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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, Dec. 2, 1959

December 2, 2009 |  2:00 pm

 Dec. 2, 1959, Mirror Cover

Mickey Rooney shows up drunk on “The Tonight Show” and demands an apology the next day from host Jack Paar for saying: "It's a shame, he was a great talent."

A Columnist Broods Anent Brodies of Idols

 Paul Coates   This is the new Dark Age. 

    Idols are being shattered all around us. 

    The plaster figure of Charles Van Doren was the first to crumble, quickly followed by a horde of lesser geniuses which quiz shows had illegitimately spawned.

    And then there was the after-shock.

    The rumble of disc jockeys declining to state whether or not they had declined to take.  The brutal revelation that Ed Murrow's “Person to Person” cameras and crews didn't knock on just any door.  They came invited and announced.

    The begrudging admission from Madison Ave. that some commercials might have a slight, barely perceptible tendency to over-evaluate the product.  That the rich, tempting foam on a glass of beer might really be soap.  And, I suppose, that the luxurious lather from a bar of soap might really be beer foam.

Dec. 2, 1959, Mickey Rooney     The depressing truth that those gales of appreciative laughter on comedy shows didn't come from people, but from a spool of tape.  That even the cheers on newsreels  for Ike were canned, not fresh.

    The findings so far in this grim inquisition make you wonder what else in life is not all that it seems to be.

    For example, Desi Arnaz.  That accent.  Isn't it just an affectation?  After all, he got out of Cuba a week after they sank the Maine.  And Alfred Hitchcock.  Does he really look like that?  Or do they just make him up that way?
And Sheriff John.  Everybody knows he's not actually a sheriff, but what I mean is, how does he REALLY feel about kids?

    And, when you came right down to it, Bing Crosby.  Is that really his hair?

    I don't know the answers.  But I can assure you, if there's a tattle-tale gray involved, it'll come out in Rep. Oren Harris' automatic washer.

    Because this, my friends, is the time of the great soul cleansing.

    And into this steamy atmosphere, I'd like to throw my own soiled linen.   

    I, too, have been tampered with.  There are special interest groups who have sought to buy my favor by playing me with an assortment of temptations.

    I've been lured by Liberace, who, even when it isn't Christmas or my birthday, sends me ash trays in the form of grand pianos with his name splashed across the keyboard.

    An independent lady vegetarian named Hasmick Goodell sends me floating candles for my bathtub, hoping it will sway me to print a good word in behalf of organic squash and cockaleekle soup.

    The Cossman Toy Co. sent me a genuine ant farm.  I got a highly polished apple from an Oregon agricultural association, a piece of pickled corned beef from a man who pickles corned beeves, a long baton-pencil from Lawrence Welk and a dues-free membership in the Smiling Jack fan club.
My Payola Does Flopola

    Now that I see the handwriting on the wall, I'd gladly return these spoils just to ease my conscience, and to take the heat off.  But I can't.

    Mrs. Goodell's candles have melted into a mere blob which clings stubbornly to the porcelain of my bath.  Liberace's ash trays have been sent to my mother, who doesn't smoke but is a music lover. Welk's pencil is just a nub of its former self.

    And finally, I bit into the apple, which was forbidden even before the Harris subcommittee started looking into that sort of thing.