Flying with the Movie Stars
The Qantas jet plane was waiting on the tarmac at the
My goodness, they were dirty and scruffy! Their colourful, tattered robes and dirty feet poking out of sandals belied their American accents. I assumed they were what were currently termed the ‘Flower People’. The scene resembled dress-up time with the neighbourhood children in my backyard in
They told me they had just arrived back from
“Oh dear! That’s me! They’re calling me over the loudspeaker. Shh! Listen!”
The announcement threatened that it was the last and final call for my flight:
“Would Isobelle Frost please go to gate four, immediately. Your flight to
I stumbled up the gangway at the front of the plane into first class, to be reprimanded by an unsmiling stewardess who led me through the plane to where I belonged – in the third last row of second class. At least I got to see how comfortably the other half flies. Trust me to make a grand entrance!
Because mine was a middle seat, several passengers had to get up and move out into the aisle. I became acquainted with at least twenty people as the plane taxied down the runway. Seated behind me were eighteen Canadian Mounted Police (without their horses, of course) on their way to
“It’s Maurice Chevalier. Just remember you didn’t hear this from me!” the stewardess whispered.
The level of excitement rose when the passengers learned that Maurice Chevalier and some of his co-stars from the film Gigi would be travelling in first class. (Such a fuss about movie stars! They’re just doing the job they love. I really don’t understand why people put them on a pedestal.)
As only about twenty second-class passengers boarded the plane again, the steward had made up a bed for me over three seats. I thanked him for being so thoughtful, but instead of sleeping, I joined a group of six others in the back of the plane. I didn’t want to miss one minute of this trip. The steward obligingly turned some of the seats around so we could face each other, and after introductions I asked them their reasons for travelling to
Two of the fellows, Tony and Carl from
Pete and Joe from
The fifth male in the group, Rodney was a tall Texan, already dubbed ‘
Chantel, a very attractive French Canadian young woman from
“I do have the address of a very good friend in Manly who will help me find him,” she added, before we could broach the next question.
Then it was my turn to tell my story - of how I tripped Bill, an American soldier, on the ice rink in
Chantel interrupted, “You are going back hoom to visit your fameely? How wonderful!”
“Yes, it’s my first trip back in fourteen years. I hope to arrange a charter plane for Australian war brides while I’m in
The men suggested Chantel and I were the obvious ones to meet Maurice Chevalier, and they were egging us on and laying bets. Chantel bragged that she could converse with him in French. So what! I could converse with him in Australian! A Frenchman needed all the help he could get in
Chantel may have had the looks, but I had the edge, having already been given permission to go forward to the cockpit to have the pilot, Captain Gray, re-thread the movie film in my camera. I disappeared and headed for the cockpit while Chantel was still promoting her numerous abilities.
“Ha! Mrs. Frost! You will have to watch me very carefully when I turn your film over,” Captain Gray instructed. “Mr. Chevalier wants to come up to the cockpit as we approach the coastline of
“Captain Gray, I have a confession to make. I already know how to turn the film over and reload it. This has been all a ploy so I could come up here and meet you and all the crew.” The crew in the cockpit laughed and congratulated me on my ingenuity. Captain Gray allowed me to pass the message to Maurice that he could come up front in ten minutes.
As I left the cockpit, the gentleman sitting next to Maurice got up and crossed the aisle, joining the other actors and crew. Maurice was humming a tune as I sat down in the seat that had been vacated. “Are you practising, or are you just happy to see me?” He turned, smiled at me as I spoke and took hold of my hand and patted it. Such concentrated attention was more than I expected! As blasé as I am about movie stars doing their job and my not being impressed with all the hype of
I passed on the message from the Captain for him to go forward in ‘twenty minutes’ – granting myself an extra ten minutes, of course! We talked about his busy schedule in
“That is enough about me, let’s talk about you!” He was looking right into my eyes as he spoke, still holding my hand. What a charmer! “Are you travelling with your hus-band, or with your family?”
“No! I’m travelling alone. Did you have something in mind?” I couldn’t resist that cheeky remark. “Someone had to stay home and take care of our four children.”
He laughed so hard that everyone around us was amused at his reaction. Frankly, I was being cute but I didn’t think it was all that funny. “I was born in
“Ooh! That must make you ver-ee hap-pee! Tell me, how did you meet your American hus-band?”
“I tripped him on the ice rink in
He beckoned to his manager and introduced me. “Give him your name,” he instructed. “There will be tickets waiting for you at the theatre when we appear in
“They call me Frosty! Do you mind if I call you Maurice?”
“That, is my name!” he said with a wink.
I stood up when I saw Captain Gray approaching; I wasn’t too anxious to leave. Maurice was still holding my hand; he raised it to his lips and kissed it. I didn’t want to give my hand up right away. I’d played the part that he wanted me to play for his audience in first class, I understand only too well about the ‘star ego’. I’m sure that meeting me was the best part of his long trip. Who else would approach him as I did?
“You are a fascinating woo-man. You luv life and I am sure you make many people hap-pee.” Maurice kissed me on the cheek.
Maurice’s uproarious laugh put a smile on several faces. I walked backwards up the aisle as I waved my ‘kissed hand’ to everyone in first class.
On this occasion I was certainly the star, not Maurice! I returned to second class with my right hand extended - the one I vowed not to wash for a week, relating my story as the bets were finalized. Meanwhile, Chantel pouted two rows away.
After landing in Sydney, Tony and Carl invited all of us to join them at their hotel, The Australia for lunch to keep me company until my flight was due to take off for Melbourne six hours later. They said it was the least they could do for me. In the hotel lobby I wrote postcards to the family telling them I had met Maurice Chevalier. I was sure that Bill would get a lot of mileage with that postcard back in