1942, The Danville Morning News ran chapter one of a prose adaptation of the MGM movie, “Maisie Gets Her Man,” starring Ann Southern and Red Skelton. It was once common practice for newspapers to run serialized novels in their pages over the course of a few days, and, if the novel was based on a popular movie, the added interest from movie fans would increase the newspaper’s circulation while also increasing the audience for the movie’s local release. Today we’d call that marketing synergy.
“Maisie Gets Her Man” was the sixth in a series of ten films (plus a radio show spin-off) that starred Ann Southern as Mary Anastasia O’Connor, stage name Maisie Ravier, a plucky showgirl with a big heart who would get caught up in all sorts of shenanigans and hijinks while pursuing a show-biz career. This time out Maisie’s involved with a goofy comedian played by Red Skelton.
What does this have to do with Seal Beach history? I’ll admit the Seal Beach connection is tenuous and trivial, but too much fun to just slip by without noting it. In chapter one of the adaptation in The Danville Morning News, Maisie is once again seeking show biz work, but is having no luck at a theatrical office. On her way out, she bumps into the office building’s manager, and the two of them have encountered each other before under unusual circumstances — in a place called Seal Beach.
I checked the scene in the actual film, and the dialogue is similar in both the book and the film — complete with the reference to an incident in Seal Beach. The scene isn’t available online, so I present the dialogue between Maisie and Pappy Goodring, played by veteran character actor, Allen Jenkins, below:
Screen actors and screenwriters from this era would know Seal Beach because the best route down to Newport Beach (where many Hollywood types kept their yachts) went through Seal Beach. Local legends say that Humphrey Bogart regularly stopped by Art’s Drive-In (the same spot on PCH where Subway now operates) on Fridays after the week’s filming ended.
It’s not a large leap of logic that one of the screenwriters had taken this trip to Newport Beach once or twice and maybe even popped into one of the revues that used to run in the restaurants on Pacific Coast Highway. When she needed the name of a place for where Maisie would be doing a hula number, “Seal Beach” probably just popped into his head. (Maybe she did it in Sam’s Seafood’s new addition.)
– Michael Dobkins
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