Mrs. McDowall had planned to register the young ones with an agent, then go on with them to her brother in Washington. But they happened to arrive at the height of an intensive search on the part of Darryl Zanuck and his scouts for a child to play Huw in "How Green Was My Valley." A test of Roddy and the search was ended. With time only for hello and good-by to their Washington relatives, they were hurried to Hollywood.
Roddy thinks America’s awf’ly nice. He misses England, of course. First, there was the terrible depression of leaving Daddy and home and all the people he knew. He misses the parrot, though the parrot never liked him. He misses Marutti, the most astonishing cat in England, who jumps into the bookcase when the siren goes and, when he hears the all-clear, jumps out again. He misses Granny and Alice, the housekeeper, and George, Alice’s husband. Most of all he misses the father who was his good companion.
Naivete and poise are so mixed in him that you can’t tell where one will stop and the other break out. Good manners and an extensive vocabulary make him seem adult. He loves Shakespeare but he also loves "Superman" and "True Comics," popped with excitement on meeting the editor of the last-named and suggested that she wasn’t giving George Washington enough space. His passion for Shakespeare was born when he heard an older boy at dramatic school read King Henry’s lines to Montjoy, beginning: "Thou dost thy office fairly. Turn thee back and tell thy king I do not seek him now."
"I’d like to be able to say poetry like that." sighed Roddy.
He was all of eight, so his mother said, "Don’t be absurd, my beautiful child."
"I like the sound," he persisted. "Will you teach it to me so I can understand it?"
But he spouts Red Skelton with equal delight, crowing on no provocation whatever, "If I doood it, I would only get a whip-ping."
HE wouldn’t say he loves school. He doesn’t think anybody loves school, but neither does he hate it—except for arithmetic. Unlike Virginia, he’d rather be read to than read. When Virginia gets in a book, she’s entirely away from anything else, she’s just in the book, when you say hello, she won’t hear you. Their favorite story of all time is Kenneth Grahame’s "Wind In The Willows," and they name themselves and friends after its characters. It’s no uncommon thing to hear Roddy greet someone politely as Mr. Toad. "How are you, Mr. Toad?"
He’s perceptive about people. After playing with Donald Crisp, he said: "You know, Mummy, if I were in sore trouble, I’d go to Mr. Crisp." Bette Davis is more than just his favorite actress. "She’s awf’ly nice!" he breathes worshipfully. "And she’s such a good person too."
VIRGINIA remains his preferred playmate. They attend the studio school together, giggle over Jack Benny, thrill to the Gangbusters, consider the Lux show No. 1 on the air and would take in a movie every day, time and Mummy willing. Vee pastes up her brother’s stills and clippings, with such care as only love could bring to the job. They still invent games. There’s a complicated affair called "Offices." Roddy’s an agent, Virginia his partner and secretary. They have heaps of marvelous clients. Someone like Gary Cooper phones up and asks for an appointment. They give him an appointment for ten next morning, consult their books, see how much money he makes, dash over to the studio and fight for a raise. Next morning Gary looks it over. If he’s entirely satisfied, he signs it and the firm of McDowall and McDowall has another client.
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