But Here Are The Facts He Has To Face—Elizabeth Taylor and Nicky Hilton
By the time you read this health chart on the marriage state of Elizabeth Taylor and Nicky Hilton, anything might have happened—a big argument, a bigger reconciliation, a statement of undying devotion, or a visit to the lawyer. But whether they are together or whether they are apart, I’m going to add a powerful postscript—THEY’LL STILL BE IN LOVE!
I’ve written about Elizabeth and Nicky before but it was like riding a horse with blinders on—the scenery to the left and right could only be guessed at. Now, the marriage is emerging in its sharp outline. Conjecture can be replaced by clarification. The honeymoon is over. This is for real. And reality is sometimes a painful pill to swallow. So are facts. But because I’m convinced that Elizabeth and Nicky are in love, I’ll be presumptuous, perhaps, and measure out the medicine. And I hope the young Hiltons will swallow it with an open mind—to mix metaphors.
First of all, Elizabeth and Nicky have been behaving like spoiled children. And I’m not blaming them for that. They’ve both had everything done for them all their lives. Nicky’s father, multi-millionaire hotel tycoon Conrad Hilton, has worshipped the oldest of his three sons ever since his birth 23 years ago in Texas. Nicky had only to ask, to get—a pony—a horse—a fishing rod, a trust fund, travel. The child of divorced parents, what he didn’t smooch from his father, he smiled, out of his mother. They gave him everything. Everything except a couple of things money, not even millions, can buy—consideration for others, emotional happiness for himself.
And Elizabeth. The pretty child of a still pretty mother. It must be hard for a mama to keep her head when her heart is listening to the lovely sentence, “Your daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world.” The Taylors weren’t and aren’t as wealthy as the Hiltons, not by several millions, but whatever they had, Elizabeth had most of—rented houses at the beach, dresses, devotion—dreams. Topped with the pink icing on the white cake—fame as a movie star in Elizabeth’s own right.
So, the famous young beauty marries the handsome rich Prince Charming, and the whole world smiles, and expects them to be happy ever after. Maybe they will be—afterwards. But right now they are learning, and very painfully I’m afraid, via spats and separations, that there’s more to living than loving, especially when the person you seem to love most is the one who looks back at you in the mirror.
Take the “help” question. The servant saga in the Nicky Hilton household is hilarious or heartbreaking—depending on your sense of humor this morning. Within the space of two months—from September when Elizabeth and Nicky so bravely set up housekeeping in the Pacific Palisades home belonging to his younger brother Barron, to the end of October when they decided they didn’t, after all, want to buy the house—Elizabeth hired, fired, or was plain walked out on by six—count ’em—servants! And they might never have had a seventh (trouble travels fast on the exclusive servant circuit in Beverly Hills and points west) if Joan Bennett, in motherly compassion for the the young flounderers, hadn’t loaned them her own housekeeper!
Who is to blame for the Hilton help problem? I’m not saying. But these are the plain ungarnished facts. Servants don’t usually leave considerate employers. One of the dissatisfied six told me that she found Elizabeth and Nicky very charming to work for except for one failing—“You never knew when they’d suddenly appear with six extra guests for dinner—or when they’d appear at all for dinner.” This last minute meal business is nothing new for Elizabeth, of course. At her mother’s house, dinner might be mentioned for eight o’clock, and sometimes it would be ten before Elizabeth appeared with her guests. Then it was Mrs. Taylor’s job to soothe the servants. Elizabeth will have to take lessons from her mom in that highly specialized department.
Nicky and Elizabeth are either very trusting or very careless about their personal possessions. They invariably leave the front door of their house, not only unlocked, but open! And inside all their silver and jewelry remain unguarded. (Memo to Liz and Nicky: For heaven’s sake put a strong lock and an alarm on the door now or youwill be burglarized.)
Then there’s the smoking. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for it, if that’s what a girl wants to do. But Elizabeth’s current cigarette sessions are very much frowned on by her mother, who would rather Elizabeth stayed as fresh and unspoiled for as long as possible. Well, I’ve news for Mrs. Taylor, and I hope it won’t be a shock. Elizabeth did smoke before the marriage and it was none of Nicky’s doings. She just wanted to, like most young girls do. But she didn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings, so she smoked secretly like thousands of dutiful daughters before her and after her. Personally, I think if she wants to smoke, it’s better to do it in the open.
Whenever the story gets on the air or into print that Elizabeth and Nicky have had another battle, the four people most upset are the two mothers and the two fathers of the spatting couple. Especially Mrs. Taylor, because she has lived her whole life for and with Elizabeth, and she cannot conceive of anyone in the world who would dare to hurt her little girl.
Even before the marriage, Mrs. Taylor was so upset at something Nicky said to Elizabeth that she went off somewhere and no one could find her. When her daughter returned to Hollywood from Europe accompanied by those hard-to-understand stories of the beautiful bride neglected while the groom gambled, Mrs. Taylor was beside herself, and desperately unhappy. Elizabeth, always loyal to Nicky, defended him to her mother and denied everything.
Actually, despite the arguments they may have, they do love each other, and if only they can learn to keep the battles in the boudoir where no one can hear them, they might have a real chance for happiness. Because as it is, stories about them spread like wildfire. And if Liz isn’t careful, people may start saying that the bruises she received in a recent airplane accident were administered by Nicky himself. (The plane, heading for New York, crashed through a wooden fence at the end of a rain-soaked runway and made an emergency landing at Long Beach, California.) That brush with death, incidentally, is doing more right now than all the doting advice in the world to make these two realize that only their love is important, and that all the spats, temperamental outbursts, and the like are just plain trivia. Naturally, they valued their love before this accident. So far, after every fight, they have kissed and made up, and Nicky couldn’t do enough for Elizabeth. He showered her with all sorts of expensive presents to say he was sorry. But the realization that a power not in their control is capable of separating them, should bring them maturity, and less and less things to be sorry for.
Nicky, for whom life was always so simple—when he used to gamble, no one made a headline of it; when he quarrelled with a girl, no one cared—can’t seem to accept the fact that marriage to a movie star makes him news. I’ve heard it said—never from Nicky or Elizabeth—that in order to stop the non-stop rumors, he will ask his wife to give up her career. If anything else were needed to break Mrs. Taylor’s heart, this would be it. But I don’t believe Nicky would ever ask this sacrifice. I think he enjoys being married to such a beautiful and famous movie star. I also believe that he wants the marriage to last “until death do them part.” Nicky is very religious—he attends Mass regularly. It would be a very serious matter for Nicky with his church if his marriage vows were to be lightly tossed aside.
That is why, as soon as the separation stories reappeared recently when he was in Las Vegas without Elizabeth, who was in Palm Springs without Nicky, he cut short the hotel business which he said had taken him there. He then drove to the desert and spent one whole day with his wife, hand-holding by the pool of the Racquet Club—“so that everyone can see that we have not separated.” Then he returned alone to their home here.
But when I talked to Elizabeth on the telephone next day, she told me, “I’m coming home from Palm Springs. I needed the rest, but I want to stop the rumors that we are separated.” The “rumors” were potent enough to bring Elizabeth’s mother rushing back from New York to be close at hand in case of a call for help from her daughter.
But I don’t think Elizabeth is ever going to give that “yoo hoo.” She’s very proud, and as of this writing, she’s more sure than ever that Mrs. Nicky Hilton will be her name for keeps. Although, with Elizabeth, or with any bewildered child, you can’t predict.
For instance, after the brief separation in New York that time when the honeymooners landed from the Queen Elizabeth, she called her mother to the phone in Beverly Hills, and cried her heart out long distance. “Don’t worry, baby,” Mrs. Taylor soothed her weeping daughter, “I’ll take care of everything, don’t worry.” Half an hour later she called back to tell Elizabeth, “I’ve arranged to have you flown back immediately to Hollywood.” But by that time Elizabeth and Nicky had kissed and made up and wild horses couldn’t drag her home—not to mention a plane. In fact, she was angry with her mother for suggesting any such thing!
Incidentally, the story that Elizabeth has broken with her mother and is refusing to see her cannot be true, because when I talked to Mrs. Taylor yesterday she told me she expected Nicky and Elizabeth for dinner that same night.
Elizabeth is generously extravagant. So is Nicky. With her first sizable pay she bought her mother a car. With all the dozens of dresses in her fabulous trousseau, she bought more clothes in New York on her return from Europe, and lots more dresses locally.
Nicky has never stopped to count the cost of anything—when you love to gamble you don’t. So they don’t save much. And contrary to popular belief, Nicky is not a millionaire—only his father is. Of course, young Hilton does have a trust fund which gives him $12,000 a year—a fortune for all, except a few, twenty-three year olders. But peanuts for a boy with Nicky’s penchant for poker (Elizabeth designates Thursday ‘Nicky’s poker night’) and plush living. Elizabeth’s salary at MGM isn’t yet in the top brackets. Although it will be when she negotiates that new contract—in two years.
But in a rather belated attempt to teach his son the value of a dollar, the senior Mr. Hilton is withholding, so I am told, any further financial help. So Nicky has to get along on his trust fund and what he makes as manager of the Bel Air Hotel. And if he’s the smart boy I take him to be, he will learn how lucky he is to have so much of the world’s good fortune.
And for the future of their future, I hope he won’t have Elizabeth dashing all over the place on trips to New York, trips to here, trips to there. She is still exhausted from her hectic honeymoon. And I was saddened but not surprised when she collapsed at the conclusion of her Metro picture Father’s Little Dividend. Her fainting, of course, rekindled the rumors of a mother’s little dividend, but Elizabeth and Nicky don’t expect that happy promise to come true just yet.
I wish it would. The responsibility of a baby could prove just what the doctor ordered. A. child would give them both something to live for besides their very charming selves. One thing I’m sure of. This baby will not only notbe pampered—but never spoiled.
—BY SHEILAH GRAHAM
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1951