Jinx Falkenburg


The Providence Public Library is full of old unhappy-looking books which haven’t seen the light of day in decades. I like to take them out into the sunshine, and wipe the dust off their covers, and sometimes even peek inside them, to see what people were reading during the Van Buren administration.

For example: I was strolling down the biography / autobiography aisle the other day when I saw the word JINX on the spine of an oldish-looking book.

I took it down, and sure enough: it was the autobiography of Jinx Falkenburg.

What? You’ve never heard of Jinx Falkenburg?

Jinx was a model in the 1930s. She was Miss Rheingold Beer, and a sort of actress, and a tennis star. She did a lot of USO work during World War II. She married a journalist, Tex McCrary, and after the war, they had a radio show which was broadcast from their very own home. Also they had a TV show for a while in the early 1950s.

She was very popular in her day. She was pretty in a Rita Hayworth way. She was a raconteur, and told endless stories at a breathless pace, one tumbling on top of the next. The book (whether she wrote it, or whether it was ghostwritten for her) tries to echo her chatty cheerfulness; now, after sixty years, it feels like cocktail conversation that wasn’t really very interesting at the time, and is definitely not very interesting nowadays.

Also, Jinx knew everyone: Rise Stevens, Bernard Baruch, Paulette Goddard, Pat O’Brien, the Ritz Brothers, the Paleys . . . .

Yes, I know. Who are these people?

It’s bad enough that Jinx was a name-dropper. It’s worse now, all these years later, when most of Jinx’s famous friends are just as forgotten as Jinx herself. This is my favorite passage along these lines: “Tex asked a whole group over to “21” for dinner – the Jack Strauses, Joanne Sayres and Tony Bliss, Carl Whimore, the Howard Twins.” I like to think I know who was who in the 1930s and 1940s and 1950s, and I have no idea who she’s talking about here.

 

(But this is a lesson in ephemerality. These were celebrities, not so long ago. And now they’re gone, and forgotten: Jinx, and Tex, and Paulette Goddard, and the Howard Twins.)

Everyone gets forgotten. Even Jinx and Tex. Even you and me.

It is a lesson to us all.


 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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