From The Moon's a Balloon, by David Niven, the story of a cross-country trip that begins after a tryst in the St. Regis Hotel in New York. The Great Big Star was, as you probably know, Merle Oberon.
By the autumn of 1936, I was very much involved with a GBS (Great Big Star)...The GBS was gorgeous and quite adventurous.
'Let's not fly back to California--let's take the sleeper to Detroit--buy a Ford and drive it out.'
She bought the car--I drove and the first night we spent together in Chicago.
She disguised her well-known face with a black wig and dark glasses and called herself Mrs. Thompson. In the lobby nobody recognized her. Though it was highly unlikely that anyone would recognize me, I went along with the game and called myself Mr. Thompson.
The desk clerk handed GBS a telegram, 'For you, Mrs. Thompson.' I was mystified.
'How could that happen?' I said.
'I promised Jock Lawrence I'd tell him exactly where we'll be all the way across in case the studio needs me urgently, then I can hop a plane.'
She opened the envelope--'TELL NIVEN CALL GOLDWYN IMMEDIATELY JOCK.'
'Forget it,' said the GBS. 'Call him tomorrow--it's too late now.' We went to bed.
The next night we spent in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
'Telegram for you, Mrs. Thompson,' said the desk clerk.
TELL NIVEN CALL ME TONIGHT WITHOUT FAIL GOLDWYN.
We didn't want the idyll spoiled even though the new signature gave me an eerie feeling of impending doom.
In North Platte, Nebraska, the wording was crisper--
ASK NIVEN WHAT HE THINKS HE'S DOING HAVE HIM CALL TONIGHT OR ELSE GOLDWYN.
Still we pressed happily on across the country, and the telegrams became more alarming at each step. The one at the Grand Canyon was very unattractive indeed--
TELL NIVEN HE'S FIRED GOLDWYN.
The GBS was made of stern stuff--'He can't do that,' she said, 'and anyway he wants me for two more pictures. We'll call him when we get to California--not before.'
I was so besotted by the GBS that I even managed to enjoy the rest of the trip except when we turned off the main road in the middle of New Mexico and got stuck in the desert at sunset.
Finally, the ten-day trip ended and we crossed the State Line into California. From a motel in Needles, with great apprehension, I called Goldwyn.
'Do you know what you're doing, you stupid son of a bitch?' he yelled. 'You're doing about a hundred and thirty-five years in jail. Ever heard of the Mann Act and taking women across State Lines for immoral purposes? Think what Winchell would do to that girl, too, if he got the story--you're through I tell you...you're...'
His voice was pitched even higher than usual. The GBS leaned across the bedside table and grabbed the phone out of my hand.
'Sam, darling,' she purred, 'I've had a simply gorgeous time so don't be angry with David...I'll explain it all to you when we get back tomorrow...' She motioned me to go out of the room and finished her conversation alone. When she found me later, she said, 'Sam's sweet really, everything's okay again, you've been reinstated.'