Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 677
Charlie Castle, a film star of considerable renown. He is rich, ruggedly handsome, virile, charming, frequently cynical, and dependably candid in dealing with people. Charlie’s studio is pressuring him to renew his contract, which he does not want to sign, although it is for fourteen years at four million dollars a year. One skeleton lurks in Charlie’s closet: Once, when he was driving drunk, he had an accident in which someone was killed. He permitted Buddy Bliss to take the blame and to go to jail for vehicular manslaughter. the studio uses this information in its attempt to blackmail Charlie into signing his new, extended contract. Instead, he commits suicide.
Marion Castle, Charlie’s wife. Disenchanted with the falseness of life in Hollywood, she is living apart from her husband and vows that she will return to him only if he refuses to commit himself to the long-term contract his studio is trying to inveigle him into signing. Marion is a completely honest person. She has discovered that honesty is a liability in the society in which she has been forced to travel as a star’s wife, but this quality is too ingrained in her nature for her to change now.
Patty Benedict, a Hollywood gossip columnist whose loyalty is strictly to herself. She is a powerful woman who rules by intimidation and communicates by innuendo. She knows Charlie’s dark secret and uses this knowledge in her attempts to manipulate him. She is as deceitful as Marion is honest. the two have a strained relationship, generally civil but little more.
Buddy Bliss, Charlie’s agent. He is humorless, loyal, stubborn, and not very bright. He goes to jail after Charlie’s accident, willingly covering for Charlie to spare the film idol the embarrassment and public humiliation to which he would have been subjected had the truth surfaced. Buddy is an innocent; he is dazzled by Charlie’s success and by his prowess with people. He tries to save him from all unpleasantness and from doing anything that might tarnish his manufactured image. Buddy is the sort of person born to be exploited.
Marcus Hoff, the pudgy, self-assured head of the studio to which Charlie is under contract. the middle-aged Hoff is bright, able, and manipulative. He dresses the part of someone who runs a studio, attired in suave, expensive, tailor-made suits of subdued colors. He frequently puffs on choice Havana cigars. He is imperious, capable of observing all the amenities but then of turning full circle and destroying anyone who gets in his way.
Coy Smiley, Hoff’s lean toady. He does Hoff’s bidding deftly and unquestioningly. He is competent and calculating, cynical, calm, and unfailingly courteous. His Irish lineage is evident in his face and demeanor. He essentially is detached and alone, unlikely ever to be considered as anyone’s friend.
Nat Danziger, a man in his sixties, the agent acting as middleman between the studio and Charlie. Nat is basically good, kind, and fatherly, although the system within which he lives is corrupt. He is sentimental and religious in the broadest sense. Although he is competent in his business dealings, he seems a misfit among the jackals of the film industry.
Connie Bliss, Buddy’s wife, a lissome blonde on whom clothes look superb. She has about her a hardness, mitigated slightly by her desire to please. She has a good mind.
Hank Teagle, a fifty-year-old friend of Charlie. He limps slightly and is unpretentious, quiet, and mature. He has an undeviating devotion to Charlie.
Dixie Evans, a woman who escaped her poor Boston family and her department store job four years earlier to work in Hollywood. Despite her overindulgence in liquor, she puts up a good front of brightness and competence.
Ralph, the Castles’ black butler, through whom one comes to see glimmerings of the real Charlie Castle.
Dr. Frary, the Castles’ next-door neighbor and friend.
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