When, in 1937, L.J. learned that Odets had separated from Luise Rainer, the two-time Academy Award-winning actress, with whom he had a tempestuous three-year marriage, he sounded off in all his brutishness: “I’m ashamed of you. You are the dummist chunk of humanity I have ever come in contact with. . . . Your all ass backwards and sitting on your brains.” Odets internalized this constant excoriation, berating himself in his journal as a “pig,” a “pissant,” an “idiot,” a “loafer,” and “twice an ass.” He wrote, “It is the father you have incorporated, his characteristics and hated elements—that is the father to be afraid of!” L.J.’s toxic voice also found its way into some of Odets’s most seductive stage villains—the gangsters Eddie Fuseli (“Golden Boy”), Kewpie (“Paradise Lost”), and Moe Axelrod (“Awake and Sing!”), the womanizer Mr. Prince (“Rocket to the Moon”), and the Hollywood mogul Marcus Hoff (“The Big Knife”).
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.