Ernie Pyle Goes to Hollywood

Here’s another example of Ernie Pyle making a story out of not getting a story:

“A friend of mine in Winnemucca, Nevada, once said that the next time I came to Hollywood he wanted me to find out if Myrna Loy is really as sweet in person as she is on the screen. He said she was the only movie actress he cared about, and he just knew she had to be wonderful in real life or she couldn’t be that way in pictures.

“Well I certainly tried to find out. I think my Winnemucca friend is right, but I can’t prove it. It’s sort of hard to tell in sixty seconds whether a woman is sweet or not.

“Myrna Loy was working in a picture called ‘Test Pilot’ with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. After a week of negotiating it was finally arranged that I should spend a half a day on the set, and sandwich my ‘interview’ between scenes.

“Well I’m no good at this kind of formal reporting. It’s too stiff and hurried. And in this case there weren’t any between-scenes for our interview anyway. Miss Loy was on the set nearly all the time, while I stood around on the edge trying to look as though I had kept my vanished dignity.

“But finally she did move out of the set and sit down on a nearby canvas chair. At that point her man, who had the jitters almost as bad as myself, hauled me over and introduced us. We said, ‘Howdy’ or something, and then the director said, ‘Quiet,’ because he was rehearsing somebody else.

“So we sat there for a minute, neither of us saying a word, and then she had to go back to work. At that point I said to the man, ‘Okay, let’s kill it.’

“Around the studio they say Myrna Loy is very sweet, and very quiet. My Winnemucca friend will have to get along with that.

“As a matter of fact, I am sick unto death of trying to write about the great women stars of the movies. It is true that those I have finally been permitted to see have been very nice. But the rigamarole you have to go through, the stalling around and waiting, the few little precious minutes they finally give you, their apparent inability to break down and talk plain talk, all gives me a pain.

“The stars are harassed to death, I know, and they do have to put up with all kinds of impositions from reporters, and they are justified in being suspicious and cagey about what they say, and you can’t blame them for trying to preserve some privacy.

“What I’m sore about, you see, is that they don’t distinguish between ordinary newspapermen and a fellow like me with polished manners, a learned mind, and a heart of gold!”