Foreword to Adolphe Menjou’s autobiography, “It Took Nine Tailors”
by Clark Gable
Published in 1948
In Hollywood nothing less than sensational or colossal is considered worthy of recording and legendary characters are as numerous as a press agent’s adjectives. Although this fosters a quick turnover in immortals and a short memory for their deeds, I’m sure that my friend Adolphe Menjou, in his own unique way, will always be a headliner in the saga of movieland. Adolphe’s non-stop career as an actor speaks for itself. He started in the business when any picture over two reels in length was considered a super-special, and he is still a leading film personality. It takes much more than a large and well-tailored wardrobe to stay on the screen for over thirty-five years. But Adolphe is more than a good actor. He is, among other things, my favorite financial genius. Wall Street can have its Morgans, its Rockefellers, and its Bernard Baruch. I’ll take Adolphe. He is very allergic to bad investments, and a falling market affects him like a falling barometer affects grandpa’s rheumatiz. He’s the only person I know who always buys at the bottom and sells at the top. A certain director once told me, “Menjou is expensive but worth every penny of his salary, because I not only get a good performance from him, I also find out what he’s doing in the stock market.”
Surprisingly enough, Adolphe is also a Hollywood intellectual. In fact, he is my favorite actor-intellectual. I have heard him discuss economics, history, political science, art, literature, drama, and many other erudite subjects. Of course, there is a plethora of intellectuals in Hollywood and they will discuss any subject under the sun, but none of them is as fluent and entertaining as Adolphe. It takes quite a guy to discourse on Balkan politics of 1912 and make you like it. Adolphe will not only make you like it, he will also teach you how to say “hello” in Serbian, Romanian, and Greek.
And he certainly is my favorite raconteur. Turn him loose in a roomful of Hollywood’s loudest and most determined extroverts and in five minutes Adolphe will monopolize the spotlight and get more belly laughs than Donald Duck at a Saturday matinee.
Then, of course, he is my favorite fashion critic. He can tear a lapel apart with the most scathing and contemptuous adjectives I have ever heard. And he can cast a critical eye over your pants in a manner that makes you feel that you have come to dinner wearing baggy overalls. Lastly, he is far and away my favorite actor-golfer. If he plays a good game, he radiates enthusiasm like the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and makes you forget he is taking your money. If he plays a bad game, his moans echo from the hills of the Bel-Air Country Club like the cries of a man in mortal agony. Either way it is an enchanting experience. When you inquire from most golfers how they played, you must be prepared for dull recapitulations of their misfortunes or triumphs and you soon wish you had never mentioned the subject. With Adolphe it is different. If he has won, his résumé of the victory is always a dramatic achievement. If he has lost, his anguish and accusations of “robbery” are designed only to amuse you.
One day I was starting down the first fairway at Bel-Air Country Club and my path crossed Menjou’s as he was coming up the eighteenth. He was playing with a foursome consisting of Bob Montgomery, Frank Morgan, and George Murphy. Adolphe looked exceedingly grim and disconsolate. “How are you doing?” I inquired. “I’m being murdered!” he shouted indignantly. “A golf course is just a poolroom out of doors. I’ve been caught by a pack of rascals—a gang of golf-link sharpies! But it’ll be a good lesson to me.” He nodded sagely and continued, “I’ve observed these slickers very closely and I intend to remember their faces for the rest of my life. Never again will they trap me into a golf game.” “How do you stand?” I asked, thinking he must have already lost his shirt. “All even,” he declared, “Everything depends on this hole.” I’ve always thought that somebody should write a book about Adolphe. And now that he has done it himself, I find that he is my favorite Hollywood autobiographer.