5 May 2015

What took you so long

Here is an exchange of two short messages between John Wayne and Ray Milland. Wayne replies in a funny way to a congratulatory telegram Milland and his wife Muriel had sent him. It doesn't say what he was congratulated for, but my guess is that it was for winning the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "True Grit" (1969). It was the only Oscar of Wayne's career-- a long-overdue prize handed to him at the Oscar Ceremony in April 1970. Ray Milland also received only one Oscar in his career, but as early as 1946 for his lead performance as an alcoholic in "The Lost Weekend"; the note from Wayne (of which a file copy is shown below) is a reference to that. Incidentally, Wayne and Milland made one movie together, "Reap the Wild Wind" (1942), and the Millands signed the telegram with what were apparently their nicknames, Mal and Jack.

John Wayne and Ray Milland --here in a scene from "Reap the Wild Wind"-- got on very well during filming.
Image: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)

Transcript:

BEVERLY HILLS CALIF
=JOHN WAYNE. BAY SHORES. DONT PHONE=
NEWPORT BEACH CALIF=

CONGRATULATIONS FROM US BOTH WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG=
MAL AND JACK.= (Milland)

__________________________

2686 Bayshore Drive
Newport Beach, Calif. 92660
July 15, 1970

Dear Mal and Jack:

Thanks for your telegram.

You asked me what took so long?
There was some drunken bum on
a lost weekend ahead of me!

My best,


Mr. and Mrs. Ray Milland
10664 Bellagio Road
Los Angeles, Calif. 90024

Ray Milland and Muriel Weber were married from 1932 until Milland's death in 1985. They had a son and an adopted daughter. 

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