Everything Happens To Me!—Glenn Ford
I understand you have been out of town. What’s new?
What’s new?!!! This is the first time in my life anyone asked me that and I have an answer. At this moment I could write a book called “What’s New.” Or maybe I should call it “Open Season On Glenn Ford South of the Border.” Pull up a chair, son, and wipe your glasses, you’re in fora harrowing experience.
It all began when I went down to Mexico to make a picture called Plunder In The Sun. To tell you the truth I was very pleased. I liked the Script, and the director and I thought it would be fun to spend a couple of months in Mexico, where the movie was to be shot. Sometimes now I wish they had made it at Sing Sing. I’d have been safer.
Getting to Mexico City was just fine. With the rest of the cast, I took a Pan American plane from the Los Angeles International Airport late one night and landed shortly after dawn at the Mexico City Airport. The Mexicans are a very well-mannered and warm-hearted people, extremely considerate of guests in their country, so we were taken through the customs and immigration like royalty. Then we were driven to a comfortable hotel and I sat back, with my morning coffee before me, happy and firm in the belief that this was to be one of the most interesting experiences in my life. Well, in a way it was. But in a way it wasn’t.
The picture got rolling and spare time for sightseeing was short, but I did have to make appearances at a number of affairs—as a visitor is expected to do. That’s when the trouble started. A splendid Mexican gentleman who works on a film paper down there handled our publicity and he asked me if I would make an appearance on the Mexican national radio network and just say hello. Because hello was just about all I could say in Spanish I agreed. I showed up at the station and was ushered before a microphone. I turned around for a minute to take a peek into the control booth and when I looked back a large blonde in a black.dress was at my side.
Now I like to look at a large blonde in a black dress as well as the next man, so naturally I grinned like a small boy who had just found his lost live frog. The girl took me by the hand and led me to the microphone and the audience applauded uproariously. Some of it was for me, but a lot of it was for her, and properly so. She spoke into the mike and because I heard her mention my name I bowed politely and muttered: “Si, gracias, amigo, buenas dias. . . .” and a couple of other words I had learned for the occasion. I was received like a noted linguist.
After the program was over, photographers came by and took a lot of pictures, in some of which the blonde woman was standing by my side. Everything was just fine—until the next morning. Someone showed me the papers and it seemed to me that the editors had cut all the other people in the pictures out, leaving just me and the blonde in the shots. I was disturbed for a moment, but then I thought, “Oh, well what’s the difference. It’s all for the good of the picture. Maybe my wife will understand.”
I didn’t see this blonde lady for several days. The next time was at the race track. Diana Lynn and I were making some shots out there and we were standing around waiting for the director to say, “Action!” when a little man ran up in front of me with a camera and flashed off a bulb in my face. At the same moment I felt a clutching hand on my arm and I looked around and there she was, looking at me with eyes filled with tenderness. I was beginning to get sore. I called over the publicity man and asked what was going on. He took me and the blonde aside and explained things.
This lady, it seems, was one of the big movie stars of Mexico. She was a European, but she spoke Spanish fluently, had made many Mexican pictures and had become very popular. “That is all very well,” I told the publicity man, “but I don’t like the expression she gets on her face whenever there is a camera ‘around. I am a married man with a family. If this lady (whose name I will not mention out of a sense of chivalry) has this tremendous urge to have her picture taken with me, let’s see that she doesn’t look that way and let’s have a few people around so it won’t look like I’m raising old Ned with some siren while I’m away from home. How about that?”
The publicity man was receptive and the blonde appeared not the least bit upset, so with some admonition, like, “Let’s watch ourselves around here in the future,” I went back to my work.
Life was uneventful for a superb 24 hours. This time it happened at a television station. Dolores Del Rio was making her debut as a TV producer and when I was asked I was delighted to make an appearance at the station. I walked in and guess who popped up, grabbed hold of my arm and swung into a beautiful flow of Spanish. She might have been telling the people around that I was a former axe murderer for all I knew so all I could do was stand there and grin and mutter: “Si, amigo, gracias, buenos dias. . . .” Apparently, though, she said something nice, because everyone applauded like mad and the photographers ran up and began snapping pictures. I got out of there as fast as I could. And you should have seen the papers the next morning. The pictures were played up big, and my name and the name of the lady were sprinkled all through the copy. I went right out and bought a Spanish-American dictionary.
They got me again at the bull fights. You can horse around in a lot of places in Mexico, but not in the bull ring. The seats are reserved and numbered and a group from the picture company took a block together. I was no sooner seated than I heard a lot of applause, so I looked down into the ring to see what was happening. I was looking in the wrong place, because out of the corner of my eye I saw this blonde skidding along toward me, followed by her cameramen. I looked for a way out, but there wasn’t any—and I knew about creating a ruckus, so I just smiled while she sat, and I wished the sun would go down, so I could get under the bench. But they had flash bulbs—and the only consolation I had was that some of the photographers got some great shots of the top of my head.
The next day at the studio I insisted that the American press agent, employed. by the studio, take a hand and see if he couldn’t stop this situation from getting any more romantic. He was very appreciative of my problem and promised to think of something.
One of the biggest events of the year in Mexico City is the annual film festival. A lot of American stars come to Mexico and the players of each country put on a big show for the press and public. Naturally, I had to go, no matter how much I craved solitude at the moment. But as soon as I stepped into the auditorium, I grabbed an official and I said if I was obliged to do any talking with anyone it was all going to have to be in English. He tried to point out to me that very few Mexicans would understand me, but by that time I was only concerned with me understanding what was going on. While I was talking to him he kept backing me up and the next thing I knew I was on the stage looking at about 5,000 people.
There was nothing to do, of course, except bow and walk over to the center of the stage where, so help me Harry, Blondie stood alone as big as ever. Except that by this time she was beginning to look like Bela Lugosi to me. I was trapped, but determined. “Look here, madam,” I scowled at her quietly, “I’ve got to know what you’re saying this time, so I can answer intelligently.” She grabbed me by the arm and squeezed and whispered to me. “I am going to tell them how much you love Mexico, Mexican films and the Mexican people,” she said. “And all you have to say is ‘Mucho, mucho,’ and they’ll understand.”
“Well, watch it,” I said. “And stick to the subject.”
She waited for quiet and rattled off a long string of Spanish, then she looked coyly at me.
“Mucho, mucho,” I said.
You’d have thought I’d just given them Texas the way those people cheered. Things are getting a little better I thought. Once again this spellbinder got going with the language then gave me a little hug.
“Mucho, mucho,” I said, not quite so eagerly.
This time you’d have thought I’d abolished taxes. The folks just went plain nuts—and Blondie reached up and gave me a little squeeze. I stopped saying, “Mucho,” right then. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I discovered I have a streak of cowardice. I slid over to one side and made a fast exit.
That night, with the lights out and the moon shining in the open window I lay in bed and swore an oath that never, never as long as I lived would I stand beside that woman again, or stay in the same room with her. And I never did. But it didn’t help a bit, I didn’t have to read Spanish the next morning to know what was in the papers. “Our beautiful Mexican actress confesses she might be in love with Glenn Ford!” they said, or words to that effect. “And,” cried another headline, “Glenn Ford, when asked by our beautiful Mexican film star if he could love her, shouted ‘Mucho, mucho.’ What a beautiful pair they are. What a couple of romantic lovers!”
“What a crock of sauerkraut!” I was howling at the press agent ten minutes later. “What are they doing to me? Can’t somebody tell them I am a happily married man? How can this happen? Do something!”
A man came in and said that my “Friend” was on the telephone. “You tell her,” I said, “that I wouldn’t talk to her if she was afire and I knew where the only fire hose in Mexico was.”
“We seem to have a serious situation here,” said the press agent.
“What do you think Ive been trying to tell you?” I said. “If this keeps up I’ll be living in a hotel when I get home. Do something about it.”
“It appears,” he said thoughtfully, “that this actress has just about the hottest-shot press agent in the western hemisphere. And she’s using you to get space.”
“Okay,” I said. “Hire her press agent away. Have him arrested. Get her space with somebody else. Find her a nice local fellow with no family. Get Bogart down here and have the lot of them rubbed out. But move fast, I feel a hot breath on my neck.”
The hot breath was all over me the next edition. Apparently upset because I wouldn’t accept her phone calls, the lady had given an interview to the papers—which they ran under the usual headlines—stating that she was not so sure now she was in love with me. Good! I thought. But down further I saw my name again and had it translated. “Why?” the newspaper asked, “does not Glenn Ford speak his feelings for our beloved film star? Is he not a man? Is he going to allow our lady to pine because of his ungallant manners. He is surely no gentleman if this is so.”
By this time I was surely no gentleman for sure. I was happy to tell anybody who would listen to me just exactly what my feelings for the lady were. But it never got in the papers. The next day all of the Mexico City papers were at me. They almost made me hate myself. “Is this American movie star to be allowed to publicly insult by his silence the flower of our country? Is he to be permitted to break the heart of the loveliest lady in our land. No! Stern action must be taken to halt this. Such a man is not fit to be in our city.” And in another paper: “Miss———, in an exclusive interview with this reporter, stated that she could not understand what had happened between her and Glenn Ford, but she was coming to the end of her patienee. She is not at all sure now that she would forgive him if he came crawling to her on his knees. What a shameful situation,” it continued. “Who is this man who was welcomed here as a guest and who has made a fool of our sweet lady? Who, in truth, has ever heard of him?”
“Everybody has now heard of me,” I roared at the press agent a little later. “Would to God nobody in this corner of the world had, though. When are you going to do something.”
“It seems,” he said quietly, “that the young lady has a lot of cousins who are very influential with the press.”
“That is the silliest thing anybody ever said,” I yelled. “This girl apparently owns the press.”
The press agent was trying to stuff a newspaper up the back of his coat while we talked.
“What are you doing there?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “It’s just an old newspaper I’m saving.”
“That’s a funny place to save a newspaper,” I said. “Let me see it.”
“Later,” he said. “You’re a little upset right now.”
“I’ve been upset ever since I got here,” I bellowed. Let me have that paper.”
He handed it over. I saw a cartoon, depicting the lovely flower of Latin-American films. I got out my little dictionary, but I really didn’t need it. “Who needs a Ford,” the caption read, “I have a Cadillac.”
“That does it,” I said. “Get me writers, lawyers, police. This is the last straw. We’re going to give a statement to the press and they’re going to print it if I have to go to the President and the American Ambassador.”
Finally, at long last, I got a word in the papers. It was difficult to know what to say, because I was a stranger in a foreign country, and I had made many friends, and had developed a good deal of respect for the Mexican people. But I remembered that the lady was not a Mexican, but a European, and I was so fed up with being misunderstood that what I said had to be to the point. Because I was innocent of any complicity in this “romance” I felt I did not have to be polite beyond ordinary dignity, so here is what appeared in the papers the next day:
“When questioned concerning statements made by Miss ————, Mr. Ford stated he had not read in full translation the articles in question. ‘However,’ Mr. Ford said, ‘I have received such magnificent and wonderful hospitality from my co-workers and friends in Mexico, I feel that if Miss ————’s statements are helping her career as an aspiring actress, then I am glad to be of assistance. When she does achieve the full success she is seeking, she will probably adopt more dignified methods of achieving publicity”
If that sounds rough, it is exactly what I intended it to be. I wanted an end to the matter, and no future speculations as to my relationship with the lady. And I wanted the pecple of Mexico to know that I was aware the whole thing was a publicity stunt at my expense. That night I rested comfortably for the first time in weeks. Everything was fine, wrapped up and over with.
Lad, it was only the beginning. All the cousins went to work once me at once The papers did, too. Someone told me the lady’s boy friend was looking for me with a knife. A friend in the government wanted to deputize me, so I could carry a gun. Now, the company press agent decided to get into the act. He invited the lady to meet him at a restaurant and talk the whole thing over. They met—and those who were present say it was quite an occasion.
It seems the lady denied that most of the articles had appeared. The press agent said they had so. All of the papers for the past few weeks were ordered from the news offices and when they were brought the only place they could be spread out was on the bar. While the lady and the press agent began heatedly flipping through the pages and making and denying charges, the bartender began setting up drinks along the line, and in a couple of hours neither the lady nor my defender were feeling any pain.
A couple of days later I got on a plans and came home. When I looked at my house, and saw my wife and son standing in the doorway waiting for me, I wanted to get down on my knees and kiss my own driveway. Ellie had a twinkle in her eye and after I’d kissed her she started to say something. I held up a hand.
“There will be no baiting of Father,” I said. “Father has had it. I have had a bad dream. I am now going up to bed and have a good one.” And I did. And it was all in English.
What’s new, indeed!
—BY GLENN FORD
It is a quote. MODERN SCREEN MAGAZINE MAY 1953