Continued Love Story
That Irene Wrightsman McEvoy, the dark-haired beauty and daughter of oil millionaire Charles Wrightsman, is the only woman in Kirk Douglas’s life, neither they nor anyone else denies. Kirk himself says that he and Irene are “going steady” and that he is seeing no other girl. Irene’s love for the handsome, popular and wonderful guy is in her every look and action. She adores him.
But when you speak of marriage to either —ah, that’s another matter. “Are you and Irene getting married?” I asked Kirk, an old friend of mine, when I ran into him on the Paramount lot—just outside the rehearsal stage of “Detective Story.”
He neither smiled nor frowned. He just gave with the old stock phrase, “We have no plans. Besides, Louella—any announcement should come from Irene.”
“Oh, come, come. come, Emily Post,” I said, “You’re talking to Louella, your favorite Charleston partner, remember?”
A slow grin spread over his not-so-handsome-but-oh-so-nice face. But he said nothing.
“All right.” I challenged, “Are you two cooling—as I’ve also heard?”
That got him. “No, that’s not true,” he replied quickly, “Irene is a wonderful girl and I see her as much as possible. But right now I’m working all day and sometimes late into the night on ‘Detective Story.’ That gives me very little chance for any sort of life outside the studio.”
“Very interesting,” I mentally said to myself, “but not what I want to know, old boy.”
Aloud, I persisted (he must have been saying to himself “Louella Parsons is the rudest woman I know”), “Kirk, you are free now. There’s no obstacle to your marrying Irene any time you desire.”
My boy friend sighed. “Tell me one thing. Why does everything have to be either ecstasy or despair in Hollywood? Why can’t things just go on without being one extreme or the other. If I don’t say flatly that I am marrying Irene it’s assumed we are cooling.
“I’m devoted to her. She’s the only girl I ever see, have any interest in. But do we have to rush into matrimony the moment my divorce is granted?”
I laughed. “You’re a one-woman man, anyway, Kirk—and I admire you for it.”
When he was married to Diana he never looked at another woman. Then came Evelyn Keyes and for weeks his whole time and attention were directed toward her. Now, Irene has been the object of his affections for almost a year.
“You’re what my grandmother used to call a ‘good, solid prospect and the makings of a fine husband,’ Kirk,” I said.
And he is. But Hollywood is no small town and Kirk is no ordinary “nice, eligible young man.” Times and towns have changed since Grandma was a girl. In his and Irene’s case there are important factors both for and against a marriage.
Let’s look at the latter side first: Kirk, divorced from Diana Douglas, is no longer a husband. But he’s still very much a father, and a great deal of bis former marriage still remains part of his life.
The pronouncement of a divorce court has not kept Kirk and Diana from remaining the best of friends, and it isn’t because they are putting on a pleasant face for the sake of their children—they still like each other!
Not for a minute am I trying to insinuate that there is any emotional hangover between them. Theirs is a great friendship built on the memory of the fine years they shared. To this day, neither makes a move in his or her career without Consulting the other. Diana makes no decisions, even the smallest, regarding the two sons they both love so deeply, without Kirk’s advice.
Such a situation is very comfortable and comforting to a man. In view of such an ideal situation, it would be in the nature of very few men, indeed, to hurry into marriage again.
But Kirk also is a kind man and a gallant man. He’s also very much in love with Irene whose charm and social position are international.
Irene, chic and charming, has lived on the front pages of newspapers almost all of her twenty-four years. Her life has been filled with as much drama, excitement and, yes, melodrama, as any fictional heroine in one of Kirk’s pictures.
When Kirk first met the elder daughter of the fabulously wealthy Charles Wrightsman, some gossips said he was vastly impressed by her position in life. Kirk’s never made any secret of the fact that he comps of a once poor family.
This isn’t a biography and there’s no reason to go more deeply into Kirk’s very fine success story. The point is that by the time he and Irene met in magical Hollywood he was a $150,000 per picture actor and Irene was on the verge of being disinherited by her father because she might marry Robert Stack!
Wrightsman, it seems, is of a “disinheriting” frame of mind where his two lovely daughters (Charlene, the younger, is the ex-wife of Helmut Dantine) are concerned. He hates actors. And Freddie McEvoy, Irene’s first spouse, he hated on specific grounds. He was in a rage when Irene eloped with McEvoy, playboy, ex-boy friend of Barbara Hutton, pal of Errol Flynn in his escapades and man-of-the-world fifteen years Irene’s senior. It proved a terribly unhappy marriage. Irene was on the verge of leaving McEvoy before their first daughter was born. But they patched up their many rifts and later a second child was born to them. The first baby died in a Mexico City hospital when she was two.
When Rene and McEvoy finally parted. Has was inevitable. he took his other daughter to Paris with him and for years she lived with his mother. When he married again, the little girl remained with her father and his new French wife.
Irene, herself, never sees the child—never tries to. Because she is a warm, really sympathetic person, many people find this hard to understand. But her closest friends, who love her, say:
“She was just a child herself when Fred took the baby with him. Her life with him had been so unhappy it isn’t any great mystery that she tried to put everything connected with it out of her life—as though it had never happened. She knows, too, that Freddie is a marvelous father. isn’t it better that the child should grow up with solid foundations rather than be yanked from one side of an ocean to the other, an innocent pawn in the lives of a father and mother who have nothing in common?”
Even so, Irene’s life might have been vastly different if, divorced, she had not fallen very deeply in love with Bob Stack, after her parting from Freddie. It was a love story that lasted for five years. Many times they were on the verge of marriage. Many things stopped them. That’s another story, a closed chapter.
When Irene and Kirk met both were unhappy, going through emotional crises.
From the beginning there was physical attraction between them—the beautiful girl, still very young in spite of the tragedies in her life and the good-looking, virile Kirk, just fully realizing the success for which he had worked so hard.
From that first “date” neither went out with anyone else. But I think the year they had to wait for Kirk’s divorce to become final gave them the necessary time to realize they were growing really in love.
And here is where we come to the pro arguments for their eventual marriage: They have found something very wonderful. The physical attraction is still there. But they also are marvelous companions.
She likes the outdoor life as well as he does. And, luckily, he likes the same social things which please her. They are equally at home on the tennis court, golf links, cocktail parties, night clubs, or taking long lazy drives along the Pacific.
Irene has no career of her own to divert her interest from Kirk’s life. Night after night she has curled up in a chair as he read his script aloud to her. When she and Kirk appear in public, she poses willingly for photographers. She knows that good publicity is good for his career.
When he is tired from long hours at the studio, she drives his car to pick him up. She laughs at his jokes. She sympathizes with his “moods.” And all the time, she’s lovely to look at—in the sunshine or under the spotlight.
Irene, whom the world thinks of as a madcap heiress, is to Kirk a warm, wistful and understanding companion. His film success has planted his feet firmly on any world in which she may move. He may specialize in “he-man” roles of prizefighters, detectives and hard-boiled newspapermen—but Kirk today is a poised, cultured, intelligent man who can move with poise through any circle he chooses.
It’s never safe to prophesy any Hollywood marriage—but I think they may be married by the time you read this.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE JUNE 1951