HOLLYWOOD and its inhabitants come in for such coarse treatment from the world Press from time to time. that one can be forgiven for looking upon that fantastic city as a Godless place.
But there are people in Hollywood—people who have reached the heights of stardom — who give up their valuable time to show the world through a radio and TV programme caned
Family Theatre " that they believe in God and the peace of mankind.
" Family Theatre" is Fr. Peyton's "commercial " designed to encourage people to pray more. Catholic and Protestant stars of the films, radio and TV offer their services free to Fr. Peyton, and the programme is broadcast each week from the coast.
This Christmas, special broadcasts will be beamed over the whole American continent, and it is estimated that out of the total U.S. population of 150 million, some 40 million people will hear them.
Several of the stars taking part in these programmes have been working for Mayo-born Fr. Peyton in this medium for ten years.
THE FIRST RECRUIT
LORETTA YOUNG was Ft Peyton's first recruit for " Family Theatre." When the Rosary Apostle first thought of using personalities to entice more Amerioans to listen to his radio programme, it was to Loretta and her husband Toni that he appealed for assistance.
Loretta was well known to him as a prominent figure in Church work—being president of several important Catholic charities—and she had just won an Academy Award for her performance in "The Farmer's Daughter." Fr. Peytoo knew she would be a big "draw" if only she could spare the time.
Fortunately, she could. Her husband Tom rounded up st suitable cast. and Loretta carried one of the biggest roles with Dan Ameche.
James Stewart. a Protestant star, was the " host " of the programme.
The final rehearsal was held in Loretta's home on the night before the broadcast, and it went on until two in the morning !
A NIGHT OF NERVES
ENOR everyone connected it was .1-1 a night of nerves. Would they be ridiculed and scorned for "preaching" to their public ?
James Stewart, who was to make the little plea for prayer at the end of the pay, was parties'. larly uncomfortable.
"Who am 1 to be telling people to pray?" he asked, and the same question was in the minds of the other stars. But when the programme eventually went on the air, they were all so carried away by the beauty of the play that their doubts vanished and James Stewart's plea for prayer at the end came naturally and sincerely.
The response from the public Was gratifying. Letters of appreciation came in from all parts of America, and many more stars placed themselves at Fr. Peyton's beck and call.
ING CROSBY was one of the most enthusiastic volune leers. He was already in charge of the drive for the Catholic Bishops' Fund of America and several other chari ties, but Fr. Peyton was a personal friend, and he gave assistance unstintingly.
Anna Maria Alberghetti joined the programme with Bing. It was Bing who had introduced her to film audiences at 14 in "Here Comes the Groom." and after her next film she earned a world-wide reputation as the girl with the golden voice. Anna's first contribution to Family Theatre was a lovely rendering of "Ave Maria."
Now an attractive young lady of 20, she is still singing in the programme and her prestige in the elm world is higher than ever.
Another demure, poised and sett-spoken young lady of 20 who is giving invaluable help to Fr Peyton in his Rosary Crusade is Margaret O'Brien. When she and her mother visited Ireland three years ago they took back 5,000 Trish-horn Rosaries and presented them to Fr. Peyton for him to distribute.
Margaret, who won an Acaderey Award for her performance in 'Meet Me in St. Louis," and became the leading child star of her day, is now winning new laurels in the tougher competition of the ranks of adult entertainers.
SEVENTEEN year old Gigi Perreau is one of Fr. Peyton's younger recruits. She made "Hone Goes to College" with Maureen O'Sulevan when she was II. and the friendship that was struck up then led her to joining Maureen in " Family Theatre."
With seven children and a filmdirector I usband to look after. Maureen does not have much Spare time now, but she still gives a few hours of it regularly to Fr. Peyton.
Another of Fr. Peyton's chiei handmaids is Ann Myth. When the Rosary Crusader was ovei here, and the conversation turned to his radio programmes in America, Ann's name was always one of the first to crop up. She has never refused to help him.
One •Christmas. when she was booked to appear in " Family Theatre," she had a car accident just before the day of the broadcast. However. she refused to let anyone tell " Fr. Pat." and was earned bodily to the station by Roddy McDowell. She was terribly ill and shaken, but she went on and gave a beautiful performance, Rosalind Russell (you'll be seeing her son in a new Warner film: " Auntie Marne"). Ethel Barrymore, Pat O'Brien. Jimmy Out-ante and Irene Dunn, are a few of the other Catholic stars appearing in " Family Theatre." Among the Protestant stars appearing are Barry Fitzgerald and Gale Storm. Jeff Chandler. who, I understand, is of the lewish Faith. has given some impressive perfor. manees in the Biblical plays staged by " Family lheatree
!N HOLLYWOOD, FAITH LIVES
VER the years. Fr. Peyton's
broadcasts have shown
millions of listeners and viewers that the Christian Faith really lives in the hearts arid minds of numerous stars in Hollywood.
'' Family Theatre" has taught radio men things about the public that they did not know before. Many of them looked upon prayer as an unmarketable commodity in radio, but they have discovered that the " product of " Family Theatre" caught on.
'The broadcasts really are persuading families to pray." says Fr. Peyton. and there are many letters to Fame it."
One of these letters came from a mother whose small son was a reluctant part cipant in the family's even:ng prayers until he heard that Pat O'Brien prayed with his family; since then she has had no more trouble with him!