Ann Blyth’s Wonderful love Story
“For the past six months, I’ve hoped and I’ve prayed that the feeling of deep devotion that was growing in me was growing in Jim, too, and that it was right for us,” Ann Blyth said. Then she laughed, and no one has ever heard such a rich, full laugh from Ann before. Her eyes were incandescent with her happiness, and she clutched her hands together, the better to express her glowing intensity—but careful, too, to keep her left hand on top so that the exquisite, square-cut diamond on her third finger could blaze unobstructed.
“And it was right,” she cried. “It was. It was. And I think one of the very sweetest things about it all was that Jim proposed to me beside my Christmas tree. You see, we had been trimming it together that evening, exactly a week before Christmas. Aunt Sis and Uncle Pat, who’d been with us all evening, were in the kitchen having coffee.
“Jim and I were just talking, as we have talked so many other times in these three years we have known one another. Then, suddenly, he was kissing me, and asking me to be his wife—and since then, I can barely remember my name, and nothing else at all, except that I know my prayers have been answered.”
Ann and I were riding in a big studio limousine as she said these words. It was just three days after she had announced her engagement. Ann was heading out to Los Angeles Junior College, to entertain some 2,400 underprivileged children. She was due there at noon. Then at two, she was going on Father Payton’s broadcast, for an annual date she has kept for the past six years. After that, in the early evening, she was going to sing at a huge Jewish benefit. So there I was, to complicate her busy day by tagging around after her to get this story.
To tell the truth, I’d had a faint touch of guilty conscience about intruding on her at such a time. But after a couple of seconds with her, I knew she wasn’t even aware of me. If there’d been a swarm of bees in the car, she wouldn’t have noticed.
She was much too happy. She was so happy, she was bubbling over with words, with laughter, with wit. And that was a wondrous sight to witness.
Ann has always been sweet, beautiful, courteous. No one has ever heard her raise her voice in anger. No one has ever seen her do an unkind deed. But getting her to talk has always been difficult.
Now love had released her. Now she wouldn’t have stopped talking if you’d asked her!
“Dr, James McNulty of the staff of St. Vincent’s Hospital, Los Angeles, California,” she said, her eyes dancing. “Isn’t that a beautiful sound? Do you know that he comes of a family with five boys and a girl and that he’s the only unmarried one, but the rest of them have given his father and mother fifteen grandchildren already?
“Do you know,” Ann continued, “Jim has the sweetest, kindest face! His hair is black as ebony and he has very dark brows and eyelashes and the ruddiest complexion you ever saw, but his eyes are so gentle. I’ve never seen eyes that seemed to see so much and see it all so kindly. And do you know that he went to Manhattan College to study medicine and that when he had his degree, the Navy took him for six years? So it wasn’t until 1949 that he started a private practice, right here in Los Angeles. Barely four years ago, and already he’s one of the city’s leading obstetricians.
“Oh, I must tell you this. He’s an absolutely divine dancer—really divine—but he’s also mad for deep-sea fishing. Not so long ago we went to a party at Lou Costello’s and we danced and danced and it was so wonderful to have a floor with all the room you wanted and a man who just knew every step in the world.
“And it was so exciting, by contrast, to one day we spent last August. Friends of Jim’s have a boat equipped for deep-sea fishing. I’d only been out like that twice before, and Jim had been so busy with his practice that he said he’d only done it once before. So imagine the thrill of it, when I landed two albacore. Jim only got one, and I had a fearful moment, thinking that might bother him, but it didn’t at all.”
“He’s in love,” I said.
Ann laughed, exultantly. Slender and small as she is, the depth of her personality has always expressed itself in that voice that seemed too big for her. And this kind of happiness and laughter is new to her.
Before she was sixteen, she was fighting to keep a brave smile on her face in front of her mother, slowly dying of the most dread disease. In another year, when giddy junior-high girls were necking in parked cars, Ann was merely pretending to be such a girl in a picture with Joan Crawford—and holding her own against that fierce competition.
“I beat Jim at hearts, too, the other night,” Ann went on, “and he just laughed, just as he teased me that day at the deep-sea fishing when I nearly pulled my arms out of their sockets, landing my fish.”
“You’re in love, too,” I said.
“Oh, I am, I am. And just think of my good fortune—to be in love for the very first time, and to have it be a man like Jim. You see he’s a man in his own right, with a profession in his own right, and nothing about this theatrical world can much surprise him, since his brother is Dennis Day. Besides, doctors, being in the finest profession there is, have a true sense of values.”
The limousine was rushing us through a section of Los Angeles that is even now relatively unpopulated. The day was so clear that all around the horizon you could see the high mountains, their tops covered with snow, but in the bright green fields the meadow larks sang.
Ann smiled, noticing I’d caught the sound, too. “Isn’t that beautiful?” she said. “Isn’t everything simply beautiful when you know you are in love and beloved?” Her face grew reflective. “You know me well enough to remember those couple of times when I thought I might be in love with some of the fellows I’d gone out with But I never was.”
At seventeen Ann was making a lot of money. It’s pretty tough to find a boy of that age in the same financial position. There were a lot of nice boys too embarrassed to ask Ann for a date, knowing they couldn’t spend more than a couple of bucks on it.
“And isn’t that silly?” asked Ann. “Why Jim and I have had dozens of dates that didn’t cost a thing. He loves golf as much as I do, but being a doctor, he can’t get far enough away from a phone to go around a course; but we do go swimming at the beach—which is free as sunshine.
“You know, I met Jim three years ago on New Year’s Eve. A friend of Dennis Day’s was a friend of mine so we met at a small private party.
“My heart didn’t turn over at first sigh of him,” said Ann. “But that was probably because I didn’t dare let it. I just re member Jim’s kind eyes, and I was so glad when he called five days later and asked me to a christening of Dennis second baby.
“I went to that christening, and then Jim asked me to another, and then he asked me to go out on a dancing date.
“Of course, he’d been at my house when he called for me the other two times, and Aunt Sis and Uncle Pat approved of him very definitely. But to go dancing was really special and I had wonderful time.
“The pattern of what my future life may be was established a week or so later when I was to play a benefit. Knowing Aunt Sis and Uncle Pat were taking me to it, Jim asked if we’d call at his house afterward, to meet his parents.
“I was very excited and pleased. The three of us arrived at Jim’s house. His parents were expecting us, and were just as charming as I’d been sure they would be, having such a fine son. But the situation was just a little awkward because we were all shy with one another, as we waited for Jim to arrive and unite us so to speak, into one group. We waited and we waited. It got to be midnight and one o’clock and we finally took our leave. You know the answer, of course. Jim had been held up with a patient, and he’d been much too busy to telephone, as he successfully brought a premature little baby into the world while we all waited.
“Instead of that making me angry or disturbed, it made me wildly happy and the reason of that came up the other night with some friends of Jim’s, most of them doctors and their wives. One of the wives said to me, ‘Do you know what you’re getting into—marrying a doctor? Have you any idea how your time will be cut up? Do you realize there may be nights on end when he won’t get a full night’s sleep?’
“Before I could answer, Jim broke in. He said, ‘Do you realize the demands of a career on a girl like Ann? Besides the time she is in actual production, there are claims on her for benefits, for publicity, for this, that and a thousand things.’ ” Ann laughed. “You see what I mean? Isn’t that what’s called compatibility?”
“Would you ever have considered marrying out of your faith?” I asked.
“I’m just so glad I didn’t even have to think about that with Jim that I’ve forgotten all the rest,” she said. “Take this morning for instance. We both went to eight o’clock mass, so that we could have the rest of the day for our work. Not together, of course. Jim had to go to the hospital, as he had a very busy day before him. And you know how mine is planned out. I’ll be lucky if I am home by ten, and if Jim is home by then, he’ll call me. But if he isn’t, I won’t worry. I shall know he’ll call me in the morning. That’s the greatest thing about love— that knowing—that security—that faith.” The car pulled up before the auditorium in which Ann was to sing. Almost as far as we could see the children were lined up, waiting to get inside.
“There’s something about singing for children and service men that surpasses any other kind of a personal appearance,” Ann said. “But right this moment I can’t remember the words of even one song. I can’t remember the words of anything.”
“You make it sound as though you wouldn’t wait long to marry.”
The excited color burned in her cheeks, the laughter bubbled from her throat. “We’ve set the date as June 27,” she said. “We want to wait until my first picture at M-G-M is finished and until Jim is free enough from his work so that we can plan on a honeymoon, a real one.
“I want everyone I’ve ever known, practically speaking, to be there to share my happiness. And I want the whitest dress and the longest veil and the loveliest bouquet of lilies of the valley, and of course, if I just have Jim’s relatives as ushers and bridesmaids the procession down the aisle will take hours.”
She stepped out of the car, and the youngsters with their autograph books began swarming, and the police lined up to make a path for her. She signed every book, every scrap of paper and then we were backstage, where the photographers were waiting, and city officials, and boys in uniform, while in the audience you could hear the children murmuring.
“I want a little boy named Kevin,” Ann whispered to me, as somebody stepped forward to hold her coat and someone else held her handbag. “And I want a daughter named Nan and obviously a McNulty must have a son named Pat.”
“You’re on, Miss Blyth,” said an official.
“Pray for me that I don’t break into singing ‘Falling in Love is Wonderful’ to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells,’ she said.
But of course she didn’t. She sang every song without missing a word. And watching her, you knew how lucky Dr. James McNulty is, and how lucky Ann is too. Lucky like every other young couple who meet and fail in love—forever and ever.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE APRIL 1953