Cupid On The Rampage
Love is simply busting out all over . . . and over . . . and over. . . .
Debbie’s heart went to Eddie Fisher way back last July but her hand will not be his until this June when these two plan to be married. Her dark-haired friend Pier Angeli, in the meantime, has tied the knot with Vic Damone and her cute blond friend Jane Powell has already returned from her European honeymoon with husband Pat Nerney.
The last time these three girls were together was the day that Esme Chandlee, Helen Rose and Ann Strauss gave a bridal shower for the immediately-to-be-brides Pier and Jane. When I think back, I feel that Cupid must have the good grace to blush when he sees how nearly he came to missing his mark. . . .
Debbie Reynolds was rehearsing. Her hair was in curlers because she was going to a premiere that night. She frowned when she saw Johnny Grant and shook her head when he pointed to the slender, dark, curly-haired young man with him. Didn’t he know she was dancing against time? And for him to bring a stranger on the set and with her hair such a mess! But she nodded politely when Johnny brought his friend over. “You remember him, you met him four years ago when we entertained at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington—Eddie Fisher.” Ah, now she remembered. He was a GI then. He’d said, “Hello, Miss Reynolds.” She’d said, “How d’ye do.” Now-he was grinning, and she smiled back. But she was late. “Bye,” she said, and started running. “Will you be my date for my opening at the Cocoanut Grove?” Eddie was to ask over the telephone weeks later. “Okay,” Debbie had answered in her candid fashion.
I wonder if Debbie knows that I was partly responsible for her big romance with Eddie. It happened just around Valentine’s Day last year. Young Mr. Fisher was in the doghouse with Mamie Van Doren and the local photographers here. Eddie and Mamie, whom he knew only slightly, were supping at the Mocambo, and the lensmen swooped down to take photos. Suddenly, Eddie dashed from the fancy night club as though twenty devils were on his tail. I read Miss Van Doren’s statement the next day. Boy, was she insulted! No man had ever run out on her before, and who did he think he was, etc., etc.
So I called Eddie to find out “wha’ hoppened.” He wasn’t sure except that he didn’t want his picture taken in a night club with a girl he hardly knew. “I’m lonely in this town,” surprisingly confessed the famous singer. “I’d like to meet more people. D’ye know anyone?” “Debbie Reynolds,” I suggested, and Eddie jumped five feet in the air. “D’ye think she’d go out with me?” he asked. “Call her and find out,” said I. Eddie went one better. He recalled the brief meeting in Washington, contacted Johnny Grant who took him to the set—and that was the beginning of their love story, and another notch in the arrow of the little guy who’s been working overtime in our neck of the woods. But if Debbie hadn’t visited. the Walter Reed Hospital, and I hadn’t interviewed Eddie—makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
And I wonder whether Marlon Brando would have met his love—if he hadn’t rejected the script of “The Egyptian?” He found Josanne Berenger in the office of his New York psychiatrist, after his mysterious dash from Hollywood. The nineteen-year-old French brunette—“The only girl I ever wanted to marry,” was giving lessons in her language to the doctor’s kids. Marlon returned to Hollywood when Josanne agreed to accompany him back to 20th Century-Fox, which is probably why he agreed to play Napoleon in “Desirée.”
I guessed the romance was serious when Marlon told the press agent on the picture, “I don’t want anyone to know that Jo is on the set with me.” Try and keep a secret in Hollywood! Funny thing was that before Brando took flight to New York, he was trying to date Rita Moreno. One girl’s loss is another’s fiancé.
Falling in love is sometimes just a question of timing. If Rock Hudson had met Vera-Ellen for the first time today, he would be married to her, instead of she being Mrs. Victor Rothschild. “I was engaged to Vera,” Rock told me when we discussed the news of her marriage to Victor. “But I was making $150 a week then, and she was earning something like $1500.” Rock is now collecting something like $2500 a week, but he could never be the kind of man to let a girl pick up the check. And as he explained to me at the time of his break with Vera—“I don’t blame her for wanting to go to Ciro’s, Romanoff’s and the Mocambo. It’s important for her career to be seen in the right places. But I couldn’t take her there on my salary.” Rock has no dinner-tab worries now, but he’s happy dating scriptgirl Betty Abbott anyway.
When Dick Gully went to Europe, Vera-Ellen promised to follow him just as soon as she lined up a picture. She lined up the picture all right, but before she could fly to Dick, Cupid took a hand—or rather Johnny McKee, who took her to play tennis at Jerry Ohrbach’s home. Vera was a swimmer, not a tennis player, and I was surprised when she gave up those hundred laps a day and suddenly started hitting tennis balls like a girl with a mission. Well it seems that Victor is a crack tennis player—she met him at Mr. Ohrbach’s that day—and the quickest way to a tennis player’s future is to beat him at his own game!
Of course, now they are Mr. and Mrs., Vera has probably given up the game and gone back to swimming. Like Lauren Bacall who loved the briny for Bogart’s sake before their marriage, but then raised her own Caine Mutiny and hasn’t set foot on the “Santana” for the past five years. And Rita Hayworth, who might never have married Prince Aly Khan if she hadn’t pretended to adore flying. That’s why she loves Dick Haymes. She has never had to pretend anything with him.
Guy Madison was tired and depressed. His career was tops, but his private life added up to nothing. To cheer him up, his always-happy agent, Helen Ainsworth said, “How about taking me to the Sportsmen’s Show at the Pan-Pacific?” “Good idea,” said Guy who isn’t one to mope if there’s something better afoot. Someone introduced him that night—he’s still too excited to recall whom—to Sheila Connolly, a happy mixture in looks of Elizabeth Taylor and his ex-wife, Gail Russell. Guy asked Sheila, “Will you have a cup of coffee with me?” From that moment on she was the only woman in his life. And it looks good for their future. Sheila, who was strictly an indoor type, is now forcing herself to love the wide open spaces Guy adores.
With Sarita Montiel, leading lady for Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, it isn’t Cupid who’s on the rampage—she is. “I love your beeg country, I love your beeg cities, I love your beeg men,” she told me, adding, “I love making love to American actors. When you kiss Spanish men, they act like their wives were on the set.” Sarita, who prefers her lovers on the bald side, doesn’t care for men under forty—“They’re still boys.” Incidentally, in case middle-aged American men are planning anything, this Mexican tamale is reportedly having a hot romance with her Mexican agent, Juan Plaza.
“I’m Pat Nerney. I don’t think you remember me, but I’d like to take you to dinner.” Jane Powell was thrown off base by this polite and unconventional approach, and after replacing the receiver, realized she had said, “Yes.” A week earlier and it would have been “No.” But Gene Nelson couldn’t or wouldn’t get a divorce, and with Janie it’s always been all or nothing. So she made a clean break with Gene. She might still have been married to Geary Steffan, however, if Metro hadn’t loaned her to Warner Brothers for “Three Sailors and a Girl.” As you know, Gene was one of the sailors. And this sailor wanted Powell in every port. Now it looks good for the reconciliation with Miriam, his choreographer and best foot forward.
Cupid sometimes finds it rough sailing with Pilar Palette and John Wayne who are navigating the seas of matrimony together. Pilar is an amateur photographer and whenever the tiny Peruvian has an argument with Big John, she sidles close to her man and threatens, “Duke, you listen to me, or I’ll take a very unfavorable picture of you.” He listens.
Doe Avedon, who played the pretty airline hostess in John Wayne’s “The High and the Mighty,” is quiet and unassuming, and Cupid is having one of his few current failures with the attractive actress. Doe took her last name from her first husband—a photographer. She was driving to California with her second mate with whom she was very much in love, when their car was sideswiped, and her husband was killed. Many men call, but few succeed in dating this girl who lives alone with her cat and is practically a recluse.
Anne Baxter was looking for a press agent, and came up with a fiancé. Also a new rigorous diet that brought her weight down to 105 pounds and a 21-inch waist. The press agent, Russell Birdwell, now Anne’s manager as well, used to try to shame me into reducing by saying, “The most unimportant starlet can do it, so why can’t you?” I’d leave him full of high starvation resolves—until the apple pie course. I was a goner. But Anne got this Bird and the figure.
It’s this way-that way with Ann Sothern and Bill Andrews. Anything, matrimonially speaking, can happen here. It might have been a marriage with Dick Egan—only he was too poor at the time of their conflagration. Ironically, now that the blaze is over, Dick is making a hundred thousand dollars a year and is in a position to wed. And Marisa Pavan mightn’t say “No,” if he asked her. But to get back to Miss Sothern. Cupid slings his arrows in the strangest places. Annie caught hers in Las Vegas with her night-club act. Bill was one of her five chorus boys but he graduated to choreographer for her “Lady in the Dark” TV spectacular. And he might even get his mrs. with Ann.
Going down for Cupid’s count as we go to press—Betty Hutton and Alan Livingston, Mitzi Gaynor and Jack Bean, Eleanor Parker and Paul Clemens and Clark Gable and Kay Spreckels. Every time Clark gets a divorce, he swears he’ll never marry again, but he always does, and blond beautiful Kay is exactly his type—witty, easygoing, sophisticated. They were buddies before his marriage to Lady Sylvia, who is also riding on Cupid’s bandwagon to add a Prince to her collection of two titles and two movie-star husbands.
There was a story printed this morning, not by me, that Eleanor Parker was spatting with Paul. But she assured me, “We’ve never had a cross word since we started going together.” And that started when Eleanor asked the William Holdens, “D’ye know a good painter to do my portrait?” They introduced her to Mr. Clemens, and to date, he’s painted five portraits of the woman he loves—and made his wife.
Cupid performs his miracles in many fashions but one thing’s for sure—here’s one guy who’ll never give up on love.
—BY SHEILAH GRAHAM
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 1955