With some help from my coworkers at the Shelby Star, I recorded a Christmas Eve video for everyone.
As my present to all of you, here is an anecdote I found from the official Tyrone Power page: King of 20th Century Fox. David Niven tells how Tyrone Power plays Santa at a children’s Christmas party (sadly I have no photos):
One Christmas I gave a party for my two small sons, and Tyrone Power offered to play Santa Claus. He lived a few blocks from me, and I went over to help him dress and brief him on the impending operation.
He was extremely nervous.
“This is worse than a first night on Broadway,” he said, helping himself liberally to the scotch bottle. “I’ve never performed for a bunch of kids before.”
I pushed and pulled him into the padded stomach, bulky red outfit, and high black boots rented from Western Costume Company and helped him fasten on a black belt, a huge white beard, and little red cap.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s all fixed. I’ve left the gate open at the bottom of the garden. I’ve rigged up some sleigh bells down there and stashed away the presents, and at exactly six o’clock we’ll give ‘em the bells; then you pick up the sack and make it up the lawn to the house — they’re all expecting you.”
After discovering he would be entertaining 50 children- including the offspring of Gary Cooper, Rosalind Russell, the Fairbanks’, Deborah Kerr, Loretta Young, Charles Boyer, Edgar Bergen and Jerry Lewis- Ty was drinking a great deal of scotch.
During the five minute drive to the party Ty begged me to let him off the hook.
“Why don’t you do it? he asked. “It’s your party.”
“You suggested it,” I said firmly.
By six o’clock Santa Claus was loaded; sack on shoulder and hidden in some bushes at the bottom of my garden.
“Off you go,” I said to Ty. “Lots of luck!”
When he was spotted by the excited children, shrill shrieks and applause broke out. At that point I had intended to turn on the garden lights to illuminate the scene but for some reason I missed the switch and turned on the sprinklers. Ty fell down. He picked himself up, gave me a marked look and squelched on toward the shining, expectant faces in the windows.
Like all actors, once the curtain was up and the adrenaline had started pumping, Ty was relaxed and happy in his work.
“HO! HO! HO!” he boomed. “And who is this lovely woolly lamb for, eh? Candace Bergen. Come here, little girl. HO! HO! HO!”
He was doing beautifully by the time I had sneaked in by the back door, seated in a big chair in the hall with excited children climbing all over him.
“Maria Cooper! My, what a pretty girl! HO! HO! HO! You tell your daddy that old Santa thought he was just dandy in High Noon and ask him for Grace Kelly’s phone number while you’re about it. HO! HO! HO!”
Maria Cooper was a little more sophisticated than the other children. “Where did you see the picture, Santa?” she asked sweetly.
“Oh,” said Ty, pointing vaguely above him, “Up there!”
After a while Santa made his good-byes and staggered off down the lawn. Some of the children cried when he left.
Back at the bottom of the garden, I helped him out of his outfit. He was as excited as if he had just given a triumphant Broadway performance of King Lear.
“I really enjoyed that!” he said. “Weren’t the kids a great audience?”
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