In the archives of...
Life: Loomis Dean
Darryl Zanuck’s Party
Darryl Zanuck threw a party to start his daughter Susan off on her singing career and insisted that everybody be there. I went down and lit the place with six big strobes. They brought in a comedy musical act that performed with a trapeze. They would hang by their heels and play their horns and a bass fiddle. It was a very funny act. Zanuck was drunk by that time. He took the trapeze and said, “ I'm now going to chin myself with one hand. There are only five people in the world that can do this.” He took his shirt off and said, “No pictures, please.”
Here he is with his suspenders hanging down and his shirt off, and he's pulling up with this skinny little arm. I went boom with those big strobe lights. All of the little starlets and young boys came around and said, “The boss said, ‘No pictures!’” By this time, Zanuck’s wife was swinging on the bar.
A big lawyer who was a number one society lawyer came up there and said, “You heard the boss. He said, 'No pictures.’” and he started to put his hand in front of my camera. My assistant clubbed him, and we fled.
Oh, they called up the Luces that night because Henry and Clare Luce owned Life magazine and owned a piece of 20th Century Fox, and said, “We can't have that picture in your magazine.”
But Life’s editor said, “If it's any good, we'll run it.” And he did. It wasn't all that good, but it was good enough. It was just Zanuck straining there. He couldn't get his chin up to the bar. That was a fun Hollywood story. They loved it in the end. They always do. And Susan Zanuck never became a singer.
(Interviewed on November 4, 1993. Excerpted from: John Loengard, LIFE Photographers: What They Saw, Boston, A Bullfinch Press Book, 1998)