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Baby Doll

Cabbages and Kings

By David Royce

Every time Nehru or somebody big like that comes to see Harvard, out rolls a big black Caddy limousine, a great gleaming beast that looks like a whale with windows. On ordinary days it is kept inside. But once a year the Hasty Pudding Organization brings its Ingenue-of-the-Year to Cambridge, to publicize itself and its little show, and for some reason the Pudding always gets to use the Pusey-boat for the ride down to the airport.

Having just seen Baby Doll, I couldn't resist dropping over to view Carroll Baker, this year's Pudding Plum. Of course they threw me out when I tried to crash, but someone told me Carroll was actually over in the Yard being given the old tour treatment. Sure enough, a black bomb half as long as University Hall was cruising lethally along frosh row, and when I ran up and peeked in a pair of soft blue eyes met mine.

I dogtrotted along behind as the dusky vehicle slithered out of the Yard and back to the Pudding, and so many people got out of it that I was able to mix with them as they entered. A quiet little girl was walking beside me, and I thought she was crashing too, until somebody shoved me aside and addressed her as Miss Baker.

Doubting that I'd get close to her again, I looked around for her crew, and soon discovered a talkative little lady of about 40, from Warner Brothers, who told me to my dismay that Carroll Baker is really Mrs. Jack Garfein, the mother of a bouncing baby daughter.

At this point, as a reporter elbowed me into Miss Baker's vicinity, I noticed that everyone else was as shy as I, and she was practically alone. She sat at a piano and toyed with the keys.

"Can you play?" I blurted impulsively.

"Not really," she murmured, with no trace of a drawl. "Just duets. I used to know 'I can wash the dishes.' And chopsticks. You know, that sort of stuff."

I saw a crowd of Puddies bearing down on us, and used my last desperate moment for a personal question: "How old are you?"

"I can't tell--I really can't," She was engulfed by a wave of striped ties and clinking highballs, and I went back to the lady press agent for more inside dope.

Carroll grew up it seems in a little mining town in Pennsylvania, and after high school (she could never get in the school play) moved to Florida, where she tried night club dancing. Then she went alone to New York, where she was a flop on TV and tried out for a little group called Actor's Studio. She got parts in two Broadway plays as a result, and Elia Kazan happened by one day and screen-tested her.

"Oh," I added, "I need one other fact. How old is she?"

"She'll be 23 in May." The lady then handed me a mimeographed biography which ended my questions. According to the dope sheet, she is 5' 5" and 113 lbs. But I assure you, she's not over 5' 3" and she weighs only 108. But she sure is cute.

Suddenly a hush came over the crowd, and somebody started playing "Pomp and Circumstance" on the piano. I saw Carroll dashing to some pre-arranged place, and a solemn lad strode up on the stage carrying a little pot. A Pudding pot, I assume. Someone started giving a speech, and I drifted over to check on Miss Baker.

She was alone again. The lights had been lowered, and I whispered conspiratorially in her ear. "No kidding, how old ARE you? Huh?"

She smiled serenely and whispered, "I'll be 22 in May."

I glanced around and found at least 20, perhaps 22 eyes glaring jealously at me. I drifted abashedly off into the crowd, and resolved to keep out of trouble, lest somebody ask for my credentials.

I stood in a quiet corner for a few minutes, firm in my resolve. but was presently pushed, elbowed, and kneed to the floor by three husky women who then cornered Miss Baker and asked her the most pointed possible questions for ten minutes. I sketched them as they crouched around her (see cut), and later asked who they were. The two ladies on the end were from the Hearst Syndicate, and the Louella Parsons type in the middle was from the Boston Globe.

After being kicked and butted by several photographers, I finally marched over to the lady press agent and asked what, exactly, one had to do to interview Miss Baker and emerge with a full set of teeth. She said o.k., I could interview her and immediately collared Carroll and me and sat us down together in a corner--alone.

Well, I never interviewed anybody before in my life, and I was scared stiff. I sat there admiring her for a few seconds, and finally she volunteered the information that she wasn't really 22 in May, but another quite surprising age that she made me promise not to tell.

I still sat there catching flies, and finally she handed me her half-finished drink. "You poor thing, you've been chasing me around all afternoon. You need this." I gratefully drained her glass--it was bourbon and ginger.

The drink heated up my esophagus, and I launched fearlessly into the interview . . . .

"Say, now, ma'am, you know you're a delicate woman."

"Delicate? Me? Oh, no. Really. Y'all make me so nervous."

"Yes, sir, every bit of you is delicate. Choice. Delectable, I might say."

"Now, really. Our conversation sure is takin' a puhsonal turn!"

"Haven't you got any fun-loving spirit about you? Now, relax."

"I think I want to get up. You certainly are gettin' familiar. I feel so fuzzy. What's wrong with me?"

"Here, let me brush the perspiration off your arm."

"No, please don't. It feels so twitchy all up'n down. If you don't cut it out I'm goin' to call."

"Call who?"

"That man who's cuttin' grass across the road."

"But Miss Baker," I reminded her. "This is the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770. There's nobody across any road--"

A grip tightened under each of my arms, and I felt my toes dragging toward the door.

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