Alex Tremulis may have come to the attention of Eleanor Powell through one of his customized Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg's for Chicago department store magnate Maurice L. Rothschild. According to newspaper accounts, Rothschild was delighted with Tremulis' remodeled and streamlined automobile. In any case, Tremulis got a phone call from someone claiming to be Eleanor Powell.
As Tremulis tells it: "It was a red-hot box office name at the time so I answerd 'Sure it is'. I figured it was one of the office girls, or maybe one of Chrissie's friends, so I kidded along and said: 'Well, honey, I'm glad you called. I've been expecting you...' and I guess she was used to having this happen when she called people for the first time. So she asked if I was the same Tremulis who had been with Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg and I said I was. She said to meet her at the Drake Hotel in Chicago where she was staying, that she had a proposal to make. I met her at the hotel and she explained her custom auto company operation and said that if I was interested, her public relations and partner in the company, Sid Luft, would be by the next day to fill in the details."
Tremulis: "Sid Luft had been her public relations man and she wanted to get him started in the customizing business. Luft and I talked about the plan which would have me design and direct the building of custom cars. It sounded great. He had tried several other things, but now was concentrating on customizing Cadillacs. The first one he built was a very nice custom Cadillac, but instead of selling it he started running around with the car. Pretty soon it got used, so when Eleanor Powell came to Chicago she hired me to go to California to put Sid’s business on a business basis. So I came to California."
Tremulis: "I was surprised the next day to get a telephone call from Jimmie Fidler, the famous Hollywood reporter. He said he had seen Burlingame in the car he had purchased from Miss Powell and wanted to know what that color was called. I asked him what time he had seen it, and he said it was about 9:00PM. "Oh, we call that Night White", I told him. He made a big thing about it in his column and over the air. Soon we got a call from the big Don Lee Cadillac sales agency wanting to know if we could furnish them with the formula of that Night White paint. I told them we couldn't let the formula out of our hands, but that we'd either paint the cars ourselves or sell it to them already mixed. I had to rush around and mix some paint in hopes it would look like the same stuff we'd used on the original Night White car. I had used some orange, maroon and purple in very small percentages and soon hit on the right proportions. We sold a lot of Night White to the Cadillac agencies in the area and we did a lot of $150 paint jobs by farming them out to paint shops nearby for $50. Many people came in with a wide variety of cars to be lowered, have fender skirts added, get louvered or to receive a touch of fancy detailing. The cars ranged from the most elegant ever manufactured down to sporty '32 Ford roadsters."
At present, it is unknown if the car's provenance with Eleanor Powell, Sid Luft and Alex Tremulis has ever caught back up to the car. It's current whereabouts and current owner are unknown.
We had a little shop across the street from the Luau Restaurant in Beverly Hills called Custom Motors. One day I was having lunch at the bar in the Luau when all of a sudden I saw a little American Bantam Roadster pull up outside. There was a man in a polo uniform and two little polo sticks were sticking up out of his small little car. The chap comes in and sits down next to me. I looked at him and said, “Pretty ridiculous, big boy like you driving around in a kiddie car like that”. Of course he gave me a real funny look. He ordered a drink and then he said to me, “Do you know anything about those people across the street, Custom Motors?’ I said, “Yeah, I know them.” He said, “I’m looking for a guy by the name of Alex Tremulis, do you know him?” I said, “I know him pretty well”. He wanted to know when Custom Motors opened up, and I told him they were probably out to lunch. He said, “I’m anxious to talk to Alex Tremulis.” So I told him to finish his sandwich and then I would take him over to meet this Alex. So we walked across the street and into the shop. I had all my drawings on the wall… some real wild stuff too. He gets impatient and says, “When do I meet Alex Tremulis?” I tell him,” You’ve already met him”. We laugh and then he introduces himself. “I’m Roy Evans, President of American Bantam,” he said.
[The American Bantam story will be highlighted in an upcoming feature.]
1939 Cadillac Model 60 or 61 Convertible Coupe for Eleanor Powell, or Bob Burlingame (CEO of NCR), or Roy Schneider
Duesenberg (unknown model) for Jules Stein (founder of MCA records)
Auburn, Cord or Duesenberg for Maurice L. Rothschild (Chicago area merchant)
Cadillac (unknown model) for Prince David Mdvani
Limousine for the Maharajah of Indore
Unknown for King Ghazi Ihn Feisal of Iraq (perhaps LeBaron?)
...and don't forget to "LIKE" the Gyronaut's FaceBook page to stay updated on the latest events...