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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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the ridiculous idea that you could sell Hollywood at that time a story of a young fellow who gets an office girl pregnant and then meets a society girl and then, remember, drowns the office girl? Dreiser said, “Come on, Liveright, you'll never do that.”

So Horace said, “I'll make a deal with you, Dreiser. The first $50,000 I get for your book in Hollywood, you get complete. After that, we go 50-50.”

Dreiser said, “You won't get a dollar for it. Nobody will make that picture, Horace.”

Horace said, “Watch me!”

So they shook hands. $50,000 in those days was a lot of money for a picture. But, by golly, Horace sold American Tragedy for $85,000.


Was that one of the largest prices of the day?


It was a very big price. And when he came back, of course, Horace had to tell about his triumphs to people, and I was a very good person to tell because I was always impressed, you know. So he called me up and said, “What do you think I got for American Tragedy?--$85,000. Wait till I tell Dreiser!”

I said, “Gee, I'd like to be there.”

He said, “Come. I'm taking him to lunch next Thursday at the Ritz, and I'd like you to come and the three of us can have lunch, and you just watch Dreiser when I tell him.”

So the three of us went to the Ritz. The oval room

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