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A man posing as the Sultan of Mazipan is exposed as a Harlem bootblack at a banquet sponsored by the New York Morning Star to honor him for offering to donate ten dollars to every dollar given to establish the "Morning Star Temple," supposedly with twenty-seven halls of culture. Editor Oliver Stone assigns the perpetrator of the hoax, star reporter Wally Cook, to write obituaries, but after he suffers several indignities, Cook convinces Stone to send him to Warsaw, Vermont to interview radium poisoning victim Hazel Flagg, who has been diagnosed as having only six months to live. Before Cook meets her, Hazel learns from her doctor, Enoch Downer, that his original diagnosis was in error and that she is not ill. However, when Cook offers to take her to New York as a guest of the newspaper, she jumps at the chance to leave Warsaw. In the city, Hazel is given a ticker tape parade, and she receives the key to the city. She becomes an inspiration to poets and artists, and is guest of honor at a wrestling match and at a nightclub's "Hazel Flagg Night," but the phoniness of the adulation angers Cook, who becomes genuinely concerned about Hazel. She too is falling in love with Cook, and when he sends for radium poisoning expert Dr. Emil Eggelhoffer, she writes a suicide note thanking the city and arranges for Enoch to rescue her following a jump into the river. Cook goes to stop her, but because he can't swim, Hazel rescues him. He proposes and even when he learns after the examination by Eggelhoffer and his three colleagues that Hazel is a phony and will live, he still wants to marry her. To make it appear that she is sick, Cook knocks her cold. When Hazel revives, she, in turn, knocks out Cook. Caught by Stone, Hazel confesses the hoax to the mayor and leading citizens, but they decide that news of her health would not be good for the city. As newspapers exhibit Hazel's suicide note and the city mourns at her funeral, Hazel, Wally and Enoch sail for the tropics.