But A Few Tales of the Well Known
By Elaine Carlson

The other day on YouTube I watched Orson Welles (5-6-1915 to 10-10-1985) on the “Dick Cavett Show” talking about his movie “Citizen Kane.”

Dick Cavett (b 11-19-1936) asked Welles if he had seen the movie. Welles said he started to watch it at the premiere but “snuck out” near the beginning. He said he saw it “thousands of times in the cutting” but never after its release.

Cavett asked him if it was true that Hearst wanted to destroy the film. Wells said yes. He also said an attempt had been made to frame him --- not by Hearst but by a person who wanted to please Hearst.

He was in a nightclub when a policeman came in to speak to him. The cop said “don't go to your room tonight.” And explained that someone put a minor into his hotel room and the cops were there waiting to arrest him. He said, “I could have gone to jail.”

Patricia Hearst (b 2-20-1954) said while she was traveling with her kidnappers, William and Emily Harris, they went to see “Citizen Kane.” She refused to go with them. (“Every Secret Thing,” by Patricia Campbell Hearst and Alvin Moscow. Doubleday November 1, 1981).

I enjoyed watching that old television program. Cavett and Welles certainly knew how to engage in conversation. I am not spending all of my time watching YouTube. I am striving to survive this pandemic and forced isolation by doing a lot of reading.

One book I recently picked up and have enjoyed is “The Ultimate Book of Useless Information” by Noel Botham. Penguin 2007.

Botham put in information in short paragraphs on each page. I am not sure why he calls his small tidbits of knowledge “Useless Information” except I guess he might be trying to appeal to the people who won't be encouraged to read facts “which will be good for you to know.”

In its pages I learned Prince Philip (6-10-1921 to 4-9-2021) once said, “We live above the shop.”

He also said, “I'm one of those stupid bums who never went to university, and it hasn't done me any harm.” His oldest son decided to reply. Prince Charles (b 11-14-1948) said, “I'm one of those stupid bums who went to university. Well, I think it has helped me.”

The husband of Queen Elizabeth II (b 4-26-1926) for seventy-three years seems to be the British counterpart to our Nation's First Lady. “Prince Philip once remarked, 'Constitutionally I don't exist.'”

He did not let the fact that his position was not formally defined discourage him from being dedicated to the Queen. “Prince Philip quit smoking the night before his wedding.”

In those years he put a lot of effort into that informal position of representing the Queen and their country. But things sometimes happened. “Within minutes of delivering a speech on road safety in 1957. Prince Philip crashed his car.”

Over the years the Press has become more restrained in reporting on royal death. “The Times Obituary of King George IV reported, 'There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than this deceased king.'”

The most fun parts of the book to read are on scandals (I want to stop referring to Prince Philip). The reported behavior of the current royals seems tame when compared to what earlier royals were supposed to have done.

For instance I learned, “The British monarch with the largest number of illegitimate children was King Henry I [? 1100 to 12-1-1135] with twenty one. King Charles II [5-29-1630 to 2-6-1685] was a worthy runner-up with fifteen.”

And, “King Edward III [11-13—1312 to 6-21-1377] died of gonorrhea, which he caught from his mistress when he was sixty-five years of age.” 

And “Henry VIII [6-28-1491 to 1-28-1547] and Edward VI [10-12-1537 to 7-6-1553] also died of venereal disease. George IV and William IV both died of cirrhosis of the liver.”

I am glad there are some long ago practices which have not been revived by modern royalty. Anne Boleyn (? 1501 to 5-19-1536) said, “The executioner is, I believe, very expert, and my neck is very slender. God have mercy on my soul.”

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