Friday, June 11, 2010

The James Melton Fan Club

To fill her long days alone in Hollywood while my father was making movies, my mother had a secret life of her own as President, Secretary and Treasurer of the James Melton Fan Club under the pseudonym Louise Mitchell. This may come as a shock to the loyal fans who corresponded with Louise for many years. But somebody had to do it. My father's fans were clamoring for a club to keep them up to date on the life of their hero. She was his number one fan, and obviously had a strategic post for news. She rented a box at the Hollywood Post Office and got the club under way, keeping busy with thousands of photos to send, letters to be acknowledged, and a monthly newsletter to be published.  My mother really enjoyed her alter ego, and carried on with it for several years until some friendly fans who were visiting New York insisted on meeting Louise Mitchell. My mother decided it was time to rub Mitchell out, so she married her off to an Englishman, and sent her to New Zealand to live. (She's still there.) The sole surviving issue of "Melton Melody News," from February 1938, contains an article about how the Meltons spent Christmas in their new house in Connecticut, playing with the young singer's electric train set. There were notices of upcoming concerts and broadcasts, and a Q&A with pretty prosaic questions. This issue also notes the "retirement" of Louise Mitchell, the club's founder. (The new president was Eloise DuBois, a real person using her own name.)  The cost to mail the 8-page newsletter first class was 1 1/2 cents!

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