• U.S.

People: Lying Bastard

8 minute read

In Mexico City, U.S. Ambassador William O’Dwyer acted out a memorable exhibition of how an ambassador should not act. He set the scene early in the morning by having a clerk telephone every U.S. correspondent in the capital, urging them to come to the embassy for a “very important” press conference.

The reporters arrived on the run. Among them was United Press Bureau Chief Robert Prescott, whose latest story was an interview with O’Dwyer and some of his friends on the ambassador’s future plans. Prescott wrote that O’Dwyer was torn between returning to New York and remaining in his “adopted country” to practice law after his diplomatic tour of duty. Prescott’s story stated that O’Dwyer “dropped hints to friends . . . that he may become a Mexican citizen when he puts away his diplomatic duds next January.” Reporters realized that the ambassador was touchy about his future plans, but no one knew just how touchy.

When Irish-born Bill O’Dwyer arrived at the “press conference” his face was flushed with anger. He pointed to Prescott and in his oldtime policeman’s voice bellowed, “There is the lying bastard!” The shocked silence was broken by Prescott, who calmly replied, “That’s pretty strong, Mr. Ambassador.” Said O’Dwyer, “I am calling you what you are in the English language,” and repeated it several times, adding “deliberate liar.” Then he ordered the reporter from the embassy.

While Prescott stood by his story and O’Dwyer by his denials, the Mexico City papers had front-page fun at the expense of ambassadorial dignity. There was even a reverberation in the magistrates court of faraway Brooklyn, where O’Dwyer used to be District Attorney. A trucker, who was hauled into court for calling a cop a bastard, found no sympathy from the bench. Said the judge: “Just because our Ambassador to Mexico used that word, it doesn’t make it a good word, and anyone who uses that word is a hoodlum—the ambassador included.”

Pleasures & Palaces

Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud, whose U.S. shopping sprees have already included the purchase of 20 air-conditioned limousines and a $20,000 auto-trailer, decided he needed a modern flying carpet. Transocean Air Lines announced that it was custom-fitting (for some $100,000) a Douglas DC-4 as an aerial palace for His Majesty. Among the accessories: a raised throne which revolves a full 360° and has an extra-heavy-duty safety belt; an oversized bed in a bedroom complete with bath; an elevator; 18 luxurious chair seats. The plane is expected to be ready for delivery this month in time to carry the King from his winter quarters in Ryadh to the summer palace in Taif to lead off the annual pilgrimage of Moslems to Mecca.

The 900-year-old city of Oslo scrubbed down its streets, hoisted flags and portraits and prepared to be the center of attention as Norwegians began a happy three-day national celebration: the 80th birthday of King Haakon VII, Europe’s oldest reigning monarch.

Manhattan’s spectacular professional basketball team, the Harlem Globetrotters, now on a world tour, arrived in Italy, where they were granted an audience with Pope Pius XII at his Castel Gandolfo summer palace. When the boys learned that the Pontiff was unacquainted with their sport, they put on a five-minute demonstration of some brilliant passing and dribbling, then presented him with the autographed ball. Said His Holiness: “These young men are certainly very clever.”

Tried & True

At a sunset ceremony on the Pentagon grounds in Washington, Brigadier General Melvin J. Maas, former Representative from Minnesota, a pilot in two world wars and totally blind for the past eight months, reviewed the troops of an honor parade as he retired from active service in the Marine Corps. Later, General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Mrs. Maas joined in pinning to the Maas uniform the second star of a major general, his retiring rank. He will continue to serve as the Marine member of the Defense Department’s Reserve Forces Policy Board.

Into the Spanish port of Pasajes, victorious in his first high-sea adventure, sailed Christopher Columbus, 27, 17th Duke of Veragua and direct descendant of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea. As captain of a coast guard patrol boat, he had rounded up five French ships caught fishing for tuna in Spanish waters and brought the poachers to harbor.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden announced that the government had established twelve scholarships in British universities for American students. The scholarships will be named after General George C. Marshall in gratitude for the Marshall Plan.

In Manhattan, tax experts finally totted up the net estate of Mrs. Edith Hale Harkness, the late widow of the New York financier and philanthropist. The amount: $33,335,772, of which the experts claimed $25,445,299 in federal and state taxes.

Plans & Promises

In Manhattan, James H. Rand, president of Remington Rand, Inc., manufacturer of business machines and office equipment, proudly announced the appointment of a new board chairman: Old Hero Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur, who was first offered the job three years ago (reported salary: $100,000 a year) will keep his five-star Army rank (along with the $19,548-a-year pay & allowances), but announced that he was now a businessman and would do no politicking. At the first directors’ luncheon, being introduced to some of the politics of business, he was presented with a Remington electric razor with the understanding that he use it and discard his favorite old straightedge, a West Point graduation gift from his father, General Arthur Mac-Arthur. Said the new chairman: “I estimate I have had 17,000 shaves with the old razor. I’ll do my best to get at least 17,000 shaves in the next 50 years from this new one.”

Henry Ford II, president of the Ford Motor Co., agreed to take on another job: National Chairman of the Crusade for Freedom, succeeding retiring chairman General Lucius D. Clay. Part of Ford’s task will be to help raise $4,000,000 this year for more transmitters for Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, the privately supported counterparts of the Government’s Voice of America.

Old Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker, President of Eastern Air Lines, learned that his company had won a legal victory of sorts in a District of Columbia court. In a $500,000 suit against Bolivian Pilot Erick Rios Bridoux, who crashed his P-38 fighter plane into one of Eastern’s liners over

Washington in 1949 with a loss of 55 lives, the court awarded a judgment of $160,000. However, said the court, collection would be difficult if not impossible, since Bridoux had left the U.S. Still pending: some $5,000,000 in suits filed against Eastern, Bridoux and the U.S. by families of the deceased passengers.

In Atlanta, 61-year-old Frank Leavitt, who used to wrestle under the name Man Mountain Dean, announced plans to run on the “Independent Republican” ticket for the House of Representatives in Georgia’s ninth district. Said he: “I love Georgia, and I think I can help her. I’ll spend $20,000 to campaign if I have to.”

Hearts & Thistles

At Fort Lee, Va., where she is making a movie on life in the WAC. Cinemactress Rosalind Russell misjudged her timing in boarding a fast-moving truck and ended up in the infirmary with 17 stitches in her right leg. Said she: “If the accident leaves any scars, I can at least say I got them in the Army.”

Cinemactress Jane Russell, wife of Professional Football Player Bob Waterfield, was asked for some opinions on life and love. Sample: “In our family we stay married. Not one divorce among hundreds of cousins. I have uncles and aunts who have been married for 50 years and still sit in the parlor and neck.”

In Los Angeles, Mrs. Grace Tibbett, onetime wife of Opera Singer Lawrence Tibbett, sued Sea Captain Horace Brown, another ex-husband, for a bad debt of $2,190, half of which he borrowed on their wedding night six years ago. Why had she waited so long to collect? Simply observing the amenities, explained Mrs. Tibbett. After their divorce, Brown had married Marion Davies, and a suit might have been embarrassing to Marion. However, now that Marion and Brown seemed to be squabbling up to the point of divorce talk, she would like her money back. As for Brown, she added, it is time he learned that he “can’t go around marrying nice girls without giving them some affection and consideration … It was I who put him on the map. When Miss Davies married him, who do you think the papers had to call to find out who in heaven’s name he was? Me, of course.”


Behind bars in the Philadelphia Zoo, where he has been looking with distaste at people ever since he was brought from French Equatorial Africa as a puny, 11-lb. baby, Bamboo, now a quarter-ton, 6-ft. evil-tempered gorilla, celebrated his 25th anniversary of confinement with a “birthday cake” made of cod liver oil, peanut mash and oyster shell, with a watermelon for dessert. The anniversary also chalked up a record. Bamboo, whether he likes it or not, is the only gorilla ever to survive a quarter-century in captivity.

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