Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A history of unfortunate coincidences #2
Failed singer Mary Desti, the mother of film director Preston Sturges, forced her young son into a bohemian lifestyle he hated, flitting around from country to country and museum to museum on her rich businessmen husbands' dimes. She briefly dated Aleister Crowley, who called the young Sturges a "most god-forsaken lout." Desti also became close friends with the dancer Isadora Duncan. Duncan had a fondness for wearing long scarves. Desti founded a cosmetics company called Maison Desti. The company carried a scarf that Desti thought Duncan would love. She presented it to her as a gift. Duncan wore the extremely long scarf when she hopped into the 1924 Amilcar of an Italian mechanic she planned on sleeping with. Her scarf became tangled around a wheel of the car, choking and yanking her to her demise. Ironically, the car is often erroneously reported to be a Bugatti, perhaps because that brand of automobile was the nickname given to the mechanic by Duncan. Desti, who was there when Duncan got in the Amilcar, told reporters that Duncan's last words were "Goodbye, my friends, I am off to glory." Later, she admitted making this up to protect Duncan's reputation, whose real last words were "I am off to love." Desti's son Preston went on to become one of the greatest writer/directors of comedy in film history. His golden rules for successful comedy:
"A pretty girl is better than a plain one/ A leg is better than an arm/ A bedroom is better than a living room/ An arrival is better than a departure/ A birth is better than a death/ A chase is better than a chat/ A dog is better than a landscape/ A kitten is better than a dog/ A baby is better than a kitten/ A kiss is better than a baby/ A pratfall is better than anything."