A very honourable Guy by Damon Runyon
First published 1929 Now in the collection Guys and Dolls
She has blonde hair and plenty to say, and her square monicker is Annie O’Brien, and not Hortense Hathaway at all. Furthermore, she comes from Newark, which is in New Jersey, and her papa is a taxi jockey by the name of Skush O’Brien, and a very rough guy , at that, if anybody asks you. But of course the daughter of a taxi jockey is as good as anybody else for Georgie White’s Scandals as long as her shape is okay, and nobody ever hears any complaint from the customers about Hortense on this proposition. She is what is called a show girl, and all she has to do is to walk around about on Georgie White’s stage with only a few light bandages on, and everybody considers her very beautiful, especially from the neck down, although personally I never care much for Hortense because she is very fresh to people. I often see her around the nightclubs, and when she is in these deadfalls Hortense generally is wearing quite a number of diamond bracelets and fur wraps, and one thing and another, so I judge she is not doing bad for a doll from Newark, New Jersey.
observations: Yesterday’s entry, on Shaw's Major Barbara and the Salvation Army, brought to mind Damon Runyon’s Guys and Dolls stories, about life in the demi-monde in New York in the 1920s. The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown is the original title of the story that’s the linchpin for the musical and film (although it is now usually known as Guys and Dolls), and Miss Sarah Brown, with her one-hundred-percent eyes, tootled a cornet for the Save a Soul Mission, trying to reform the sinners of Broadway. The other stories – Runyon wrote a lot of them – tend to be a lot more about the lowlifes than the mission workers: the people in night clubs, in Broadway shows, in speakeasies and racetracks. The language in the stories is irresistible and inimitable, the plots charming, the characters intriguing. You don’t hear about them much, but they are great great stories. This is an early one, with a plot about crime, true love, betting, and selling your body for science.
Links up with: Miss Pettigrew goes to a nightclub, as do the characters in Valley of the Dolls.
The picture is the next best thing to a George White’s Scandals girl – a Ziegfeld girl. Both were shows that kept the populace of New York happy with scantily clad women and other entertainment, and launched a lot of careers. This tasteful photo is of Hazel Forbes, photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnston, and is from the Library of Congress Collection.