This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Maurice Dolbier introduces Rex Stout, author of the Nero Wolfe mysteries, the most recent of which was "The Doorbell Rang." The book's plot revolves around the actions of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. Stout makes it clear that he disagrees with Hoover's management of the organization and dismisses the actions of the FBI in general. He mentions several other organizations he should "go after," including the Roman Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, and the Ku Klux Klan. For more on Rex Stout, please visit http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/neh-preservation-project/2013/jan/07/rex-stout/
Next, Dolbier introduces Helen Hayes. She talks about trying to find a "comfortable position" as a writer. She found the experience satisfying - giving her a chance to "air out" her life. She promises to return to the stage as soon as someone offers her a good part in a play that doesn't depress her.
Finally, Justice William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice and author of the Wilderness Bill of Rights speaks. He has written many exciting books with an aim to protect the American wilderness. He speaks about the relationship of church and state in a constitutional democracy.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71337
Municipal archives id: T1851
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
A daily book review are in the course of his occupation reads at least three books a week for eleven months thus over a period of eight or nine years he would have read about twelve hundred books which is the same number that Rex Stout had read by the time he was ten years old. The rest of his career has been quite as prodigious as this beginning promised wanting to acquire capital so that he could devote himself to full time writing Mr Stout invented and put into effect the school banking system which was installed in four hundred cities and towns of this country as an author Mr Stout has had fifty three books published in thirty six years most of these have featured a private detective named Nero Wolfe and his young assistant Archie Goodwin. Who with their first appearance in one hundred thirty four in novel called faired alarms assumed immediately the reality of that other famous pair of Holmes and Watson The difference is that those lodgings on Baker Street are no longer occupied but you'd find it hard to convince Any recs doubt reader that there is not a real Nero Wolfe today in a real brownstone on a real West Thirty fifth Street and after this latest novel The doorbell rang you would find it hard to convince the F.B.I. to. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if out there among you of this moment Archie Goodwin might be taking notes not narrow will he doesn't get around much. One of those characteristics and hobbies are well known his general immobility in body not in mind is God made tastes is be a drinking his orchid growing I'd like to say a word this being the kind of occasion it is about his reading now Nero Wolfe is not the only private detective in fiction who reads books there must be at least four or five others. But Nero Wolfe reads books by living authors which means authors who are trying to make a living in the course of a case he may have time to read three or four of these and the titles and authors I mentioned in the descriptions of his cases this is another instance of the support and encouragement given to America's working writers by Nero Wolfe creator. My president the president of the authors League of America as director thank you. Thank you. Mr Dog you all you have some people. You know if you don't mind I'm going to regard you as a committee on grievances because I have a beef. Thirty seven. You know thirty seven years ago I decided to quit that monkey business of trying to pile up some money and write some stories so in the next to five years I rolled five up. And there it was all right I got a letter from Bertrand Russell who was in the got a large and from my Some woman in France named Gaudet car whom I later found out was the current friend of H.G. Wells' and he got mad about it and a lot of little nice things like that happened but it wasn't going to hot because I realized if I went on trying to make serious comments comments about human character and human problems I would never turn out to be a Dostoyevsky or about Zach so to hell with it I quit. And I decided just to write stories and to try to make them as good stories as I could and the very first one I wrote I happened to have been of the couple of characters named Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin who were private detectives and that I liked what people said about the book and about them so I decided to go on trying my best to write good stories and I went on and it was all right I mean some copies got sold even in hard covers and there and I got a few nice letters and pretty good reviews course we all know what book reviewers are so. I was never really disgruntled or unhappy about it it is probably true of writers justices of nearly anybody else that one of the conditions might be the condition that they would like most to reach is a situation where when he or she enters Grand Central Station or a theater lobby or almost any public place they can overhear somebody muttering to somebody else that's him already even that's he. Well. It went along pretty well I wrote what I thought not were great stories but pretty good ones and they sold pretty well in hard covers and they all got came out in different editions of paperbacks and they got translated into. Twenty two different foreign languages including Senator Lees. Which is one of my. Many distinctions that I wrote the only mystery story that's ever been translated into Sinhalese which is the language spoken and written on the on Salon. And that one respect at least I have it all over Agatha Christie and her role Stanley Gardner. But. I was never annoyed by hearing too many people muttering that Sam Well then what happened what happened was that I decided to write another story as I do each year and as always it was the two central characters were to be Nero off an arch a good one and it was to be a story in which they would come in conflict with the. Officers of the law but I had got not fed up with them but just a little bit off of the New York homicide squad and the district attorney of Westchester County and other farmer antagonists opponents of Nero orphan Archie Goodwin I decided to use a new one while who could be could be a CIA It could be and I decided why not it would be the F.B.I. and a man named J. Edgar Hoover Well that was always in my mind I just thought it would be fun to use them for the opponents in a story instead of a Inspector Kramer no matter WHO So I want to head wrote the story and all I had in mind while I was writing the story was to try to make it as I always I was good at as good a story as I could while it got it got in the galleys and the first thing that happened was that I got a telephone call from a man named one of the first things on my name Caskey Stinnett. And he said that Clay Felker had suggested to him the idea of possibly writing a piece. About me in my new book which was to be published in about a month that it never happened before and I thought by gosh at last I've written such a good story that somebody wants to write something about it even before it's published anyway Mr Stinnett came up to Brewster and we talked for a couple of hours and not long after that the piece that he wrote appeared in the magazine of the Herald Tribune and then letters began to come this is even before the book was out or very shortly after and then letters began to come. Kind of letters I had never got before I had gotten a lot of letters before as every story writer does about telling me asking the please to tell this eighty two year old woman in Seattle Washington with the shingles please to tell her whether New York all of use it or a shower. There is. That kind of research. But when this piece came out I began to get an entirely different kind of letter first I got a letter from a newspaper man in New Jersey the three paragraphs and the first paragraph said there Mr Stout I had just read the piece about you and your book by Caskey still is in the Herald Tribune paragraph Thomas Jefferson thank ship Thomas Paine Thanks you James Madison thanks you paragraph and I thank you. Well I had a Lucian of gobby Asli of writing when I asked him what was wrong with Benjamin Franklin George Washington. But and here I'm coming to my grievance that was the first instance of a kind of reaction that I'd never had before after all of the year he's years of writing stories. During the following two or three months and it's still going on I was asked to go on television programs and radio programs and to grant interviews. It's wonderful to be asked to grant an interview to a newspaper man or woman from Toronto our London are no matter where and I don't think it's fair the. If it had come to a point where I wrote so good a story that people could no longer just pick now and then buy a copy and have reviews about it written about the book and so on as a story well that would have been wonderful but no. There was really some for flying there was really a lot of dust kicked up and why because I'd written an unusually good story no because I'd had the nerve to poke J. Edgar Hoover in the nose. I wouldn't buy don't think I would mind that at all if when I had originally started to write the book I had done so with the idea of exposing our showing up our fighting the F.B.I. and Mr Hu or that was my idea at all I just wanted to I just wanted to write a good story but it's no longer like that it now is come to the point where obviously in the minds and perhaps even breasts of nine thousand four hundred twelve American citizens My fellow citizens I am regarded as the guy who is going to abolish the F.B.I. and Mr Hoover. Helped. Him I really don't care for that job. It's true that. I'm glad I took a little lick it's true that I think that J. Edgar Hoover is one of the most objectionable people in our country today. It's true that it is too bad that we do not have a national federal bureau of investigation that really operates karma competently on a professional level and it's too bad that the. That the great egocentrism of one man is what has prevented this from having a vet and if I have helped a little bit to get some competent cop like a Vincent Broderick like a like a Francis Adams a good cop in charge of our Federal Bureau of Investigation instead of that bird here I would enjoy having done that very much and indeed all it's true that I've told you that I'm making a grievance and I want I want to do to be the grievance committee I admit that that was not a completely honest and candid statement maybe that's what I want to do instead of trying to write good stories maybe out of being a professional crusader maybe out of take out after organizations and not pay much attention really to whether they're doing more harm than good or more good than harm but just go after him on general principles that have been Next time I'm going to start being after them are writing another story and maybe this time how to take out after the other Salvation Army. Or the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Are the Boy Scouts. Or the John Birch Society. Are they. Are the kook Klux Klan. Or the Women's Christian Temperance that you. All think that are and decide what to do about it very. Gagan stop taking notes the evidence is in. And actress is all the people she has played so I could be introducing today among others at least three queens of Egypt Scotland and England and the Grand Duchess of Imperial Russia as well as a co-captain analysis at the fire. Mrs Antrobus who is every woman and Maggie who knew what every woman knows an actress is all the people she might play with this has genius this opens I'm limited prospect so I don't know who might be introducing an actress is herself a self that contains all these other lives and possibilities of lives but lives its own it is this life that Miss Hayes describes in her book A Gift of joy a life of love and growth and the finding of new dimensions of understanding of the combination of hard work and quiet faith with which personal and professional challenges I met of the people in the places and the books that are brought to her life the gift she describes in the title we had hoped to have this house with us earlier this season but she has just returned after two months in Japan Korea and the Philippines where under the auspices of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs she's been taking part in seminars and readings with school and drama groups in that area it turns out after all to have been a matter of excellent timing. For what better gift of joy on this St Valentine's Day of nineteen sixty six when presenting to you the heart warming heart winning Helen Hayes. I have. Thank you very much is a beautiful introduction and did you ever hear a dream talking Well I'm one because the fact that I am up here in the company of two honest to goodness authors addressing you people as a writer. Seems to me the most incredible and preposterous dream that I ever was a part of I had nestled cozily into a lot of different roles in my long and audacious career but so far in this role of writer I haven't been able to find a comfortable position. We're going to. Have houses that have. Never. Been there really that's queuing writers and. I'm still. At sea but still. Manfully going about it going everywhere I'm asked in secret delight that I'm being asked I just told Mr Whitney and direct Stout that my husband whom I quote frequently in the book as having straightened me out. When it was required once said to me that I went. To too many things and I accepted too many invitations and he had a suspicion that I just like to be asked places and never considered selecting but just went wherever I was asked I protested of course against those and he said no it's the truth and when I die I mean when you if I outlive you I'm going to have put on your tombstone God called up and Helen said yes I can come. Well. Here I am right up here. A friend of mine sensing that my self image as an actress was stubbornly refusing to yield to the suggestion that I had become literary. Admonished me and now you would Helen just remember just remember to think of yourself as an author but all my previous conditioning even though I've tried very hard my all of of and respect for fine writers and the fact that I married one and lived with him for twenty seven happy and wonderful years this respect and this devotion to the writer and his great gift. Has prevented me from ever being able to. Take on that role with ease and so having begged my friends forbearance I appear before you now not as an author but as an actress who has participated in that currently obligate Tory experience of writing a book now I enjoyed that experience and I confess it and I'm quite happy with the book. Of course the book I can say that I wrote. That book was distilled from my cluttered and confused mind through the orderly channels of Louis funks and it was Louis funk bless him who tied it up for me my thinking I must confess that it gave me a chance though and I I joined it very much to air out my life a little and to express some of the ideas that I've been wanting to express and at the same time. It gave me a wonderful chance to articulate my gratitude to some of my favorite writers of playing poetry essay novels for getting me sustenance and hope and courage those writers that I have loved are those who hear the thousand nightingales which ones we thought we heard that's a quotation it's. It's from a speech from James M. Berry It isn't in my book and I wish it were I didn't remember it in time the thousand nightingales which we once thought we heard the dreams we once dreamed and suddenly can no longer dream who go on dreaming them for us our writers at least I hope they will pleasant dreams seem to be a bit out of fashion nowadays which is such a loss even the most dire tragedy of Europe the D's or Shakespeare is