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A tall tale of Greer -- Trouble on the set of "Julia"
    Boy, did I ever come close to ruining my career at MGM after less than
    two years on the job.

    My name is Brenda and I was an assistant to the assistant to the
    producer on my second movie, "Julia Misbehaves" with Greer Garson and
    Elizabeth Taylor. I was a cocky 23-year-old and had weathered my first
    movie pretty well, having gotten to know Deborah Kerr and been sort of a
    confidante to her.

    Well, on the set of "Julia" there was a problem with Liz Taylor, something that
    no one seemed to notice but me.  I could tell that she had a huge crush
    on Peter Lawford, who was about ten years her senior.  And of course Liz
    was under-age at the time.

    So one day I went to Liz's dressing room and asked her if she'd like to
    talk about it.  She ended up telling me everything, about how she
    dreamed about Peter at night and wanted to go out with him and about how
    frustrated she was that he didn't respond to her hints.  She opened up
    more than Kerr ever had, but then Liz was only sixteen and had no one
    else to talk to about such a personal thing.

    She asked if I would go to Peter and find out what his feelings were,
    but to do it in such a way that he wouldn't realize what I was up to.  I
    guess Liz thought that I was worldly enough to accomplish this feat
    since I was all of seven years older than she was.  I didn't really want
    to get this involved in the matter, but I knew that she was destined
    for stardom and I felt that I could go further in my career if I made a
    few influential friends like Liz, so I said yes.

    Well, Peter had a way of looking at you and turning you to mush, if you
    were a female that is.  In less than thirty seconds I had put my foot
    right into it and Peter knew that something was up.  And of course he
    suspected right away that Liz was behind this.

    Since I was representing the movie's producer, I felt that I should be
    doing the manipulating and not the other way around, so I told him that
    Miss Garson was concerned for Liz's safety and wanted to ensure that
    Peter wouldn't lead her on or get too serious.  I knew that Peter
    respected Miss Garson's opinion because she was like a den mother to
    those younger actors.

    When I left Peter's dressing room I told myself that it's the producer's
    thankless job to keep everyone on a movie set happy and working together
    like a well-oiled machine.  But since I had invoked Miss Garson's name,
    I thought I should go and clear it with her.

    I was still intimidated by Greer Garson at that time because she was
    absolutely huge and still the queen of the lot.  I had only spoken a few
    words to her before then and she had always been nice, but she never
    joked around with me the way she did with her fellow actors.  Walter
    Pidgeon, on the other hand, was a honey, always teasing me about my own
    red hair or about the dimple on my chin, so he and I got along famously.

    Anyway, I knocked on Miss Garson's door and she said "Come in" with that
    tone that she had more or less patented by then, and I opened the door
    and asked to have a chat.  She could tell from my demeanour that
    something was amiss, so she sat me down and poured me a cup of tea,
    which I sipped even though I hated tea.  I then told her that for Liz's
    sake I had stretched the truth a little bit with Peter and I asked if
    she would back me up if necessary.

    But she insisted on making me a bargain.  She would back me up if I
    would go to Peter and find out more about Buddy Fogelson, whom she had
    recently started dating.  She wanted to know if Fogelson was really
    interested in Greer herself or if he was the sort of man who just wanted
    a famous star on his arm, a "trophy wife" so to speak.

    She wanted some sense of Fogelson's previous history with women, if he
    was an habitual womanizer, that sort of thing.  She felt she couldn't
    ask Peter herself because he would just protect his friend.

    She seemed to have a twinkle in her eye as she asked me this.  She
    and Pidgeon teased one another incessantly and I wasn't sure if perhaps
    she was now pulling my leg.  After all, Walter was Buddy's friend as
    well and surely he would've warned Greer if Buddy's intentions weren't

    But I could hardly say no to Greer Garson and so I marched off toward
    Peter's dressing room.  Peter told me that he and Liz had been shooting
    a love scene about ten minutes earlier and that Liz had accidentally
    called him "Peter" while the camera was rolling instead of his character's
    name.  Everyone on the set had broken up laughing, including Peter, and
    Liz had run off to her dressing room in tears.

    Peter wasn't happy with me because I hadn't told him how strongly Liz
    had felt about him, and he was ashamed at having laughed at her when she
    made that little mistake on the set.

    Peter decided that he had to ask Miss Garson about the matter and suggested
    that I talk to Walter about Buddy, because Walter was closer to Buddy's
    age and Buddy probably would have confided such things to him rather
    than to Peter. Peter then rushed off to find Miss Garson, she being the
    den mother of course.

    Then on the way to Mr. Pidgeon's dressing room I ran into Liz, who took
    me aside and demanded to know why I hadn't warned her that Peter didn't
    feel as strongly as she felt.  She had been shocked when he laughed
    at her on the set, and she hadn't been able to keep her composure.  She
    had wanted to talk to the "den mother" but Miss Garson had been busy
    with me at the time.

    When I finally dragged my sorry rear end to Mr. Pidgeon's room, he
    ribbed me for five minutes before I could get the conversation around to
    Buddy Fogelson. He assured me that Mr. Fogelson had an impeccable
    reputation and was of the highest moral character and that there was no
    need for the producer's office to give the matter a second thought and
    that he himself would never knowingly let anything bad happen to Greer.

    On my way out of the building that evening, wouldn't you know it but I
    ran into Buddy Fogelson, who was looking for Miss Garson. He apparently
    had just been talking to Pidgeon on the phone, and unfortunately he
    recognized me.

    I don't recall exactly what I had said to Mr. Pidgeon about Buddy
    earlier, but now Mr. Fogelson was blocking my way and accusing me of
    calling him a "womanizer" and spreading rumours.  I couldn't tell him
    that I had been trying to help Miss Garson, for that would betray
    her confidence, and she could easily just snap her fingers and have
    me thrown out of MGM for good.

    You have to understand that all of this happened in a single afternoon
    and I just wanted to go home and relax in front of a fire or cook a good
    meal or perhaps drown myself in the bathtub.

    But with Mr. Fogelson glaring at me I came up with another one of my
    brilliant ideas and told him that Mr. Pidgeon had made a slightly
    off-colour comment about him and so I was just trying to look out for
    Miss Garson's well-being, considering that she was the star of the movie
    and that I was assistant to the asistant to the producer.  Of course I
    conveniently wasn't able to remember the exact wording of Mr. Pidgeon's
    comment, but I said that I might have mistaken his meaning.

    And I was pretty sure that Mr. Pidgeon would back me up, since he and I
    got along so well together.

    Mr. Fogelson now had his own brilliant idea and suggested that the two
    of us should look out for Miss Garson's well-being ourselves by walking
    past her dressing room door arm in arm and making her jealous.  I didn't see
    how this would help but I was just grateful that he hadn't wrung my neck,
    so I agreed to do it and the two of us marched down to the dressing room
    area with his arm around my shoulder.

    As we approached Miss Garson's dressing room, I could see that Liz and
    Peter were just entering and the door was closing behind them.  I was
    sure that the three of them were going to compare notes and then serve
    my head to the producer on a silver tea tray.

    Walter Pidgeon chose this very moment to wander over and ask where they
    were all going to eat dinner.  Buddy looked at him and said, "What kind
    of rumours have you been spreading about me, Walter?"

    "Only the very worst, Buddy," Mr. Pidgeon said.

    Miss Garson's door finally opened and the three of them came out.  Liz
    gave me a small hug and Peter patted my shoulder and then they went off
    to their rooms.  Miss Garson looked at Mr. Fogelson, who still had his
    arm around me, and gave us a quizzical look.

    "So, Brenda, I see he is a womanizer after all," she said.

    Buddy replied, "Yes, I've decided to give up on broken-down old actresses."

    Miss Garson looked horrified but the three of them just started to

    "How are the kids?" said Mr. Pidgeon.

    "Oh, they're fine, thanks to Brenda's help," Miss Garson said while
    giving me a knowing look.

    I had now lost all comprehension of what was going on, and I quickly
    excused myself.

    By the next morning everything was back to normal and I never heard
    another word about anything that had happened, and I managed to stay out
    of trouble for my next twenty-five years at MGM.