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Can Love Find The Way?—June Haver & Fred MacMurray

Six months ago June Haver twenty-seven, and Fred MacMurray forty-five, were unhappy—really unhappy. June, unable to adjust to the life of a novitiate and complete her orders to become a nun, had returned to Hollywood from a Roman Catholic convent at Xavier, Kansas.

Fred had recently lost his wife Lillian. They had been married seventeen years, and theirs was one of the most successful marriages in Hollywood.

Without Lillian the husky film actor felt lost. He had two adopted children to bring up; Susan fourteen, and Robert ten. And he just didn’t know what to do.

For weeks June and Fred moped around town trying to adjust their individual lives.

June bleached her hair, bought a new wardrobe and started dating an old family friend, Joe Campbell.

Fred couldn’t bring himself even to dine with another woman, so fresh in his heart and mind was the memory of his lovely Lillian.

But time heals all wounds, and eventually Fred and June found themselves at Ned Marin’s Gay Nineties party.

“I’m glad I went,” he says now. “Because I met June there and I got to know her well. And somehow she succeeded in turning the shadows into sunshine.”

Early this year Fred and June began going around together. Very sedately, very quietly. But in Hollywood secrets are impossible to keep, and it wasn’t very long before both of them admitted to strong affection. “Are you in love with Fred MacMurray?” June was asked in February.

She smiled and from the way she smiled anyone could see that she was. But all she would say was, “I’m not dating anyone else.” Her love for Fred was implicit.

Fred, the handsome giant (six feet, three, 196 pounds) from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, was reluctant, too, to discuss his private life in public.

“All I’m going to say is that June is a fine girl. I consider it a privilege to have her as a friend.”

“She’s more than a friend,” he was pressed, “isn’t she?”

MacMurray grinned. “Okay, she’s a good friend.”

Obviously, Fred didn’t want to admit last February that he was falling in love with June, and she with him. MacMurray is shy, modest and conservative.

OVER THE YEARS he has rarely made an impetuous move. He is not the type of man to elope with a beautiful girl. Nor has he ever worn his heart on his sleeve.

He is a man who judges, measures and weighs all his actions. June is the same kind of young woman.

So when Fred asked June to accompany him to the Brazilian and Argentine Film Festivals in March, most of Hollywood knew that this was the trial-and-test period before the engagement announcement.

With twenty-five other film stars June and Fred took off for South America. June had no trousseau with her, and Fred had no marriage ring in his cash pocket.

They spent three hectic weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. They got to know each other better, to see each other under a very special set of circumstances. And they liked what they saw. Despite all the South American attractions, they had eyes only for each other. One actress who returned to Hollywood before the others, remarked, “Fred and June are real gone. Bet they’re married before the year is out.”

The wire services didn’t wait for the year to report that June Haver and Fred MacMurray planned to elope to Kingston, Jamaica, and to get married on March 20.

The Miami Daily News had said in a copyrighted yarn that Joan Fontaine had revealed the romantic nuptial plans upon arriving from Panama.

It is true that Joan had flown up with June and Fred as far as Panama, but it is not true that she told a representative from Pan-American Airlines that “they got off at the Canal Zone. Then they’re going to Kingston, Jamaica, to get married.”

According to Miss Fontaine, this is what happened.

“My plane landed at Miami at six-forty-five a.m. You know how it is when a plane lands. Much talk. Much hustle and bustle.

“June and Fred had gotten off in Panama. They both wanted to rest.

“Some fellow from the airlines came up to us at Miami and started to check his manifest. ‘Where,’ he asked, ‘are Miss Haver and Mr. MacMurray? Where are Mr. and Mrs. Flynn?’

“As I say, there was much yacking. We explained that June and Fred had gotten off in Panama that morning. So had Errol and Pat Flynn. The Flynns have a home in Jamaica. I think Errol keeps his yacht there. Someone said that the Flynns had taken a plane for Kingston, Jamaica.

“Somehow, June and Fred were mistaken for Errol and Pat. The Miami newspapers were phoned, and the story went out that they were eloping to Jamaica.

“If I had known that they had such plans, which apparently they didn’t, I never would have told anyone.”

The local newsmen talked to MacMurray at El Panama Hotel where he and June were staying.

You and Miss Haver planning to get married?” a reporter asked.

“It could happen,” Fred said good-naturedly.

“Could it happen here?” another reporter asked. “There was an inquiry a little while ago at the District Court in Ancon. Someone wanted to know about the possibility of your getting a marriage license in the Canal Zone.”

“I can tell you this,” Fred said. “We’re not going to get married in Panama.”

“Where do you plan to go from here?”

“On Saturday night,” Fred said, “we’re catching a plane for Hollywood.”

In Panama, June said nothing to reporters. She let Fred do all the talking, but back in Hollywood many were sure that June would not get married until she received a Papal Dispensation annulling her 1947 marriage to trumpet player Jimmy Zito. June is a devout Catholic convert. Fred MacMurray is a church-going Presbyterian. His grandfather was a Presbyterian minister.

How can these two reconcile their religious differences?

No matter how strong his love for June, Fred probably has no intention of converting from the Presbyterian church to the Catholic Church. He has brought up his two children in the Presbyterian faith and he believes strongly in most of its precepts.

He has absolutely no objections to June’s beliefs and he admires her for her devotion to them.

Without the Papal Dispensation, June would be committing a sin in the eyes of the Catholic Church if she married Fred. That’s why a wedding isn’t likely until she gets the Dispensation.

But anything can happen and the lovers might be married as you read these very words. But it isn’t likely.

Aside from their religions, Fred and June have so much in common that they should be able to make a lasting marriage. They both come from midwestern homes. Both have musical backgrounds. Both have been in show business most of their lives. And both have been married.

June knows the value of a dollar, and Fred has many dollars. In twenty years, he has starred in about seventy-five films. He owns an 860-acre ranch, one of the finest herds of cattle in the West, a knitting mill, an apartment hotel, an oil company, four apartment houses and one of the most beautifully furnished homes (Early American) in Brentwood.

He is unassuming, unspoiled and one of the most likeable actors in Hollywood.

He has insisted over and over again, “I can’t act. I’m just lucky.”

In the seventeen years of his marriage, never once was he touched by a whiff of scandal. While Lillian was sick, more than one girl made a play for Fred. He didn’t even look.

He never goes to see any of his own movies until they’re playing in small neighborhood theatres where he can go in unrecognized. When people ask him if he’s Fred MacMurray, he grins and says, “Everyone says there’s a resemblance.”

Right now, Fred is considered the best catch in Hollywood. And everyone is glad that June Haver appears to have caught him. For June also rates best.



(Fred MacMurray will be seen in The Caine Mutiny.)



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