Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105(these turned out to be RKO executives working in China and India) before naming someone Snelling did know in the Wellington office. Then the publicity director showed him some drawings that RKO commissioned from a Hungarian artist. When Snelling said he thought he could do better, he was taken inside a sound stage where he saw the star Jack Oakie ‘trotting before a camera’. After the director’s cut, Ermolieff introduced Snelling to Oakie and announced that ‘Mr Snelling is here to sketch you; so I’ll leave you two together’. Because Snelling was not carrying his drawing materials, Oakie suggested that he come home with him, picking up some paper and pencils on the way. Briefly, I did the sketch, went to one of Oakie’s famous parties that night, and next day took my sketch back to the studio, where I was received like a reincarnation of Rembrandt. Oakie became one of Snelling’s first film star friends. His legendary parties helped to connect the New Zealander to many other stars— with more important people to be met on freelance assignments to sketch publicity portraits of stars in costume on their film sets. Within his first few months, Snelling later claimed, he had received from the Hays Office (which then supervised the Los Angeles film industry) an entry pass to all the main studios—RKO, MGM, 20th Century Fox and the Hal Roach studios. Although there is no record of Snelling at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills— which keeps lists of key employees on films and the Hays Office archive—Snelling would have needed at least studio day passes to produce his portraits. He obtained photographs of himself with an array of celebrities— including Oakie, Errol Flynn, Laurel and Hardy, Lucille Ball, C. Aubrey Smith and Francis Lederer. He sketched Fred Astaire, Spencer Tracy, Wallace Beery, Robert Montgomery, Deanna Durbin, Herbert Marshall, Jeanette Macdonald, Dick Powell, Charles Winninger, Anita Louise and others. Although there is no evidence in his scrapbooks, he later told colleagues and family that he also knew Frank Sinatra, Tallulah Bankhead and Shirley Temple. His eldest son, Christopher, remembers Snelling taking the sons to meet Shirley Temple Black for afternoon tea at her home in Palo Alto, on a trip to California around the late 1960s. An article in the NZ Free Lance on 16 March 1938 (just after Snelling’s return to NZ), listed George Brent, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda and Wayne Morris as other actors he met. Snelling had all the personal qualities necessary to endear himself of sketching all and sundry placed before me, I arrived at the Immigration Office one morning to find out that I really was an artist and that I was allowed to proceed to the United States, provided I laid a collateral bond of 500 dollars with a recognised bonding company, to ensure my not doing an American out of a job. With his papers, Snelling left Vancouver by train on 10 November 1937, travelling via Seattle and Portland. His first night in Los Angeles later was described in one of his columns for The NZ Woman’s Weekly: My first connection with the film world took place at the Ambassador Hotel on my first evening in Los Angeles. The Ambassador is one of America’s more famous resort hotels and houses the famed Cocoanut Grove, where the jazz kings sway a mean rhythm. At this time, Rudy Vallee and his Connecticut Yankees were ‘going to town’ on the ‘Big Apple’. To you New Zealanders, I would describe the Big Apple as America’s latest offering to nit–wits. If you have ever seen it danced, I think you’ll agree with me on this point, but it is lots of fun—at least that’s my story, and I’m stuck with it, for I have danced it no few times myself. ... Now, after dinner in the French Room of the Amabassador ... we repaired to the bridge room, where I was invited into a game with Mrs Adolph Zukor and Mrs Jesse Lasky. Now those names must surely spell movies to you all! With only a student visa, Snelling did not qualify for the Disney job—and his night playing bridge with Mesdames Zukor and Lasky— the wife and mother of a studio head and top film producer—did not produce any other employment leads. So he spent ‘some little time at such well–known resorts as Lake Arrowhead, Palm Springs and Long Beach’, before deciding that it was time to begin a campaign to obtain freelance art assignments from the studios. I stopped at the RKO Radio Studios and entered the reception–room where I sat down for about half an hour to study the procedure of getting in. It was all very complicated. There was no reason for the clerk to admit me, for I felt confident that my art would not get past the ‘yes–men’ or the secretaries. I wandered up Gower Street some distance and noticed on a very unobtrusive building the sign ‘Publicity Annex’. There, I felt, was my ‘in’. I went in and told the receptionist that a Mr Snelling of New Zealand and connected with their local office, wished to see the publicity director. The clerk phoned the director’s secretary and made an appointment. Now, Nick Ermolieff, the publicity director, is a fine fellow, but so wary was he of fakers that he ‘put me on the spot’, or rather, cross–questioned me. According to Snelling’s 1938 Mirror and Woman’s Weekly articles, Ermolieff first mentioned several names which he did not recognise DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 22 23 1937–1940 1937–1940