Found letter, written on board The Chief of the Sante Fe Line, from my mother to her father Les--
On board the…Santa Fe Line- The Chief-
Monday August 16, 1943
I have done nothing but sleep since I got on this wagon. Slept all day Sunday---slept all night- Slept all day today. It’s a wonderful train and the foods marvelous we get in
About the car- Don’t forget to get the wheels put in line- they’re all crooked and it’s worn down the front tires- you’ll probably have to get the tire re-capped.---The one in the trunk has to be fixed too. Because the wheels are so terrifically out of line it nearly ruined the tire. Then get the valves ground, new rings or anything else the motor needs. Then get the seats covered---the best you can get.---and the best upholsterer!!!! Then get the fender fixed and any other painting it needs.---also a simonizing job. The radio has to be fixed—and the little light that turns on when you open the door. The bulb is in the compartment. Please try and get all these things done before I come back because I’ll need the car everyday and won’t be able to have it done. Would you please send me some samples of materials for the seat covers? If you will call the automobile club they’ll send you to the best places to get those thing done. Call Wally Walker at State 4-2056 and he’ll give the telephone number of the man who takes care of my membership at the auto club. This man’s name is
Found letters from Susanna to her mother and also her father-
Written at New York City's 'Sherry-Netherland
I’ve never been so unhappy as I am right this minute. Up till now everything has been so wonderful and almost unbelievably perfect.
Yesterday it was all spoiled by a telephone call from Dan Kelly. I have tried so hard at Universal and I’ve never been so happy as I have been at the result of my trying hard. Because even though there have been times when we haven’t seen eye to eye on things (“TopMan”, for example) we have always worked it out amicably. But, well, what happened yesterday I will never understand, ever. Mr. Kelly called about the USO tour I was supposed to go out on from
So I don’t understand why they are suddenly interested in whether I’m tired before I start a picture because I was tired before I started “This is the Life” and more tired when I started “Top Man” and then I went right on this tour still tired. That’s why I cried when he talked to me on the telephone. Daddy, I’ve never had anyone yell at me like that. I was hurt and angry and embarrassed for him---all three things at once. It was such a mean thing to do---and he said such mean things. --- I had been cooperative so far but now I was being temperamental.---“your unpatriotic and don’t give a damn about the boys”---things like that.
Well it hurt that anyone should say or even think anything like that—when you know how hard I tried to get overseas. I don’t see why they couldn’t do me a favor and let me come home for six weeks and then do the camp shows in October. It won’t be conflicting with a picture and I’ll feel much better and have more rest if I can come home. I just and can’t understand why such a commotion is being raised. The USO is happy the way it is and I don’t see why Mr. Kelly shouldn’t be. I’ve never felt so miserable about anything. I cried terribly and it was very embarrassing because there were people in the apartment. And today we had an interview with a man from Life and a cocktail party for magazine editors etc. and my eyes were so swollen I could hardly see out of them---I really looked a mess---all on account of that phone call. I will never again talk to Mr. Kelly on the telephone. I won’t be yelled at like that. I’m terribly upset and I wish I could get on a train tomorrow. I can’t understand why he should be like that to me.
Well, we leave here next Friday, Sept 3 and I will probably see you the following Monday. Love to the kids and I’ll see you soon. Love Suzy
Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper were the two reigning gossip queens in 30’s and 40’s
By Louella Parsons
Motion Picture Editor, International News Service
Susanna Foster, Star Of “The Phantom,” A
New Film Personality
Golden-Voiced Susanna Foster establishes herself as one of the
great stars of today in Universal’s Technicolor
“The Phantom of the Opera” coming soon to B’way.
Indignation flashed in Susanna Foster’s blue eyes—that anyone should dare to start feud between her and Deanna Durbin.
“I don’t care who the writer or commentator is,” said Susanna. “No one can make trouble between Deanna and me! I was worried at first that Deanna might think I was presumptuous enough to consider myself her rival,” she told me, curling up in a chair in my playroom.
You know, when I went to Universal,” said Susanna, who is just back from a tour from her highly successful “Phantom of the Opera,” “I thought Deanna would be high hat and temperamental. After all, she is Universal’s greatest stars.”
“You needn’t worry,” I told Susanna. “I had a note from Deanna, and she was as upset as you are. She knew you had nothing to do with it—but tell me about your trip.”
Thrilled at ‘Met’ in N.Y.
“The most breathless moment,” she said, with awe in her voice, “was when I stood on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House. I closed my eyes and pretended I was singing in a great opera. Even though the house was vacant, I could feel the chills go up and down my spine.”
“You’ll get there someday,” I told her.
“I want that more than anything in the world,” she said. “I pray and hope I can be as great a star as Grace Moore. I adore her.”
I first knew Susanna when she was about thirteen and didn’t know what to do with their hands and feet. She, even then, had a gorgeous singing voice.
The next several paragraphs were unreadable (water damage).
‘Break’ came in Nick of Time
Lon Chaney’s old horror classic, The Phantom of the Opera has had most of the chills removed in the new version just opened at the Capitol. The 1943 version is a spectacular operetta, an extraordinarily good one, richly melodious and set in backgrounds of large scale Technicolor magnificence. Despite the glow that passage of twenty years adds to an old favorite. I insist the new Phantom is an improvement.
The excitement is not neglected, but most of it is packed into the last half hour. Only the general idea of the old story is preserved. The new version is mainly a story about singers, and we are allowed to hear them sing a great deal and superbly well.
Instead of drawing on the conventional operatic repertoire, two new operatic scenes were written for Nelson Eddy , Susanna Foster and company. A French aria or two were fashioned from the piano melodies of Chopin, sounding very well in their vocal settings. The same thing was done to make part of a Russian opera from the themes of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. These adaptations are credited to Edward Ward, who has done all manners of movie music but nothing else as impressive as this.
The new Phantom was not born a monster. His unspoken reverence for a young soprano (Miss Foster) leads him into financial difficulties and a murderous quarrel climaxed by a spurt of acid in his face. Disfigured and hunted, he hides in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, there hoping to continue his assistance to his protégé by terrorizing the impresario into to giving her better roles.
Claude Rains as Phantom- Claude Rains plays the Phantom with ominous unction, suggesting the ultimate madness by repressed intensity instead of the wild terror that characterized Lon Chaney’s original. Nelson eddy had varied his appearance by donning a brunette wig, but no one has tampered with the beauty of his great baritone voice. He and Edgar Barrier rise many steps above usual operetta comedy in some amusing exchanges as rival suitors.
The great person of this cast, however, is Susanna Foster, a lusciously attractive blond girl with a rich full soprano voice. This girl, heard only occasionally in other movies, blossoms out as one of the great musical discoveries of our new cinema season. This picture aimed at a variety of tastes and hit accurately on all of them—light music, opera, spectacle, melodrama and a trace of horror.
Found letters from Susanna to her dad while on the USO tour-
Dear Dad and Kids,
For my dough the Mexicans could have kept it. I’ve never been in such a dirty hole. The people are just filthy- Our train was three hours late getting into El Paso where we were supposed to transfer to another train to Sweetwater, Mr. Bermani (Susanna was accompanied by Bermani (piano) and Lois Garrison (chaperone) Lois is Susanna’s cousin, daughter of Fred Garrison, Lester’s uncle and Althena’s brother) prefers to call it Sourwater. .....I can think of a few other names. Well, the Sweetwater Special doesn’t wait for anybody, you could be delivering an iron lung to General MacArthur and if your ten minutes late the Sweetwater goes on like the mail. It’s a project with them. Ah,
So there we were- stranded in El Paso at 11:30 at night with no place to sleep and brother, I had no intention of slumming it with Don Jose in the station. We called just about every hotel in
So Bermani (he’s been just wonderful- so many laughs) suggested we get a cab and perhaps the driver would know of a place where we could sleep. Well, we get one and chase all over
---so then, at we decided we were hungry. So we set out to find a restaurant......
I will never forget the fun we had that night. Dad, it’s really a shame you didn’t come along. Lois has been swell, and she’s such a good sport. But men join in.--do you know what I mean? Men are kids at heart anyway and don’t realize the seriousness of a situation like women do. I really wish you had been along. You’d have gotten a big kick out of it. There we were tramping down a strange street in
Well, we were supposed to get into Sweetwater about and I got a wire at that the show at
There are four hotels in Sweetwater--Why I don’t know, there’s a population of about 500. I called three and there was nothing and finally at the “Macie” I got two rooms. We stayed there overnight and it was a little better than the Carlyle. The next night we caught another dirty filthy milk train where we were met at by a Lt. from
October 21- Austin,
We left Camp Hood after a hectic time there singing everywhere and another thing, there are no gentleman in the army ‘cause they’re all kids but you know they all look at you as if they’d like to eat you and it makes me furious. I know one thing this tour hasn’t made me tolerant of the guys in service--they’re all people like you and me---no different---and this business of making heroes out of them is ridiculous. the guys overseas are going through hell--and I suppose you should feel sorry for those that are about to go over. But there is something about a guy that’s ungentlemanly that I abhor--and I can’t help it. And most of them are. And these officers! Do they have it easy! It’s the poor rookie that gets it every time. Talk about democracy, hell! There’s more class-consciousness in the army than anywhere else. We’d better get a little democracy in the army before we start fighting for it. Even in the Army the war is becoming a racket. Last night I played Byram field and it was swell. Today I visited the hospital wards and you know they took me in to see some boys (some were from the guard house and under guard) with venereal diseases etc. I asked the captain if they were contagious and he said no. So I shook hands with all of them.--But brother, when I came out they made me wash my hands with soap and alcohol. So don’t be surprised if I come down with gonarhea (hell--I don’t know how to spell it). So today we drive to
Lots of love Suzy P.S. Lois sends her best.Matchbox