Oceanside, California, circa 1935. Frank Butler, his wife Helen, and their family must have been generous and thoughtful hosts. He was an actor, director, and writer of more than sixty screenplays. When they moved to the house at 33 St. Malo Beach, an exclusive enclave of Oceanside, California, their home became a refuge for their relatives and many Hollywood friends. Someone made for them a large, heavy (5 lbs. 12 oz.) guest book. It measures 14 x 10-3/4 x 2 inches (37.8 x 27 x 3.2 cm). It has two carved wooden covers (stained walnut), a matching spine, and a hand-drawn title page and 60 leaves, plus two endpapers of stiff leather colored a mottled red, all about 13 x 9 inches (33 x 23 cm). The leather thongs that bound the book have broken in several places. They have been retained but replaced with new ones that should last another 85 years. A carved frame on the front cover holds a fragment of a 16th-century illuminated manuscript on vellum with the number 1556 engraved below it. I first thought that might have been the original address of the house in the Oceanside numbering scheme, but it is too low; perhaps it refers to the manuscript. The very thick, stiff tan paper has been stained and singed at the edges to simulate age. The book contains 87 greetings from well over a hundred guests on the versos of 24 leaves and 3 rectos. The actor Robert Young wrote a heartfelt thank you in 1936, fresh from his success in the 1935 movie "Vagabond Lady," with script by Frank Butler. The director, screenwriter, and producer Leo McCarey left a droll verse in 1937; he directed the Harold Lloyd comedy "The Milky Way"; Frank Butler was one of three writers credited for that script. Then, in 1944, McCarey produced and directed the Bing Crosby movie "Going My Way," which won seven Oscars, including a shared one for Frank Butler, co-writer of the script. The writer, producer, and studio head Dore Schary and his wife Miriam left a witty note, obviously the result of a long friendship. The artist and decorator Jack Schurch filled a full page with a drawing in pastel. There are other notable Hollywood figures and, doubtless, some I have not identified. A list of all the inscriptions with supporting documentation, where available, accompanies the volume. Overall condition is excellent.
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