Adam rose from his seat and said, "Sir, I respect your position very much and every word you say is a word of wisdom, sir, and I'm going to listen to some of your advice. But it is true, sir, I have a bomb in each hand , and I'm gong to throw them at the first opportunity I get."
That statement is in the Congressional Record. That's the opposition Adam had when he went to Congress. The third most powerful man in America lined up against him from the get go.
So, in 1954 when I went to Universal Studios to work with James Drury on a Western TV Series, we had one episode called The Stopover . I played the leading heavy role in the story. I had a little tear-drop van for a dressing room , which had no air-conditioning . The hot weather made it even more uncomfortable.
Drury called me and said, "Herb, we have some dialog together , and I would like to discuss it with you. I can either come over to your dressing room or you can come over to mine."
I said, "Jim, I'm right in the middle of getting my costumes together."
"I'll be right over."
When he saw my hot and cramped quarters, he became infuriated. "What on earth are you doing in this thing? Grab your clothes and bring them over to my dressing room."
His dressing room turned out to be a large RV with a bar and totally luxurious. As soon as we arrived, he got on the phone and called up the executive offices in the Universal Tower. I don't know who he spoke to, but I heard what he said. "Do you know who this man is? This man is one of the finest recording artists in the United States of America. You put him in some kind of closet like that? I want another dressing room brought down here, exactly like mine, for him."
I felt somewhat uncomfortable because I hadn't intended to instigate such a confrontation between Jim and whomever he spoke with. After he hung up, I said, "Jim, don't make a fuss because of me. It's my first time here , and I don't want them to think I'm some kind of trouble-maker because they'll never use me again."
"Don't worry about it. It's what I want and what I demand."
I suddenly saw the power of a popular actor in a popular television series. We became very friendly during the filming. We had lunch together several times , and we discovered our philosophies were very similar. Finally, one day after we'd wrapped , he said, "Come with me. I want you to meet the great lady. She's shooting on another lot."
I asked, "Who is that?"
"Oh, my God. I would love to meet Joan Crawford." Not only was she a great actress and major motion picture star, she also happened to be an important woman at Pepsi-cola where she owned a big hung of Pepsi stock and was married to the CEO.
Drury and I arrived on the set where the director had set up to shoot a scene for Johnny Guitar , which involved a flaming barn out of which Miss Crawford would be running for her life. The script called for the barn to explode into total flames. This would be a one - take shot, so everything had to be perfect.
Jim and I sat on the sidelines and watched the director going over the scene with Miss Crawford. Suddenly he shouted action and boom the fire went on , and she came running out of the barn, screaming. The whole thing held me spellbound. I'd never seen such an action shot before. Then the director shouted , " Cut and print! That's a wrap."
Actors and crewmen scattered to close down the set for the day.
This great actress , who had been so emotional in her scene, stood alone - still shaking. Nobody had gone to her assistance. Jim's attention was focused on someone else, and I just instinctively ran out to her. Everything seemed so emotional I thought maybe
she might be having a nervous breakdown.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
She put her head against my shoulder, not even knowing who I might be. "Thank you. Thank you. I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I'll be okay."
Finally, she started to settle down and looked up at me. "Just who is my benefactor?" She smiled slightly. Nobody had ever said anything like that to me in my life. It startled me for a second. I said, "My name is Herb Jeffries , and I came over with Jim Drury so I could meet you. I'm glad I could be of some help."
I returned her smile with a silly grin, considering the situation.
She quickly came to full life. "Oh, Herb Jeffries. I saw you at the Mocambo. You're a singer."
She said, "I want to thank you so much. You were more helpful than you know."
She later got my address from Jim and wrote me the most precious letter I'd ever received which got lost during one of my several divorces.