“Never a Dull Moment”: To Oregon and Back Again (1939-1952)
Who Could Ask for Anything More?
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943)
After 18 months at Radio City, Swift left in 1936 to become the Director of Light Music for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Here, she met her second husband, the rodeo star Faye Hubbard, with whom she eloped in 1939 to a ranch in Bend, Oregon, lovingly named “The Faye and Kay.” In 1943, Swift published an account of her experience as a city girl thrust into ranch life in an autobiographical novel Who Could Ask for Anything More?. RKO Pictures later bought the rights to Swift’s novel, and in 1950 released its film adaptation, Never a Dull Moment, starring Irene Dunn and Fred MacMurray. Swift wrote music and lyrics to nine songs for the film, in the hopes that it would become a full-length movie musical. Much to Swift’s disappointment, only two of her complete songs made the final cut. The film’s most successful song, “Once You Find Your Guy,” touches the heart of Swift’s novel and her initial desire to move to Oregon with Hubbard:
Once you find your guy you’ll know the words to all the love songs are true …
Those lonely days you dreaded will vanish from your sight,
The future that was dark looks bright.
As Swift’s main character “Kay Kingsley” claims in Who Could Ask for Anything More?, Kay had had everything she wanted in New York City—a successful career, friends, “and delicious clothes” —save one thing: “Only that corny old wish common to most women, of being vitally necessary to someone you love.”
Advertised on the Booth Theater Marquee
Swift and Hubbard moved from Oregon to Hollywood in 1943, where Swift spent the next five years pursuing numerous film and television projects, including the 1947 film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, for which Swift worked with Ira Gershwin to craft an original “George Gershwin” score using sketches from George’s notebooks. Swift divorced Hubbard in 1946, and married her third husband, Hunter Galloway, in 1947. As employment prospects grew slim in Hollywood, Swift and Galloway returned to New York in 1948.
Swift’s first substantial project following her return to New York was writing incidental music and songs for Cornelia Otis Skinner’s one-woman show, Paris ‘90. Inspired by the paintings of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the show presented a diverse portrait of fourteen women who might have lived in Paris during the 1890s. Swift’s score was lauded by critics for its theatricality, vitality, and sophisticated interplay of “modern” and “period” styles. For Swift, Paris ’90 was a happy homecoming. She looked at her name on the Booth Theater Marquee with pride.