Home > It Happened One Fight

It Happened One Fight
Author: Maureen Lenker






MAY 10, 1932

Sparks flew at the Cocoanut Grove last night as Joan Davis gave her costar Dash Howard the kiss-off. And we’re not talking one of the romantic variety. After photographers caught the duo in an embrace in an embrace at the nightclub’s back door, Davis slugged her handsome leading man before kneeing him in the family jewels. Women of America, never fear, we have it on good authority that Dash Howard is still every bit as virile as he appears.

Joan Davis seemed mighty pleased with herself too, smiling, blowing photographers a kiss, and crowing, “Eat your heart out, boys.” It was a surprising end to an otherwise romantic evening. Earlier that night, this intrepid reporter spotted the duo getting very cozy in a back booth. But something spelled trouble in paradise, leading Davis to bring Howard to his knees. The two are slated to begin production this week on their next picture together, Love on the Rocks, their third on-screen pairing in a year and a half. If Harry Evets plans to have his two biggest stars keep working together, he should probably consider having them insured—in case of maiming or worse! Rest assured, whatever happens on that set, I’ll be here with all the juicy details as the Examiner’s new columnist.



Movie stars did not, as a rule, hide in the bathroom. They were far too glamorous and dignified to take refuge in a toilet stall. But when Joan Davis had seen freshly shaved Dash Howard coming toward her down the studio hallway right as she’d gotten her hands on this morning’s paper, the only escape was darting into the ladies’ room.

Perched on the toilet seat, she reread the story in the Examiner before crumpling it in her hands. “That sonofabitch,” she muttered to no one in particular. Dash Howard had set her up. Just when she’d thought there was finally a man in Hollywood she could trust, he pulled the rug out from under her. He was a bottom-feeder like the rest of them.

And Leda Price. Joan had recognized her as a day player on their last picture. It was why she’d let Leda lead her to the back door to meet Dash. The two of them must’ve been in on it together. Parasites, the lot of them. Joan didn’t balk at having to make sacrifices for her career. That was the price of success in Hollywood. But there was a difference between what she did and the way that leeches like Dash Howard and Leda Price used people.

Last night, she’d felt on the precipice of something dangerous. Sitting in that back booth, she’d felt an attraction to Dash that she’d always vowed never to let herself give in to. But he’d tempted her. Made her feel like maybe she should give romance a try after all. And then he’d proved her right all along. Well, at least she’d gotten the last laugh. She smoothed the paper out to study the photograph above the story.

They’d caught her right as her knee had connected with Dash’s groin. She chuckled at the look of shock in his eyes. In a smaller picture below it, she was grinning and blowing the photographers a kiss. Dash had tried to make a fool out of her, to use her for his own publicity. Well, how’d that work out for him? At least she’d kept her wits about her when it really counted.

She supposed she would eventually have to leave this bathroom and go pretend to make love to him on set. She’d left a message for Harry’s secretary last night, begging him to cast someone else or outright cancel the picture. But he hadn’t deigned to offer her a response besides sending the studio car for her that morning. It was clear she was stuck making this movie. With Dash Howard. Who was she kidding? Harry was probably eating this up. He’d crow about how many tickets this headline alone would sell. Hell, he’d probably had a hand in the whole affair himself. So she’d have to grin and bear it—and beg him to make sure it was the last time she ever had to work with Dash Howard. The cad. How she’d ever found him remotely attractive she didn’t know.

But this was good. It was a reminder to stick to what she’d always known. That her rules were there for a reason. Romance was for the pictures and the pictures alone. Joan Davis was a lone wolf, and her fame, her success, her status would be because she’d earned it. Taking anyone else along for that ride was a recipe for disaster and disappointment. She didn’t need help, and she certainly didn’t need a grinning lug of a man riding her coattails. There was one person Joan Davis could rely on, and that was Joan Davis.







JUNE 11, 1936

Is that a new piece of platinum we spy on Joan Davis’s hand? The rumors are true. Hollywood’s princess is engaged to 1936’s rising matinee idol Monty Smyth. It’s certainly sudden! Mr. Smyth and Miss Davis have been spotted out on the town together three times in the last six weeks—and already it’s wedding bells for this divine duo.

Miss Davis tells reporters the proposal was a complete surprise, and it happened over cocktails on the patio of her Beverly Hills home. “I came out with the cocktail shaker, ready to top off our glasses, and there was Monty down on one knee! Of course, my answer was immediately ‘Yes,’” she told Confidante, a rosy glow in her cheeks—only matched by the sparkle in her eight-karat Asscher-cut diamond ring. The couple have said they are aiming for a September wedding. That’s only three months away. Anyone who’s somebody in Hollywood will be there.

Miss Davis’s star hasn’t shined quite as brightly of late—her last two films flopped at the box office. But audiences are gaga for Monty whose ten-minute scene in Where Devils Dare earned the tall, dark, and handsome hunk an Oscar nomination. And he can’t go anywhere without a gaggle of adoring fans. It’s Monty Mania everywhere you look!

Mr. Smyth’s long-time roommate, Jerry Scott, was spotted celebrating at the Cocoanut Grove last night. He was blotto with a capital B, celebrating his pal’s good fortune. According to our sources, Monty’s already asked him to be best man.

But there’s one man we haven’t heard a peep from—Dash Howard, Miss Davis’s costar in six pictures. He was spotted at his new favorite haunt, Café Trocadero, last night, but was otherwise engaged with a titian-haired distraction. At one time, all of America was yearning for wedding bells between Dash and Davis. And undoubtedly many were still holding out hope even after she slugged him in the kisser at the Cocoanut Grove. Has Joan Davis landed another blow? What does the King of Hollywood think about his leading lady getting hitched?


Nothing was going to spoil Joan Davis’s mood today. Not the stickpin jabbing her in the side from her costume fitting. Not even the press’s insistence on linking her with Dash when she was engaged to someone else. Because everything was going according to plan.

She held the skirt of her pale-blue gown nimbly between her thumb and finger as she sauntered across the lot from the wardrobe department to her trailer. She was carrying the issue of Confidante announcing her engagement in her left hand, her inverted art-deco manicure curled just so around the magazine so that her life-size engagement ring rested atop the photo of it on the cover. It glinted in the sunlight, and she preened as secretaries and receptionists on coffee breaks, and grips and best boys wheeling equipment down the sunny streets of the lot, called out felicitations to her.

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