Dove Tales was the official organ of the Billie Dove Fan Club, an organization that had its roots in the late 1920s.
Dedicated to one of Hollywood’s most ravishing movie stars of the 1920s, Billie Dove, the club remained in existence until the death of its long-time president, Lenore Heidorn Foote, in 1999.
Lenore, or Lee (as her friends called her), dubbed her friendship with Billie one of the longest that Hollywood ever birthed and fostered. After my 1994 interview with Billie for my book, The Sound of Silence, Lee contacted me with her stories. The next time I ventured to the Coast, I spent the day with Billie in Rancho Mirage and an afternoon with Lee at her home in Vista, California.
Within the next several months or so, I want to share with you the story of the friendship between Billie Dove and her fan club president. I’ll call this series, Dove Tales, after the fan club newsletter. I want to share the story of how a starstruck youngster from Chicago became the fan club president for one of the most beautiful stars Hollywood has ever known.
In the course of my series, I’ll share with you Lee’s firsthand account of traveling to Hollywood in 1934 and how she was entertained by Billie and scores of other “picture people.” Her diary is fascinating, I think, especially for those of us who feel we somehow belonged in that bygone era.
While sharing Lee’s story, I will also sprinkle in some of my own recollections of Billie and Lee. For instance, here is an anecdote that didn’t make it into my book. Billie and I were on the phone one evening when the subject came around to Greta Garbo. Billie had a story.
“We were at a party of the Mayfair Club, which had the Ritz in New York and the Biltmore in Los Angeles as its headquarters. The professional people (film stars) were there. The doors opened and there stood Garbo. We were such fans of hers–all of us! She was so outstanding as far as we were concerned. We didn’t look at her at all. We didn’t want her to feel any different. We wanted her to have fun. She had a good time. Then, it so happened that she and I left at the same time. They didn’t have parking boys at the time, so our escorts went to get the cars. Garbo and I just looked at each other. Finally, she came over to me, put out her hand, and said, ‘I am Garbo.’ I replied, ‘I am Dove!’ Imagine her thinking that no one saw her or recognized her.”
Like Billie, Lee was a great storyteller. You will recognize many of the stars she encountered on her adventures in Hollywood: Thelma Todd, Jean Harlow, Lina Basquette, Ruth Roland, Ivan Lebedeff, and others.
Here’s the letter that Billie mailed to Lee in preparation of Lee’s trip to Hollywood.
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m looking forward to journeying back with you to Hollywood of the 1930s — in 2012. Let’s go!