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Paul Coates -- Confidential File, April 15, 1959


There Was no Dame, That Was a Duchess

Paul_coatesThe telephone on my desk jangled.

"Hello," I said. It seemed a logical thing to say.

"You heard about Goya?" the breathless voice at the other end of the line wanted to know.

"You mean old Francisco Jose de?" I asked brightly, "The Spanish painter?"

"That's the one," the voice informed me. "He's been banned."

"Serves him right," I said knowingly. "Carrying on with that Duchess de Alba. Him with a wife and kids."

"No, no," said the voice. "Goya is dead."

"Cholesterol . . .?" I began hesitantly.

The voice cut me short.

"Goya's BEEN dead for 131 years."

I thought I detected a patronizing tone.

April 15, 1959, Dodgers Lose "It's a picture he painted that's been banned," the voice continued. My name is Scholl. I'm with United Artists."

"Oh?" I murmured. "I must have missed your last picture."

"I'm not in pictures," the voice assured me. "I promote pictures."

Ten seconds of oppressive silence followed while I digested the confession.

"Promote...?" I asked fearfully.

"Promote!" the voice declared.

"And that's my problem," he continued. "They won't let me promote 'The Naked Maja.'"

"Ruddy shame," I sympathized.

"Ruddy right," the voice agreed. " All I tried to do was use a reproduction of Goya's famous painting in newspaper ads. Papers wouldn't accept 'em.

"Just because the dame in the picture is nude."

"That was no dame, that was the duchess," I corrected. "Anyway, it does seem pretty narrow-minded."

"And that's what Goya's life is all about," the voice said.

April 15, 1959, Norwalk Drive-In "Really?" I replied.

"Really, About how Goya painted the Duchess de Alba in the nude. Andy how her husband, the Duke, found out."

I brightened. After all, these spicy little tidbits are always good. Even if they are 131 years old.

"You say the Duke found out?" I asked.

"Everybody did. It was all over town. Quite a scandal."

Try, Try Again

"I'll bet," I said.

"So Goya had to do it all over again," the voice said.

"You mean...?" I began.

"Yep. Goya painted her with clothes on."

"Ruddy..." I began.

"Shame," he concluded. "And how's it going to look if I use a painting of a dame with clothes on when I'm trying to promote a picture called 'The Naked Maja'?" the voice demanded.

"Beats me," I admitted.

"Wouldn't be right. No punch. No socko, No sell," the voice insisted.

"Just not box-office," I added helpfully. "But what can I do about it?"

"Write something," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"I don't know," he confided. "Just something to arouse the people."

I promised him I would. And I will.

So, all right, everybody, up!

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