In case you don’t immediately recognize the two above, they are player-manager Leo Durocher and his third wife, actress Laraine Day.
Make no mistake, he was a legendary figure — a scrappy and accomplished shortstop (who, as early teammate Babe Ruth once insisted, stole the Sultan of Swat’s wristwatch) and a canny, hard nosed manager with decades of flamboyant behavior to his credit — on and off the diamond. He was a revered tough guy who insisted nice guys finished in last place and no umpire was exempt from a verbal thrashing Durocher style.
She was “America’s sweetheart” — and Glenn Ford’s former girlfriend — of the 1940’s, a proper Mormon girl who was never a big star but logged a respectable screen and tv career (some 75 credits) nonetheless. (Check her out in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 thriller Foreign Correspondent.)
This seemingly odd couple met after the 1946 World Series aboard a flight from Los Angeles, and Day, then a lot more famous than Durocher, was indifferent at first.
However, by the time the plane landed, Day had been won over by what she described as a funny, charming and warm man….Within two weeks they were planning to get married, despite the fact that Day was already married, according to author Paul Dickson’s informative new biography, Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son. (Highly recommended.)
What made he couple especially intresting is the fact that while Day was ambivalent about Hollywood, Durocher (unlike, say, Joe DiMaggio) was in love with the place. His closest pals were some of the town’s biggest luminaries. And Durocher himself logged time onscreen and, especially, on tv in a number of non-sports formats.
In any case, let’s see how much you know about these two who reigned for a time as the leading couple of professional baseball in America. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Durocher lived for a time (Cary Grant-Randolph Scott style) as a bachelor with which one of the following stars? a) Bob Hope; b) George Raft; c) Gary Cooper; or d) Gene Autry.
2) Question: At the time she married Durocher, Day so angered the male costar of the movie she was working on that he ordered their movie set closed for the only time in his long career. Who is this leading man? a) Farley Granger; b) Joel McCrea; c) Robert Mitchum or d) John Wayne.
3) Question: Which of the following was NOT a Hollywood pal of Durocher’s? a) Jack Benny; b) John Garfield; c) Frank Sinatra; or d) Danny Kaye.
4) Question: Day divorced Durocher after he was banned by baseball for being chummy with professional gamblers. a) True; or b) False?
5) Question: Durocher was so smitten with show biz that he actually appeared on tv in the late 60’s as a foil for a “talking horse” on the CBS series, Mr Ed, starring Alan Young. a) True; or b) False?