Oct 27 2012
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Certainly this is the place to be, and anyone who’s anyone is here: all the top box-office draws and Oscar winners, all the Most Valuable Players, national champions and record breakers, Heisman Trophy and Pulitzer Prize winners, blue ribbon and gold medal takers, Purple Hearts and Silver Stars, Imperial High Wizards, Hit Paraders, Hall of Famers, Homecoming Queens, and Honor Listees. The winners of small-town centennial beard-growing contests have all come, the year’s commencement speakers, class valedictorians, and quiz-show winners, the entire Social Register, the secretariat of Rotary International. The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. Yehudi Menuhin, Punjab, Duck Button, who isn’t here? Gary Cooper hove into view up in the Claridge, wagging his shiny new Oscar from High Noon and doing his much-loved toe-stubbing aw-shucks Montana grin for all his admirers, both on the House Un-American Activities Committee and off—he’s been one of the top ten box-office draws for thirteen years running now—only Bing Crosby has been loved so long so well. Uncle Sam has provided Coop a special position tonight in a third-floor window of the Claridge where he can both see and be seen, along with other Hollywood stars friendly these past years to HUAC’s efforts to shrive and scour Movieland—good Americanists like Jack Warner, Elia Kazan, Bob Taylor, Ronnie Reagan and Larry Parks, Budd Schulberg, Ginger Rogers, George Murphy, Adolphe Menjou. Others, more suspect, like Bogie and Bacall, Lionel Stander, Zero Mostel, and Edward G. Robinson (his true identity, after all, is Emanual Goldenberg of Bucharest!), are shunted off to the periphery, where they’ll be lucky, standing on tiptoes, to see a few distant sparks fly.
Robert Coover, The Public Burning