Family, Friends Open Safe Containing Rudy Vallee Memorabilia
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A safe sealed by crooner Rudy Vallee in 1942 held love letters from Dorothy Lamour, Hedy Lamarr and Alice Faye along with other Hollywood memorabilia.
The contents of the safe, which was opened Tuesday, were part of a collection of Vallee’s sheet music, records, correspondence and other material purchased by the Thousand Oaks Library for $275,000, officials said.
″Rudy started collecting things at a time when Hollywood was doing very little to preserve itself,″ said Marvin Paige, a casting director and archivist who attended the event.
The love letters were the biggest surprise and will be returned to the actresses, said Chris Harris, the late singer’s publicist.
The Thousand Oaks Library’s special collection covering American radio and television also acquired more than 500 boxes of material and the contents of several file cabinets from the Vallee estate.
Vallee, who became the country’s first pop singing sensation during the 1920s with ″The Whiffenpoof Song,″ died July 2, 1986, at age 84.
The safe was opened in a small theater in Vallee’s home at the end of a driveway dubbed ″Rue de Vallee″ in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Los Angeles.
Among the first items Vallee’s widow, Eleanor, plucked from the dull green strongbox was a yellowed check for $100 made out to Vallee’s first wife, Fay Webb.
Mrs. Vallee, reacting with a touch of dismay, later explained that she married the celebrated ″Vagabond Lover″ in 1949, seven years after he had closed the safe.
Among the other items Mrs. Vallee pulled out of the safe were the original manuscript for ″The Vagabond Lover″; sheet music; an autographed photo of actor John Barrymore; a large photographic negative of Vallee and the Connecticut Yankees, one of his first bands; a megaphone; a pistol; cigarette cases; a newspaper headlining the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor; a 1931 stock certificate and various movie posters.