A journalist romance for Valentine’s Day

The Old Itch (Kit Gaynor)

Who better to tell a tale of romance and deadlines than an actor named Frank Lovejoy? (I think he was much more convincing as dusk-to-dawn columnist Randy Stone than he had been as the Blue Beetle some years earlier.)

“Sometimes the best stories a reporter gets are the ones he can’t print” is his opening line in this Night Beat episode from 1952, one sometimes listed in collections as “The Old Itch” and sometimes as “Stone’s Love Affair.” (And in the current archive.org collection, the file is misnamed “Reformer,” which is a different episode. For now, the link works.)

Somewhat reminiscent of the Spencer Tracy — Katherine Hepburn battle-of-the-sexes newspaper film “Woman of the Year,” the usually solitary Stone’s romance is with a star woman journalist. She’s a foreign correspondent who wears mink, sports “the kind of tan you get at spots like Waikiki,” drinks him under the table, and beats him to more than one story. (One he couldn’t print anyway because the source was a personal friend. Media ethicists take note.)

“I planted myself at the Press Club bar and thought dark thoughts about Kit Gaynor. Sure I’d heard of her. She was one of those ‘first’ women, first to fly in a bomber, first in a jet, first to slip unnoticed onto a troop ship at the canal locks and go to the South Pacific. And most of all she was the first dame reporter to make a real chump out of me. I had a drink to each of her blue ribbons.”

Later, she joins him at the bar:

Stone: “How did you get in here? We got a rule about women.”
Gaynor: “I’m a newspaperman. I hold press club cards all over the world, even in Chicago.”
Stone: “I wish you were a newspaper man. I’d flatten you.”

Not only does she have stories about interviewing Tito and Churchill, she even scoops Stone and the rest of the Chicago press corps on another story while she’s out buying a steak for his dinner. That’s just before she runs into an old friend who’s a jet pilot and hops his flight to New York. Then she’s off to Europe, leaving Stone with a lighted — but not entirely unrequited — torch. As the episode comes to an end, Stone is contemplating the changes marriage might make in his career, and she’s on another plane — off to Korea, her career reminiscent of Pulitzer winner Marguerite Higgins or Margaret Bourke-White.

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.
This entry was posted in 1950s, Drama, foreign correspondents, romance. Bookmark the permalink.

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