Dana Wynter Victorious
On June 10, in London, I received the following cable: BEING MARRIED TONIGHT 8 P.M. CHURCH OF THE WAYFARER CARMEL. OUR LOVE, DANA AND GREG. This message held a very special meaning. It was a gesture of friendship made to me by Dana Wynter and Greg Bautzer, who had promised me that, even though I was 6000 miles away, they would disclose the exciting news of their marriage before it hit the front pages.
Why did they include me among their small circle of intimate friends to whom they cabled this happy announcement? And how did this twenty-four-year-old English girl, a comparative newcomer to Hollywood, capture filmdom’s most eligible bachelor? To learn the answer, one must turn back the calendar to a little over a year ago, and the setting to Beverly Hills, California.
I was just rushing out of the Beverly Hills Hotel, where a tall, dark and handsome chauffeur named Tyrone Power was waiting for me, when I ran into another handsome hero, Greg Bautzer, noted Hollywood lawyer. I don’t remember when I met Greg for the first time; it seems to me I’ve a always known him, and admired him. Greg is the epitome of a gay cavalier. He has all the instinctive qualities of a gentleman. Whereas, these days, most “guys” dating “dolls” will phone from the office at the last minute and say, “Darling, I’ve been delayed. Will you grab a cab and meet me in the lobby?”, Greg will phone and say, “Can I send my car for you?” Or, if he’s going to be delayed even five minutes, he’ll have his secretary call and explain that he’s on his way. I once asked one of the many women who have been in love with Greg what was the outstanding quality that had made her so enamored of him. Without hesitation, she replied, “He makes a woman feel like a woman!”
This glamour queen has since married, as have most of the other women in Greg’s romantic life, for the simple reason that they despaired of ever landing him.
Please don’t ask me what made me hear the strains of “Lohengrin” when I stopped to talk to Greg that summer day in Beverly Hills, but suddenly I heard myself say, “Greg, I’ve got just the girl for you. I met her in London two years ago. She’s twenty-three, her father is a prominent surgeon in Rhodesia, she was a medical student at the University there, but went back to London and started on a film career. She’s under contract to 20th and is co-starring with Dick Egan in ‘The View from Pompey’s Head.’ And finally and most important, she’s unattached. Why don’t you give her a ring?”
Greg confessed that he had already taken inventory of her when they had met at a large cocktail party. She was with another date, so he’d not “purswooed” her any further. However, he added, he would follow my suggestion.
Not long after that, I had lunch with Dana and extolled Greg’s virtues to her. But to my utter amazement, Miss Wynter froze to the idea. Since Hollywood is worse than a small village when it comes to gossip, it hadn’t taken long for Dana’s ‘best friends’ to alert her that Greg was the most eligible bachelor in town. But she was also warned that, like all her predecessors, she couldn’t fail to succumb to his charms and wind up with a broken heart. Dana had heeded these warnings and determined to steer clear of Mr. Bautzer.
Naturally, with a man like Greg—so used to women’s shameless pursuit of him—Dana’s stand-off attitude only increased his desire to meet this unique femme fatale. He flooded her with calls from Palm Springs, New York, Paris, Rome—wherever his affairs as a prominent lawyer took him. But still no date.
The following November, after finishing “The View from Pompey’s Head,” Dana was sent to New York for a big, advance-publicity campaign. Over a luncheon gabfest she told me of Greg’s pursuit and her defense tactics. I told her I thought she was being very foolish. “You must accept people in their relationship to you,’ I said, “and not be influenced by what you hear about them from other people. If you go out with Greg once, and then decide that you don’t want to become emotionally involved, that’s up to you. But why put up this barrier before you’ve even met?”
I know I sounded like Greg pleading one of his own cases in court, but I sincerely believed that these two would click.
Realizing that I had no personal motive except the sincere gesture of friendship, Dana assured me that when she returned to Hollywood—if and when Greg did call—she would take my advice and see him.
Scarcely a month later, I received a note from Dana that made me wonderfully happy. It read in part: “You’re right, Radie, my love is a Dream Prince and I wish everyone in the world could be even one tenth as happy as I—I love him dearly and have you to thank for it.”
Greg was equally ecstatic. “She’s the most wonderful thing that’s happened in my life!” he exclaimed when we had cocktails together a few weeks later in New York, during one of his business trips. Since Dana had come into his life, Greg wasn’t interested in anyone else. Of course, it didn’t take long for this budding romance to hit all the gossip columns. And, when the possibility of marriage was hinted, it was greeted with the usual skepticism. Remember, Greg was a confirmed bachelor! But isn’t every man a confirmed bachelor—until the right woman comes along? In Greg’s case, it was not only a question of the right woman but the right timing. Dana came into his life at a period when he no longer wanted the protection of “safety in numbers.” He’d had his fill of playing the field; he was ready for a wife, a home, and a family.
What are the qualities in Dana that made her qualify for a role that so many other glamorous women had failed to achieve? Although she’s about twenty years Greg’s junior, Dana is extremely adult for her years—as most British girls are, especially those who, like Dana, grew up in the thick of World War II. Also, in England, it is a man’s world: the average Britisher is lord and master in his own house, and his wife ungrudgingly caters to his “whim” of iron. Greg, on the other hand, was used to glamorous stars whose private little egos meant more to them than anything or anyone else. Thus, when Dana said to him, “Let’s talk about you now, darling”—and, by that, didn’t mean “How did you like my last picture?”—Greg was greatly surprised—and relieved. And, when Dana told him that after they were married, she would give up her promising career because he was to be her only career, he knew this was it!
Dana’s contract with 20th Century-Fox still has six years to run. When Dana announced that she was planning to retire, it came as a big blow to the studio. They had big plans for her, especially after the glowing reaction to her performance in “D-Day the Sixth of June.” Dana’s retirement, however, is not irrevocable. “If one of those rare and exceptional parts like Scarlett O’Hara or Eliza Doolittle should turn up, I’d be a fool not to accept it,” Dana told me two weeks before their marriage. “But just to play any old role wouldn’t be worth sacrificing the time that I could and should be spending with Greg. His legal affairs keep him constantly on the move, and if he has to suddenly take off for New York or Europe, I want to be free to go with him. I also want to be free for him here in California—to play tennis with him at Palm Springs, to enjoy the normal routine of breakfasting with him in the morning and dining with him at night, instead of being tied up at the studio. I want to help him relax from the pressures that are constantly being made on his time. Greg can’t say no to anyone—whether it’s an important client or a casual acquaintance, and people knowing this, take advantage of him. He’s lived in hotels most of his life. I want to make a real home for him now that he’s bought his first two homes for us to share together. One is a bungalow in Palm Springs, the other is an enchanting house in Bel Air, where we’re literally, as well as figuratively, sitting on top of the world!”
“Had you ever thought about marrying an American before you met Greg?” I wanted to know.
Dana hesitated a moment and then said, “Let me answer that by saying I’ve always liked American men, and although I never had a mental image of the ‘Dream Prince’ I would someday marry, I’ve always been attracted to outdoor, athletic, physically fit men like Greg. But even in my wildest imagination, I never hoped to find anyone as kind, considerate and generous as he is. Besides the two houses, he’s already given me a black mink coat, with gold lamé lining, a sable stole, a Jaguar, and many other extravagant gifts. But it isn’t only his generosity with his pocketbook but with his heart that endears him to me. It’s what he gives of himself to everybody. Like all busy people—and his law practice keeps him working around the clock—he always manages to find time for the smallest as well as the biggest courtesies. Last May, when I flew back to Rhodesia, Greg had planned to come with me to meet my parents and ask their consent to our marriage. But at the last minute some important board meetings kept him in New York. So, when my plane landed in Paris, there he was to greet me—on the transatlantic phone—and at every other stop en route and back. On my return to Hollywood, after only a nine-day visit with my family—whom Greg invited to be our first house guests once we were settled in our Bel Air home—Greg had arranged to welcome me ‘home’ with a three-piece string orchestra, which serenaded me with our favorite song, ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.’ But then, Radie, I don’t have to tell you that ‘I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,’ when you predicted it would happen!”
Now, I’ll take out my crystal ball again and predict that Greg will go on being “accustomed to her face” until the end of time. For behind that beautiful face is the brain of an actress, clever enough to know that having one’s name in electric lights can be very rewarding, but when the fuse blows out, and you are left alone, you have nothing.
I’ve known Dana since her struggling days in London. When she came to New York to try her luck on the Broadway stage, I was among the handful of friends at her opening night in “Black-Eyed Susan,” a play with Vincent Price that won Dana good notices, but folded after a week. I saw her go on to Hollywood, still undaunted, with high hopes of a contract at U-I. I watched her come back, after her screen test had been turned down, determined that if London, Hollywood and Broadway didn’t want her, she’d make them come to her. So she went into television. She played a dramatic role on the Robert Montgomery show, and it worked! Hollywood beckoned again—this time 20th, with a seven-year contract.
And now that she’s traveled so far and has finally arrived, Dana is willing to forsake her career to travel much further as an adored wife—and mother (Greg loves children and Dana wants a Greg, Jr. as soon as possible). Because she is so wise, Dana knows that “all is ephemeral—fame and the famous as well,” but true love lasts forever. Which explains how she floored everyone by winning Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, and why, for Greg, she will always remain the Wynter of his content.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1956