Election 1944: Hollywood goes all-out at colorful Dewey rally (9-23-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 23, 1944)


A super-super-colossal show –
Hollywood goes all-out at colorful Dewey rally

Flags, bands, cowboys and film stars galore all cavort under technicolored heavens
By Fred Othman, United Press staff writer

Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, California –
Cecil B. DeMille made a Hollywood production out of the Dewey-for-President rally last night with Indians, live elephants, brass bands, cowboy riders, technicolored heavens – everything but solid marble bathtubs.

The mighty DeMille, who functions as a Republican leader when he is not producing epics, erected an American flag 40 feet tall in back of the stand from which Governor Thomas E. Dewey made his speech, and brought on the elephants.

He only had two pachyderms but he brought them on with a 50-piece band led by a sweater girl in white boots – and not much else.

A colorful scene

While the band marched down the center of the vast stadium, the elephants plodded down the right, and the Indians tramped down the left. DeMille sat in the drivers’ seat and sprayed them all with a million watts in red, white and blue.

He brought on three ministers – a Catholic, an Episcopalian and a rabbi – to lead the prayers, sent Leo Carrillo and assistants galloping the greensward with American flags in their hands, and filtered into the press boxes – to the delight of visiting reporters – such Republicans as Binnie Barnes, Lillian Gish, Virginia Bruce, Ilona Massey, Constance Moore, Ann Sothern, Barbara Stanwyck, Claire Trevor, and many another equally beautiful.

Carrillo rides horse

Carrillo enlivened proceedings by galloping around the stadium on a white horse with a collar made of electric light. With every thump of the horse’s hoofs, Carrillo let her rip with both his trusty six-shooters, while the crowd cheered.

Then came the “Star-Spangled Banner” by the band and a chorus, but without Jeanette MacDonald, who took down with swollen tonsils at the last moment.

After the national anthem, DeMille brought on a Wild West rodeo, led by such favorites of the juvenile audience as Bill Elliott and Monty Montana, who chased the imaginary Indians all over the football field and then obliged with some fancy riding and rope tricks.

Ginger Rogers in fox coat

Richard Dix and Lee Tracy brought their wives to the reporters’ table and asked please could they sit down.

Ginger Rogers arrived in a silver fox coat that made the other feminine Republicans gasp while DeMille brought on Victor “Congressman Throttlebottom” Moore and Bill Gaxton to reenact a skit from their memorable stage success, “Of Thee I Sing.”

By now the stadium was more than three quarters filled, and the audience was having such a good time it didn’t much care whether it had any political speeches or not.

‘All for Dewey’

DeMille and his announcer, Harry Vonzell, sobered the customers momentarily with a brief speech by a Negro attorney, a California farmer and a laboring man, all of whom brought cheers with their predictions that Dewey would be the next President.

Then came Warren Pinney, president of “Democrats for Dewey,” who brought on boos and hisses when he mentioned the New Deal. Next came a plump and handsome housewife, Mrs. Hannah Gustafson, who said the election of Governor Dewey was her only hope of getting her three sons back soon from overseas.

Eddie Bracken brought in a plug for his newest picture when he told the assemblage that the nation would hail its conquering hero, Dewey, in November. David O. Selznick, the producer, said he could see no chance of Governor Dewey losing.

Governor Dewey and his wife rolled into the arena in a cream-colored touring car on which DeMille focused all of his 50 spotlights. The car rolled slowly around the track twice while the crowd cheered and actresses Ruth Hussey and Francis Dee walked down the steps to meet the guests of honor with twin armloads of roses.

Mrs. Dewey wore a purple suit and a fur neckpiece; her husband was clad in a wide smile and a single-breasted gray suit.

They sat down and waited while such Republicans as Patsy Ruth Miller, Bill Bendix, George Brent, Walt Disney, Adolph Menjou, Randolph Scott and Harold Lloyd made two sentence speeches, urging Governor Dewey’s election.

“I am about to see a very tired President go and a very vigorous one come in,” shouted “Throttlebottom” Moore for perhaps the biggest preliminary cheer of the evening.