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Being Presented

Royal Gelatin Hour

Being Presented

Dec 15 1938


HOST, Rudy Vallee, who introduces


in conversation with unheard characters:

her friend BLANCHE, 

her husband VERGIL,

and a WAITER.


HOST: We consider ourselves very fortunate in that Cornelia Otis Skinner's current tour in her one-woman theater brought her to these often-sunny climes. As you know, Cornelia, daughter of famed Otis Skinner, is best known for her truly remarkable skill in presenting a whole play all by herself. This weekend, Miss Skinner appears at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Auditorium in "Edna, His Wife" and "The Wives of Henry VII." I, for one, do not intend to miss either performance. I would like her to tell you herself about the sketch she's going to do for us tonight. Miss Cornelia Otis Skinner.



SKINNER: I shall do a sketch called "Being Presented." The scene is in the bedroom of a London hotel, the evening of one of the "Presentation Courts" at Buckingham Palace. An American lady is nervously getting ready to be presented. She's standing in front of a mirror, fussing with the traditional three feathers and talking to a friend.

WOMAN: (CLEARS THROAT, MIDWESTERN TWANG) Now then, Blanche, be honest. Would you wear these this way or would you wear 'em this way?

This way or this way?


WOMAN: Oh, that's the waiter. Come in! 


WOMAN: Do you want anything, Blanche? 

You're sure you don't want anything? Well, I do. Waiter, I want a whiskey and soda! A double whiskey and soda and hurry, will you, please? 


WOMAN: Now then, which way did you say you liked these feathers, Blanche? This way? 

I wish you could wear 'em drooping. Or spread out, kinda like Gaby DeLys. (PRONOUNCED "gabby de LEE") Do you remember Gaby DeLys? Wasn't she gorgeous? But you can't; you gotta wear 'em this way. They're about as becoming to me as a boudoir bonnet. Ha! Wait'll Vergil sees me, he'll die! 

Oh glory! that was my shoulder strap.

Oh, could you, Blanche? It's just where I can't reach it. 

Oh, no, my dear, Vergil thinks I'm crazy to be doing all this. I shouldn't wonder if he was right. But then, Blanche, you know, Uncle Joe being a Senator (PRONOUNCED "sen-a-turrr") and knowing the Ambassador, (PRONOUNCED "ambassa-durrr") I thought it'd be an experience. Holy mackerel! I expect it will be.

Can't you find that strap, Blanche? It's this darn brassiere that woman talked me into buying in Paris. D'you want a pin or would you like a needle and thread? Well, waaaaait a minute, here's a needle and thread. Heh. I might as well get sewn in for the winter. 

What? My train? No, it's meant to be like that; it's all part of the uniform. Ha! It's kinda funny, isn't it? I hope I don't trip over it. Oh, say, wouldn't that be terrible if I tripped? Oh Lord, I wish they'd hurry with that whiskey and soda. I need it, I can tell ya. That long wait in the Mall out there. I wish Mrs. Shuster and I could take a flask with us.

Oh no, it's one of those things that isn't done, I guess. If the British can stand it, I can. What's the use of being born in Nebraska if you haven't got courage?! 

Oh Lord, that back garter's come unfastened again. Blanche, could ya? 

Thanks. I can't reach 'em, you know. With this girdle on, I might as well be wearing a suit of armor out of the Tower of London.

Oh my gloves! Yes, they're a part of it, Heaven help me. I haven't worn gloves like these since Mary Garden came to Moose River Falls! 

Can't you find that garter, Blanche? 

Well, keep on angling for it; you'll find it.


WOMAN: Listen! Here comes Vergil. 

Mm hm. I know his walk. I was hoping he wouldn't get here 'til after I'd gone; no such luck. 



What did I tell you, Blanche? There's no circus parade at all, Vergil! 

You know perfectly well where I'm going. I'm going to Buckingham Palace. I'm going to be presented to the king and queen.

Did you hear him, Blanche? He says, "What a present that'll be for the king and queen."

Yeah, Blanche is here. (CHUCKLES) She's here, back of me. She's conferring on me the Order of the Garter.

What are you laughing at, Vergil? I don't see what's so funny about me. Just because you're so provincial-- Well-- (TO BLANCHE) Now then, Blanche, how do I look? 

What do you think I look like? 

I think I look kinda cute.

These? These are the three feathers of the Prince of Wales.

Lend them to me? Of course he didn't lend them to me. They're part of the Court costume. Don't you like them?

Oh, Vergil! What a fool you are! They don't make me look like a circus pony at all! 

Now, listen, Vergil, don't get me all upset! It's all right for you and Blanche. You don't have to go through with this thing. But I do, and I don't mind telling you I'm three jumps ahead of a fit!

Why am I doing it? Because I owe it to my home town. The nearest anyone from there will ever get to royalty again is seeing the newsreel at the bijou movie palace. Jerusalem! The things I've done for Nebraska! 


WOMAN: Come in! 


WOMAN: Oh, thank you, waiter. Just put it over here, will you?

No, that's all, thanks.


WOMAN: (ANSWERS VERGIL) That is a double whiskey and soda. 

It's for me.

All of it. 

I might as well be drunk as the way I feel.


WOMAN: (ANSWERS VERGIL) Any minute now, I'm sharing a carriage with another American. She's coming by for me; we're gonna play backgammon on the way. You know, you have to wait for ages and ages. 

In the Mall, in your carriage.

No, Vergil, we are not going in a hearse and you're not funny.

Well, you drive to the Palace, then you all wait in a big room -- at least that's what they tell me -- then you pass on by the king and queen.

You don't say anything to them at all. They merely bow and you curtsey. (HOOTS, AMUSED) Mrs. Shuster and I've been taking lessons in it. You ought to see us. 

Well, we're about evenly matched. She weighs more, but I creak more. 

Oh, my goodness! My knees! I forgot all about them. They crack. It's that old arthritis, you know. 

Well, you don't want the king and queen to hear me with my knees cracking, do ya? 

Well, thank you very much; it's not the kind of attention I want. Oh Lord, I wish this were all over. I tell you, I've got real stage-fright about this curtseying business. You know, Vergil, that left knee of mine. You've seen yourself what it does sometimes.

I can get down all right. The question is, can I get up again? 

What'll happen if I can't get up? Will they just leave me there? 

Say, listen, Blanche, will you go with me to the photographer's tomorrow? I'm having my photograph taken in all this.

I thought they might want it for the Sunday paper at home.

No, Vergil, not the funny sheet.

Why? Don't you think it'll be nice to have my picture in Court Costume?

For the children; it'll amuse them.

I don't know what you mean, "And how." 


WOMAN: Oh, there's the phone. I bet it's gonna be Mrs. Shuster. 


WOMAN: Hello? Yes. What? All right. Tell her I'll be right down. 


WOMAN: Yes, my dear, it's my carriage. I wish it were an ambulance. Vergil, help me with my wrap. You two are going to the Music Halls, aren't you? Well, whatever you see at the Alhambra'll be nothing to the act I pull at Buckingham. Let's see, I've got my gloves and my fan. Oh Lord! I started a run in my stocking. 

No, I haven't time to change now, I'll fix it with spit in the carriage! 

Well, good-bye, you two. I tell you, I feel like one of the Light Brigade -- "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die!" Into the jaws of death, into the mouth of _____, strode the Nebraskan!