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Announcing The Engagement And Forthcoming Marriage Of Troy Donahue To Lili Kardell

One stifling-hot Saturday afternoon last August, Troy Donahue happened to glance out the window of his Hollywood apartment. Suddenly the casual glance changed into a long, curious stare. His eyes were practically glued on a shapely blonde frolicking in the nearby swimming pool. She had on a strapless two-piece red bathing suit, tame compared to the revealing bikinis worn by two other girls around the pool—yet on her it was exciting. She was richly sun-tanned, and her face was radiant. This was Lili Kardell. She was a lovely Swedish motion picture and television actress who had dropped by for a swim at the invitation of her agent and good friend, Harold Gefsky, who lives in an apartment next to Troy. He and Lili had no sooner climbed out of the pool than Troy, trying to act nonchalant, sauntered over and was introduced. It was the beginning of a new life for both of them. For only a few short months later, I ran into him on a Warner Brothers backlot. Beaming with happiness, he told me that he and his “first and only love” had just become engaged. That was in February. The marriage, he said, would take place as soon as he could get time off from his “SurfSide 6” TV series—either July or August.

I feel great” 

“She’s the first girl I ever really loved,” he said. “I feel great. We wanted to keep our engagement secret a little longer,” he added, “but we just couldn’t. I haven’t even had a chance yet to buy her a ring.” Just at that moment, Lili herself walked in the gate, looking very smart in a gray flannel suit. When Troy saw her, he raced over to meet her, and they embraced as if they’d been apart for months. Then hand in hand, they walked back together, and Troy introduced her proudly.

“This is Lili Kardell,” he said, “this is the girl who has everything—beauty, class, personality—I could go on and on.” I never saw Troy so happy. He was dressed for a scene, in a white dinner jacket, very handsome. Very much in love.

When Lili put out her hand I noticed she was wearing a ring on her betrothal finger after all—a gold band studded with tiny diamonds. It looked like a wedding ring. Seeing my glance, she smiled and said, “It isn’t what you think, this is my mother’s wedding ring. I wanted to wear something to let everyone know how happy Troy has made me.”

At first their engagement had been an understanding between them—in other words, a secret—but the news leaked out and then both seemed eager to tell everybody. That was when Lili put on her mother’s ring as a symbol. Now people are wondering why they were in such a hurry that they couldn’t wait for Troy to buy one. Some friends asked, “Was it because of Sally Todd?” There were rumors that Sally, whom Troy used to date a great deal, had become hysterically tearful when Troy told her it was all over between them. Others said that Lili and Sally used to be best friends—till Lili took Troy away from her.

Troy won’t talk about the rumors except to insist that he didn’t meet Lili until after he’d broken off with Sally. And that the two girls, far from being best friends, never even knew each other.

“I never thought of marriage with Sally,” he says. “We just enjoyed each other’s company. Then things got stale. We broke off. I met Lili shortly afterwards.”

“No,” Lili laughs, “I never took Troy away from another. I didn’t have to. I knew after a few dates that I was in love with him. How did I know? You either feel love or you don’t.”

No matter how it happened, Troy’s engagement took one of Hollywood’s most eligible young bachelors out of circulation. He has dated such beauties—besides Sally—as Connie Stevens, Diane McBain, Sherry Jackson and Nan Morris. And if a recent weekend in Palm Springs is any indication, more than one of his former girl friends may not take kindly to his new status. The weekend that Troy and Lili were at the resort, they ran into Nan Morris, and observers say that they didn’t speak—not even just to say hello. Others say that Diane and Sherry were in Palm Springs, too, and that Lili chatted with them around the pool at the resort. And one of Troy’s friends later remarked, “Poor Lili, wherever she goes she runs into an old flame of Troy’s.”

Love at first sight

Nevertheless it was with “poor Lili” that Troy fell in love at first sight that August day at the pool. But then after a few dates, she broke down and reminded him that it was really on second sight—because they had actually met four years before at a party. And she had refused him a date for after the party. What happened was that Lili was surrounded by men asking for dates. When Troy came over and asked the same thing, she said no to him, too. There were so many more men than women at the party, and the attention was so overwhelming, she had felt a little embarrassed, and so refused him.

The funny part was that, until she reminded him, Troy didn’t even remember the incident. Yet four years later it took only one glimpse for him to fall head over heels. Which just goes to prove, they decided, that love has to hit you at the right time—when you’re ready for it and not before.

Who is this girl who gave everybody such a surprise that many of them still refuse to believe it’s the “real thing” will lead to marriage? Lili first came to this country nearly seven years ago from her native Stockholm. Her father, Thore Kardell, is a Swedish orchestra leader. “I didn’t win a beauty contest to get here,” she says. “I never entered one. I was on the stage in Stockholm and I wanted to be a motion picture actress, so I came over.”

The breaks were immediately with her. Only eighteen years old, she was put under contract at Universal-International Studios and appeared in several features. But because of her slight accent she got only roles of a foreign type. And pretty soon, thanks to so many beauty contests, Hollywood was flooded with accents. Today hers is hardly noticeable, and she is kept busy filming television shows.

The proudest day of her life was last November 18th, when she became an American citizen. She was sworn in with nearly a hundred others in ceremonies at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles. Then she stepped across the street to the court house and received another kind of freedom, her final divorce papers. It signaled the end to a brief and unhappy marriage to an insurance broker, Peter Paxton. They were married not quite a year. “He had to have everything his way,” she testified in court. “Otherwise he threw a tantrum.” The divorce was granted.

Death of a friend

The saddest day in Lili’s life was Sept. 30th, 1955. It was on this day that James Dean lost his life when his sports car crashed off the highway near Paso Robles, California. Lili had only been in this country a short time then, and Dean had taken her under his wing. He helped her adjust to the strange ways of Hollywood, helped her with her acting. gave her encouragement and confidence.

“We were very close.” she says. “It wasn’t a romance. either. It was sort of brother and sister.”

Even today it hurts her to talk about it. She appeared in “The Jimmy Dean Story,” made after his death, but she has never seen the picture. It would bring back too many memories.

She is different from most of the girls Troy has dated. She’s not the glamour type; her clothes are attractive yet not extravagant. She is twenty-five to Troy’s twenty-four, and their love may have progressed as fast as it did because both are mature. But she is not aggressive, and in Troy’s company she plays a secondary role out of respect and devotion. Yet when making the studio rounds with her agent, she unleashes so much charm that she usually gets the role for which a producer is interviewing.

This, then, is Lili Kardell. When she met Troy, they found they had a lot in common; love of the outdoors, sports, laughs and good food. Lili is an above-average cook. Often, instead of dining out on dates, she prepares the dinner. “Troy’s favorite dish,” she says, “is leg of lamb the way I prepare it, a la Swedish. He also likes my beef stew.”

Another bond is that Troy is half Swedish, on his mother’s side, and half English.

Their dating wasn’t all secluded restaurants and hands across the table. A lot of it was on golf courses. at football games and basketball games. Lili is a fine amateur golfer—in fact, she’s even built like a female champion. Her interest in athletics whetted Troy’s appetite for sports, too. She started giving him golfing lessons, passing on what she had learned from such a top pro as Eric Monte. Troy took to the sport like a duck takes to water. When he was on location for “Susan Slade” in Monterey last December, Lili was there, too. When Troy wasn’t before a camera, he was on the Pebble Beach course playing golf with her.

Late in January, Troy was given some time off by the studio, because he had worked hard. He headed for Palm Springs and the golf courses, and Lili was there too.

It was there they started talking marriage.

“He asked me to marry him on a golf course,” Lili laughs. “I was so surprised. I missed a three-foot putt.”

Troy tells a slightly different story.

They decided to wait

“| kept asking her to marry me. she kept saying no. I was persistent. She made me the happiest man in the world when she finally consented. It wasn’t a sudden thing, though. We had long talks about marriage, whether or not it would work for us. And although we are sure about each other, we wanted to be doubly sure. That’s one reason we decided not to elope—to wait until summer. To see if our love is true, everlasting.”

As for the future, Troy sees a bright one. Lili likewise. In the last year. Troy’s star has risen to the top at Warners. They plan to live in Troy’s apartment after the marriage, and eventually buy a home in the Hollywood Hills.

“We would like to honeymoon in Sweden,” Troy says. “I very much want to meet Lili’s parents. My mother and 72-year-old grandmother are very fond of Lili. They are really happy over the news.” Lili is anxious to revisit her native land. She hasn’t been home in six years.

What about children? “We want to have children,” Troy says with a smile, “and a nice big family. However, we would like to wait a couple of years before we start that project.”

As for Lili’s career, she plans to continue it, at least for a while. It has been filled with ups and downs, still, “I think right now I’d be lost without my acting,” she says. “But eventually I’ll adjust to being a housewife—because naturally, Troy comes first.”

After a remark like that, they smile at each other with such complete understanding that it looks as if these two have the future all wrapped up. And if some people in Hollywood aren’t quite ready, in their surprise, to believe that this time Troy’s really found his love, perhaps it’s because they haven’t yet gotten to know Lili Kardell.



Troy can be seen in “Parrish” and “Susan Slade” for Warner Bros. and in “Surf-Side 6,” on ABC-TV, Mon., 8:30 P.M. EST.


It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MAY 1961

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    1 Ağustos 2023

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