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Date Bait—Marilyn Maxwell

Even though it’s Leap Year, girls, I advise you to look first!

When I was in New York recently on a personal appearance tour, Editor Delight Evans asked me to tell about my Hollywood “dates.” “Marilyn, you’re one of the most-dated girls in the film colony,” she said. “Why don’t you give our readers the lowdown on dates and how you feel about the many men you go out with—to the theater, night clubs, concerts and parties?”

“I’m afraid I’m out-dated, Delight,” I said. “It’s like Mark Twain’s remark about the report of his death—the number of my dates is greatly exaggerated. If I lived to be a hundred, I couldn’t possibly go out with the thousands I’m supposed to have been with.”






There are several reasons for this. One is, I think, because the average Hollywood bystander is innocently nearsighted. A person sights a blonde in a theater or a restaurant and asks, “Who is she?” and the companion is very likely to say, “Oh, that’s Marilyn Maxwell with so-and-so.” It makes no difference that it might be Doris Day, Martha Vickers or Lady Mendl. They’ve said it and that makes it so. Another reason is due to press-agent dream-ups. A publicity man will have a handsome male client he wants to have seen with the current crop of glamor girls—so presto, date-o!—you read that you’re being romanced by a dream boy you’ve only seen at fifty paces. Once, I stayed home playing cards with my mother all evening, only to pick up the paper the next morning and discover that I had been out on the town in seven different night spots with three men I had never even met! I’m still looking for that blurb-planter.






I think one of the most amusing examples occurred right while I was in New York, making an appearance at the Capitol Theater. My ex-husband, John Conte, and I are still very great friends. (Just because our marriage didn’t pan out, doesn’t mean that we glare at one another in public.) John was appearing in that wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “Allegro,” and doing such a terrific job I wanted to see the show. I called him to ask about tickets because I knew they were almost impossible to get. John obligingly arranged for me and my girl friend to get good seats for the following night. After the show was over he took us out for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. The next day three nationally syndicated columns broke out in a rash of statements to the effect that John and I had reconciled!






Many girls who first come to Hollywood feel that they have to make the so-called night club circuit. I made the same mistake. I was advised that I would come to the attention of producers and directors more quickly if I stepped out more often. Believe me, kids, there isn’t a quicker way of stepping out of pictures, entirely. I, luckily, caught on, and became fed up with that “being seen nightly” routine. It’s not that I don’t love to dine and dance, but I prefer to go to a night club only when there is some special entertainment I want to see. Or, if I happen to be singing there professionally, myself. The managers are rather insistent on that point!






Of course, where a girl goes on a date and how she spends the evening depends a lot on the man she’s with, and I think there are five important factors a girl can use as a guide to insure having a satisfactory date—whether it’s in Hollywood or Hohokus.

First, a girl should not accept a date with a man unless she has had a proper introduction, that is, through a mutual friend or relative. 

Secondly, she should let the man plan the evening. On a first date, particularly, I like to know where we are going, so that I will know how to dress correctly. If it’s for dinner, I like to have him order the dinner, the wines, etc. That way I can tell whether or not I want to go out with him again. However, a girl should never suggest places that are beyond the limits of his pocketbook. That’s an important third point. Also try to be prompt. Don’t keep a man waiting, particularly if it’s a first date. You’re likely not to be asked for a second one, if you do.

Lastly, don’t talk about yourself all evening—or, what is even more important, your other boy friends. That’s the Kiss of Death for any date!






As to my favorite “dates” they are quite varied and all fun. If I go out with Turhan Bey I can look forward to a wonderful musical evening at either a concert or an opera. With Michael North I don my dancing shoes because he always picks the best bands and the best dance spots. Cary Grant is another charmer. He has the flattering habit of speaking to you as though you were the only girl in the world—a great asset for any man to have—and he never forgets all those little courtesies which make you feel important. Another thing about Cary. He never forgets to send flowers the next day with a little note thanking you for a wonderful evening. I’ll never forget my first date with Cary. I had admired him on the screen for so long when I was in college. Then, after I arrived in Hollywood, a mutual friend introduced us and he asked me to go to a party with him, the following week. I was terrified. I was sure I wouldn’t know how to act—what to wear—what to say. Instead he made me feel that I was one of the most perfectly poised and well groomed women he had ever been out with. I’ll never forget that.






With Peter Lawford, I can always count on an evening of informal laughs. They say that the English are not supposed to have a sense of humor. Well, that certainly doesn’t apply to Lawford. He is filled with more pranks than a Marx Brother. One evening, after we had been to the Turnabout Theater, he insisted that we go to an all-night market for onion soup. He stuck on a mustache, posed as a Frenchman who couldn’t speak English, and made me translate everything he said, which was all in double-talk. He wound up buying me a corsage of water cress and made me wear it home! Of course, these informal evenings are very rare and only occur when you know and like your escort as well as I do Peter.

There are a lot of men here in Hollywood a girl “dates” only once. These are the men who, like a well-known screen villain, drink too heavily, or who have the ability to make a large room seem awfully crowded—even with only two people in it! A smart girl only has to waste one evening this way and she knows how to say she’s busy.






It’s not altogether the fault of the Hollywood boys. The girls have helped to make them that way, let’s face it. One of the reasons that the Hollywood “date” grove is so over-pollenated is because the percentage of presentable, eligible and available men is so small. No bachelor is safe from either bobby-soxers or beldames. Consequently, the male citizens in these parts get overstuffed opinions of themselves. Since they have such a bevy of beauties to pick from, because the most attractive girls in the country seem to migrate here, the men can practically go out with whom they please every night. The average girl in the average American city or town stands a better chance of having a good time on a date than the typical girl in the film colony who has to cater to and swoon over the man who is hers for the evening.






I gave up trying to act the part, dress the part and shine the man’s shoes at the same time! If I have to do it, I’m going to do it in front of a camera, believe me. That’s probably why so many people think it’s the old bromide when I say I’m intent on a career and that I’m not interested in romance.

If I could find my ideal date, however, he would probably be right here in Hollywood. He would have to have Jimmy Stewart’s boyishness, Robert Mitchum’s physique, Mike North’s dancing feet, Cary Grant’s charm, Turhan Bey’s polish, Van Johnson’s grin and Gable’s ears. But since no such paragon ever walked the face of this earth, you can possibly understand, kids, why I don’t go out more often!

Editor’s Note: Marilyn Maxwell’s “date” with Mike North developed into real romance after this story was written. They recently announced their engagement.

THE END

BY MARILYN MAXWELL

 

It is a quote. SCREENLAND MAGAZINE JULY 1948



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